Update on Current Impending Disasters

Apart from pure speculation as to the most likely SHTF scenarios, there is some basis for proposing that certain disasters are approaching fruition. This prepping and survival blog post is a quick overview of current impending disasters, specifically:

* the MERS virus and its potential to become a pandemic,
* the U.S. drought and its potential to disrupt our food supply,
* Middle East turmoil and its potential to skyrocket oil prices as well as war, and
* recent volcanic eruptions, which can disrupt air travel and even cause cooling of the weather.

MERS

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are keeping a close watch on this disease. The latest WHO figures (5 July 2013) tally 79 cases and 42 deaths. So the death rate remains above 50% (42/79 = 53%). Some of these cases have not yet been resolved, meaning we don’t yet know if the patient will recover or die. So the death rate is probably over 55%.

For now, medical experts are saying that the MERS virus has not yet developed a potential for a global epidemic (a pandemic). In order to do so, the virus would have to mutate to be more easily transmissible. But that type of change in a virus is entirely within the realm of possibility. So we need to keep a close eye on this possible disaster: a global pandemic with a fatality rate of greater than 50%.

See my previous post: What We Know About MERS (so far)

Middle East Issues

The recent upheaval in Egypt, in which the democratically-elected leader President Morsi was removed by the military, has led to violent protests and clashes with the military in the streets. One immediate effect of this turmoil has been a jump in oil prices. The oil markets get jittery whenever there is instability in the Middle East (source of much of the world’s oil). A war in that region, or a series of governmental overthrows might reduce the oil supply. Thus prices jump when violence breaks out.

Another much worse possibility is that Iran will eventually obtain nuclear weapons. The U.S. or Israel could use a military strike to prevent that situation from occurring. But the result might be a conventional war in the Middle East. Also, Iran has enough low enriched uranium to make thousands of dirty bombs. So a military strike to prevent them from making nuclear bombs might push them to make dirty bombs. Without a military strike, though, Iran is probably going to get nuclear weapons sooner or later.

The Iran nuclear situation is one of my top possible TEOTWAWKI scenarios to watch. Then, too, the fact that North Korea already has nuclear bombs presents a similar concern.

See Prep-Blog previous posts on the topic of radiation and nukes here.

The Drought

The United States is currently suffering from the worst drought in over 50 years. As of 2 July 2013, the drought has lasted over one year, without relief. Currently, a third of the continental U.S. is under severe drought, over 44% is under at least moderate drought, and just over half is abnormally dry or worse. See the Drought Monitor map here with its accompanying data.

The drought is costing tax payers billions of dollars, since most farm land is protected by generous federal crop insurance. The drought is also harming the corn and soy crops, used to feed livestock. And the winter and spring wheat crops were also affected by the drought. If the next corn and soy crops also fare poorly, the system could reach a tipping point, leading to a jump in food prices and even The End of the Supermarket as we know it. (OK, maybe it won’t be that bad.) But it is worth keeping an eye on the drought and the Weekly USDA Weather and Crop report.

Volcanoes

This last impending disasters is not likely to become very severe. But it is nice to speculate about some of the less harmful scenarios. Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano has been spewing ash and lava for over a day now. The ash has disrupted air travel and forced the rerouting or cancellation of dozens of flights. But the most harmful global impact from volcanic eruptions would be a cooling of the atmosphere if the eruption were particularly large.

See my previous post: Volcanoes: local and global impacts

– Thoreau

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