Disasters come in all sizes from personal to global. Many disasters while in and of themselves are truly disasters, they are not from the point of reference of being a cause for survival other than the immediate action needed to survive it. If you wreck your car it is a personal disaster but the survival aspects are to simply get out alive and get help for yourself from the services society has in place for this. Granted, if you wreck your car in an isolated area where help is not readily available then survival does become a dominate issue but it is still a very short term one in most cases. Survival in this sense means having a small emergency vehicle pack along with your first aid kit.
We are more concerned here with events that affect dozens to hundreds of thousands or millions of individuals in a similar manner. While individual needs may vary some, the overall needs of the affected group are the same.
As I said in the last article, I will differentiate between disasters and the group level they belong to. There is of course some overlap between adjacent group levels but rarely will a given disaster situation span all three levels. Out of neccessity for brevity, this list will not be complete but will be sufficient to guide you in being able to know the difference between them.
Group 1 disasters will normally consist of natural disaster such as, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blizzards, volcanic activity, tsunamis, etc. Certain kinds of terrorist attacks such as, suicide bombers, plane crashes (even 9/11 type crashes) conventional bombings are also short term survival situations. While some of these disaster are usually relatively limited in scope as far as humans are concerned, for example, wildfires generally affect only a relatively small number of individuals and only briefly even then, others such as hurricanes generally will affect many thousands to millions of individuals. Some can be global in scope and very long term. For example, if the caldera in Yellowstone National Park were to erupt in a Supervolcano the destruction would be beyond imagination. The explosion would be larger than the famed eruption and destruction of Krakatoa. By comparison the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens would be a small burp. Such a supervolcano would likely put so much dust in the air that global temperatures would drop by 10 to 20 degrees and remain for several years. This would effectively destroy many existing agricultural areas. Precipitation pattens would suffer major disruption for an unknown time and it is even possible that such an event could led to a mini ice age. This is also an example of an event that spans all three levels. in such an event those that are prepared for a level three event will be much better off than those only prepared for a level one event. The obvious exception would be those in either the immediate blast range (say conservatively a radius of 150 to 250 miles from the central explosion) or were in the downwind area of the blast where they could expect ash to fall measuring in feet for several hundred miles and possibly all the way to the eastern seaboard. In any case the ash would be dispersed globally which would lead to the temperature drop similar to or exceeding the so called "nuclear winter". For additional reference to the Yellowstone Supervolcano click here http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/supervolcano/supervolcano.html
In the mainstream however most level one disasters will be of relatively short duration, days at most, and most often less than a day. It is the aftereffects that one must be prepared for in order to survive until outside help arrives to assist you. Over the course of a few days to a few weeks most normal functions of society will resume to a familiar fashion and the recover process will continue until the situation is corrected. Long before the final recovery is completed the need for emergency survival will have ended.
Group 2 disasters will consist of both natural and manmade disasters and are also some of the hardest to classify. Many group 2 disasters are crossover disasters from group 1 and some group 3 disasters will have started off as a group 2. Since natural disasters have been addressed above it is safe to say that those qualifying as group 2 disasters are the extremes of group 1. A hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami are examples. The prime reason they qualify for group 2 status is the extreme level of damage and the prolonged time it takes to start rescue and recovery or provide adequate assistance to the population. Still in most cases the time will be less than one to two months before all individuals are reached. Further still, it is most likely that the individuals will return to society as it was before. They may have a different lifestyle or live in a new location but this is most likely to be due to personal choice. But they will still buy cars, go to movies and shop at the grocery store.
Manmade disasters in group 2 will be on the order of the Hoover dam collapsing, nuclear power plant meltdowns and radiation leakage. Loss of safety and containment controls of disease research or biological warfare development and manufacturing plants. These kinds of disasters will have a variety of effects from immediate local ones of impacts to the area they are in, to widespread effects in the areas they serve. Other manmade disasters such as terrorist attacks using gas and biologicals are likely to be of the group 2 level. Terrorist attacks that are radiological in nature may be a group 2 but are far more likely to be a true group three for the area affected. This is especially true if it is a true nuclear device is used and not a convention device wrapped with radioactive material, a dirty bomb, that is used. Also in group two would be any short term act of aggression against us that was conventional in nature. This has become a greater possibility in recent years with the loss of international respect that we have incurred for a variety of reasons. Domestic unrest and/or civil revolt is a growing possibility that could force you to "go to ground" and disappear for an extended length of time. Such an event could easily start as group 2 and become group 3 with the simple passage of time without resolution to the issue. There are many such examples around the planet today.
It can be seen that most group 2 causes are manmade however and that a number of them can and will crossover into group 3 events.
Group 3 events are almost guaranteed to be manmade with a very few exceptions. Such exceptions are what are generally known as E.L.E's or EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENTS. Events of this type are large asteroidal impacts, multiple supervolcanos over a short time span or one supervolcano of extreme proportions. GTW (Global Thermonuclear War) or GNW (Global Nuclear War) are E.L.E.'s. Smaller scale nuclear war may or may not be, we simply do not know enough to know where the line is between being one and not being one. Global warming has the potential for developing into a long period E.L.E. simply by slowly raising the planetary temperature's to a point that productive life can not be sustained as we now know it and may not be able to be sustained at all. Additionally, in considering global warming, of which the primary cause is from carbon dioxide gas, is the potential for rendering the air unable to support life. The air at sea level is approxiamately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen by volume. It is known that air with less than 19.5% oxygen is oxygen deficient and breathing problems will occur. As the percentage of carbon dioxide increase the percentage of oxygen decreases. Also, the greater the level of carbon dioxide in the air the greater the amount carbonic acid that is formed which acidifies the soils making agriculture more difficult and limiting crop types as well as acidifing bodies of water and disturbing the chemical balance therein. If you are curious about carbonic acids effects, it is what gives the burn and sting to your nose and eyes when you get a whiff of it from a bottle of soda thats rapidly fizzing and you inhale the gas. It mixes with the moisture in your nose and eyes forming carbonic acid.
It is easy to see that almost all group 3 events are manmade or influenced by man. Whether or not a particular event is survivable or not can be debated but, it is not in our nature or the point of this blog to assume that they cannot be survived and in fact it is assumed that with careful planning and forethought that they can and will be survived.
There is one major point involved with group 3 events that bears mentioning at this time. The larger the group of individuals involved the better the chance for the groups survival. This is true for a variety of reasons many of which will be discussed here over time. Some of them are greater ability to provide self defense against other groups. The ability to reduce work loads on individuals by sharing of the work. A greater knowledge base with which to draw from. Improved resources with which to create and maintain the group. Greater odds for the group to survive due to genetic diversity (this will be a tough subject when discussed). Improved morale and desire for all to survive. These are but a few of the many reasons for a larger group of individuals in a group 3 event. Think in terms of at least 20 people to start a group with no more than four individuals from the same family. If one family has six in it then the group would need to be at least 22 in size and so on. It is not advisable to force a division within a family in order to limit group size. To do so will cause the destruction of the group in the long term. This does not mean that you must form the group ahead of time although being able to do so will greatly improve the chances of the groups success in the long run.
Okay, I think this should give you an idea of the three groups that disasters can be broken into and that only three groups are really neccessary. Some subdivision within each group wil occur but not in such a way as to require the need of another primary group level. Please feel free to email me with your thoughts or to post your comments here. Flaming will not be tolerated and will result in the comment being removed and a warning issued.