I feel I need to apologize to my readers. Two weeks ago I wrote a Post-Apocalyptic Survival Guide for the Woolly Mammoth Blog that I now feel failed to provide much of the critical information necessary for preparing to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I was negligent in addressing the critical question for any apocalyptic readiness preparations, “What kind of apocalypse will you need to survive?” So as my personally imposed act of penance, I present you with my “Guide to Apocalyptic Categorization”
A Nuclear Apocalypse – While movies like The Day After may just seem like cold war paranoia today, there are still approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. That combined with the growing concern with the safety of the world’s 430 plus nuclear power plants and all of a sudden Brendan Fraser’s family in Blast from the Past doesn’t seem so crazy for building their own personal fallout shelter. While reactors in power plants don’t explode with anywhere near the kind of destructive force of a nuclear warhead, they can have long term impacts on the habitability of the surrounding environment when things go wrong. I haven’t seen Chernobyl Diaries yet, but I assume it as a good documentary source of information about how the environment around the famous Ukrainian power plant was impacted by the 1986 accident.
Probability: Based on the prevalence of nuclear material on our planet—both in weapon and power plant forms—and all the 1960s PSAs I have been watching lately I would say that a Nuclear Apocalypse is Medium Probability.
Survivability: Depends. If you are under a desk, High. For those not taken out by an initial blast, who also manage to avoid Acute Radiation Syndrome, I would rate survival chances at Medium to Medium-Low. Being prepared to enter a lawless economy based on bartering and violence with other survivors can however increase your chance of survival.
A Technological Apocalypse - Robots are everywhere these days. They build our cars, vacuum our floors, and arrange our train travel. Now it may just be my personal grudge with Julie the Amtrak Robot, but I have a feeling that robots may not be happy with cheerfully serving man forever, and I am not alone in my thinking. Between Skynet and the Matrix it is pretty clear that machines becoming self aware can only lead to bad things for humanity. And robots are just one of the many technologies in development today that could one day wreak havoc for us humans. Pick up just about any Michael Crichton book you will soon be plagued by the constant fear that somewhere scientists are making deadly uncontrollable nanobots or cloning dinos.
Probability: Now that we are making robots whose sole purpose for existing is geriatric care I am going to give this one a High Probability.
Survival: Very Low, unless your name is John Connor.
A Pathological Apocalypse - First came Bird Flu, then came Swine Flu, then finally came the Super Flu. Ok so no Super Flu yet, but it may be on its way. As if the diseases naturally occurring in the real world were not terrifying enough, authors like Stephen King have to scare us with the possibility of manmade super diseases breaking free from their research laboratories and ravaging society. While mankind’s ability to tolerate some of these pathogens may save us from a War of the Worlds style alien invasion, anyone who has seen Outbreak or knows about the very real disease that inspired the film knows there is much more to fear from these microscopic predators.
Probability: Medium. The more you know about what they keep around for research at the CDC the more paranoid you will become.
Survival: Medium to High. We have done it before. The Plague, Ebola, and Spanish Flu all did a lot of damage but humanity survived. Immunity, early detection, quarantine zone, these are all words that make me feel a little safer. Just hope you are not neighbors with Patient Zero and you have a decent shot at living through it.
A Zombie Apocalypse - Often related to the Pathological Apocalypse in films like 28 Days Later, zombies due merit their own category. Sometimes the cause of a zombie outbreak is a deadly virus but other times it is supernatural like in Evil Dead. Now we can add another item to the list of terrors that can cause someone to become a zombie, Bath Salts. Not the kind you put in your tub, but the drug similar to LSD that reportedly caused a Florida man to start eating another man’s face and made him oblivious to being shot by police officers.
Probability: Very High, since it’s already happening.
Survival: Depends on if you count being a zombie as surviving or not.
Other possible causes of an apocalypse include: Meteors, Super Volcanoes, Alien Invasions, Drastic Climate Change, God, and Dragons. But in most of those situations we are all pretty much doomed beyond possible redemption so there is not much you can do to prepare.
~Cameron Huppertz, Literary Assistant