The End Of The World As We Know It…or, TEOTWAWKI!

Commentary and thoughts on the science of Doomsday

Our nearest threat…

The Mayan Calendar Reboot.

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doomsday teotw

It’s shorthand for “The End of The World As We Know It”. I’m pretty sure if you’ve been around people that call themselves preppers or survivalists, or you’ve seen even a couple of Doomsday Preppers shows, you’ll have heard the phrase by now. It became popular in the 90’s on the old newsgroup Misc.Survival.  It has developed and aged and morphed into the massive, all-in, total destruction, everything crashes scenario for when all our worlds do a complete paradigm shift…and things get really bad, as in Great Depression, World War 3, Second Coming, Anti-Christ bad.  Yes…I mean B.A.D.

Jack Spirko of The Survival Podcast talked about the cultural awareness of change on his podcast on 12/11/12, titling his show as “UNDERSTANDING THE COMING SHIFTS IN SOCIETY”. All throughout human history, and reoccurring time and time again, gigantic changes in human thought, human climate, or human living conditions were noted in the historical records, going back thousands of years.


Society overall, but especially in the United States, seems to be on a downward spiral toward some kind of massive change in collective thinking. A lot of people feel and share concerns that it’s going to be a very bad thing, and the current administration in Washington seems to want to hasten massive change, even to the point of forcing economic failure…and that is scaring the crap out of everyone.

Doom. It’s coming…and soon.

Real. Soon.

(…or not)

2. Who defines TEOTWAWKI?

In this article, we need to consider a standard definition of just how bad can it get. What I feel would be an end of the world scenario could be a different kind or type of doom than a lot of people would even ponder. Hollywood screenwriters have given us a plethora of potential world ending possibilities. From a simple nuclear exchange of super powers referenced in any of the Terminator films or a hundred other movies, to a complete and absolute reboot of the entire human condition, such as “The Knowing”, there is plenty of essentially doom-filled  opportunities for all of us to consider.

In a world that has always had a religious idealism causing death and destruction for eons, there are many who think doom will be brought upon us by God, any number of deities, nature, science, or extraterrestrial potentialities.  Some think that our world will end at the hand of men, or perhaps a man…Hitler, anyone?

The Holocaust was an example of TEOTWAWKI for the Jews affected by the Third Reich.  The Spanish conquest of  all of the Americas centuries ago affected millions of indigenous native Americans over millions of square miles.  Doom can mean the end of a race, a species, a people, or all life as we know it. Remember 65 million years ago?  Me neither. diextasterBut, the end of the age of dinosaurs came in a mere fraction of an instant in geological time. They didn’t see the end coming. We may not either.[br][br]

So…a standard definition of THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT. Something that covers all possibilities, all people, all life as we know it…right this very moment. The end of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom. Love. Descendants. The future…

Devastation…complete and utter devastation. The End of the WORLD.[br][br]

Wow. Think about that. No more world. No more air. No more people. No more science, chemistry, biology, math.  No one around to THINK.[br][br]

Pretty depressing, huh?

End of the World. Extinction Level Event. ELE.

THAT is what TEOTWAWKI should be all about. Extinction.

The current zeitgeist considers much less to be TEOTWAWKI. Let’s consider just what that means.

3. Different levels of TEOTWAWKI…

Ok. We’ve set up a pretty good definition for a REAL TEOTWAWKI.  But, look above….read part 2 again. That part about the Holocaust, the Spaniards, the dinosaurs. A million more TEOTWAWKI-type sub-events. Consider TEOTWAWKI for nations…for societies throughout history…the communistic/socialistic genocide of 200 million people all through the 20th century. And then there’s nature.chart levels

Think about being in downtown New Orleans in the heart of Katrina’s pounding wrath.

Ponder being on Sumatra in 2004 when the massive quake and tsunami washed ashore killing a quarter million people in mere moments.

Reflect on downtown Hiroshima or Nagasaki and seeing that blinding flash up close and personal before the end of World War 2.

Study the events of the firestorms in Tokyo and Dresden, and what a firestorm does to a city you might live in.

Writhe in agony in an ocean front beach home on the Jersey shore, as the water from Superstorm Sandy’s storm surge rises around your entire life.

Pray for salvation as the 250 mph winds from an  F5 tornado pass directly over you while lying in a ditch, or inside a closet of your home in Jefferson County, Alabama on April 8th, 1998.

Mini-TEOTWAWKI events abound all throughout world history. Millions and millions of human beings killed by nature, by man, or by accidents of enormous proportions.  TEOTWAWKI can also be up close and personal to you and yours.  Families losing entire generations of members in highway accidents, house fires, flash floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.

For those left to deal with the aftermath, it seems as if their world has ended. Losing a parent…or both.  Losing a child…or several. Grief overshadows everything. Tomorrow is a distant memory in the cold dark cloud of sorrow and despondence.  Generations ago, a death, or deaths, in a family were expected. Disease, starvation,  deprivation, and pestilence were a fact of everyday life.

In our current society and lifestyle, with science, biology, vaccinations, and  a greater understanding of illness and medicine all on our side, expected life spans of the average man or woman have almost doubled. old couple

Still…all men die. Not all really live. Life is what we wake up to each day, and go to bed with each night, hoping that our very near future is productive, successful, and filled with hope and joy. TEOTWAWKI is the end result of that hope vanishing.

Hope. That’s the active ingredient in TEOTWAWKI. When you’ve lost hope…all hope…you’ve started down that ever quickening slope to TEOTWAWKI.


Who knows?  Only YOU can know if whatever you’re facing down at that moment of hope lost, total  despair, physical agony, or absolute threat…is the end of everything in your life. Only in the midst of utter devastation, with a quickening pulse, a squirt of adrenaline, or a dash of fear, can you even attempt to measure just how badly things might get for you…your family…your neighborhood…or the entire world.

Some events roll up to our doorsteps with screeching tires, or crash through the wall of our solitude. Some happen in flash of light, a blink of the eye, a beat of the heart. Still other events come sneaking up on us on little cat feet…tiptoeing and approaching  us from a different direction while we’re busy doing something else.

Or, a disaster of incredible magnitude sits there right in front of us, waiting…simmering…ticking like  a time bomb, and we either recognize, or don’t, the inevitability of that TEOTWAWKI about to go off and affect our very lives. volcano eruption

Pompeii. Vesuvius. Toga. Mt. Rainier. Krakatoa. Yellowstone. San Andreas. New Madrid.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Look around you. Look at the horizon. Glance at your backyard. Look at the bottom of your shoes. Right this moment, go pull the map for your state out of  the  glove box in your car, and look closely. Is there something near you right now that just might be the end of your world? Think hard. Your life depends on it.

5. Planning for eventual TEOTWAWKI…

Did you find anything in the survey of your home, town or city that might be a sleeping giant of Doom? Something very obvious, or barely there? Something that, for the time being, is not a threat, but long term could eventually devastate all that surrounds your life?  If so, it’s something you can plan for. Planning is a GOOD thing.

Strategy. It’s the key concept in creating a plan for your survival goal list. What is most likely to occur to me?  List each threat, and then as many ways as possible to avoid that threat. Solutions…tools…skills…supplies…locations…transportation…medical needs…shelter, food and water. If you live where an F5 tornado may occur, do you have a place to hunker down when it’s coming straight for you? Is it solid? Is it stocked? Is it accessible?  Will it actually work? You’ve really got to spend some time on making a complete list of potential scenarios that are really possible in your area. Even those remotely possible events need to be considered. Layered responses to escalating threats is a good thing to consider during this phase of your investigations.list

Denial. Most people, dare I say a vast majority, will never contemplate that their world could ever turn upside down in TEOTWAWKI. Most won’t even be able to grasp the concept of a real doomsday scenario. Sure, they’ve seen all kinds of doomer movies in recent years, but actual earth-shattering disaster affecting them personally?  Never!

These folks are the DGI’s of the world. They just don’t, and never will, “Get it.”  They’ll stand there slack jawed and wide-eyed as the freight train of doom comes tearing down the rumbling rails of destruction, tearing towards their  little compact car of life stuck squarely on the rails by the Grim Reaper.

Boom…it’s all over. End of the game. They’re gone, just like that. Shock and awe, frozen in fear, unable to move a muscle. Must be some kind of movie, eh? Nope.  Guess not. Another one bites the dust.

A Whisker away. TEOTWAWKI is never what we all expect. It can destroy everything in an instant, yet leave a few lucky souls to pick up the pieces.  Missing the doom by the space of a millimeter…or getting dragged into the vortex and vacuum as doom passes us  by…or so we thought.

Years ago, in early 2001, I was a hot shot truck driver, driving a one ton Dodge dually pickup coast to coast with campers and RVs. Coming north out of Denver one morning, I was in the slow lane in medium to heavy traffic, pulling a 44 foot flat bed trailer (luckily empty at this time). A small red car was parked on the right shoulder of the highway…just sitting there. I saw it easily as I approached at 75 mph in the right lane of I-25.

Inconceivably, the brake lights went off, and instead of the car gaining speed to pull into traffic, this idiot hits his left turn signal, and proceeds to pull directly into my lane from a dead stop, obviously not looking to see if the lane was clear. I glanced in my driver side rear view mirror, for a millisecond at the most, scanning for traffic, and proceeded to try to avoid this car and driver by an exceedingly fast lane change…no time to hit the brakes. As I passed him, the truck was straddling the two lanes, and I was praying that there be no traffic that was between my truck and the grassy highway median.

Even here, 11 years later, I cannot tell you how I missed hitting and destroying that car and it’s occupants with my 4 1/2 ton truck and 3 ton trailer. It literally was inches from total devastation for the car and the people inside, and potentially for me. I cringe even now, just thinking about what might have happened if I had not missed hitting it, visualizing a 1500 pound car being crushed under my 10 times heavier rig with its occupants, or worse, my truck losing control, jack-knifing, and rolling uncontrollably down the highway, crossing into oncoming traffic and killing how many more?

A hair’s breadth. A nano-meter. So close, so very very awfully close to death. Yet, scraping by safely. This event is not the only near-miss in my life of nearly 52 years…just one of the more memorable and quite potentially bloody instances of luck (and driver’s skill???  no…sheer luck) keeping my foot out of a potential grave.

In 1975, not so lucky…getting run over by a truck driven by a drunk driver, almost taking my right leg off, only 6 blocks from my home…nearly died that day…but didn’t.  Personal TEOTWAWKI can be graphically, insanely, ungodly close to us, breathing hot rancid air  down our collars, raising the hackles on our necks…then turning away JUST at the last possible moment.

Luck? Yes, I think it plays a part in our lives. Fate? Not so much. Oh, and that red car?  I pulled off onto the shoulder after getting past him, and stopped with my flashers on, trying to get my heart restarted. I was livid, bloody angry at what just happened. I looked back to see where that car was. It had pulled back over to the same shoulder 1000 feet back and stopped. I really hoped he had just shit himself.

I got out of the truck, and walked back to the end of my trailer, and waited, crossing my arms in defiance, and  searing the laser-like heat of my gaze on that driver. He paused…and then he drove across the grass onto the service road…as far away from me as he could be, to get away from my anger. I toyed with following him off the highway (my truck WAS four wheel drive, after all), to whatever destination he might go, and beating the living daylights out of him for almost killing me, and nearly taking MY future away.  I didn’t…but I really wanted to.  TEOTWAWKI can make you want to do that too.

6. Will there ever be a TEOTWAWKI?

Pretty much…yep. There will be. For each and every one of us. Will we survive it?  Doing nothing now sort of answers that question for us. Figuring out what might be coming down the pike in our direction is what smart people do. For example, here’s a news story from 12/11/12.

US intelligence study sees possible fight ahead over water, food

Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030, with most people middle class, connected by technology, protected by advanced health care and the United States and China perhaps cooperating to lead the way.  That’s the best-case scenario in a report, Global Trends 2030, released Monday by the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council.

In the worst-case scenario, the rising population leads to conflict over water and food, especially in the Mideast and Africa, and the instability contributes to global economic collapse.

The study is the intelligence community’s analysis of where current trends will take the world in the next 15 to 20 years, intended to help policymakers plan for the best and worst possible futures.

Food, water and energy will be more scarce. “Nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress,” the report said. Africa and the Middle East will be most at risk of food and water shortages, with China and India also vulnerable.

Among the anticipated crises is the worry of global economic collapse, fighting among nations that don’t adapt rapidly enough and the possible spillover of instability in the Mideast and South Asia to the rest of the world.

Read more:


That can’t be good. Food and water…people killing each other over basic sustenance? It’s been a problem before. It could be again. Ever hear of the Potato Famine in Ireland? That nation’s population dropped between 20% and 25% because of the failure of ONE CROP.

That’s just one potential issue that the world, and us, need to consider in our “big picture” planning book. This one particular threat gives each of us an opportunity to do a little future planning and stocking of our own food and water supply…just in case.

Soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas ill with Spanish influenza at a hospital ward at Camp Funston.

Another potential TEOTWAWKI threat is disease, such as a global pandemic, as the world witnessed in 1918. The 1918 flu pandemic lasted from January 1918 to December 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. Between 20 and 50 million died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. Using the higher estimate of 50 million people, 3% of the world’s population (which was 1.86 billion at the time) died of the disease. Some 500 million, or 27%, were infected.

Read that again. TWENTY SEVEN PERCENT OF THE WORLD”S POPULATION WAS INFECTED. 1 in every 4 people on the planet. The ENTIRE planet.

Seeing people drop dead all around you, including a lot of people you know, can be very end-of-the-world-ish. You can’t plan on surviving a pandemic, any more than you can plan to survive a meteor strike in your hometown. Either it gets you, or it doesn’t. Any amount of planning won’t help if you’re in the midst of a powerful global or regional disaster…but…some planning can help you stay out of areas where these kind of things will be more likely to occur. Goes back to that planning thing above.  In other words, don’t be where problems of any kind are most likely to occur, or occur with frightening regularity.

Bottom line…there are endless lists of potentially deadly or disturbingly painful ways for all of us to meet our maker. Understanding that life itself is precious and worthy of extra contemplation of threats and responses and/or mitigation will be what allows us to live a bit longer than the rest of the world when The End comes to some, or most, of us.

Doomsday Preppers shows the world some of the most popular fears and cultural worries in the age of instant gratification and timely global despair. Any preparedness for the major worries of most people, help those that act to have peace of mind, less stress, and easier acceptance, when the time comes, of having done all you can to make it through the end of the world in the best possible shape. Doing nothing beforehand pretty much guarantees your place in the annals of history…under “victim”.

NEVER give up....

NEVER give up….

Don’t be a number in the next catastrophe. Don’t let your guard down when things look bleak. No matter what, don’t give up. Hope is the one thing you have to keep a strangle hold on. Hope of survival..of a chance…of another day. Winston Churchill said on October 29, 1941, “… But for everyone… Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” This includes the Grim Reaper.

Don’t lose your humanity either, when things are darkest. Katrina is a great example of a small portion of society turning into animals in the midst of destruction and chaos. Rwanda is another good example, or any of a number of genocides in our history. Lead with your heart, but think with it as well. Keep in mind that there will always be a small portion of society that is nothing more than a predatory, useless, and foul-tempered beast of destruction. Don’t become that predator, but don’t let yourself become the prey, either.

Think it through. Even the deadliest events will have some survivors, hanging onto a tree floating down the river, or hidden in a safe place until after the Angel of Death passes. Luck does play a part of survival, but so does initiative and action. An intimate understanding of survival psychology helps greatly to put things into perspective. Spend some time reading up on that, such as the book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why .

Do, or do not. There is no try, when it comes to TEOTWAWKI.

Good luck out there…

Updated: December 13, 2012 — 11:17 am

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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