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Mad Max Scenario...or not?

mad max collapse covid

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#1 Mind

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Posted 02 May 2020 - 01:30 PM

The purpose of this thread is to focus attention in order to avoid a Mad Max scenario.


Most apocalyptic warnings end up being spectacularly wrong, but this is likely because the warning came out after the signs of trouble were already being seen by the "general public", and thus solutions were already being put into motion by the time the warning came out.


Hopefully this is the case this time around.


There is no reason for the COVID-19 disease to cause the collapse of society, however, the extreme reaction to this coronavirus that almost exclusively kills the elderly, obese, and those in ill-health is worrisome. There are certainly more effective/rationale ways to protect the most vulnerable (and they should be protected!), than just shutting down most of the world.


Many politicians and health authorities around the world seem very willing to sacrifice progress, future lives, everything, just to save one life today.


Even given the extreme reaction and the willingness to suspend most economic activity, it seems quite unlikely that society will destabilize to the point of a Mad Max scenario.


The main concern is the food supply. I am sure most people have seen the stories about cracks in the supply chain. The UN has warned of a "biblical famine" coming later this year. Current fruit and vegetable crops are not being 100% harvested as in prior years due to the lack of migrant labor and the broken supply chains. In Italy and New Foundland, troubles in shipping logistics caused short-term concerns. In the U.S. meat production is being affected by a significant percentage. Farmers are forced to dump milk because of broken supply chains.


Some countries are starting to restrict food exports in order to protect their own citizens. 


I could post a hundred other stories about food supply disruptions that are flying under the radar.


It seems like there is plenty of food in storage to get through the COVID-19 economic destruction, but people probably forget that eastern Africa suffered from an extreme locust infestation earlier this year and lost a significant amount of crops and the locusts continue to spread.


There is also no guarantee that the upcoming growing season will be a good one. Already there are signs of a significant freeze in mid-May for many areas of the Midwest in the U.S., potentially harming anticipated fruit crops later this year. There is already some severe drought in the American west/southwest and it looks dry again for the next 2 to 3 weeks.


Someone mentioned in another thread that "the world has gone through drought, pandemics, and world wars before", and never descended into chaos.


However, all of those tribulations occurred in a more resilient population. The world used to be more agrarian. A large percentage of the world lived in rural areas and grew their own food. People were "jacks of all trade". In the past, the average person knew how to grow food, knew how to fix things, were well-connected with their community, had strong family ties, etc...


That is not the case nowadays. Most people just go by the paradigm "click=deliver food" and never think about the complexity of growing, preserving, and distributing food all over the world. Farmers can't even fix their modern tractors without the permission of the manufacturers. Hardly anyone can fix car problems because there is too much software involved.


Of course, a couple other pillars of a stable society are power/energy and communication. While there are some strains in these areas, they seem less vulnerable than the food supply.


What do you think? Nothing to worry about, or too close to "Mad Max" for comfort.



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#2 Hebbeh

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Posted 02 May 2020 - 10:21 PM

I agree your view is accurate.  What's been impressed on me with how this has unfolded, is how vulnerable the food chain really is.  It's going on 3 months now and toilet paper is still in very short supply and most supermarkets still have empty shelves of many staples.  Even now, many items are still being emptied off the shelves as fast as trucks arrive.  It's just starting to slowly get better (slowly being the imperative word) and now it's looking like the meat supply is in certain jepardy.  With the meat packing plants closing and farmers having no destination available for market ready livestock and being forced to mass kill and bury a whole seasons worth of beef, pork and poultry, it most likely will take 6-12 months for farmers to start over raising livestock to market ready condition.  And they won't risk the investment until they're certain that a future market will exist and be ready.  And some farmers will surely not survive their loses.  The meat industry will certainly take much longer to recover than the toilet paper industry.  And be certain prices will substantially increase at that time.
I used to scoff at the preppers that felt the need to stockpile a years supply of food and critical necessities along with the weapons and ammunition to protect their stockpile in the event of some unknown future disaster, but now realize how fragile the supply economy really is and what little it takes to cause a long lasting major disruption and the ensuing public panic at the market.  It didn't take much to border on worst case scenario of panic buying and hoarding that continues to this day.  What would life be like in the event of a true country or world wide disaster?
I think we can agree that life and society will have long lasting consequences and some effects will be permanent.

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#3 Mind

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Posted 04 May 2020 - 05:01 PM

I hear a lot of people who are not business owners, not farmers, not food distributors, not involved in core infrastructure logistics, saying..."everything will be fine".


People have a hard time grasping complexity and exponential growth/decay.


It is similar to how non-epidemiologists did not understand how fast the coronavirus would spread (earlier this year). Now non-business people do not understand how quickly economic dislocations in critical supplies can occur.


I still think severe societal collapse is unlikely, however it is good to keep an eye on things.


Like: China worried about armed confrontation with the U.S. China looks stable, but they have a very high unemployment rate as well. In addition, they have loaned out a lot of money to poor countries for their "Belt and Road" initiative. Those poor countries are now going flat broke because of the extreme lockdown measures (over a virus with less than 1% mortality rate) . China might not get paid back.

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#4 Mind

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 08:28 PM

South African actuaries estimate the years of life lost from the extreme lockdown could be at least an order of magnitude higher than the coronavirus.


South African leaders foresee famine and societal disruption, and are therefore trying to reopen many sectors of their society. Glad to see some people trying to balance future problems with current problems. 

Edited by Mind, 06 May 2020 - 08:28 PM.

#5 pamojja

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Posted 06 May 2020 - 09:32 PM

Actually from the countries mentioned on wikipedia under lockdown only about 35 still are. An other 50 mentioned lifted their lockdown allready, like South Africa. And they would be crazy if not, with now only 0.05 time the usual average pneumonia deaths. Though there are even completely insane instances of countries with zero covid deaths, still under lockdown. The list is far from complete: https://en.wikipedia...VID-19_pandemic

Edited by pamojja, 06 May 2020 - 09:39 PM.

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#6 jroseland

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Posted 16 January 2021 - 10:43 AM

I find a "Mad Max Scenario" in the USA/North America quite conceivable. Exercise your right to bear arms and defend yourself to the fullest extent of the law where ever you live.


In the past year, I've gotten into the prepping thing - it's super naive to depend on the just-in-time delivery systems of the grocery store. The leading preparedness experts agree that the most important step right now is getting away from population density. Big cities are going to be the most "Mad Max" places - many already are!

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