Many if not most Americans do a poor job of stockpiling supplies. Instead, when disaster is imminent, survival instincts take over and they rush to the store to buy as much water and food as possible. For example, look at those on the East Coast during hurricane season. Every time a major hurricane is predicted, water, food and gasoline run short.
While FEMA recommends a three-day quantity of supplies, and many survivalists recommend a full year of the basics like food and water, most Americans simply wait until they think a major event is about to disrupt their lives.
Here are five events that could send Americans running to the nearest store and leaving the shelves empty.
1. Natural Disaster
While many Americans have adapted to annual localized natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, few prepare for them. Each winter in the South, small snow storms empty stores of essentials such as bread and milk. And each summer and fall along the coasts, the same thing happens when a hurricane is threatening. And these are only relatively minor natural disasters. Can you imagine the impact if a major hurricane, even more powerful than Katrina, directly hit Florida? Or if an historic earthquake – similar to the one that shook the Mississippi River in the 1800s – struck the heartland again? What if the “big one” finally strikes California? It wouldn’t be simply bread and water. Entire stores would be empty.
2. Financial Collapse
The stock market crash of 1929 nearly destroyed America. The 1987 market crash left behind widespread financial loss, and the 2008 crash exacerbated the recession caused by the housing market collapse.
Another major stock market crash could easily shake the delicate foundations of a sound economy. Loss of consumer confidence, either from a stock market crash, lowering of international credit rating, or escalating inflation can create panic overnight. As people watch their savings disappear or suffer from high inflation, they flock to the supermarkets to buy anything they can still afford. Before long, the shelves are empty.
3. Enemy Attack
Other than the distant War of 1812 and the ineffectual incursions by Mexico over 150 years ago, Americans have not experienced an invasion on our mainland, and many can’t conceive of it happening.
However, a sudden escalation of tension or a moment of anger by one of those nations that have threatened to harm us could change this feeling of security.
For example, North Korea has claimed it has nuclear weapons and is reported to have electromagnetic force weapons (EMP). Worse, it has the missiles to launch them to our western seaboard.
Imagine if the young unstable man currently running the country, Kim Jong-un, begins to exhibit even more bizarre behavior. In a fit of rage, he launches a nuclear missile toward San Francisco.
But Kim Jong-un threatens more missiles. People from Seattle to Los Angeles panic. A second missile falls short of San Jose by 50 miles. But more missiles are promised. All along the western coast, desperate people strip stores, gas stations and hardware stores of everything as they flee into the safety of Idaho and Nevada.
4. Terrorist Attack
A closely related scenario is a terrorist attack. One of our nation’s most vulnerable resources is our water supply. Imagine if terrorists infiltrated low-security water treatment plants in Chicago and Dallas. They douse the water with a colorless, odorless, tasteless poison that kills one out of every three people that drink the water. After a million people die, and the terrorists take credit, stores are overtaken as people grab every drop of water and any other liquid. They also take all the food.
5. Collapse of Food Supply
Today’s modern food supply depends on a complicated system of genetically modified crops, synthetic fertilizers and powerful pesticides. If one of these fails, a vast portion of the nation’s food supply could fail.
For example, genetic modification helps plant cope with pests by repelling them. However, pests adapt. In 2003, a genetically modified corn was introduced to repel western corn rootworms. However, the EPA has received reports that the rootworm is building resistance and the genetically modified corn is no longer repelling the rootworms as efficiently as in the past.
Now assume it’s two years later. A new breed of rootworms has evolved. They feed on the roots of corn nationwide, destroying 90 percent of the crop yield for an entire year. Food prices begin to rise, and the government hints at rationing. People panic and empty store shelves, hoping to get as much food as they can before food is too expensive to buy or too rationed to reliably get.
Or, imagine if the drought out West continues to worsen. Many scientists believe the West was settled during an abnormally “wet” time in the land’s history. If we’re headed back toward desert-like conditions in California – which supplies a majority of our vegetables – stores will have a difficult time keeping supplies on shelves.
Although modern society has raised the livings standards to great heights in the United States, the slightest hint of disaster to come can trigger latent instincts. Those include the instinct to hoard for an unknown tomorrow.
What would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the section below: