by FERGUS MASON
One thing all good preppers do is keep an eye on the world situation.
Being prepared for anything that happens is great; being prepared for anything that happens and having some advance warning of an approaching crisis is even better.
If you know your preps might be called on in the near future you have the chance to give them a last check, take care of anything on your to-do list and add to your stockpiles.
So, looking around the world right now, should you be counting your canned food and working out where you can squeeze in a few more barrels of water?
Let’s take a look at what’s going on and see if there’s anything preppers should be worrying about.
War and Peace
For the first time since 2001 the US doesn’t have large troop deployments in a war zone – but that doesn’t mean peace has broken out.
The war in Ukraine has been going on for 18 months now, and while US troops aren’t fighting there, we’re one of the defenders’ main backers.
We’re not at war, but we’re involved in a war – with a country that has thousands of nuclear weapons. Would we be safer staying out of it? Probably not; Europe tried appeasing a land-hungry dictator in the 1930s and we got WWII.
Russia has to be stopped in Ukraine, because if they’re not they’ll get the message that the West in general, and the US in particular, aren’t willing to stand up to aggression anymore.
Russia isn’t the only one that will get that message, either. China is watching what we do, and if we show that we won’t defend our fellow democracies Beijing is likely to invade Taiwan. That could get ugly, and not only because Taiwan has been a US ally for decades.
If China seizes its neighbor, every other democracy in the Pacific is going to be seriously alarmed – including Japan, which might have some historical objections to nuclear weapons, but is capable of making its own any time it wants.
No, we’re not at war right now, but the world’s two most powerful hostile states are acting aggressively, and we’re an obvious target.
The US has a lot of infrastructure, but thanks to lack of investment most of it isn’t in great shape. The dangerous part of that is the electrical grid – all of it.
The country can generate enough power in mild weather, but when summer heats up and everyone turns on the aircon demand can beat supply.
Even worse, the vital cables that carry electricity from power plants to our homes is old, poorly maintained and vulnerable to all sorts of problems.
Preppers often focus on the danger of an EMP attack. The reality is that a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, or even just an unusually hot day, could cause widespread failures and leave large areas of the US without power.
If enough of the grid is damaged, it could trigger a social collapse. This is because there’s a limited supply of replacement parts, and it could take a long time to get things repaired.
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The Biden administration is spending money on infrastructure, but it’s going on green projects, not fixing the basics. Some of its plans are even making things worse; there’s huge pressure to switch to electric cars, but the grid doesn’t have the capacity to charge them all.
The White House keeps telling us it’s bringing inflation under control. Most prices are still rising, but the increase is slowing down.
Does that mean the economy is in good shape? Well, don’t speak too soon. There are some serious economic threats facing the US right now.
Two years ago, as the country opened up again after the pandemic, economic growth hit 5.9%. Now it’s just 1.1%, and the main reason for that is the rapid rise in interest rates since March 2022.
The Federal Reserve is pushing rates up to control inflation – but with so many Americans already struggling, increasing the cost of borrowing cuts what people can spend and risks knocking us into a recession.
The biggest financial risk of all is the national debt. Biden’s legislative program is built on huge spending bills, and he’s borrowing the money to pay for them.
Congress is now balking at letting him borrow anymore. Right now the House is fighting a vicious battle over whether to authorize spending to continue at last year’s level, or force the administration to cut spending to pre-pandemic levels.
Conservatives are worried that if the White House doesn’t rein in its addiction to debt, we’ll soon reach the point where all our taxes go to paying off the interest. If that happens, the government won’t be able to pay its employees – and social collapse will be just days away.
Not that our society needs much to push it over the edge these days. Civil unrest is becoming more common. Why?
There are various theories, including the way social media can spread rumors or misinformation quickly, and let troublemakers quickly organize protests – which often degenerate into riots.
It’s now almost routine for unrest to break out whenever someone’s shot in a confrontation with police, and it can take days for order to be restored. State and local government can’t always be relied on to prioritize law and order, either.
For example, a crime-infested six-block “autonomous zone” was allowed to exist in Seattle for three weeks of June 2020. If you’re stuck in an area like that, you’re on your own.
Our government and fellow citizens aren’t the only threats, either. Natural disasters are still a hazard, too.
From wildfires to storms, earthquakes to flooding, nature can throw a lot at us – and it can happen at any time.
The aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina showed us just how bad things can get following a disaster, and how long it can take for order to be restored.
Where Are We Now?
So is the world in good shape and all our prepping was unnecessary? Or is this the calm before the storm?
Personally I don’t even think it’s all that calm; the Ukraine war is the most dangerous conflict the world has seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, and it could encourage China to do something even more destabilizing. The risk of a larger war is very real.
We’re also facing the danger of collapsing infrastructure, either because of misguided government policies, a natural disaster or things simply wearing out.
We can’t take reliable power for granted anymore, and without it society is going to collapse very quickly. We’re seeing more and more local disorder, and it wouldn’t take much for it to spread across much of the country.
Our economy has calmed down for the moment, but the foundations it stands on are built of massive debt, and they’re shaky. Opposing factions in Congress aren’t willing to compromise anymore, and that could plunge us into a financial crisis at any moment.
The world is a dangerous and unstable place right now, and a crisis could hit with very little warning. Being prepared to survive is more important than ever.
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