So far, whether you know it or not, you’ve survived the 2015 Blood Moon Prophecy, the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse, and your great-great-grandparents even made it through William Miller’s 1844 predicted Second Coming of Christ.
Milwaukee-based Journalist Tea Krulos’ new book Apocalypse Any Day Now (available April 2) explores these apocalypse predictions as well as many others. He interviews and even camps out with doomsday preppers who spend their time and effort preparing for what they refer to as “TEOTWAWKI” (the end of the world as we know it). His reporting takes him through the astonishingly wide array of apocalyptic possibilities, all the way from a zombie uprising to irreversible climate change.
We spoke with Tea about the book, his time spent with doomsday preppers and the possibility of facing the end of the world.
How did you get first get interested in the world of doomsday preppers?
I’ve always had an amusement at seeing predicted dates for the apocalypse. It seems that every other year there’s some sort of blood moon prophecy or Mayan apocalypse. I’ve always been fascinated with that. The other thing I realized is that, if there was a huge disaster, how long would I be able to survive? The answer to that, I think, is not very long. So I was curious to learn what prepping is all about.
What were some of the most difficult parts of researching preppers?
My entry into preppers was much more difficult. They were very suspicious of me, so it took a lot of work to try to find people that wanted to talk to me. Also, the subject matter itself is a downer. I was reading lots of books about how the world might end, and I joked that when I was done with the book I was going to read nothing but Hello Kitty comics for a month to cleanse the palate.
Of all the prepper groups you write about in the book, which one sticks out most notably in your memory?
One of the groups I met that I made a good connection with is a group called Zombie Squad. I think they have a little bit of a more lighthearted approach. They talk about surviving a zombie apocalypse, not because they believe that that’s going to actually happen, but as a metaphor — so if you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to have the skills to survive a hurricane, mass rioting or any other sort of disaster.
They have an annual camping trip called Zombie Con, so I spent a few days camping out in the middle of nowhere in Missouri with them.
Which apocalyptic scenario in your book do you think seems the most probable?
I think the sad truth is climate change, and things that are going to happen because of climate change. That’s not going to be, like, one day the world suddenly ends. It’s going to be a long, slow death caused by starvation and overpopulation and everything that’s going to happen because of the way the planet’s changing.
And the least probable?
In one of my chapters, I talk about people concerned about an extraterrestrial scenario that changes the world. I mean, that could happen, but it’s one of the more fringe theories.
One section of the book explores “luxury survival condos” in Kansas, where preppers live out the end days in style. If you were to hunker down in one of those for the end of the world, which three books would you bring?
I think I would bring War and Peace. I’ve always wanted to read it, but I’ve been intimidated to commit to it, so I would finally get my chance to read it. I would probably want something fun and lighthearted to take my mind off the situation, and the last thing I would want is a psychology book that would help me cope with what was going on.
You also write about preppers in Sheboygan. How would you describe prepper culture across Wisconsin?
There was a Milwaukee group that I tried to connect with, but they stopped having meetings right around the time I tried to talk with them. There’s a handful of preppers in Milwaukee at least. The rest of Wisconsin is pretty similar to prepper scenes around the country — mostly suburban or rural. I know that there are quite a few in the state.
What, over the course of writing the book, was the most unexpected thing you discovered about prepping?
If you see a lot of shows like Doomsday Preppers, there is this stereotype that preppers are very paranoid and angry, and that certainly is the case with some preppers, but quite a few of them are pretty normal people who do this as sort of a hobby that helps them put their minds at ease. Not all preppers are these crazy conspiracy-thinking loners. A lot of them are just average people. Writing the book was an exciting and interesting experience. It was a crazy adventure.
What is one thing you’d like readers to take away from the book?
A lot of people describe prepping as having insurance. Some of the things they say make sense. I think it is good to be prepared for a disaster. I also think it’s not good to worry too much about the world ending, because there’s not much you can do.