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Triggers, Tipping Points, and Black Swans, by Coast Ranger

Letting Others Know The Status Quo Won’t Hold

The purpose of this contribution is to indicate how one might approach letting others know that the status quo will not hold. It is based upon my own efforts.

There is a tendency for people to focus upon “big picture” or mass hysteria items, like North Korea and now Nazis, that might impact the future to the exclusion of the many other things that are less transparent or obvious but still extremely important. The following list of triggers, tipping points, and black swans is based upon a handout or a lecture I gave at my local Grange. I am my Grange’s lecturer, which is one of the elected offices.

With the exception of a few items below, all of the items are concerns raised by other writers and are readily available on the Internet. However, it is important to use the right search engine, given the recent changes in algorithms to prevent “fake news”. The Grangers have also been told, “Don’t trust MSM.”

Probability of Possible Societal Upheaval Occurrence

It would be interesting to assign probabilities of their possible occurrence, but that obviously is unrealistic. Rather, what should be obvious is that even small individual probabilities add up to a very high probability that some sort of societal upheaval is baked in.

The idea that things are “baked in” is of utmost importance! Quite simply, there will be no way to defuse what is coming – it is a predicament with no answers. The only issue will be when and how badly society will be impacted and there is no guide to help you. Reviewing history and Strauss and Howe’s book The Fourth Turning [1] might help, but things usually go in unanticipated and random ways.

Lecture At the Grange

I did give a lecture some time ago about the Fourth Turning theory. In the case of my Grange, I have suggested that they look at what they see as both their best case and worst case and plan from there; forget about shades of gray. They were told, “It’s all up to you and no one else.”

I also told them that they should prioritize their needs, then do those they could afford right now, and to develop workarounds for the remainder and do them when they could. I emphasized needed medications and the necessity of finding available alternatives. Now, having been around preparedness for a long time I know only a couple of them will actually do anything.

List of Concerns

The list below is fairly comprehensive, some might say excessive, but some concerns probably have been neglected. No doubt some will say that some of the items listed are stupid. My response is, it’s your future so pick and chose only those you know are important. To keep this article to less than a book, I make no attempt to explain why any of these might be important except for one: I’m in the Emerald Triangle, and cannabis is a major issue/business here. Hopefully, you are already up to date on the majority of the other items or can do a search for them.

They are in no particular order of importance because it is impossible to know which ones will start it off. When it hits the fan, it is likely to be a cascading combination of several of these as complexity unravels plus the current rampant systemic fragility. Things can go to pot in a day or week.








Natural Disasters

Sabotage/Cyber Warfare



Net Energy

First Amendment

Weapons Confiscation


Race/Ethnic/Religious/Ideological Differences


Thousands of articles have been written bemoaning the fact that the general populace is oblivious to most of the items mentioned above or are concerned about relatively minor things, if they are concerned at all. Some writers say it is normalcy bias (believing things will always stay as they are); others say it is cognitive dissonance (believing two opposing things at the same time). The truth is no one knows why. I think my wife represents many people. She says, “You’ve talked about this stuff for years and nothing has happened.” She simply rejects the possibility that the future will be radically different – confirmation bias.

However, none of this should be surprising. Consider the people who live in known flood prone areas who do nothing. I once lived in a yacht basin on a river that periodically flooded. Everyone, including us, did nothing to prepare. It was just accepted. So, why should we expect anything different regarding the above concerns?

What Do You Do?

So, what do you do? We all know the “magic” words regarding collapse. I would suggest throwing a few of them out during general discussions with others in order to see/hear their response. In my little boondocks town, it could be to someone standing in the checkout line you know, at the post office when you say hello, (and, yes, we all say “hi” to one another even if we don’t know them), or at a meeting.

Have A Handout

I always have a handout for my “lectures” and, interestingly, the one with the above list had the most impact on the members. This is in spite of the fact that I had generally covered this topic before. I think it was because the list is so long and covers so many areas. Therefore, you might want to consider printing it out to hand out to friends/acquaintances.

Since I’ve spent the last forty plus years in the boondocks, my examples may not be directly applicable to urban areas. Yet, the real deal is people talking to people. Everyone knows their neighbors and workmates and, likely, belongs to some kind of organization giving you the opportunity to broach the future. You just have to try. And, yes, I grew up in and used to live in an urban area way back when.

Set Up A Discussion Group

At my Grange, we will be voting to set up a discussion group for those who are concerned rather than taking meeting time and boring most of the members. Having a separate group would also mean that OPSEC would be easier to maintain. My feeling is this may turn into a mutual assistance group (MAG). But, I’ll have to wait and see.

Use An Event To Bring People Together

Another way is to use an event to bring people together. About nine years ago, we had a major wildfire of over 8,000 acres in my area. My wife and I called the neighbors to review it at a BBQ, when it was controlled. We continued holding it at our house for eight years, and now someone else has taken over. Since we (there are about 30 people in the area) are spread out over several square miles, this is a chance to see each other and catch-up on news as well as meeting any newcomers. My wife and I provide a parcel map showing all the parcels and the current names, phone numbers, email addresses, and parcel size for each owner.

Put On A Presentation

Another local thing I will be doing is to put on a presentation with a friend at our local farmers market at the gravel pit. (I’m throwing the gravel pit in there for city people, so they know it’s really the boondocks) up the dirt/gravel county road about four miles. It won’t be anything fancy. We’ll put up a table with a low key sign and some handouts but no pontification. But, if they show an interest, we’re loaded for bear! Hopefully, enough will show an interest so they can establish their own group up the road from me.

So, if you have taken the Red Pill as in the movie the Matrix [2] and are frustrated that few listen, I hope this provides some practical ideas for involving others. Just like prepping, never stop making the effort.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 72 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest [4]. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
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  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper [6]. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
  6. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees [7] in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate good for any product [8] from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
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  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  9. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses [10].

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of [11] Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
  3. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  4. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  5. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections [12], a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord [13] (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and

Round 72 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail [14] us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Comments Disabled To "Triggers, Tipping Points, and Black Swans, by Coast Ranger"

#1 Comment By TWP On September 24, 2017 @ 10:55 am

This was a tough article to read but I thank the author for putting together that list of “things for which we prep”.

Most people (IMO) in my suburban community will not want to discuss this. A few, mostly in our prepper group, will be able to take something useful from it.

#2 Comment By rv On September 24, 2017 @ 12:05 pm

Coast Ranger:
A lot of what you mention has come and gone with the crash in 08 and the socialist Obama admin handling of it all. “gone” refers to an event’s status as new. Many still plague us. A real threat is the effort on the part of Liberal Progressive institutions and Black Lives Matter in particular to reduce or eliminate the proactive policing started in the 1990’s in NY and spread to the rest of the US that reduced the incidence of crime in the US by 2/3rds. Gangs are not just in urban areas and lurk under every rock even in Podunk USA. There are some great articles in the SB archive that can equip you to identify gang members. They are just waiting for the police to back off. YOYO will be the place we find ourselves.

#3 Comment By patientmomma On September 24, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

There are so many things which can destroy our society … but I can’t worry about them all. I am a believer so I study the scriptures and try to be as near self reliant as possible. In the end, none of us will escape temporal death; but people don’t want to be warned nor will the proud repent.

#4 Comment By To Cor On September 24, 2017 @ 5:26 pm

Thank you for a very informative article. Given your list of concerns, it would be extremely difficult to assign probabilities of their possible occurrence. I have been working on a simpler version to assess the risk. As a retired military member, I look at those ‘what if’ scenarios in various ways: most likely, most dangerous, natural disaster, and man-made catastrophe. The classic definition of risk is the probability of occurrence of an unwanted event multiplied by the consequence (loss) of the event. Given this definition, I developed a table to quantify the risk. For likelihood, I used a scale from 0 to 1, with 1 being imminently likely. For consequence, I used a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being deathly consequence with no chance of recovery:

Activity Likely x Consequence = Prob Rank
Tornado/Storm .15 35 5.25 2
Earthquake .03 50 1.5 4
Asteroid .01 99 .99 5
Riots .01 10 .01 6
US Implodes .1 90 9 1
Nuclear War .05 99 4.95 3

This is applicable to my situation in my location at this time. So, I plan for the number 1 ranking first, where lawlessness occurs for any reason, including those ranked 2 to 6.

Is this accurate? Probably not, but it gives me a place to start. This also affects how I plan, shelter locations and types, amount of supplies, cache options, alliances for survival and more. If I ever finish the article I am writing I will submit it for peer review.

#5 Comment By To Cor On September 24, 2017 @ 5:27 pm

Well, wish the table would have worked

#6 Comment By Bill On September 24, 2017 @ 6:31 pm

I appreciate the authors efforts, but I’m just not convinced that the cannabis items listed belong. When the S hits the F, my access to cannabis will hardly be a life-threatening concern. This guy seems to be proselytizing for drug use.

#7 Comment By VT On September 25, 2017 @ 5:47 pm

Cannabis has a true unappreciated potential;the flowers are medically useful,the seeds are some of the most nutritional foods availble,the fiber is some of the best availble,the oil is useful not only for cooking but as a chemical “feed stock” for many processes and products. These are some of the reasons for the outlawing of it,to promote the petrochemical industry,it was also one of the main drivers of the War of 1812,to cut US off from buying Russian hemp fiber cloth,rope and other goods(turpentine) that undercut the British monopolies and banks

#8 Comment By Bill On September 25, 2017 @ 8:21 pm

All that is nifty, but of only very marginal value as a trigger for the S to hit the F. Also, during SHTF, there are a lot more valuable items/skills to have than rolling a fat one. Why conflate something really important, like a nuclear war, financial collapse, or grid down with something so bizarre as smoking reefer?

#9 Comment By Mathew On September 26, 2017 @ 10:51 pm

I believe his point was that if you live in the green triangle and there was a big change in cannabis law or production it could greatly effect property values and communities. Whether you grow or not if you live in an area that does it’s effecting you

#10 Comment By TPSnodgrass On September 24, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

I was born and raised in Butte County and spent a greT of my youth in the “EmeraldTriangle”. Your article is extremely well written, and spot on the diagnosis, wish I could have attended your Grange lecture! Well down, keep it up, “The truth NEVER needs a defense!”

#11 Comment By nanago On September 25, 2017 @ 1:13 am

I would add UNDERPOPULATION to the list. Virtually all Americans rely on the taxpayer for income in old age, and the U.S. is just barely at sustainable population rate. And political viewpoints, like religious ones, are most effectively passed down through families. We need to HAVE babies. Also … rural areas have become so de-populated, older folks there have to drive more than an hour for anything beyond basic healthcare, and the fewer people living there, the fewer service available in the future.

#12 Comment By Skip On September 25, 2017 @ 3:21 am

The ranking of risk and probability is a good strategy.
Many on the list are at odds with others on the list.

In reality the list is short for massive global events.
1. World War III
2. Massive EMP from the Sun frying all nation’s infrastructure
3. Nuclear exchange with North Korea and Iran but short of World War III

The currency wars or trade wars will be protracted events and like hurricanes will have lead time.
However if currency wars get out of hand and crash a nation’s currency hot wars follow- See number 1. WWIII.

Anyway, the major global events of 1 and 2 are extinction levels for all purposes. The survivors might live for a few months to a few years but it will be brutal existence.

I plan for the probably but non global events. It’s cheaper and better use of limited resources

I also trust Scripture and it’s clear how the End Times develop.

#13 Comment By VT On September 25, 2017 @ 5:54 pm

You forgot the asteroid,even a small one into a population center is a game changer,large one is extinction event. Pandemic/epidemic/biowarfare should of made the cut too.

#14 Comment By PL C On September 25, 2017 @ 3:48 am

I learned from your list, and your observations from over the years. I got a chuckle, however, in the item under Governance. ‘Marital law’ — you mean like, who can marry whom? No, I know you meant ‘Martial law’ 😉 It is hard to maintain an intense focus on preparedness, but reading your article renews my focus. Thanks!

#15 Comment By Newbie On September 25, 2017 @ 8:37 am

He mentions “The Fourth Turning” What they explain as cycles. These are the stages of a currency/investment cycle they don’t tell us about. We are ending our first. They will never go beyond 125 years like they’re planned. They seem to be closer to eighty to a hundred years.. Give or take a few years. Someone with IMF explained the cycles to me. I think I’ll read the book and see if the authors make the correlation..

#16 Comment By VT On September 25, 2017 @ 5:58 pm

See Harry Dent for cycles/mega cycles upto 250-500 years

#17 Comment By Skip On September 25, 2017 @ 7:00 pm

Harry Dent track record of future predictions are as bad as Jim Rickards.

These men’s business is selling fear and they are good at it.

#18 Comment By Armed Citizen On September 26, 2017 @ 4:59 am

Romans 8:38-39King James Version (KJV)

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

#19 Comment By Gardengirl On September 26, 2017 @ 5:53 pm

Thank you and amen!

#20 Comment By Big Mike On September 26, 2017 @ 2:58 pm

Forget about the hurricanes having “lead times”. Hurricane Harvey overwhelmed local authorities. The local media kept reporting that officials were saying to “shelter in place”. The result was that tens of thousands of people were stranded in their homes, some with 8 feet of water. Thousands of volunteers responded with their personal boats to help with the rescues. The cities on the Gulf Coast from Orange, to Vidor, to Beaumont, to Houston became islands with boat or air access only. The City of Beaumont lost its potable water supply (120,000 people) because its water system was completely submerged. This was predicted to be a “rain event” which ended setting a new record for 50 inches during Harvey. Officials are still overwhelmed with debris removal and restoration of services. PREPARE! The life you save may be your own. If you depend on the actions of other people to save you, you may die. We are living in a new “time” now.

#21 Comment By Skip On September 26, 2017 @ 11:23 pm

Big Mike, hurricane Harry took a week to make landfall.
That is plenty of time to get out of dodge.
Why people keep rebuilding in these flood zones is insane. And they are rebuilding a copy of what they had previously with no thought of elevating the home above flood level.
Just nuts.

Lastly, I would not risk my life on the local authorities telling people to shelter in place.
What a stupid thing to do.