In an article in today’s New York Times Magazine, Eric Klinenberg ponders why people don’t prepare themselves better for possible disasters. He comes up with two possible explanations that resonated with me:

One major concern I heard was that there are simply too many things to worry about. Participants complained about having to prepare for too many specific disaster possibilities and in turn feeling overwhelmed, if not helpless.

[M]any people simply don’t want to live in a culture of preparedness. The notion is off-putting, and downright scary for some, because it seems to place fear and defensiveness at the center of our public and private lives. Careful planning means dwelling on the uncomfortable topics of our own mortality, the vulnerability of our loved ones and the fragility of our planet, and there’s a psychological price to be paid for that.

I live in an area where serious natural disasters are unlikely (or unlikely to be serious), so the only real concerns I have are man-made disasters.
My thinking regarding disasters is as follows: I’m not too worried any disaster that leads to a temporary (let’s say three days or shorter) breakdown of social infrastructure (electricity, municipal water, shipping of goods to stores, etc.). We can probably manage one way or another without any particular preparedness. And if there’s a disaster that leads to a prolonged breakdown of social infrastructure, then we’re all screwed, and no amount of preparedness short of stocking an entire room with food, water, guns and ammo, gasoline, etc., will help us through it.
I’m not saying that I am not preparing for a serious disaster because I don’t think it’ll happen. On the contrary, I think our social infrastructure is extremely fragile and the likelihood of such a breakdown of society is easier to cause than most people want to believe. It’s just that I’m not willing to put the time, effort and money into preparing for it. I just assume that I, along with many people, probably would not survive such a disaster, and given the cost/benefit analysis, I’m okay with that.

Categories: Intellectual