Imagine if suddenly, and completely without warning, the world experienced a total blackout – no electricity, no mobile phones, no banks, no internet, no TV, no emergency services. Nothing
Imagine if suddenly, and completely without warning, the world experienced a total blackout – no electricity, no mobile phones, no banks, no internet, no TV, no emergency services. Nothing.
Highways quickly become jammed with cars that have ground to a halt; an aeroplane falls from the sky; a satellite view of the planet shows it rapidly plunging into darkness.
As it becomes apparent that the lights are never coming back on, nations are plunged into chaos, mass riots break out in major cities and, without electricity, governments are toppled. Into the vacuum step ad-hoc militias, armed and ready to enforce their own rule of law.
This is the apocalyptic premise of the hit American TV series Revolution, which begins on Sky 1 this week. In the first episode, viewers are pulled through this nightmarish chain of events.
So, what would you do? It’s a question that members of a burgeoning subculture known as ‘Preppers’ – people who are prepared for any kind of disaster – have been asking themselves for years.
Preppers look at the world around them and see all kinds of potential threats – economic collapse, global warming, terrorism, nuclear war, dwindling energy supplies, asteroid strikes and, yes, a prolonged blackout.
They’ve largely reached the same conclusion: the end of the world as we know it is just around the corner, and time is running out to gear up for the total collapse of society.
It’s estimated there are three million Preppers in the U.S. alone, and the number is rising.
Furthermore, the recession has seen ‘Prepping’ become a multibillion-dollar industry, with many American Preppers spending thousands every year stocking up on supplies to see them through the impending catastrophe.
Ron Douglas (pictured above, with his wife, six children and enough supplies to be self-sufficient for a year) has seen business boom in the past 12 months. A founder of the Red Shed Media Group in the States, he’s enjoying what might be described as the ‘profits of doom’.
Last year, Red Shed organised five Self Reliance Expos, which pulled in 40,000 punters at $10 a head, while its radio network has notched up over two million podcast downloads.
The company also owns the rights to a book called Making the Best of Basics, first published in 1974; it reportedly sold around 20,000 copies last year.
Douglas, in his late thirties, lives in Frederick, Colorado, around 30 miles from Denver. To stage the photograph to the left, it took 15 people over six hours to move all of his stockpile – mostly kept in his basement – out onto his front lawn.
If a disaster resulted in basic necessities such as food and water becoming scarce, the Douglas family would tough it out at home.
If they absolutely had to leave their house, they would get into a modified Chevy Suburban SUV equipped with emergency supplies that can do 850 miles before needing a refill.
Interest in what Douglas has to offer, as well as the Prepper movement as a whole, is growing, fuelled by the success of another TV programme, National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers.
It’s the channel’s highest-rated show in America, and the second series has just started in the UK. One episode features Derek Price, who runs a Wild West theme park called Deadwood in Bear Grass, North Carolina.
The park doubles as his compound in the event of the power grid being knocked out by a solar flare. Within the grounds there’s a golf course that has a series of sniper positions set up behind the greens, from which he could take out any rioters.
During the episode, Haven, Price’s 11-year-old son, is seen being put through his paces as a nightwatchman, clutching a 9mm rifle (albeit with the safety catch on).