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Those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world tend to take for granted the availability of essential supplies, particularly food, fuel, water and communications. Are they are as reliable as we think and if not, what can we do?
By comparison with most of history the inhabitants of the modern world enjoy extraordinary wealth and high living standards. Much of this is due to our harnessing low-cost energy supplies combined with increasingly specialised and sophisticated methods of production and delivery to to achieve maximum efficiency - and thus reduced costs.
Much of our food production is imported over long distances from other countries with ordering and delivery (logistics) highly dependent on sophisticated electronic ordering systems. Waste and stock levels are trimmed meticulously since they increase costs and minimum-cost techniques operate impressively well.
Ordering, production planning, inventory control and a myriad other key business processes are computerised or automated to reduce the amount of manual input as much as possible.
Those remaining staff who still work in these industries are there because they are crucial to operations, the fat has been trimmed to the bone.
Our society is highly dependent on modern communications, particularly Internet and telephone systems making talking to each other, no matter where we are in the world, simple and unremarkable.
Our food, energy and material goods often come from half-way round the world carried on huge container ships which navigate to within a metre or two of precision courtesy of the US Department of Defense and a constellation of satellites circling the globe invisibly, guiding the essentials of life and comfort.
Few of us give a second though to this, after all, it has worked so well for years that memories of shortages have faded even in the older generations. Well-oiled machines just keep going, don't they?
So - thinking the unthinkable - what could possibly go wrong? Surely this all designed to operate perfectly even in adversity?
Well, maybe it is not. Beat The Bear is about thinking that unthinkable and peering into the abyss. How scary can it be and what should we do if things start to fall apart? How might they, and how realistic is it to imagine that a bit of sand in the well-oiled machine could make it start to wheeze and grind alarmingly?
And whilst, as in every society, we have our Cassandras, the doom-sayers who predict dire trouble ahead, are any of them right: is there any justification for their grumblings and warnings?
There is no shortage of websites catering to conspiracy theorists, survivalists and those awaiting the Zombie Apocalypse, indeed there's a significant subculture of people talking more or less well-informedly about existential or survival risks.
Beat The Bear sets out dispassionately to provide informed research and thinking on those subjects. We try to keep speculation to a reasonable level and to avoid unprovable assertions. This is necessarily a fuzzy and imprecise subject but where there is thoughtful and accurate information or analysys to present, we try to unearth it, reference it and then discuss it from a practical point of view.
Our interest is threefold: to consider those scenarios which can reasonably be expected to cause a threat to the survival of individuals; to provide insight and suggestions as to how those risks can be identified ahead of time; finally, to explore strategies which can be adopted to help you survive the outcome.
At present work is being done to investigate
Later on recommendations will be fomulated including pre-prearedness and mitigation of disruption. That work has yet to be done.