Guest Post: Ready For The Apocalypse?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Aziz of Azizonomics blog,

I am not really a doomer. But I do think that societies and individuals that do not prepare for the worst (and hope for the best) are needlessly endangering themselves. Tail risk events happen. An MIT study earlier this year predicted that the global economy would collapse by 2030.

A new national survey by National Geographic and Kelton Research finds some interesting results:

Which cataclysmic movies do Americans worry might come true?

7% of Americans think the Planet of the Apes might come true? Really? 30% of Americans think that the events of Roland Emmerich’s 2012 might occur?

And how prepared do Americans think they are for such events?

But in reality — in terms of what people have actually accomplished — few people seem ready for anything:

9% of people have alternative power sources? 21% have made some attempt to grow their own food? Only 43% have a spare supply of drinking water?

Not prepared at all.

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dexter_morgan's picture

When did the Club of Rome??? or whatever it was publish it's 'Limits of Growth' end of the world diatribe? Around 1970, wasn't it?

Seer's picture

What part of finite planet don't you (two) get?

Show me ANY population that can multiply without end.

It's a mathematical FACT, perpetual growth in a finite realm is impossible.  Those who don't comprehend this need to be on the short bus out of here.

RichardP's picture

... perpetual growth in a finite realm is impossible.

Seer - infinite growth in a finite world is impossible, but only if nobody dies.  You say, show me any population that can multiply without end.  The answer is any population can multiply without end.  Why?  Because of death.  If deaths equal births, no population growth will occur.

Winston Churchill's picture

There were some interesting studies done on animal populations given

unlimited supplies in a controlled enviroment.

Mother nature dealt harshly with them.Finite resources weren't the only constraint

Wish I could remember the name of the study.

RichardP's picture

Read something on rats recently.  Don't know if it is the one you are thinking of.  A researcher put a defined number of rats into a large outdoor enclosed pen.  Mostly what sticks in my mind about what I read is that, in short order, the rats broke up into social groups of 12-15 rats (if I'm remembering the number correctly).  Whatever the number, it was roughly consistant across all rat groups, and was fairly small.  That stuck in my mind because, in management studies, the optimal span of control is touted as approximately 12-15 subordinates.

Found it:

"... he began a 28-month study of a colony of Norway rats in a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) outdoor pen. Interestingly, even though five pregnant females over this time-span could theoretically produce 50,000 healthy progeny for this size pen, Calhoun found that the population never exceeded 200 individuals, and stabilized at 150, similar to the Dunbar number. Moreover, the rats were not randomly scattered throughout the pen area, but had organized themselves into twelve or thirteen local colonies of a dozen rats each. He noted that twelve rats is the maximum number that can live harmoniously in a natural group, beyond which stress and psychological effects function as group break-up forces."

Bob Sacamano's picture

RE: Question 10 -- 8% of the people could not survive "less than one day" with current provisions on hand.   What morons. 

eaglerock's picture

8-10% of the population will not survive when Hostess closes down.

NotApplicable's picture

Drove by a Hostess bakery this morning, noting how strange it was not to smell any bread baking.

A friend who worked there in HR has shown the place twice now, and states there are supposedly 110 interested buyers.

She is only working until the place is sold, and had to take an 8% pay cut to do so. The executives who got the bonuses? No pay cut at all.

blunderdog's picture

Alcohol withdrawal can be brutal.

FeralSerf's picture

Not to mention lack of one's favorite TV program.

Seer's picture

Think about the hospital population.  Think about those who depend on machines to keep themselves alive (no, not iCrap users!).  And there's likely going to be MANY who just freak out and die of heart attacks.  That 8% number may not be all that far fetched.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

At least point to the original article, giving link traffic to a rag like popsci is frowned upon, even in Reddit where this exact topic trended two days ago. (Nudge Nudge). The original Smithsonian article is from April.

Always cite original sources (Graham Turner, 52 pages, lots of nice graphs at the end), esp. where ad revenues and so on are at stake. The graphic you should have used in your article is this one. Note that the report was published in 2008-2009, not "last year".

The Limits of Growth report is well known, and I suspect a very hard sale on ZH, and is known to have some problems in its assumptions (esp. in regards to exponential growth & to what trends it's applied to). However, the Smithsonian tracking is generally correct, with one coda: the paranoid ravings of people fearing "Agenda 21" are a joke, and the solutions that are being tried are done without much funding.

If you read the current UNFPA report on activities, you'll see that spending (p35) is shockingly low from the USA, and overall is just short of $1 billion. Not $1 trillion, a mere billion. I'm sure most here will see just how paltry a figure this is. Private Capital (Bill Gates etc) can actually out-spend them in terms of dollars, and in Africa, does so.


"According to the 2010 Revision, the world population is expected to hit 10.1 billion by 2100, reaching 9.3 billion by the middle of this century. Essentially all of the growth will take place in less developed countries and will be predominately among the poorest populations in urban areas.

Between 2011 and 2100, the population of high-fertility countries, which includes most of sub-Saharan Africa, is projected to triple, passing from 1.2 billion to 4.2 billion. During the same period, the population of intermediate-fertility countries, such as the United States, Mexico and India, will increase by just 26 per cent, while that of low-fertility countries, which includes most of Europe, China and Australia, will decline by about 20 per cent."


The UN's goal for population is 2.1 children / woman, which is basically a stablising figure. There's no plan for everyone to go Japanese; that's entirely an emergent property of their societal choices. You know, that whole working 24/7, both partners working model (or in Japan, the "who the heck knows the weird is strong there" one).


Oh, and if you think the "Limits of Growth" paper is scary: you really need to wake up. The more recent and accurate ones really blow it out of the water.


harami's picture

All 'limits of growth' are self-imposed.  Rich people are tired of taking care of all the poor, inbred retards littering their planet.

Eugenics baby.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

When someone posts me a blog with a nice video that doesn't explicitly tell me who they are, and who they're funded by, well, I want to know more.


Domain name: overpopulationisamyth.comRegistrant Contact: Population Research Institute Joel Bockrath () Fax: 1190 Progress Drive Suite 2D Front Royal, VA 22630 US Administrative Contact: Population Research Institute Joel Bockrath ( +1.5406225240 Fax: +1.5406225240 1190 Progress Drive Suite 2D Front Royal, VA 22630 US

Well, the "Population Research Institute" isnt headed by Joel, it's headed by a Steve Mosher.

“They were crying, begging for mercy and praying for their dying children. It’s one thing to think about abortion in the abstract, but when you see a baby at seven-months gestation, it’s a baby — truly one of us,” said Steve Mosher, now the president of the Population Research Institute, recalling that fateful moment.

“It was as if the pit of hell opened up before me. All of the rationalizations were swept away by the brute facts — the humanity of these babies and their killing. I instantly realized that an abortion was the taking of a human life, and I became pro-life.” [source]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mosher successfully lobbied the George W. Bush administration to withhold $34 to $40 million per year for seven years from the U.N. Population Fund, the largest international donor to family planning programs. The decreased contraceptive services fueled continued global population growth.


He also turns up here as "Well according to a superb and profound piece of investigative journalism by Patrick Courrielche at Big Journalism, he's the eminence grise of the Climategate leak.", although that could be mere coincidence. [On reflection, 90% sure just a mis-step there, although the astroturfing / funding sources lead to the same pots of cream]


A little more digging, and I spot he's hot with the Catholic Church as well, and well connected in Evangelical circles. Ahh, so the circle is complete. I'm hardly convinced: A fundamentalist hard-core Pro-Lifer who lobbies for Bush vrs. Scientists. Where's the evidence Mosher? I'm not seeing him doing any real science. Then it gets scammy: he hasn't actually registered his "population research institute", and the REAL PRI is a Penn State institution. So, he must be running it as a charity.



2010 $1.25 million total funds, director paid $114k. 100% Astroturf, gets 1/5 stars and if I dig a little harder more than likely up to its eyeballs in stuff like The Family.


So, yep, totally legitimate and not a scam compared to a UN department. Baaaaallocks. Top tip: next time you attempt to astroturf a topic, don't do it. Fucking disgraceful: and what's worse is that a) you believe it, b) you think I'd believe it, and c) you'd think that ZH wouldn't instantly sniff the air of decay around your banal propaganda.

Time taken to debunk:18 mins. Where do I send the bill?


[also - the paper I linked in my first post was actually the working draft, not the final release, so is missing some content / graphs. Link cock-up there, oops]

Flakmeister's picture

We need more people like you around here....

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Not sure if an ironic joke, given the downvote that came with it ;)

Flakmeister's picture

Voting at the Hedge is like voting in an American election; not worth the effort but sometimes fascinating to see the outcome...

Cathartes Aura's picture

kickin' it olde skool ZH, just like I remember it.

have a gratuitous upvote to even the score - and yes, they matter not - and voting was added later, at the Great Shift, when the Captcha floodgate was opened. . .

NotApplicable's picture

I just love it when someone states that any collective has a "goal."

Words on fucking paper, written by individuals who may or may not believe what they write.

Besides, if you get the idea accepted that there should be a goal, it isn't very far to go in order to "move the goalposts."

I agree with your opinion of popsci, though.

Seer's picture

"The UN's goal for population is 2.1 children / woman, which is basically a stablising figure."

Problem is, is that we've been cranking up life expectancy.  Further, things still run a while after being turned off/down.  The total population count will continue to drift upwards for some time after any stabilizing "replacement" number has been achieved.

Nonetheless, it's a certainty that population numbers will peak.  And, I suspect that the makeup of the world's population will trend toward younger people since it'll be a significantly more physical world.  Things might get really dicey if there's a big plague that hits the younger generation.

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

Wow, this shows that at least (and almost certainly far, far more) of the American public are truly complete morons.  NASA uses the movie Armageddon as a training tool.  The highest "score" is identifying something like 170 separate scientific errors.

Matt's picture

The question is not whether you think Bruce Willis will lead a team of oil rig operators to save the world from an Asteroid.

Do you think, in the next 25 years, there is any chance of a large asteroid impact? Now, unless the survey comes with instructions or there is a person on hand to answer your questions, it is up to the person answering the survey to decide what a major asteroid impact is. Are we talking only Global Mass Extinction, or does it count if it hits a major city?

Nearly everyone understands that Hollywood movies are not 100% accurate representations, but the core threat from each movie can be real, on a smaller scale. If movies were completely realistic, they would be documentaries and far fewer people would watch them.

On this standard, The Day After Tomorrow already happened with Sandy. 

Quantum Nucleonics's picture

60-something % chance of a hurricane.  People are tools.  In 25 years, the odds are close to 100%.

FeralSerf's picture

That depends on where you live.  Montana seldom gets hurricanes.

Seer's picture

Years ago I was picking out "safe" places.  One that I had locked on to was well inland.  I was shocked to see that a tidal wave had impacted part of the area in modern times: it was on a big lake, triggered from a massive landslide.  I wasn't planning on being on/next to that lake, in which case it was moot for me, but it drove home the point that no place is entirely safe and that all sorts of disasters are lurking out there.

AON's picture

There is only one thing you need.  One thing only.


Silverballs's picture

I'm thinking children of men or something very similar

Seer's picture

Was surprised that there'd been no mention of this movie up until now.

While this is quite possible we should understand that there will be phases.  I don't believe that any scenario is going to persist.  I also don't believe that any scenario is going to hold true everywhere (and especially at the same time): not 100% that is; whether it's 99% or 9% is totally unknowable.

Prepare for the "transition."  Prepare to come out "the other side" where you'll end back up in a day-to-day (semi) routine.  What future life are you going to need to put energy toward...

TroyPDX's picture

How long would you survive on what you have in your home... less than a day is at 8%? WTF? You don't need anything at all to last 24 hours except maybe shelter if it's really cold. Have we become that damned soft as a country that nearly 1 in 12 of us don't think they can live a day on their own?

blunderdog's picture

Obviously there are different ways to interpret that, but it is worth mentioning that there are a lot of old folks around who depend on very complex networks of assistance.  How long would any of the lifers at a "retirement home" last if the employees stopped showing up?

Mad Mohel's picture

LOL at the 7%......but then again how are we defining "Apes"?    ._o

ptoemmes's picture

For movies I did not see Fi..., FC,,, - uhh you know that movie that shall neven be spoken that this blog is based upon?



kralizec's picture

25 years!  Bwuuuhaaahaaa!  Optimistic fools!

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

Serenity ... and fire with both eyes open.

shovelhead's picture

Worst case scenario...

I got a doghouse and an automatic kit for my ar15.

Bring it on.

cougar_w's picture

Keep an ax handy anyway. You shouldn't waste ammo defending against zombies when you can cut they heads off with an ax for nothing.

Seer's picture

Energy ain't free.  Swinging that axe will require spare calories to burn.  Need to do a cost analysis on ammo vs. calories to swing axes.  Oh!  And you're likely going to be moving around a lot more chasing the Zombies around, so add in calories for moving yourself about.

Sometimes I just want to be one of the ignorant.  This stuff makes one's head hurt...

Joe moneybags's picture

2001: A Space Odyssey .....That's how it will end.

woggie's picture

the beast is on the gobble
and all that matters is we're all headed for it's belly

matsoR's picture

There are many people with weird scenario's prepping, as can be seen in the first season of doomsday preppers.

This guy that served in 'nam actually stocked food for 15 years and according to him the value has risen by 400% nice investment there, huh.

cougar_w's picture

So he's going to actually sell all that now? Doesn't that you know defeat the purpose just a little? And if he's not planning on selling it then the monetary value is of zero (0) importance and will never be realized. Right?

Now I think about it, it's going to be really hard eating those MREs when you know that each one is worth $200 on the street. I mean seriously, all kinds of fuckers would rather die than think about eating a $200 meal alone in a bunker at the end of the world.

Seer's picture

And when the MREs run out, then what?  The stores magically re-open?

You're going to have to be a hunter-gatherer or a farmer, take your pick.  Oh, I suppose you could be a marauder, but keep in mind all that ammo that's out there.  Again, folks need to think more than one step...

malek's picture

There are a few things not everyone can do:

Grow my own food, own livestock:   I have no space to attempt that

Plan an Escape Route, Run Escape Practice Drills:   Pretty useless if you live in the middle of a densely populated area, and your greatest threat is a massive earthquake that will likely interrupt almost all roads

Develop my own power source:   No space to put a generator, also would need to store massive amount of fuel for it. But I invested in car chargers for all important items, so as long as I have some fuel in the tank I'm good...

Everything else I have.

dark pools of soros's picture

where the hell you live, a rented attic?

Parrotile's picture

Unfortunately a very likely "worst case scenario" will also see collapse of all the "invisible infrastructure" we so love, and which makes everyone's life so comfortable.

No power to run the circulating and coolant pumps in all those nuclear reactors (which still produce tens of kW heat even when "shut down")?? No power to maintain safety containment systems in the Chemical Industry? No power to run the pumps and other processes in water management services (particularly wastewater), no formal healthcare (and this includes the invisible hand of disease surveillance)??

Will we be able to bury the dead? Or will we have to abandon the Metropolitan lifestyle completely, leaving the dead to rot, and probably contaminate the water supply? Consider the population bloom probability for the real survivors - rats and mice. Maybe time to read up on the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes infection too??

Want to "see the future" simply look at what has happened to isolated comminities in the past. It's called disease, and we'll all be reminded that we too are "lunch" for quite a few other life-forms (viral, bacterial and protozoal). With antibiotic resistance very much in the World's headlines these days times could become very interesting very quickly, especially for high-density communities.

Just consider - in this disorganised environment, just ONE uncontrollable power reactor fire will release a suffient nuclide inventory to depopulate tens of thousands of square miles for a very long time. How many decades - old power reactors are there in the US ?? (and since the industry is very much "profit-led", just how many corners are being cut on "uneccesary safety" right now, in order to improve "the Bottom Line"?).

Reliable survival of "You and Yours" is going to need a LOT more than the ZH reliance on "Gold, Guns'n'Ammo" mindset.

forwardho's picture

Should, just in America, we lose our ability to replenish our food supplys. Estimates of loss of life exeed 100 million in 30 to 60 days. Those millions are not going to just lay down and die. They will do their best to make sure no one gets out of here alive. A starving mob is a terror to behold. Lets all give thanks to the govt for having the foresight to buy 1.5 billion rounds of 40 cal/JHP to help people along, that they might not have to suffer.