P. Edronkin

Learning Survival From Historical Mass Destruction Scenarios



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Survival techniques related mass destruction weapons or WMDs are based on both practical cases - which are relatively few and far between - as well as theoretical knowledge; some tests have been conducted on this matter also, but the whole body of knowledge related to WMDs in general is rather scarce because despite that they have been used for warfare in some occasions and the lethality that they have displayed, the number of real-life scenarios as well as survivors to those menaces is rather scarce. To this, we should add that knowledge about mass destruction weapons is generally well guarded and considered confidential by governments that have them so, in the end, those interested in learning how to survive them must rely on far less information than in the case of other survival situations like natural catastrophes and even conventional war itself.

But all thorough history there have been cases in which for natural circumstances, plagues, famine, locusts and other factors have caused a similar level of destruction taking into consideration what we could expect from the deployment of WMDs: epidemics are in fact very similar in general terms to the use of biological weapons, so we can learn a lot from experiences such as the Black Death of the fourteenth century. In fact, this particular case can be considered as the worst case scenario ever occurred to humanity in the realm of epidemics and wholesale destruction of human life: conservative estimates indicate that between its appearance in 1333 in China, and its last recorded attacks in Russia, around 1352, it killed around 50% of all humans living at the time, with the exception of the American continent and Australia.

The Black Death was a combination of three different combinations of effects caused by Pasteurella pestis: the bubonic plague, the pneumonic plague and a third, infectious form unknown today but the most lethal of the three, according to chronicles that survived up to this day. This last form of the plague could kill in just minutes, in some cases. As it advanced from one place to another, it basically killed most people living in crammed quarters: towns and cities were left empty in just a matter of weeks. In some cases, like in Dublin, Ireland, the whole population was wiped out. In other cases, a lesser proportion.

But the plague not only produced direct but also collateral damage, because the whole economic structure of entire nations collapsed for a few years and the survivors were left with severe cases of post traumatic stress syndrome. After all, it is not easy to see how the whole life of a town, including your family and friends, melts away in a quick and very painful death in less than a week. It would be exceedingly simplistic to say that the standards of hygiene at the time were below our current standards, or that medieval people were brutish; indeed, the world wasn't like it is today, but our ancestors suffered enormously because of this particular case of plague and we must pay our respects to them by not converting their suffering into the basis for jokes about medieval times. Just consider what happened on September 11, 2001 in New York, and then multiply that destruction until it really kills or wounds almost half the population of the city, and then, repeat the same task for almost every city in the world; that was the Black Death, and we better learn from it in order to save ourselves from a similar fate, either by natural causes or man made, by terrorists.


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