How Close Are We to SHTF: The Bad News

Nothing lasts forever, not a human life, a culture, or even a star. It’s hard to predict cosmic events like the end of our sun with any accuracy. However, we can certainly make some educated guesses about when our society or even our current world economy might end. I’m not saying you should go underground today, but when I started looking at the issue seriously, the results were pretty alarming.

How close are we to SHTF? We’re already there. Realistically the world as we know it could end quickly on any given day. Some ends are fast, like a nuke or an asteroid. Others are slow, as the downfall of a society that slowly collapses under its own lack of progress. We live in an era of the latter.  


The Time We Almost Died

Being prepared for emergencies is all about doing what you can. Sometimes the right choice in a disaster is just listening to your instincts, and nothing can prepare you for that. Worse still are the times when there’s nothing you can do at all. Humans almost disappeared once before.

Catastrophic events happen all the time. Mount Vesuvius blew, and no one had any clue what to do about it. However, that was only threatening one city.

More frightening is the time, about seventy thousand years ago (give or take a couple thousand), a supervolcano named Toba blew in what’s now called Indonesia. The explosion was so massive Toba laid a six-centimeter thick layer of ash, which can be seen to this day over South Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian, and South China Seas. Best estimates say that the earth probably went six years with little to no sunlight.

Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Toba could have killed off the remains of humanity except for the fortunate fact that we’re opportunistic omnivores. The people of that age probably ate dying animals for a long time before the sun came back. Is it any wonder that we have a fear of the dark ingrained in our species consciousness?

Studies say we dropped as low as perhaps a thousand people left on the planet. One study even says we might have come closer to extinction than that. We may have only had about forty breeding pairs of humans left on earth for a while. If that’s true, then you, me, and every one of the seven and a half billion people alive today come from a long line of lucky and motivated survivors.

You have to start somewhere if you want to have a chance at surviving a horrific event. The plus side is that it’s in your genes to be a survivor. Unfortunately, a lack of preparation can kill you. I suggest you try the Sustain Supply Co. Premium Family Emergency Survival Kit form Amazon as a first step. Sadly, you won’t make it six years on one bag if you need to get out of dodge. luckily, surviving the initial seventy-two hours in relative comfort will help you get organized for the long haul.


The Doomsday Clock

Hopefully, you’ve heard of The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic representation maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In 1943 the international group of scientists, known as the Chicago Atomic Scientists, developed this potent image to help people understand that unchecked science and technology are putting us at serious extinction-level risk.

Doubtless, the decision was influenced by their time working on the Manhattan Project and the nuclear weapons that would go on to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The clock first saw a physical format in 1947. Since then, the Doomsday Clock has been a physical and symbolic representation of danger based on what the scientific community feels are genuine threats to humankind.

The likelihood of a global catastrophe caused by humans is shown in the familiar form of clock hands. Midnight is the time we never want to see the hands reach. It represents any hypothetical event that’s catastrophic on a global scale. If no one takes action to avoid the issues they identify, these events are almost inevitable. The setting is based on factors like global nuclear war risk, climate change, progressive scientific advances like AI, and politics.

Wherever you are on your preparedness journey, there’s always more you can do to help your own survival. I suggest strongly, in light of things like the Doomsday Clock, that you work as hard and fast as you can to be better prepared. You may want to invest in a ninety-day emergency ration kit like the Eden Farms Emergency Supply Kit on Amazon. Even a nuclear bunker wouldn’t do you any good without food inside.

Two Minutes to Midnight

Since 2018, the Doomsday Clock has stayed at two minutes to midnight. The time is based on the state of the world and how at-risk we are to end our species. Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists meet twice a year to determine where the hands on the clock belong.

Since it’s first physical setting in 1947, seven minutes to midnight, the clock has changed twenty-three times. However, the time didn’t change last year, and it hasn’t changed this year either (so far). According to these scientists, humanity is very nearly at the point of no return, and no one has taken sufficient actions to change that in some time. They believe “the probability of a global catastrophe is very high.”


Surely You Jest

Far too many people have delusions about why no disaster will ever strike them. Perhaps you don’t live near a fault, ocean, mountain, stormy area, or another likely catastrophe. You’ve stayed away from nuclear facilities and big cities, and every problem you can see. Good job. You’re ahead of the game, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe.

Even if you don’t know that you’ll need it for sure, stocking up on emergency supplies is smart. If you’re alone or only have one other person to help care for, then I suggest checking out the Everlit Two-Person Disaster Preparedness Kit I found on Amazon. Take the steps you need. Be prepared for any disaster and raise your chances of being among the lucky survivors.

The world has almost ended due to humans more than once. It will happen again whether we dodge the bullet or not. Here are a few people who saved the entire planet from a TEOTWAWKI event that could have killed us all.

People Who Saved The World:

  • Stanislov Petrov prevented a nuclear war in 1983 when he followed his instincts. Instead of reporting a missile warning to his superiors that showed the USA was attacking Russia with nukes that would have provoked a nuclear response, he turned the alarm off. Petrov told his superiors there had been a malfunction in the new system. It turned out to be true.
  • James Blunt, yes, the singer, once refused an order that could have led to a significant altercation, or even World War III. Instead of forcing a conflict with entrenched Russian soldiers when the order came down, he saw the risk of attacking and refused though he risked a court-martial in so doing.
  • Vasili Arkhipov also saved the world from a major nuclear war in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. When his submarine dove out of range of surface communications, American forces were shooting (non-lethal depth charges) at it. Arkhipov was the commander who refused to fire a nuclear weapon at Americans. Meanwhile, the other two commanders wanted to fire the nuke. The decision was later hailed as one that prevented a third world war.


From Copernicus to Gott

Pinning down the exact expiration date of humanity is tough at best. How do we determine the chances that things will fall apart in our lifetime? J. Richard Gott, an astrophysicist from Princeton, thinks he has the answer.

As a student of the Copernican Theory, Gott believes that, as the Washington Post explains it, “We are not privileged observers of the world around us. We don’t occupy a unique place in the universe. We are profoundly ordinary. We are not special.”

Copernicus was a brilliant scientific mind and great mathematician who created the heliocentric model of the galaxy. In short, he was the first to tell people that Earth is not the center of the universe. Though people called it blasphemy, his theory was proven right over and over again. This idea inspired Gott to create his formula.

The Gott Formula

In 1969 Richard Gott visited the Great Wall of China. It was there he first thought of applying the Copernican Principle to things and events around him. Basically, his formula assumes that since we’re not special, we aren’t standing at the beginning of the end of anything. Instead, we’re in the middle ninety-five percent of its lifespan.

The thing that makes this equation unique is that it doesn’t account for fluctuations like human behavior. Gott’s Formula is purely statistical. He’s applied it to everything from the Berlin Wall (before it fell) to how long Broadway shows will run with stunning accuracy.

By Richard’s calculation, humanity has somewhere between about 5,000 and 7.8 eight million years left in its lifespan. That may seem like a large window, but it’s not. In terms of the lifespan of a planet or universe, it’s not even a blink. Alarmingly, this calculation only gives the space program another forty-eight years at most. Hence, we probably won’t be expanding our empire to the stars unless we get on the ball right now. Hopefully, he’s wrong about that.

Optimism Quashed

Looking at this optimistic view, you may think that even five thousand years is a long time, and you have no worries. However, the end of the last surviving member of a species is not the same as the most substantial part of its decline. In short, the SHTF scenario we all fear would happen long before the final human breathes their last breath.


Global Warming & Climate Change

Unless you are a non-believer in science, then you understand the threat of Global Warming and Climate Change is very real. What you may not realize is that in spite of the enormous damages it’s doing to our planet, you can help stem the tide.

Preventing an inevitable global catastrophe that is likely to destroy all life as we know it requires everyone to give up things they don’t wish to go without. For example, half or more of the time you spend in your car. More on that in a moment.

As a prepper, you know you have to do everything you can to be ready. Going a step further and actually preventing your small part of an extinction event is just the natural progression of being prepared. Once you have all the equipment, you need to survive, like this AuricampEmergency Survival and First Aid Kit from Amazon, look into other ways to save yourself. 


The risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods, and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people will only increase as time passes if we don’t make serious changes. Specifically, fossil fuel emissions and other pollutants need to be cut out of our future plans. We have to reduce 45% of the global emissions by 2030 to stop this from getting worse.

Failure to make these changes is the same as signing yourself and every living human up for heatwaves, superstorms, flooding on a near-biblical scale, and other side effects. Famine, drought, flooding, and wars for the remaining resources are going to happen if everyone doesn’t change the way they live. Unless you die soon, these things will happen in your lifetime. Some are happening now.

In short, to answer the question again, I can say this. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we’ve already reached one frightening and far-reaching plateau with a 1.5-degree temperature rise globally. It will get worse. That means that we are already in the midst of an SHTF scenario. It just happens to be the slow version instead of the rapid easy to see variant.


Final Thoughts

There are a million articles that argue, from a personal standpoint, when the author thinks that society will end. I wanted to take a broader and less personal approach here. You can watch the news for yourself to see the concern of the day. Instead, I looked into what the great thinkers of our era have to say about the whole world. Regardless of whether any given event causes our extinction as a species, we’re dealing with a massive SHTF scenario now.

No one said it had to happen all at once. People watch too much TV and expect a neat two-hour package of special effects to be included in a catastrophe of global proportions. Humanity is doomed. Whether we go out with a bang, or a long drawn-out whine that lasts centuries, all species end. With commitment and good emergency preparation, you can help prolong our lifespan and your own.

It doesn’t matter what you believe, or which scenario you find most likely. Something always happens eventually. Are you ready?

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