Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Doomsday scenarios

The LDS church encourages its members to build up a "year's supply" of food and supplies as part of being self-sufficient.

After awhile, I imagine some ask themselves -- "Why are we doing this? I have 20-year old gallon cans of wheat going bad now that I never needed, what was the point of that?"

I'm sure having a little more peace of mind during those 20 years has something to do with it... but just like every mentally-overactive teenager, I've come up with a couple "Doomsday" scenarios where a year's supply would really come in handy -- except I think these aren't that far fetched! Check them out:

Doomsday scenario 1

Terrorists plant timebombs on every known oil pipeline in the world, out in the middle of nowhere. On the specified day, all go off simultaneously, blowing the pipes wide open and effectively cutting off the oil supply in those areas.

The resulting wave of anxiety from the market sends oil prices skyrocketing, and within days the price of gas has gone to more than $100 a gallon, if you can find it at all. The cost of transporting goods also skyrockets, and now supermarkets are forced to pay huge premiums for goods, which turns $100 grocery bills into $1000 grocery bills.

Most folks have very little food stored, so they're stuck, and are forced to buy food instead of paying mortgages and car payments. The financial system tanks, and the whole system goes into a flat spin until the oil companies are able to repair and secure the pipelines, and allow the system to re-stabilize. Prices mostly return to normal within a few months, but the shockwaves echo through the economy for years.

Doomsday scenario 2

An EMP device goes off in your city. Most electronics devices are rendered useless, which means your TV and computer are broken, some refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and washing machines won't work. City pumping stations with newer control systems can't pump water. Electricity might not be available. Cellphones and landlines are dead. And worst of all: your car won't start.

Instantly, people panic and run outside, wondering what to do. Then they run back inside, and try to figure out what they're going to do -- what they're going to eat? How they're going to heat/cool their house? What about work and school? What happened? Are we under attack? Is my family okay? I wonder if my neighbors have food? I better run to the store before it's all gone, but what will I pay for food with? And how will they scan my items or take my money???


Doomsday scenario 3

A large sample of the weaponized version of smallpox that Russia developed during the cold-war is sold from a Russian lab by a disaffected technician. 6 months later, a small sample is tied to a time bomb, then tossed onto the roof of the Colonial convenience store in downtown Omaha, Nebraska. Similar bombs are planted in Fairfax, Plano, Eugene, Orlando, and Thousand Oaks.

On a prescribed day, the bomb in Omaha detonates. 2 day later, the bomb in Eugene detonates. 7 days later, the bomb in Plano detonates. 5 days later, the bomb in Fairfax goes off. Etc.

The country immediately goes into a panic. Smallpox? People dying? Do I have my vaccine? Why Omaha and not D.C.? It's so random, I wonder if we're next??? As each successive bomb goes off, the unpredictability of the intervals and locations puts people into a nervous anxiety. Those infected don't know they're infected until they have spread the disease to dozens of populations, and many dare not go outside.

"Not likely."


I'm not suggesting that any of these things will happen, only hoping to show that relatively small, and physically feasible actions on the part of a few could have disastrous consequences to the general public. Were everyone to have a year's supply of food and household items, although rough, none of these would have to be life threatening for most people.

Something to think about.

Not to mention the fact that food prices increase steadily, and if you buy food now that you intend to consume months or years later, it ends up being a good investment, at very least.

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