The Times newspaper had two illuminating Opinion articles today (2.1.12). The first was written by Richard Ward, the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, and titled ’That was the year that cost us $350 billion’, the second titled ’Tick the box marked Personal Responsibility’ and written by David Wighton. They both add to the points that Worst Case Scenario is concerned about and stands for. Here’s a summary: The italics are my additions.
(Richard Ward) 2011 will go down in our collective memory as one of almost permanent turmoil. Floods, earthquakes, nuclear accidents, riots, regime changes. All of these figured prominently in the headlines throughout the year, not to mention the still looming global economic crisis or the still reverberating echoes of previous disasters such as Haiti or New Orleans. 2011 has the dubious title of the highest monetary losses due to catastrophe in history: $350 billion – $350,000,000,000. Put it this way, at 28 I have not been alive even 1 billion seconds, and if I was to put a pound in a jar every second from the day of my birth to the day of my retirement at 75, my children would have to take on the responsibility to take it to a single billion. That’s a lot of money lost to catastrophe, a lot of it uninsured.
2011 rolled into town with the Queensland floods in Australia, killing 35 and turning 75% of QLD into a ‘no-mans land’. Only $2.5bn of the $7bn was insured. QLD then faced Cyclone Yasi while New Zealand had massive earthquakes to deal with in February. In fact the entire Pacific rim – dubbed the Ring of Fire – faced upheavals in 2011, most notably with the earthquake and tsunami off Fukashima leading to the disastrous explosions at the Fukashima nuclear plant that is still spilling radiation into the ocean and environment. Over the course of the year, 1,600 hurricanes and tornados raged across the United States, with Hurricane Irene crushing businesses across the states. Bringing the year to a close are the devastating floods in Thailand that have effectively closed the country for business and the tremors felt again in Christchurch, New Zealand. In all, 30,000 lives were lost in various disasters world wide.
Although few of these disasters affected the United Kingdom directly, who can forget the ’Arctic Blast’ that paralysed the Glasgow region of Scotland last year? Or the London riots and their spread across the country, fuelled by class rage and (probably) cheap spirits?
What must be examined by the individual that wants to plan ahead to survive catastrophe is that disasters are no longer a localised problem. Our increasing ‘global village’ and the push of world governments for yet more globalisation and the endless centralisation of power and resources means that if that a problem occurs in any area of supply or along supply routes, then we are in for trouble here as well. So far we have been lucky our greatest threats being only late product releases (cars for instance) and long waits for new or updated technology. However, it is not such a leap of the imagination to see similar delays, either accidental or malicious, for our essentials. Power, fuel and many food sources all come to the UK from overseas or are controlled by overseas companies. In a real crisis their responsibilities to the British public come very low on their list of priorities. Almost every shop on the High Street, excluding those that specifically selling ‘local goods’ rely on the international trade routes and logistic infrastructure, a web of variables that is only as strong as its weakest link.
2012 has begun with the threat of global recession, various military campaigns overseas, social unrest in Middle Eastern countries, concern over freak weather ruining crops, even radiation in space bringing our communication systems to a grinding halt. Businesses can hope for the best, but should plan for the worst. So should we all.
(David Wighton) Don’t we just love it when we read of somebody buggering up a simple task because they followed the rules rather than follow their initiative. People driving into lakes at the behest of their sat-nav or charging into a fight for deals at the start of the January sales, just because the goods are slightly cheaper? What of common sense we cry! Surely we wouldn’t ever do such a thing ourselves!
But we do, often. So many important and intelligent people that run and rule our world so commonly follow the rules of their profession, abandoning their reason in the process, and end up either making utter fools of themselves or making seriously destructive decisions. For example look at the stance taken by the majority of the worlds banks in the run up to the economic collapse of 2008. When all of the signs pointed towards what would become the crash, the banks instead of protecting their capital and their investors, ran full pelt at the crisis as if daring it to meet them in battle. Their risk management systems told them it was all going to be fine, so even though the facts told them otherwise and the wealth of experience in the financial industry said otherwise, they went with the data. They lost. The reverberations are still felt today, four years later.
In the UK we have become increasingly subservient to ’box-ticking’ culture, the absurd but all pervasive Standards That Must Be Met. Under the Labour rule our national and local government/councils became obsessed with targets, figures, regulations and standards. This damaged catastrophically the way that people related to their public figures. We soon became certain that our local council and local services – Police, Fire & Rescue etc – didn’t care about us, only about filling their quotas. Alternatively, they wanted to help us but were paralysed by regulations, health and ’bloody’ safety and the fear of being sued in a liability culture.
Eventually this became normalised, everybody was ticking boxes at work, metaphorically ticking boxes in their private lives (with no small assistance from lifestyle magazines) and had become used to the clerical box ticking of their services. We began to believe that if the boxes were ticked, all would be well. We would be safe, things could carry on and most of all, we wouldn’t be blamed if it all went wrong.
David Wighton then starts talking about banks and performance targets. It’s good reading but irrelevant to my points here. Follow the link to the original story at the end of this article.
It cannot be argued that a sense of regulation and the expectation of targets met is a help to our public and private sector industries. Without them there would be nothing to stop these industries slipping into corruption or ineffectiveness. However, this regulation should not come at the price of, or become more important than human personal responsibility.
Instead of living in the delusory state that tells us that ‘all will be well’ as long as the boxes are ticked, we need to re-establish our own sense of personal responsibility and take back our sense of moulding our own destiny. In the event of an actual crisis the massive majority of people will automatically have to depend on the government to drag them out of it. All of a sudden the government will be under a deluge of people that have become so dependent on their ministrations and handouts that they cannot survive without it, even when there isn’t an emergency to face! There is no way in the world that the UK government, who have proved laughably ineffective in various crises before, will be able to cope. Instead, martial law will be implemented, riots will erupt and people will die.
Do you want to be in the middle of that? You want to be another member of the starving, begging masses crying out to their hapless government for help? Or do you want to be strong in the face of adversity, prepared for what is coming, and a responsible member of a troubled society? I think I know the answer.
It doesn’t mean protesting, demonstrating and chanting that ‘they must do more’. It means that the time has come to take responsibility for your own safety. It is time to sacrifice a little in order to gain a lot in the future. It is time to man up and be ready.
When my Dad tells me about his Dad, he never misses out one detail. Whenever it got icy in their post-war London neighbourhood he would always put a sack of coke in the boot of his car.
Once we originally got a small misunderstanding out of the way (which says more about the culture I grew up in than the one he did) he told me that as a young man the ritual of his dad loading the car with flammable material perplexed him, but he never dared to question the old man. Eventually this odd behaviour drifted into the realm of childhood memory as my own Dad grew into a young man and began to learn to drive himself.
But on an icy road one night he came completely unstuck on he road, crashing heavily into the side embankment and totalling the car. It suddenly came rushing back to him, and was reinforced when his Dad said ’Well, you should maybe have put something heavy in the boot’.
This (slightly embellished) story is a lesson to us all, and is really quite simple when you think about it. More weight in the boot equals more traction on the road. Naturally, too much weight in the boot and your petrol use, and therefore expenditure, will rise considerably but something like a sack of potatoes would be perfect and cheap to purchase. Much cheaper than getting your car fixed after a smash anyway.
Just don’t go asking people where to get a sack of coke on Facebook (‘who’ll give me a sack of coke for my car? lol‘) Policemen may just make the same assumptions I did at first.
BST #2. Portable Generators should under no circumstances be used indoors or even in partially enclosed areas.
BST #1. In the event of a blackout, immediately turn off all electrical equipment that was on before the power cut, leaving on one small lamp to tell you when the power is restored.
Simple answer: Worst Case Scenario is the name of the project/company that intends to spread tips, knowledge and skills about surviving the worst that life can throw at you and your loved ones.
Disaster survival is 90% you and 10% your equipment. There is no substitute for human ingenuity when it comes to a crisis, but as anyone will tell you: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. You might be a survival genius, capable of thriving in all situations, but without the right kit to back you up you could find yourself quite literally ‘up the creek’.
Survival is about expecting to have to face a crisis and preparing accordingly. By no means should you live day to day with the constant fear of danger, paranoia achieves nothing but ruining your state of health, but instead recognise that risk is inherent in the world and taking steps to both minimise and alleviate the associated stress.
Worst Case Scenario: Disaster Survival UK is not here to spread fear. We are not apocalyptic prophets, psychics or doomsayers. WCS:UKintends to empower people, to make them feel strong and happy; safe in the knowledge that life can take a swipe at them and they and their families are ready to stand tall in the face of adversity. We do this by providing a range of products and services through our website and by blogging about the huge variety of things that you can do immediately or learn to prepare yourself for any hardship in the future. You do not have to be living in fear of Armageddon to realise that a certain level of preparation is not only good sense, but could quite realistically preserve the health and well being of yourself and your family in a large scale emergency.
Bear in mind that the advice given on this site is either gathered from reputable sources such as books by accredited writers and experts or collected by word of mouth from family, friends, police officers, military personnel and members of the public. Where possible, everything recommended on this site has been researched and experimented with by staff of Worst Case Scenario. Remember, in an actual crisis the tips and advice given on this site will only give you the best possible chance of survival. You have to put in some effort and preparation as well. God moves in mysterious ways, and nobody can guarantee your safety in an emergency. Put to good use and with a certain amount of common sense, the advice given here will put you right ahead of the pack when ’the ship goes down’.