TEOTWAWKI, A Long Way Away Yet

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TEOTWAWKI - The End Of The World As We Know It

Ever heard this term? It is pretty common among preppers and doomsday predictors. It refers to the end of the world. Armageddon. Apocalypse. Zombies and the walking dead. Movies, television, books and indeed many preppers have tried to create this scare of the end of the world among people. And many organisations have cashed in on this fear by selling gear and equipment that are supposed to be useful when TEOTWAWKI happens.

Will it? Sure it will, I am personally convinced about it since that is the law of the Universe.

We are a small and insignificant footnote in the larger universal scheme of things. Stars have been born and stars have died. The stars in the sky, that is. Galaxies form and they disappear. Who are we to assume that the Earth is so different? Just because we happen to inhabit it? No way. The end of the world is a given.

But when will it happen? Tomorrow? Next year? In ten years? In a thousand years? Now we are getting somewhere. It is not likely in the next few thousand years. In the larger cosmic scheme of things, it might be around the corner, but it is not likely to occur in our lifetime, or in the lifetime of our grandchildren. A large meteor or asteroid will collide with the Earth one day and that will be the end of many of the species, including homo sapiens, much like what probably happened to the dinosaurs. Do we need to lose our sleep over that day? Probably not. Strike that off your list and rest assured that Armageddon is still some years away. At least that is what my crystal ball predicts.

Having said that, one advantage of a TEOTWAWKI scenario is that everything is going to be obliterated in a heartbeat.

Once we are dead and gone, well, we are dead and gone. No point obsessing about it. What we do need to obsess about are the littler Armageddons that are likely to visit with increasing regularity. We WILL survive those, but our lives might change drastically due to such happenings. Just because our life is yet to turn topsy turvy due to some major catastrophe, does not mean that nothing is going to happen in the future. Do not live on hope. Prepare for such catastrophe. If nothing happens, good. If something does happen, the person who is prepared has a much greater likelihood of coming through than the one without.

If you’re not prepared to survive, you should prepare to die!

And do not live on the utopian hope that the Government will come to your rescue in times of a major disaster, they won’t because they will not be able to cope with the magnitude and the intensity of the disaster.

Let us take stock of stuff that we can ignore and stuff that we need to worry about. In no particular order, here are some prophecies...

  • Climate change and global warming (very “in” these days)
  • Thunderstorms, tsunamis, cyclones, etc (in 2004 we’ve already seen what it can do)
  • Polar meltdown or Polar shift
  • Asteroid or meteor impact
  • Extreme natural disasters – rains, floods, droughts, earthquakes, forest fires, storms, cloudbursts, etc
  • Volcanic eruptions (remember what happened in Iceland a few months ago?)
  • Solar flares
  • Electromagnetic Pulse or EMP (this has happened before and WILL happen again)
  • Nuclear fallout from a power plant or an atomic bomb
  • Economic collapse – we have witnessed it in the Americas in the 1930s and globally in 2008
  • Oil and gas shortage
  • Warfare – chemical, biological, nuclear
  • Terrorism, including cyber terrorism
  • Coup d’etat

All these are possibilities, but are they all within the realms of probability? No.

Climate change and global warming are real. Noah did build the arc after all and saved mankind and animal-kind. Do we know of a modern Noah? No. And he will probably not be born for a few more centuries. Strike that off the list as something to prepare for. Scientists have been predicting a polar shift - the Earth turns around and the North Pole and South Pole exchange places. If and when that happens, it will definitely change the world. By the way, it has happened before in Earth's history. Can you prepare for it? No. If it happens humanity will be history. So better not to obsess about it. Currently there does not seem to be an asteroid or a meteor headed our way. An impact would mean the end of the world ... permanently.

As you might notice, most of the things that we have removed as not to be too concerned about are the things that extreme preppers preparing for a zombie apocalypse ask you to prepare for. Complete waste of time, if you ask me. If such things occur, your preparations are not going to help ... that is if you survive at all after the initial few seconds!

That leaves us with things that we DO need to worry about and prepare for.

All these things have happened before and are sure to happen again, maybe multiple times in our own lifetimes. Natural disasters and Acts of God for one. With each passing year, the weather is becoming more extreme. Snowfall in the desert and cloudbursts in rain shadow areas. Barmer is a parched town in the middle of the Thar desert. It has flooded a few times over the past decade. The volcanic eruption in Iceland grounded flights for days and put a huge spanner in the works for all things in Europe. The 2004 tsunami killed millions in India and South Asia. The 2015 Nepal earthquake killed thousands and scientists say that it was merely a preview of a much larger one that is imminent. The town of Bhuj was flattened and had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Uttarakhand and Kedarnath is still fresh in our memories. As should be Latur and Gangtok and the Kashmir floods and the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone.

We live in a dangerous part of the globe. Our quickly-spiralling-South neighbour raises the bogey of a nuclear strike every other day. Are they mature enough to understand the consequences of a nuclear war? Not many people outside Islamabad and Rawalpindi think so. A nuclear strike will be devastating for both countries. Not everyone will die, many will survive. This is one reality we need to prepare for.

And it does not necessarily need to be a nuclear bomb landing in one of our cities.

A nuclear bomb detonated in space will create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that will fry all electronics. All phones, all computers, and everything that is controlled them. Which means pretty much everything. One bomb and we will be transported back a thousand years.

Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukushima, Bhopal, have all happened in the last few years. Nuclear power is supposed to be the safest, yet when things go wrong, either due to negligence or breakdown or an Act of God, things can become very nasty indeed.

Talking of our neighbours (and that includes their terrorists for who India is a happy hunting ground), there is a distinct possibility of the “mujahideen” and the “lashkar” unleasing chemical and biological weapons on citizens. Again, not all will die, but pretty much everyone will be affected!

Most of our neighbours have seen either actual or attempts at violent takeover of Governments. The most active on this score is our friendly neighbour to the West. But even Bangladesh has seen its fair share of coup d’etats. A Prince went berserk a few years ago and wiped out the entire Royal family of Nepal. Sri Lanka is limping back from decades of civil war and separatist unrest. As are we in Kashmir and parts of the Northeast.

It is said that most hackers and computer virus programmers live to our immediate West. Extremely intelligent, their efforts are aimed at calculated and mass scale disruption. With the world being connected through virtually every computer and every phone, is a cyber attack unthinkable? All transportation can be disrupted. Trains would halt in their tracks and aircraft would fly around in circles, without any direction from Air Traffic Control. The lights would go out and would take days to be restored. Water supply would become non existent or contaminated because treatment plants would not work.

The last few months have seen a virtual crash of oil prices. On the one hand people are predicting the end of oil that can be harvested from deep within the Earth. On the other hand, prices of oil have fallen almost two thirds in a year. If oil and gas run out, we do not have any contingency plans, no back-up. Cars would go off the roads, and trucks would not ply the highways. Aircraft would be permanently parked in their hangars. Without gas, cooking will become extremely difficult or nearly impossible.

Finally, we have economic collapse. The Great Depression of the 1930s was too far back and a few generations have passed on after that to be front and centre in our collective memories. But we do remember what happened not too far back in 2008. Look at the situation today in 2015. The Indian currency is in freefall, as is the Chinese Yuan. The dollar is under pressure. Greece collapsed and is somehow trying to get back on its feet, albeit on crutches. Many parts of the Middle East are collapsing, either due to fundamentalism or due to the lack of economic opportunities. The once-booming real estate market has crashed drastically in the last few years in India and there does not seem to be any indication that it will bounce back. Optimists (people who are invested in real estate) are saying it is a correction that is happening. Pessimists (read realists) are predicting further fall in property prices. Employers are looking for trained employees and not-so-trained people are looking for jobs, and each of them are treading parallel paths. Maybe the day is not too far when money will lose its value entirely and we will be forced back to live the barter way. It is already happening in some parts of the country, who is to say it will not become a way of life?

These are some of the lesser “evils” that are standing at our front door. We need to prepare for these eventualities. These are medium term and reasonably long term scenarios. We are not even talking of the even lesser problems that are a part of our existence today. Riots, curfews, bomb blasts, floods, landslides, earthquakes, etc are of a lesser magnitude, but with the potential of extrapolating into really major events. It will not take too much for a localised riot to explode into a full scale civil unrest leading to a state of Emergency being declared. Civil liberties will cease to exist, martial law will be in place and everything will be rationed.

Am I sounding like the proverbial prepper. If so, I apologise. I am not a prepper. At least not of the Walking Dead kind. I am a survivalist and I hate to see other people not waking up and smelling the coffee. If everyone is prepared, then life will be a lot more organised in an emergency. If lesser number of people are prepared, then the ones that are not will resort to violence very quickly and snatch food, water, medicines from those who have them. Logic does not work with a parent who is seeing his daughter crying due to hunger. That is not the time to tell them “I told you so, you should have prepared”.

The time to prepare is NOW.

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