As preppers, we try to be prepared for anything, from minor to major disasters. This article looks at the UK’s greatest threats in 2021, their probability and the effect that they could have.
Ranking The UK’s Greatest Threats In 2021
We took a number of threats that could affect the UK and scored them for probability and impact.
We scored the probability of an event happening in the next 5 years by looking at previous events, published risk reports and opinions of experts. A higher probability means more chance of the event happening in, or affecting, the UK.
The impact scores are based on how much of an effect each event would have on the majority of the UK. A higher impact means that the UK (and in some cases the whole world) will be severely affected. A lower impact means that the majority of the UK will still experience some effects but they will not be as disruptive, or the effect of the event is more localised.
The image below shows each threat with probability and impact. Those at the top right are the greatest threats as they have very high probability and impact.
The UK’s Greatest Threats In 2021 Are…
The combination of the probability and impact of an event gives a threat level. The events with the highest probability and impact are the greatest threats. The UK’s greatest threats in 2021 are:
- Climate change
- Grid down
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Nuclear attack
- Terrorist attack
- Extreme weather
- Cyber attack
- Collapse of Society
- Financial collapse
- Volcanic eruption
Climate change is the greatest threat to human civilisation. We are already seeing the effects of climate change now, with more heatwaves and changing weather patterns. In less than 30 years from now, the world’s climate will have changed dramatically. Most of earth’s land will experience hotter temperatures and dryer weather. Dangerous heatwaves, and long droughts will be common in many places. Parts of the world will have become uninhabitable, and there will be mass migrations. Many people will die due of starvation or thirst. Read more about preparing for climate change.
Grid down means the long-term or permanent failure of the power grid. The power grid is more fragile than many people realise, and could easily fail or be destroyed. For example, a solar flare could easily destroy power grids and electrical equipment around the world. In 2012, a solar flare nearly did exactly that; it hit the earth’s orbit but luckily the earth was a few days away from that part of the orbit at the time. Our society has come to rely on easily available power, and when the grid goes down, it is very likely that the collapse of society will follow rapidly. Our grid down article has plenty more information.
Antimicrobial resistance is when disease causing microbes change over time and become resistant to medication. This means that antimicrobial medicines become ineffective against infections. Infections then become very difficult or even impossible to treat. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest global health threats.
A nuclear attack could be from a terrorist organisation that has accessed nuclear weapons, or a nuclear war. The nuclear threat, in conjunction with climate change, is why the doomsday clock now stands at 100 seconds to midnight. A nuclear attack will cause many deaths and much destruction. However, if you are outside the immediate blast radius and you know what to do, you have a good chance of surviving.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how susceptible the world is to a new virus. Although the Covid-19 pandemic was devastating, a new pandemic with a virus that has a higher death rate could wipe out huge numbers of the population of the world.
Currently the UK national terrorist attack threat level is SUBSTANTIAL, which means that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) considers a terrorist attack to be likely. A non-nuclear terrorist attack may not have as much of an impact as a nuclear attack. There can, however, still be very wide ranging consequences affecting large numbers of people, as well as the obvious impact on those directly affected. Find out how to prepare for and stay safe during a terrorist attack.
Extreme weather includes storms, heatwaves, extreme cold and snow, and very heavy rainfall. The number of extreme weather events that we experience is increasing, in particular heatwaves and very heavy rain storms. The effects of extreme weather may be relatively localised, or may affect large areas of the UK at once. One of the main effects of extreme weather that we see in the UK is flooding, which is becoming more and more common. As the climate changes, we can also expect to see more heatwaves.
Cyber attacks are happening all the time, with 2020 being the worst year so far for cyber attacks against businesses. A cyber attack against parts of our infrastructure, for example banking or the power grid, could have a huge impact on the majority of the UK population. Prepping for a cyber attack will help you survive the consequences of a major cyber attack.
Collapse of Society
The collapse of society could be a symptom of some of the other risks, for example, grid down may lead eventually to the collapse of society. It could also be an event in itself. There is increasing civil unrest around the world, and the UK is a very divided country. Issues like Brexit, and management of the Covid-19 pandemic have further increased divides within the UK. If the divides and civil unrest continue to develop, it will eventually reach a point where it causes the collapse of our society.
The worst financial collapse the world has seen was the Great Depression of the 1930s. It started with the Wall Street crash of 1929, and was made worse by US government mismanagement through the 1930s. Although this was centred in the USA, it had significant effects around the world. A financial collapse could see huge number of job losses. This would then lead to homelessness and starvation as people struggle to earn any money.
This might seem like a strange threat to include on a list of UK threats, as there are no active volcanoes in the UK. The threats to the UK are actually airborne ash and gas from eruption of a volcano elsewhere. In 2010, the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted, spewing huge amounts of ash and gas into the atmosphere. This grounded aircraft over the majority of Europe as the volcanic ash cloud would have damaged the aircraft engines. As well as the travel disruption, a large volcanic eruption could cause climate changes in the UK, lasting over years, because of the ash cloud in the atmosphere.
Although wildfires are usually seen as a problem affecting other countries more than the UK, we are seeing moorland and forest fires more frequently. This trend will continue because summers are becoming warmer and drier. The effects of fires are destruction of property, but also have the potential to impact our infrastructure and supply chains depending on the locations affected.
The UK’s Greatest Threats In 2021 And Your Greatest Threats
These are the UK’s 12 greatest threats in 2021, but now would be a good time to investigate the greatest threats to you. Take the opportunity to consider whether there are threats that are probable in the area you live. If you live on a flood plain, for example, flooding will be one of the greatest threats to you. Threats change all the time, with events around the world affecting the UK, so it is worth checking your threats and plans frequently.