Doomsday Preppers are not the only ones who take the possibility of “black swans” seriously. A recent report by the National Intelligence Council looks into a few possibilities for surprise and catastrophic world-changers in this week’s weekly roundup. We also have some reasons consider the possibilities of nuclear war and cataclysmic earthquakes.
California Earthquake Reminder of Shaky Ground and Disaster Potential
Today in the early morning hours, a strong earthquake shook off the coast of California and was felt across the southern region of the state. The magnitude 6.3 quake struck at a depth of 6 miles, approxiamately163 miles southwest of the nearest city, Avalon, on California’s Santa Catalina Island, at 2:36 a.m. PT (5:36 a.m. ET). This was the largest earthquake in California this year. There was no tsunami warning issued, but Californians were reminded that tsunamis are in fact a possibility in California.
One potential tsunami threat is through a distant event that generates a tsunami. In the last half-century, the West Coast has experienced tsunamis originating in Chile, Alaska and the Kuril Islands in Russia. The more dangerous, although rarer event, is that of an earthquake occurring offshore and creating a tsunami that strikes within minutes. In Southern California, there is geologic evidence of tsunamis created by earthquake-triggered undersea landslides. To the North, the Cascadia subduction zone, an offshore seismic region that stretches from Northern California’s Cape Mendocino to southern British Columbia, poses an even larger threat than distant events. A Cascadia earthquake and tsunami are capable of the type of destruction that was witnessed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The repercussions of an event that large in the United States could create the sort of collapse that Doomsday Preppers fear and prep to withstand.
Launch of Korean Rocket Renews Fear of Nuclear Threat
On December 12 at 7:49AM EST, North Korea launched a rocket into space, creating a fervor of international criticism and re-igniting the conversation about nuclear threat. The North Korean Foreign Ministry asserted that the launch was simply to deploy a weather satellite. However, detractors point to the fact that this makes North Korea closer to a nuclear weapons system. Most other countries perceive this as a test of banned long-range missile technology. All the same, North Korea will require more robust and dependable missiles as well as more advanced nuclear weapons to pose a threat to United States. However, the country does already pose a shorter-range missile threat to its neighbors and many argue that a longer-range threat is looming.
Global Trends Report Points to Some Possible Black Swans
Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds a publication of the National Intelligence Council of the United States was recently published. The report forecasts what is in the future for the balance of world power and economic trends. The executive summary of this report states, “This report is intended to stimulate thinking about the rapid and vast geopolitical changes characterizing the world today and possible global trajectories during the next 15-20 years.” While the report does not claim to be predicting the future, in 166 pages it details many possibilities, most of them positive. However, the listing of “mega-trends” and “game changers” includes an addendum of “Black Swans”, events that could cause large-scale repercussions around the world. The Black Swan events include possibilities such as:
Global Trends 2030 recognizes that beginnings, location and development of the next pathogen that spreads to humans are unpredictable. However, it notes also that, “An easily transmissible novel respiratory pathogen that kills or incapacitates more than one percent of its victims is among the most disruptive events possible.” Models of such an outbreak show a possibility of millions of people incapacitated and dying across the globe in less than six months.
Nuclear War or WMD/Cyber Attack
Nuclear powers and countries that aspire to become nuclear powers may continue to test and procure weapons in an effort to compensate for real or perceived political and security weaknesses. The report points to this attitude creating a heightened risk for the use of weapons in their possession. The possibility of usage of other weapons of massive destruction or of cyber attacks is also increasing.
Solar Geomagnetic Storm
According to the report, the recurrence of a crippling solar storm, which happens less than once a century, is overdue. Solar geomagnetic storms could knock out satellites, the electric grid, and many sensitive electronic devices. The destructive nature of such a storm would be much more substantial in the modern world, which is more dependent on electricity than ever before.
Accelerated Climate Change
Most scientists are unwilling to attempt predicting events that may be unleashed with any dramatic climate change. However, changes are already occurring at a faster rate than expected according to the report. Climate change related events have the possibility of setting into motion, localized challenges that could ripple into worldwide problems. For example the report notes that, “Rapid changes in precipitation patterns—such as monsoons in India and the rest of Asia—could sharply disrupt that region’s ability to feed its population.”
Many in the United States argue that recent natural disasters demonstrate the effects of global warming. Still, few people are prepared for the next big event or a doomsday style disaster. In this week’s episode of Doomsday Preppers, the show looks at a few people who are making plans for this very thing. With recent storms such as Sandy, New Yorkers now more than ever need to have escape plans in case they need to flee. NGC cameras follow three New Yorkers as they plot their routes out of the city, literally escaping the grid to reach safety. Tune in to this week’s episode of Doomsday Preppers: Escape from New York this Tuesday December 18 at 9PM et/pt.