Threats, Risks, Consequences

April 6, 2012 4:52 pm

Threats, Risks, Consequences

The threats are real, the consequences are grave. No one will be immune. How will you react? Are you prepared?

A nuclear event or an economic collapse is among the scenarios that security personnel are scripting. There are hundreds of government reports, planning scenarios, DHS studies evaluating the risks and outlining plans in dealing with the consequences of these events. Why?

They calculate the odds, they spend billions in preparation activities and defense but they know it is just a matter of time. They know these threats are real; some more remote than others, some more consequential than others. But do you truly believe, WE, as a society will be immune from all of these threats? What risks will impact your life? How will you survive?

Certainly, we may be able to deal with one event over a short period of time but a combination of events could trigger a cascading compound threat that may impact our lives for months or longer. The consequences are real. You must prepare.

Recognize each of these threats results in a loss of civility; the consequences will be panic, riots and civil disorder. The society we now cherish will disappear. We will need to defend our families and protect our supplies and ultimately protect our lives.

The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Our American civilization has evolved over more than 200 years. A Republic form of government defined by our Founding Fathers and as a society defined by an ever advancing socio-economic psychology; freedom, ingenuity, hard work – the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

It is our very way of life that brought us the creativity, technology and paved the way to sustain our growth. However, this growth puts a strain our on natural resources, food supply, population demands. A majority of our population is concentrated in large cities; we require substantial amounts of electric power, oil, water and food supplies. As a society we purchase, build, manufacture, travel and have increased our GDP to more than 15 TRILLION annually. Granted, our government spends more than we collect in taxes but that is just one element of the issue. While these factors have improved our way of life in so many ways they are also the factors that put us at greater risk. Further, other peoples, governments and terrorist groups resent our modernity and continue to threaten our American society.

Consequential Threats

These factors have brought us to a place in time where we face a series of real and potential threats to our society and very way of life:

  1. - Economic Collapse
  2. - Technological Related Crisis
  3. - Power Grid Failure
  4. - Oil Shortage
  5. - Water Pollution
  6. - Pandemic
  7. - Nuclear Event

In addition, Natural Disasters that may impact our lives but are more localized and have less impact than a national threat. Refer to article on Natural Disaster on the Survival Operation website.

Only a Matter of Time

We know it is only a matter of when one or more of these threats will materialize. Not if, but when; next week, next month, next year? Consequently, we know we must prepare. We can define many of the risks. We know that while the trigger of consequences may not be exactly known now, we know that civil disorder and the collapse of our society to some degree is inevitable; exactly when, for how long and to what degree are the only unknowns.  There will be a cascading of events; civil disorder, disruption in law and order and collapse of our society as we know. Preparations will vary but we know we will require shelter, food, water, medicine, weapons, ammunition etc. to survive for some period of time.

Certainly there are many threats that pose a risk to our civil society but experts acknowledge the threats cited above are our most serious and within the realm of possibility in the near future. No reasonable person can measure the rapid growth and advancement of our society, technology and terrorism then deduce – ‘no problem’! If in fact these threats pose a risk to mankind, how do we evaluate their possibility and prepare to deal with their consequences.

Economic Collapse

At this point in time there is a financial crisis threatening world economies. Debt-based societies have a profound impact upon the world wide banking system, governments and people’s lives. The impact on international trade, banking and currencies has consequences across the globe. However, the biggest economy in the world, the United States of America faces the biggest risk. Our financial institutions and our government debt compounds a worldwide problem but the fact that we borrow more than 40% of every dollar every day and this amount grows daily escalates an inevitable collapse. Without question, we cannot sustain this debt. There will be a financial collapse in the USA unless our government makes major structural changes in short order. Given the political climate and the nature of our three branches of government the solutions are beyond our capabilities. Only a true crisis will change the system.

What happens if there is a financial collapse; the banks close, your checking accounts are frozen, ATM’s are useless, credit cards will not be accepted and cash will be useless in an ever-greater inflationary economy? Food and fuel prices will triple in days of an event. You may have some gold or silver but most grocery stores or gas stations will be closed. Ultimately, we see our society move toward a measure of civil unrest then serious civil disorder; without law enforcement or emergency services and ultimately lawlessness and potentially the collapse of our civil society for a period of time. How would you survive?

Technological Related Crisis

Computers now control almost every facet of our life. From banking, food supplies, oil, power, logistics, retail purchases, the Internet, mobile phones etc. technology influences every aspect of our lives. There are cyber attacks on the Internet daily, our credit cards are hacked, our personal information is public, our finances and public documents are all ‘on the internet’. Computers control the financial system, the power grid, logistics, medical records and virtually all business communications. You know it is just a matter of time before your hard drive fails or your Internet goes down. It is just a matter of time before there is a technological crisis that shuts down our society.

What happens when the there is no email, no Internet, no mobile phones, no banking? Our society will begin to slowly degrade. Depending on the length of time the consequences vary. If the Internet and computers are down for 2 days you will lose your patience. If the Internet and computers are down for 2 months there will be civil unrest and worse.

Power Grid Failure

Our power grid is a series of connected power sources, transformers and switches. They are controlled by computers. A shut down of the power grid from an event at one power source compounded by computer controlled switches could damage transformers and transmission lines in seconds. Our cities will go dark, there will be no light, no communications, no Internet, no heat, no air conditioning, no refrigeration. Our civil society will come to a halt. What do you use that does not require electricity? The consequences of a cascading event from a power failure will lead to a breakdown in technology, media and communications further creating a banking failure and limited supplies of necessary goods and supplies.

If any one of these threats occurs it will impact our society and amplify the risks we face as a society. If these threats are resolved in hours we can deal with it but if these threats persist for weeks or months there will be civil disorder. The longer it persists the more difficult it will be to recover. Then what?

Oil Shortage

Oil is a limited resource. It may be discovered in new locations but it is not a renewable resource. Imagine a shortage caused by a few unfriendly suppliers in the Middle East. The price will dramatically escalate overnight, there will be limited availability then vehicle transportation slows it eventually stops. People cannot go to work, trucks cease delivery of supplies and products. The limited supply of oil has impacted our country several times in past decades. With the current turmoil in the Middle East, demand by China and others we know it will happen again.

But we also know in ‘good times’ our thirst for oil is more than the available supply. There is a limit to the world’s reserves and there is no limit to the demand as the world economies grow in China, India, and around the globe. Oil is a finite resource. There is a premise referred to as ‘The Long Emergency’ where we examine the impact of limited oil supplies across the world and how we as a society deal with the consequences. The rationale of limited oil supplies could be the basis for substantial changes on our society as we prioritize who gets the oil first; the military, the government for essential services, priority transportation, etc. we may go to a four day work week to limit our drive to work, how about a two days a week. There will be limited supplies and products as the cost of transportation escalates the cost of every product – if it is available. There is the potential for world conflict as countries compete for oil.

While the amount of oil is limited the replacement sources of energy (nuclear, solar, wind) will take decades to become a viable alternative. Even electric vehicles require energy from oil fueled power plants. The impact of limited oil supplies is just a matter of time; it may be weeks before a Middle East crisis or years before the great emergency impacts our lives. But it will happen. Even a slow but continuous reduction of the supply will cause an impact on our civil society. Remember the lines at gas stations when the supply was limited for a few weeks. What will happen when the supply constantly decreases to a point when government rationing begins? There will be chaos. It will change every facet of our lives.  How would you survive?

Water Pollution

If our society operates on oil it lives on water. Across our nation we are dealing with limited quality water supplies. Excessive use, pollution and the restrictions dictated by the EPA compounded by natural weather conditions limit the availability of clean water for our everyday use. What would you do if the water stopped at your kitchen tap? No water for drinking, food preparation, sanitation; all done. If we could deal with limited electric power or limited oil supplies for a while, we cannot live without water.

Like ‘The Long Emergency’ from oil we face a similar emergency from limited water supplies. Underground aquifers are at risk of depletion, reservoirs are low and pollution from wastewater treatment facilities compounds the problem. How long could you go without clean water? After a hurricane, water is the first delivery to those in distress. Our society will deteriorate in days. Without a continuous supply our society will fight for water within weeks. How would you survive?


Every year the government prepares a flu shot that they hope will protect us from ‘the flu’ or some other infectious disease.  Some years they guess correctly and cover the latest potential flu strains. Other years we are not so lucky. Then there is the strain of flu or bacteria that spreads through the human population throughout the globe. With international air travel an infectious disease can spread across the globe in hours. If it takes a few days for symptoms to appear millions could be infected before we even know there is a crisis. If an epidemic of a deadly infectious disease spreads throughout the population there will be panic. Whether there is a return of smallpox, tuberculosis or H1n1 there will be a pandemic in our lifetime.

Those that work in public places will not go to work. Government services will be curtailed. Even those that work in large offices or factories will stay away for fear of being infected. Schools and universities will close. Hospitals and public health services will be overwhelmed. Families will struggle if one member ‘gets sick’. A pandemic of this nature will impact our society in many ways. The unintended consequences will be far and wide. With the impact on services we will face limited supplies of all products. Banks will close, food stores will be empty and the government provide limited services.

If and when there is a vaccine it will be distributed to health professionals first, then government employees. We will be standing in line hoping to ‘get a shot’ if we meet the government criteria. There will be chaos; society will become introverted and defensive. The need for food, water, supplies and a vaccine will engulf our everyday lives. If this happens, how would you survive?

Nuclear Event

We live in a world where terrorism is ever present. Terrorism by definition refers to those violent acts intended to create fear for the benefit of a religious, political or ideological objective. The biggest threat from terrorism is an explosion potentially from a nuclear device. The FBI, CIA, Pentagon, NSA and the department of Homeland Security all acknowledge nuclear terrorism is potentially our greatest threat.

A small amount of enriched uranium – 25 lbs. – carried in a van could destroy everything within a mile. It could kill one million people if detonated in a populated city. The initial detonation would be catastrophic but the long term consequences would change the way we all live forever. Imagine a terrorist detonates a nuclear device in New York City and Washington DC; then threatens to detonate a device in 4 or 5 other US cities if we do not comply with their demands. How would our government react? How would you react?

While dealing with the consequences of millions of casualties and wounded survivors we also must consider the contamination at the site and the radiation from fallout across a wide area. How do you think the residents of other major cities would react if they think their city is next? There would be panic.

The transportation arteries from every major city would be filled with those evacuating danger areas. Everything in the destroyed cities and those threatened would stop; New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angles, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Las Vegas, maybe Paris, London, Rome, Riyadh, all in chaos. Everything and everyone within 500 miles of these cities would be in a state of chaos and panic. Where would everyone go? You could only drive until the fuel in your tank runs out. There will be no more distributions of fuel.  Every roadway and interstates will become parking lots of abandoned vehicles as they run out of fuel 100 – 400 miles from the city. When stranded motorists realize their predicament they will panic, form groups of marauders for their own survival. Where will these evacuees stay, what will they eat; we are talking about millions of people all in a desperate situation. Our federal and state governments will be overwhelmed dealing with the initial disaster and the impact on the population of every major city that could be next.

Within hours there will be no power, no Internet, no communications, no fuel, no water, no food supplies, no money; there could be fall out and panic. It will take years to recover, maybe generations. Our economy would cease to operate, as we know it. What would be the value of property in any of the cities? What other consequences can you imagine? Do you think food, water, guns, ammunition will be important?  There will be major destruction, panic and fear. The rule of law and our society will be measured by the level of pandemonium and anarchy. How would you survive?

Multiple Events

Government scenarios project there will be a ‘high probability’ that multiple incidents will occur simultaneously. Our government is not prepared to respond to a multiple events across the country. They acknowledge these incidents will invariably require the coordination and cooperation of DHS and FEMA beyond their capabilities in the short term. Recovery and remediation of essential services, the ability to restore services and commerce and the clean up of the environment in affected areas could take years.

Reference: Department of Homeland Security, Office for Domestic Preparedness: Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program

The Impact!

These threats are real; some more remote than others, some more consequential than others. But do you truly believe, WE, as a society will be immune from all of these threats? What risks will impact our lives. How would you survive?

Certainly, we may be able to deal with one event over a short period of time but a combination of events could trigger a cascading compound threat. The consequences are real. You must prepare.

Recognize each of these threats results in a loss of civility; the consequences will be panic, riots and civil disorder. The society we now cherish will disappear for months or longer. We will need to defend our families and protect our supplies and ultimately protect our lives.

How do you prepare?

Identify your risks, review your plans to respond to these catastrophic events, follow your principles and defend your family. Simply fight to survive.

Survival Operations: preparation & operational security for threatening times.

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Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.