‘Be Prepared’

While to ‘Be Prepared’ as an individual is one thing, this logic must surely extend to all the layers of functioning of any society, especially at national level

By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee

‘Be Prepared’ is the Boy Scouts motto. Those who have had the opportunity of being a Boy Scout no doubt remember their scouting days with much pleasant nostalgia, as I myself do. Indeed, the Boy Scout movement was faithful to its motto; the letters ‘BP’ were probably meant to coincide with those of the founder’s name Baden-Powell. Through a range of diverse activities that increased in challenges and difficulties as one progressed from the tenderfoot years to the more mature years of adolescence, the scouts not only developed both mental and manual skills, but doing things together subtly brought about a spirit of camaraderie, fellowship, understanding and esteem that truly prepared the youngsters for life.

In my own case, the St Clement Troop to which I belonged comprised children of all communities in the locality. Beyond religion, race, ethnicity and social background, we connected emotionally as one. To this day I feel this in the friendships of those who are still around and who I come across occasionally. The last time I entered St Clement Church, to attend a wedding, it was like going ‘home.’

While to ‘Be Prepared’ as an individual is one thing, this logic must surely extend to all the layers of functioning of any society, especially at national level where responsibilities are by definition heavier and the impacts of events are widespread. In Mauritius, it is tropical cyclones which have posed the most acute and sudden threat whenever they have come. Post World War II the cyclones that spring immediately to the minds of those of my generation are Alix and Carol of February and April 1960 respectively.

Much has been said about them so I will not add any more details. However, they and subsequent cyclones showed the necessity of advance warning and preparedness to face the onslaught and its aftermath. Thus, it was that over the years a preparedness plan for cyclones evolved, which all of us have experience of. It includes a template for actions and measures to be taken by the Ministry of Health, and having had to implement it a number of times when I was in public service, I can vouchsafe for its soundness and efficiency. By the same token, globally because of rigorous application of the cyclone preparedness plan down the years, we have managed to reduce to zero or near-zero deaths directly related to successive cyclones, to decrease the number of those needing temporary shelter, and to deal promptly with the damages inflicted so as to restore power and water supply within hours if not days.

I have been watching with sadness and helplessness at what a website (‘Natural News) has headlined ‘Collapse convergence: Floods, droughts, famine, biowar and currency implosion.’ It introduces its lengthier article and podcast as follows: ‘While plenty of people can survive one crisis at a time — such as a food shortage or short-term flood — very few people are prepared to survive a multi-layered, engineered cluster of catastrophes that are unleashed on top of each other.

‘My urgent message for all those who wish to survive is that we need to prepare for simultaneous, engineered collapse events that are timed for maximum destruction. The demonic mass murderers in charge of our planet right now are deliberately trying to eliminate as many human beings as possible, and the depopulation vaccines are just the beginning.

‘Despite all this doom and gloom, preparedness makes this survivable. Because prepared humans are hard to kill.’ (italics added)

As can be seen it goes to a certain extreme (vide the words in italics), which is another matter, but the basic premise about preparedness is certainly irrefutable, in particular in view of the visible convergence of catastrophes occurring over the same periods of time across widely separated and differing geographical locations. In some cases, the region(s) affected have been undergoing the ravages for weeks altogether, such as the forest fires in north-west America that have been burning for several weeks now, and have extended to British Columbia in Canada. At the same time other parts of the US have been hit by tornadoes, or floods as in Chicago and New York, where the water entered the subway.

 This has also happened in one of the most developed regions of China, Henan, where similarly the subway was flooded, and at the last count nearly 25 people have drowned. Across Europe Germany, Belgium, Poland and Bulgaria have seen the worse floods ever in the living memories of many inhabitants. More than 200 people have perished, and nearly 800 reported missing, and it is more likely than not that if ever found, it will be their bodies rather than the living persons.

Most shown on the channels have been the floods in Germany, where as elsewhere whole roads were transformed into torrential rivers, causing sinks in the surface, washing down bridges, breaking through the foundations of houses, many of them carried away along with struggling people, cars and other vehicles, and debris of all kinds. The city of Salsburg, of The Sound of Music fame, has been hit hard. As the waters receded, one saw grieving families inspecting the remains of their houses and contents, many items of sentimental value gone forever (which is perhaps the hardest part). As they pray and fight back, hoping that national authorities will come to their help, they painfully begin to clear the heaps of mud and broken items such as furniture, and tears come easily as they speak to reporters.

Could these catastrophes have been averted? Probably not, though their extreme effects could have been mitigated to some extent. One can never be fully prepared for such mega-events, which result from a combination of several natural and man-made factors, and it is the latter that one can address and gear up to the maximum to face. Even the best prepared can fail though, as is detailed in an article, ‘Europe’s catastrophic flooding was forecast well in advance – what went so wrong?’ in The Conversation of July 21, 2021 by Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology, University of Reading.

It is worth a read, and I will quote the closing paragraph: ‘As climate change increases risks from heatwaves, fires and floods, we need to not only slash emissions but prepare ourselves for the problems we already have in store. Even with sufficient decarbonisation measures – which we are still yet to see from any major government – there is no avoiding the consequences of a hotter, more turbulent environment.’

We are warned, and so must ever ‘Be Prepared.’

* Published in print edition on 23 July 2021

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