From a Zombie invasion to a March Madness app infecting all our cellphones, governments are preparing for the worst.
1. A Zombie Invasion
In a creative move meant to draw attention to how to deal with more likely emergencies, last May the Centers for Disease Control posted tips for how to successfully survive a zombie invasion. The timing was perfect: apocalypse discussion was already popular since an End Times pastor had announced the world would end on May 21, and a more realistic danger, hurricane season, was starting on June 1.
"If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you'll be prepared for all hazards," said CDC spokesman Dave Daigle.
And while the use of the brain-eating undead might seem like a cheap ploy to get people to the site, it worked. Every major news source reported the story, and it generated so much traffic that it crashed the website. While the topic was funny, the article itself contained information relevant to surviving any disaster, including what you need for an emergency kit, the importance of a family plan, and the CDC’s role in containing diseases (even zombie- borne ones.)
2. The Mayan Calendar
Calendar image via Shutterstock
Perhaps taking a page out of the CDC’s book, this year NASA released a video reassuring everyone the world will not end when the Mayan calendar does, on Dec 21, 2012. Even some more rational people have been intrigued by this end of the world prediction, citing the Mayan’s accurate prediction of comets hundreds of years in the future. Interest had been piqued thanks to media coverage, the use of the supposed apocalypse in advertising, and of course the blockbuster movie 2012.
In the video, Don Yeomans, head of the Near-Earth Objects Program Office at NASA explains some of the misinformation surrounding the Mayan calendar, including the fact that it doesn’t actually end on the 21st, comparing that date to our own December 31, with a new calendar beginning the next day. A Frequently Asked Questions page at nasa.gov also reassures the public that there is no wayward planet, asteroid, or polar shift about to destroy Earth as we know it.
3. The Collapse of the United States
Wyoming sign image via Shutterstock
In his new book, Senator Jim DeMint states, “We are in serious trouble and very close to economic collapse. This is not hyperbole; Americans have never been this close to losing all the freedom, prosperity, and opportunity that generations of citizens and soldiers have fought and died to give us.”
Combine statements like that with the severe economic problems in Europe, as well as the divisive political rhetoric in America, and it is no wonder that people are starting to think about what to do in case the country collapsed. In February, the Wyoming House of Representatives narrowly defeated a bill that would have created a committee to set up contingency plans in case the Federal Government collapsed. The “doomsday bill,” defeated by just 30-27, concentrated mostly on setting up Wyoming’s own currency to be distributed if the dollar had no government to back it, but also addressed food and energy preparedness.
And although it was removed before the final vote, some lawmakers jokingly added an amendment saying that Wyoming should consider buying their own fighter jets and an aircraft carrier. When asked for comment, the Governor pointed out that a carrier would need a larger lake.
4. Global Warming
Island governments are very worried about rising sea levels. The melting icecaps are a problem for all small island nations for obvious reasons, but perhaps none more so than the country of Kiribati. Located in the center of the Pacific Ocean, this small island is barely above sea level, and rising ocean levels are already putting large chunks of it under water. The government of Kiribati is making arrangements to buy land in other countries, particularly Fiji, where they can slowly move their population of 100,000 before it is too late.
The Maldives are also in danger. In 2009, right before the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, President Mohamed Nasheed drew attention to the island’s plight by holding a cabinet meeting underwater. He has also spearheaded the drive to get other countries to commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
5. Technology Collapsing
sgm / Shutterstock.com
While many of the items on this list are jokes or hypotheticals, the U.S. government takes a terrorist attack on the nation’s technology infrastructure very seriously. If the internet and cellphone capability collapsed, the country would be thrown into untold chaos. Already email accounts belonging to Cabinet members have been hacked into and various other secure areas of the government's computer network have hundreds of thousands of attacks a day.
So in February of 2010, the government actually ran a war game for this probable eventuality. The scenario was incredibly detailed and highly probable. Cell phones went down after sports fans across America downloaded a March Madness app. The power grid collapsed. They threw in bombs in Tennessee and Kentucky and a hurricane in the Gulf too because if you’re playing a war game, why not go all out?
Broadcast on CNN and led by former head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, the exercise was an interesting lesson, but perhaps worryingly did not result in a grand plan for how to handle just such a situation.