Traditionally this is a time for optimism, and we all have dreams and ambitions for what we’d like to see happening in 2020. I know I do, and whatever you’re hoping for next year, I hope it works out for you.
We need to be realistic, though; bad stuff happens, too. In fact, it’s accepting this that unites us as preppers. We’re not in denial about what the world’s really like; we know things can go wrong, and we’ve made the decision to be ready when they do. What might go wrong in 2020? Well, who knows? That’s why we try to be prepared against every possible catastrophe.
That said, there are a few things that particularly worry me about the coming twelve months. Some of them are likelier than others, but they’re all events that I think are a realistic possibility for 2020 – and a couple of them could test all our prepping to the limits. Maybe you have your own worries for the next year – if you do, feel free to share them in the comments. Anyway, here are my top five.
Thanks to our politicians, the USA is on the verge of a financial collapse – and has been for decades. We have the largest, most innovative and most dynamic economy in the world, yet somehow there’s always too much debt and not enough money.
Next year has a few special dangers, though. A lot of economists expect another recession, possibly a serious one. That would be bad news, with a lot of people joining the unemployment lines and many more facing financial hardship. Our welfare systems would definitely creak under the strain, but I don’t think they would break – quiet.
There are worse possibilities than a recession, though. The stock market has been climbing for three years – overheating, some say. Now there are signs of a downturn coming. The Standard & Poor 500 is heading for its worst annual performance since 2008, and we all know how good a year that was for the global economy.
Our economy and financial system are incredibly complex – and that makes them incredibly vulnerable. We were lucky in 2008; it was bad, but didn’t lead to a Depression-style collapse. There’s no guarantee we’ll be lucky next time.
It’s okay to not like President Trump. That’s one of the great things about living in a free country; you can not like the guy that won the election, and secret policemen won’t drag you out of your bed at 3am and throw you in a re-education camp.
The problem is we now have a load of political extremists who don’t stop at not liking our president; they absolutely hate him, and they think anything is justified if it gets him out of office. That’s why civil unrest is becoming a real problem in the USA. Groups like Antifa think it’s OK to turn to violence if democracy doesn’t give the result they want – and they seem to be multiplying.
What really worries me is how the far left might react to President Trump winning a second term in the 2020 election, but there’s no guarantee things will stay calm that long. It’s hard to predict what will trigger a reaction from the extremists. Will they try to kick off widespread civil unrest if funding for the border wall goes through? What about a successful military intervention somewhere in the Middle East, or good news on the economy that makes a Trump victory look more likely?
The far left aren’t capable of overthrowing the USA right now, but they can shut down city centers for at least a couple of days – and if they push hard, they could reduce counties, even some states, to anarchy for long enough that society would start falling apart. If that happens everyone in the trouble zone is going to need to rely on their own resources until the trouble is fixed.
Attack by a Rogue State
We talk about EMP attacks a lot on this site, because it’s one of the most serious threats we face – not as devastating as a full-on nuclear attack, but a lot more likely. An EMP strike is something a determined rogue state, or even a well-organized terrorist group, could pull off. Terrorists would probably only manage to detonate one or two devices, affecting part of the country, but somewhere like North Korea might be able to black out most of the USA.
The threat from rogue states isn’t just EMP, either. What about a nuclear attack on a major US city? Sure, emergency services will flood the area, but things are still going to break down badly. Between refugees from the devastated city, and residents in the surrounding areas hunkering down in case there’s another attack, society is going to pretty much stop working. Unless you feel like relying on the feds for help, you need to be able to take care of yourself for at least a few weeks.
Remember the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa? Most people sort of do, but it’s fading from our memories pretty fast. That doesn’t surprise me, because it didn’t really affect us here in the USA. Yes, a couple of people who’d traveled to the plague region got sick in America, and one died in a Dallas hospital, but apart from that life went on pretty much as normal.
What most people don’t realize is just how big a bullet we dodged. The man who died had caught the disease in Liberia then lied his way onto a plane – but before he was diagnosed, two of the nurses who treated him had been infected. Both survived, but one of them had taken two internal flights before she ended up in isolation.
We were lucky in 2014, but what if, next time someone with a lethal tropical disease gets on a flight to Cleveland, they infect a dozen of their fellow passengers? These new victims will go home, or get on connecting flights, and spread the contagion even further. By the time anyone notices this new epidemic the disease could be spreading from hundreds of focal points across the country, and that would totally overload our healthcare system. The most likely result is mass panic and civil disorder.
In a country the size of the USA we get natural disasters every year. Mostly that’s winter storms, or hurricanes up the East Coast – but there’s a lot more that could go wrong. We can just about cope with severe weather events, or wildfires that affect large parts of a state, but a disaster that hit three or four states hard would overwhelm us. So, what’s going to happen if ten states are involved, or 20, or the whole country?
There are disasters that could cause havoc across the entire United States. A solar coronal mass ejection taking down the power grid – especially in winter – would be one of them. The eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano is potentially another, and that could happen at any time. If it does, and half the country is suddenly blanketed in volcanic ash, all of us are on our own. The disruption will cause total collapse everywhere that isn’t hit by the eruption, and inside the ash field itself there isn’t going to be any help on its way for a long time.
There are plenty more things that could go wrong next year, but these are the ones I take most seriously. They’re all plausible, and they could all easily cause the kind of collapse that we’ve been preparing for. I try to be prepared for anything, but I’m extra careful to be prepared for events like these.