With North Korea threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean as its leader and President Donald Trump casually bandy about threats of thermonuclear annihilation, people in the US and Japan are understandably starting to worry.
After all, US intelligence agencies revealed during the summer that they believe the North will soon possess a nuclear warhead-tipped ballistic missile capable of striking most of the continental US. In fact, chances are good that, with a little luck, the North already has missiles in its arsenal that could probably strike a large area of the western US.
But, aside from nuclear threats looming in North Korea and Iran, the worst hurricane season in the Atlantic in more than a decade, and the continuing rumblings underneath the Yellowstone caldera, which could signal a potentially humanity-extinguishing eruption, it’s understandable that Americans and Japanese are increasingly worrying about their safety, and have begun purchasing more “doomsday preparation” gear to help assuage those fears.
Now, Reuters is reporting that survivalists across the US are clearing store shelves to stock bunkers in anticipation of Earth’s final chapter. A few survivalists who spoke with Reuters said that North Korea’s threats, and the images of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, have inspired them to stock up.
“It’s been a very busy six or seven weeks here - sales tripled practically overnight,” said Keith Bansemer, vice president for marketing for Idaho-based My Patriot Supply, an online store catering to preppper needs.
“It all started when North Korea shot the missile that was capable of reaching the U.S. Then the hurricanes and two Mexican earthquakes increased sales from California and Cascadia in the Northwest,” he said, referring to the corner of the country where many survivalists have settled because of its relative isolation.
One guy on the west coast said he’s worried about a catastrophic earthquake. He has piled enough survival supplies in a closet that could last he, his wife and their dogs for a month, if necessary.
David Yellin, a self-described prepper who lives in California’s San Diego County, said his main concern was the long-expected “big earthquake” along the West Coast.
The 31-year-old police officer has piled enough survival supplies in a closet of the apartment he shares with his fiance and their two dogs to allow them to hunker down for a month.
“I‘m more of what I consider a common sense prepper,” Yellin said. “Because at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own safety.”
Both he and his wife have “bug out bags” prepared should disaster strike.
If disaster forces the couple to flee, each has a “bug-out bag” stuffed with three days of food, water, first aid and water purification supplies, fire-starting materials, a tent and sleeping bag, change of clothes and important documents.
One purveyor of survivalist gear said sales on items like gas masks have spiked over the last two months, a period which notably featured the US’s escalating war of words with North Korea and the catastrophic hurricanes.
At Ready To Go Survival, founder and chief executive Roman Zrazhevskiy said gas masks were quickly moving off the shelves and overall sales “are up like 700 percent over the last two months.”
A prepper himself, he said his greatest fear was a U.S. economic collapse as a result of the country’s unsustainable debt.
“Once people go hungry, they are going to get to the streets and look for food,” said Zrazhevskiy, 31, who grew up in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn and now lives in Texas.
Customers were snapping up $500 CBRN suits to withstand chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack and $200 gas masks in sizes that fit children as young as 5.
Another prepper who has spent thousands of dollars on gear said he fears political and economic collapses as much or more than North Korea.
“Gas masks? I’ve got tons of those,” said prepper Jerry McMullin, 62, a retired risk assessment analyst whose bunker-like home in Yellow Jacket, Colorado, was built to withstand nuclear attack, biological warfare and a range of natural cataclysms.
Although North Korea is one of his biggest concerns, McMullin is also worried about political instability in Washington leading to riots and mayhem in the cities, he said.
“I‘m not a paranoid guy. I just want to be in a position that when it does go to Hell, I‘m in a good location to get whatever I need,” said McMullin, who has his own water filtration system and burns his own trash in his solar-powered home.
In addition to the obvious threats, many continue to believe in “doomsday" hoaxes like 7/7/2007 and end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.
Now, some Christians are touting a Bible prophecy that marks September 23, 2017 as the beginning of a seven-year period of catastrophic events that will bring humanity to its knees.
David Meade, a Christian numerologist and author, has said that, based on the Book of Revelations, a constellation would appear over Jerusalem on Saturday that would start the seven years of mayhem.
But McMullin said his own respect for Bible prophesy assures him that disaster is not around the corner.
“As far as getting wiped out this weekend, I‘m not too worried about that,” McMullin said.
“Maybe it’s a timeline marker and things are going to start getting really ramped up. We are not about to go through mass destruction and fatality. I think people are a little more stable - except for Kim,” he said, referring to North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un.
After spending thousands on gear, some preppers told Reuters that the flooding in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico have left them feeling vindicated.
We imagine that feeling will persist as economic and political tensions, coupled with the impending economic disenfranchisement of much of America’s working and middle classes, continue to simmer, while the US’s leaders continue to risk an unparalleled disaster by trading threats with unstable North Korea.