Friday, April 4, 2014

The Evil Business of Scaring People

I’ve been involved in modern survival and disaster preparedness for some time now and I’ve learned a thing or two. One of the things I’ve learned is 10 years. Ten years seem to be the standard to go by according to fear mongers. Happens today, happened 200 years ago.

Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies in the department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University and president of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology says in his book, The Population Bomb,  that 1/5 of humanity will starve to death due to overpopulation in 10 years. Fortunately for us, Mr. Ehrlich claims were made in 1968 and the end of the world was supposed to take place by the end of the 70’s. You’d think that making such blatant claims and using fear tactics that turned out to be completely false would at least put a dent on someone’s academic reputation. You’d think so, but you’d be wrong.  Ehrlich won many prestigious prizes and awards for his (wrong) overpopulation research and continues to spread the word on the dangers of overpopulation and by default the wisdom behind population, resource control and exterminating the less productive members of society. 50 years later Ehrlich keeps ranting about overpopulation, topic in which he’s considered an expert, and was on the board of advisers of the Federation for American Immigration Reform until 2003.
Before him in 1798, Anglican Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus published the Principle of Population. Now Malthus was a visionary fear monger for his time, and added another 0 to the 10 year “end of the world” cycle, claiming the world population would be starving to death by 1890. Hey, if the world was supposed to end in 100 years at least he wouldn’t be around when his theory proved to be utter nonsense. Reverend Malthus was upset about the low infant mortality rates among the poor and interesting enough for a self-claimed Christian and a reverent at that, he recommended the murder of poor people, which like Ehrlich he considered the least productive members of society so as to solve the overpopulation problem. According to Malthus population had to be controlled through what he called “positive checks”, starvation and war, and “preventive checks”, abortion, birth control, prostitution (nice for a so called Reverend) and banning the poor from having children.

As we see, experts, scientists and royalty publishing academic papers which explain why we should live in fear and surrender our liberty so as to ensure the survival of the human race isn’t anything new. From reality TV hosts to self-claimed experts and prestigious university professors with an agenda we’ve been hearing the same old story time and again. Limited resources exist, that much is true. But it is also true that there are such things as renewable resources, and that industrial and agricultural processes are constantly being upgraded and improved so as to both recycle non-renewable ones and use them more efficiently. Technology has always been key to the survival of the human race and it constantly keeps surpassing our imagination. Technology is the reason why the human race will not only not become extinct, but keep improving its life quality. In spite of the ever growing population, in spite of the stream of fatalism coming from experts, there’s never been more wealth and more food produced. We’ve reached the point where there’s so much food being produced, we could end world hunger today. We just choose to throw half the food we produce, and we choose to throw 10 pounds of grain into an animal to produce 1 pound of meat only to then process that meat in such a way that it causes illnesses that would have been avoided had we eaten just 1 pound of those vegetable foods in the first place. Wars and large scale social disasters such as poverty aren’t accidental, they are deliberately perpetrated by people such as our friend reverend Thomas Robert Malthus that seek to control populations through fear and economic oppression. 

There’s always something out there that can be used to scare us. For all we know a meteor can destroy the city you live in right now given that 10% of the near-Earth objects larger than 1 km go undetected. How about dropping dead this very second due to a stroke or heart failure? Happens by the thousands every hour. If we want to live in fear (or depressed) there’s plenty of excuses for both. I learned not to waste my life that way, and I recommend you do the same.
If its not a meteor or overpopulation its some other thing. Some may be more probable than others but you clearly get the idea going on: Obsessing over dramatic stuff, some so unlikely that its laughable, often fully overlooking the real problems that should be addressed rather urgently. 

I love modern survival studies. I find it fascinating, all the different aspects of it, from the skills to be learned to the new gear that comes out, shooting, being outdoors, being indoors and doing research or studying history and social behavior. If I worked in an architecture firm all day long, this would still be what I would be doing with my free time. But that’s me. If you on the other hand cant avoid feeling depressed or paranoid then just don’t do it. Stop right now because it simply isn’t worth it. Pick up golf or something.
 Every day you and I have is a precious blessing and I at least won’t waste my time being paranoid and living in fear. Instead of worrying like crazy all day, do something about the things that are more likely to happen and you can prepare for but even more important than that, enjoy whatever it is that you do with your life.

Modern survivalism and preparing for emergencies does not mean you stop living, hiding from society, even from your own family. Becoming a paranoid doomsday kind of prepper ruins people’s lives, ruins families and leaves people broke. Enjoying life, having a clear understanding of your priorities, the real issues that you should address for sane, sensible preparedness, now that’s something that will both give you joy and leave you much better prepared for whatever life throws your way.
Have a great weekend people.



Anonymous said...

You've mentioned that fear drives preppers a few times in the past. I'm not sure that's the most common motivation for prepping.

From what I've seen in the US, the main motivation for prepping is unhappiness with modern life and the government. We long for the freedom that seems to diminish with each passing generation. Prepping provides some safety if bad events happen, but it also provides a psychological escape from modern stresses. It's an escape from the worry that we will just grow older and less free as we watch our societies go downhill.

That escapist urge is another reason preppers dream of a homestead far removed from civilization. No one looks forward to an economic collapse where they are forced to move to a crime ridden ghetto of a city just to feed their family.


Anonymous said...

But ferfal, climate change is going to destroy the world! In ten years! promise!

Anonymous said...

fear drives a lot of activity, not just "prepping". however, prepping
also involves a calm "peace of mind"
which i enjoy. i know i have food and water for more than 30 days.
i know i have 2 months of cash
money stored safely, and everyone
in my family is knowledgeable about
what to do when "it" happens.

Don Williams said...

1) I think a desire for freedom motivates preppers--although not always in a rational way. Money fixes many problems. So the guys who made a fortune on Wall Street in the 1980s-1990s are probably better set for retirement than those who followed Mel Tappan's advice and moved to a farm in Oregon. (Unless they went into the San Francisco marijuana trade.)

2) Freedom from ignorance -- by knowing you have researched possible threats, determined early signs of their arising, and have a plan to deal with each.
That you are not just a sheep grazing in a meadow somewhere and thinking that big truck has come to carry you to greener pastures.

3) Freedom from dependency-- many people depend upon government to deal with the threats. Which is not a bad idea in itself --our wealthy oligarchs have a need to keep things running smoothly. But not always.

Consider the fate of a young German man in 1912 who was told that the interdependencies of the global trading system would prevent the outbreak of war.

That young man was likely to die as his country went on to lose two catastrophic wars which destroyed Germany. Plus Germany starved for the three years after WII -- it was not until 1948 that a rising fight with the Soviet Union convinced Washington to institute the Marshall Plan. Prior to that the vindictive Morgenthau Plan held sway.

And WWI and WWII were fought without nuclear weapons.

4) Human Overpopulation is a massive problem --just ask the little remaining wildlife which has not yet gone extinct.

And if you think you can't end up like the wildlife, you might research what happens when the Rich decide to cull the Herd: Highland Clearances. Irish Potato Famine.
Transport of debtor prison inmates to harsh Australia. Britain's starvation blockade of Germany in WWI --AFTER the Armistice --the holocaust that no one likes to talk about and which spawned the hatred that created the second Holocaust.

5) And that despised homestead in the countryside might start looking pretty good if an infectious disease pandemic arose
--either natural or biowarfare. Look at what happened during the Black Death.

6) Now that some NASA preppers are mapping the orbits of Near Earth Asteroids, we would probably have time to nuke an asteroid before it hit earth. A comet would be much more difficult to deal with.

7) Plus there are the solar flares. The Yellowstone caldera. Global warming and the resulting famine and shortages of water. etc etc.