You Won't Survive the End of the World

Today's Dilbert strip perfectly sums up how planning for the end of the world is doomed to failure. I mean, whether we're talking the collapse of our financial system, nuclear holocaust, zombie armageddon, or the return of Y2K, the odds are you and I would not survive.

Here's my reasoning: There are almost 7 billion people in our world. If the world ended today, the first people to be selected out is everyone reading this essay. Think about that. If you have a computer in today's world, then odds are you're highly tied in with the current economy and skill set. Well guess what – if the world ends there are no computers, Starbucks, or smart phones, meaning your skill set is totally irrelevant to survival. Instead, the people in this world who'd have a chance to survive are those with more traditional human skills like hunting and farming and simple manufacturing.

"But I plant a garden in my spare time. Surely I'd survive?" Err, no. And the same with the part-time hunting skills where you pack up the Hummer with a half million dollars in gear and drive five hours to bag a deer.  You see, those are not true hunting, farming, and maufacturing skills. When you have lived off your own farming and hunting for several years, or can build a generator from scratch, you can claim to have the skills to survive. Until then, you're merely playing.

However, there is a bigger problem, which today's Dilbert strip alludes to. No matter how many supplies you lay in, or how many traditional skills and guns you have, if you live in the parts of the world with computers and modern conveniences the odds don't favor you. 

For example, say the world ended and you're living in the United States with a population of 300 plus million. Even if half that population died, the other 150 million would be desperate to survive. The problem is that most of those people don't have the supplies and skills needed to survive outside our current economic order. 

So there you are, holed up in your rural safehouse with a thousand guns and ten pounds of seeds and enough know-how to impress even the author of that silly Farnham's Freehold. The problem is there are still 150 million people who want what you have. The odds do not favor you.

Sure, in one way or another humanity would survive. We're like that. We're the intelligent cockroaches of the animal world. But don't pretend you would survive the end of the world.