Note: The below is exclusively about the United States of America, yet the theme is international.
Each time an extreme weather event takes place humanity is reminded again that basic preparation for an off-grid experience did not take place across large swaths of an affected population. Ironically, it does not begin to take place, publicly and en masse, after the event.
Saving humanity will have a lot to do with teaching a kid to build a fire, in the near term. More esoteric “preservers” and “shields” have their place, but “Scout” knowledge can produce immediate quantitative and qualitative improvements in humanity’s survival capabilities, fast.
After weather-induced disasters, our tendency is toward construction of physical things – better towers, more resilient dams, improved architecture. Seldom do we do anything to improve ourselves. Thousands remain helpless and dependent in the face of the Hurricane “Sandy” aftermath.
We have the resources in abundance to mobilize a citizenry education program. Many veterans have expert-level qualifications in survival training, for example, and with Internet and iPads their knowledge could be disseminated to every public school auditorium and town hall equipped with electricity at nominal cost, while also providing the instructors with competitive compensation.
To practice and train in the practical skills of preparedness, schools, towns, cities and parks could coordinate to deliver on- and off-site programs all citizens could reasonably take part in over a specified period of time. The goal should be to ensure within a specific time frame every citizen is aware of and able to employ a holistic set of preparedness actions in the event of an emergency. It’s a simple, clear and achievable objective.
It is what we do or fail to do as a society and as individuals to prepare for and learn from risk events that makes them more or less harmful now and in the future. The “existential risk” of extreme weather events, or extreme geological events, or terror events or financial avalanche, or their compounding, barring total annihilation, is the systemic and chronic damage which mutilates the fabric of society over time, making us weaker each time we face a new emergency, and also more prone to creating a new emergency or failing to prepare adequately for the next.
A citizen-wide preparedness program for unplanned emergency off-grid events could be designed for fun, building of comradery and orientation of adults and children toward a grounded, active, positive engagement with a highly variable world, thus doing much to off-set the negative impacts of an increasingly disaster prone environment and also much to build a more internally cohesive society. The literal ROA for investment in citizen preparedness should be exponential if the programming is organized with care, especially when including and evaluating the investment into human capital as an asset class. The very act of addressing how we handle disaster will diminish the potential for disaster itself.
A more self-sufficient and stable citizenry would help to increase public wealth and decrease public debt by limiting or eliminating the public expenditures made after an emergency (through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or through deployment of the military for example). Insurance claims of many types would decrease, new markets for sustainable goods and services would emerge, and dependence for survival upon non-sustainable resources like fossil fuels and coal-powered electricity would be tempered, all with increasing measure and positive impact over time.
A logical step for such a program would be for a public official of rank to announce it as a national priority. This could set a helpful tone of willingness, support or mandate. Local councils and agencies could also come together in confederation and create the same effect. Organizations disposed to the dispensation of preparedness skill sets could also use this time to create momentum.
Becoming competent in the ability to intelligently face adverse conditions is the most important skill required in society today. Until the time when all or a majority of people are able to act with sustained rationality and functionality in an unfamiliar situation or emergency, systems will continue to decay or collapse faster than ability to repair damage or survive impact peaceably.