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Bitterroot threat analysis

With a little help from my friends, we developed a current list of threats we could imagine to the world as we know it – specifically, our little corner of the world. The process, and threats are applicable to much of our country.

Developing a useful list is a four step process. It is best to have several minds involved. I doubt the results change significantly from four participants to fourteen or more, but there is a minimum number to have the synergy of ideas from one triggering thoughts from another.

1) Brainstorm a list

Hewlett Packard taught this for working in groups. It had to be fast, fun and friendly. Ideas came out and were scribed onto the board without analysis, explanation or judgment. When thoughts stop popping out, you are finished with list creation. Then, and only then do you go back to clarify what they mean, consolidate and eliminate – again, without judgment.

2) Assign probability to each

We used a scale of 1-5 with one being unlikely and 5 being very likely, and chose “within a few years” as our criteria. You can use any scale, but it becomes difficult to refine much beyond what we did. We are merely guessing utilizing gut feel, some knowledge, but mostly intuition.

3) Assign severity to each

Again using a 1-5 scale, how severe would the impact be to us locally? As an example, while forest fire can really wreak havoc in our neck of the woods, it is so common as to be within our normal preparations without much risk of total catastrophic impact.

4) Do the math

Multiply probability times severity for a prioritizing score. If something is both a high probability and high severity, you had darn-well better develop some contingency plans.

This puts your planning, organizing and expenditures in a coherent order. High probability OR high severity events also deserve attention, but that is only after you have dealt with the huge impact somewhat probable disaster preparations.

In our corner of the world, the sequence and weighting we came up with is:
20 – Power Grid Failure (no power in Northwest for a long time)
16 – USofA Crop Failure (already taking place, will get worse)
12 – Global fuel crisis (extreme price jumps, possible shortages)
10 – Major forest fire (they are getting harder to control)
8 – Disease (epidemic, pandemic, sanitation breakdown plagues)

Preparation for one will almost always contain parts relevant to others. Focus on the first one until you have a good sense of direction before turning your attention to the next.