Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, sponsored by the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course. This week, we’re going to talk about one of the scenarios posed in the book, “7 Deadly Scenarios.” It has to do with the big picture effects of a pandemic flu hitting North America–this could be the most shocking Urban Survival Newsletter yet. But first, I have some big news…
What a crazy 8 days. Last Thursday morning, we started getting a TON of orders in for Urban Survival Playing Cards and had no idea why. My first thought was to call PayPal’s fraud department to make sure that the orders weren’t all originating from some satellite phone in the Middle East. When they confirmed that the orders were legit, we started contacting customers.
It turned out that Glenn Beck had talked about the cards on the air! And later that day, we were contacted by his office with a request for us to rush him 50 decks of Urban Survival Playing Cards to give out to his audience on his “My Favorite Things” Christmas TV special, which aired on Tuesday.
I’m incredibly thankful, but I’ve got a pretty darn small company, had no warning that this was coming, and have been scrambling since to get the orders all sent out. Fortunately, we had just ordered another printing of the cards and our printer did a super-rush printing this week to replenish our supplies…and a friend of mine offered to help all day this Saturday getting any orders that hadn’t been sent out packed and shipped out.
So, if you ordered cards after hearing Glenn say to buy them on his radio or TV show, thanks for your business and patience and they are either on their way to you right now or will be by Saturday.
Now, on to the meat of today’s newsletter…
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a buddy of mine who works at the Pentagon and he suggested I get on Amazon and buy a book before we got off of the phone. What was the book, you might ask?
It’s called “7 Deadly Scenarios” and it was written by a military futurist named Dr. Andrew Krepinevich in early 2009.
It’s a great book and you can get it on Amazon, but one of the scenarios he lays out is of particular interest and I’m going to talk about it today.
I’ve known about this scenario for some time, but wasn’t aware that I could openly talk about it until seeing it in Krepinevich’s book. If you want to know why the US Government was so freaked out by the flu last year–and still is–this is why.
One thing I want to address is the theory that the threat was blown out of proportion to make a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies. While this may have very well been true, that storyline served as a convenient red herring to soak up media attention and take the focus off of the real threat.
The real threat is much more insidious, and continually perplexes the brightest military leaders and war gamers at the Pentagon.
With “gaming” you have to set up the framework for the scenario, so let me lay it out. This is a combination of how Krepinevich lays it out as well as how I’ve discussed/gamed it with others.
Imagine for a second that a particularly nasty strain of influenza develops…like the deadly 2009 strain that hit the Ukraine that ended up being labeled “Viral Hemorrhagic Pneumonia.” It could be because of natural events, or because of malicious work in a laboratory. The origin doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it spreads easily and has a high probability of “turning into” pneumonia.
Like the flu strains that came before it, patient 0 is located somewhere where pigs and people, poultry and people, or pigs, poultry and people live together. Traditionally, this has been in Southeast Asia, although one of the theories on the 2009-2010 “Swine” flu is that it started outside of Mexico City where a young boy contracted it after playing in hog manure.
For those of you who grew up and still live in the city, this isn’t just something that happens in third world countries. We raised pigs when I was growing up and I have fond memories of wearing my rubber galoshes and getting up speed by running across the pigpen and sliding across the manure like it was an ice rink. Falling was stinky and messy, but definitely part of the fun.
Back to the scenario…the Mexico connection is important, because in the scenario that Krepinevich lays out, the actual flu is a horrible problem in the US, but the bigger problem is what the flu does in Mexico.
In the US, the virus is fast moving and roughly 10% of the cases turn into pneumonia. Schools shut down, parents stay home, stores and malls are empty, stadiums are empty, and even churches are sparsely attended. The effects on the economy is devastating…even if NOBODY dies.
The US averages 31 beds per 10,000 population. (GlobalHealthFacts.org) Even so, 31 beds per 10,000 means that if 1 in 30 people get the flu and 1 in 10 of them gets pneumonia, every hospital bed in the US will be full of pneumonia cases.
But that brings 2 statements into question…what percentage of the population gets the flu each year and how many hospital beds are REALLY available for the people who get pneumonia?
According to the CDC, in an average year, 5-20% of the population gets the flu over the entire flu season, so it is definitely within the realm of possibility for 3% of the population to have the flu at the same time.
Since hospitals have to answer to boards of directors, investors, and/or taxpayers, they run “efficiently” and normally keep 80-90% of the beds occupied. So there aren’t beds for 31 flu/pneumonia cases per 10,000 population. It’s more like 4-5 beds per 10,000.
So, it’s quite possible that a moderate to severe flu outbreak could quickly overwhelm the medical system.
This is one of the reasons why I believe SO strongly in decentralized approaches to healthcare. The more responsibility you can take for learning how to take care of yourself, the less likely you are to be disappointed by a healthcare system that is overwhelmed in a time of emergency. To be clear, this isn’t a judgement on the motivation or the heart of people in the healthcare system, it’s a judgement on the capacity of the healthcare system to handle disasters.
But the effects on the economy, a lack of hospital beds, and a lack of medication isn’t the part of this scenario that makes top US generals wake up with cold sweats.
It’s the Mexico side of the equation.
In Mexico, things play out differently…specifically in Mexico City. Mexico City has a population of almost 9 million and only has 20,000 hospital beds, or 22 beds per 10,000 population. That’s 30% less than in the US. The rest of the country is closer to 13 beds per 10,000.
The general population doesn’t have access to the same diagnostic equipment, drugs, or even herbal/naturopathic remedies.
And a major flu outbreak like what happened in the Ukraine in 2009 is likely to quickly overwhelm the medical system in Mexico City.
Many people in and around Mexico City, especially those who have friends or relatives in the United States, live under the assumption that if they can just make it to the US, our miracle doctors can make them better. To be fair, this is normally correct.
Or, to put more of a point on it…our miracle doctors could keep their sick children from dying. And if you’ve got kids, you know what lengths you’ll go to to make them feel better when they’re sick.
The emotional, primal, and at the same time logical belief that the grass is greener in America and that getting to America could save loved ones causes 8 million Mexicans to flee Ciudad and head North. (The exact number that the Pentagon uses for war gaming is not important…the scale of the problem is.)
This is where things get interesting. Remember…the US is overwhelmed with the flu too. There aren’t enough beds to go around and there probably aren’t enough medications to handle the secondary bacterial infections.
As those 8 million fellow humans are approaching the border, what does America do? Let tens, if not hundreds of thousands of undocumented sick people into the country—potentially including terrorists, drug smugglers, and massive quantities of illegal drugs?
How would we feed or shelter them? Our cities only have 9 meals on the shelves during GOOD times. If there was a massive flu/pneumonia outbreak, it would be safe to bet that supply chains would be compromised.
The food situation is worse in the northern Mexican frontier and a migration of that many people would likely mean that those who weren’t sick by the time they got to the border would be tired, hungry, and have weakened immune systems.
How would we enforce our borders? Remember, a large percentage of the population of southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have loved ones in Mexico. And if they thought that getting their loved ones across the border would mean the difference between life and death, it’s rational to think that they’d go to great lengths to make it happen.
If we upped the military presence on the border, US troops would be surrounded…by Mexicans to the South and Americans, Mexicans, and “humanitarians” to the North who just want their relatives to be able to cross into the US.
It would be likely that people across the country who have relatives in Mexico would be protesting and or rioting to do the “humanitarian” thing and let all the sick people in.
“Humanitarian” organizations across the globe would put pressure on our government to “do the right thing” and take care of all of those poor sick people.
We’d have social unrest and possibly war if we didn’t let people in and the infrastructure of the southern United States would be completely overrun if we did.
Is it a probable scenario? That’s definitely up for debate, but I thank God that it hasn’t happened. Ironically, even though I didn’t think I could openly discuss this scenario until now, a lot of what I’ve written in the Urban Survival Newsletter and in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course were written with this specific scenario in mind.
You see, when I was researching and writing the course, this was one of the scenarios that kept ME awake at night…so I had to address it.
Krepinevich lays out six other scenarios like this that are similarly mind bending and that will definitely spur you to action on your preparedness plans. Krepinevich is focused on gaming these scenarios at the national level, but I am attempting to set up an interview to discuss his thoughts on decentralized (individual vs. national) ways to prepare for the threats that he discusses.
If you’re interested in the book, you can get it >>HERE<< on Amazon.
If you see this as simply being fanciful fiction, that’s fine. But if you see the potential for it to happen, then I suggest that you figure out if there are any solutions that you can put in place so that if a pandemic does happen, you can have a shot of treating yourself at home.
There are many approaches to this…I’m an all-of-the-above kind of guy and I don’t recommend any particular plan of action, but it wouldn’t hurt to have pharmaceutical, vitamin, mineral, herbal, naturopathic, and/or homeopathic treatments for pneumonia and other sicknesses on hand.
The important thing to realize is that if a major disaster happens, you’ll probably have to take care of yourself. And the more training and knowledge you build up now for trauma and medical issues, the better off you’ll be.
And, of course, one of the best ways to prepare for disasters like this and others is to get things in order to be able to survive them right where you currently live in case you can’t bug out or don’t have anywhere to bug out to. You can learn how to do this by following the step-by-step guide in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course.
In addition to covering strategies on preparing for and responding to pandemics, it will guide you through the process of doing it in such a way that you won’t become a target for thieves now and looters after a disaster happens.
You can sign up or learn more by going to www.SurviveInPlace.com.
What are your thoughts on this week’s newsletter? How about your thoughts on “7 Deadly Scenarios.” And let me know what you thought if you saw or heard the Glenn Beck pieces. Please let me know by commenting below:
If you’re traveling next week, travel safely and have a very Merry Christmas.