WASHINGTON, DC—Over 87 percent of Americans are unprepared to protect themselves from even the most basic world-ending scenarios, according to a study released Monday by the nonpartisan doomsday think-tank The Malthusian Institute.
Despite "more than ample warning" for the most likely means of worldwide destruction, less than one million American households have taken even the simplest precautions against nuclear shockwaves, asteroid impact, or a host of angels bearing swords of fire, the study concluded.
"Our survey of households in seven U. S. regions demonstrated that few citizens have bothered to equip themselves with fireproof suits and extinguishers to deal with volcanic upheaval, solar flares, or the Lord's purifying flame," Malthusian Institute director James Olheiser said. "Almost no one is prepared for a sudden shift in the Earth's polarity or the eating of the Sun and moon by evil wolves Skol and Hati during Ragnarok."
Olheiser added: "All in all, America gets an 'F' for end-of-the-world preparedness."
The study examined nearly 1,200 doomsday scenarios and detailed the most glaring gaps in average Americans' ability to survive them. One of the few survival measures that fulfills the Institute's recommendations for most catastrophes—natural, manmade, or spiritual—is a mile-deep, lead-lined subterranean vault built to shield a pre-selected breeding group of humans until they can safely return to the planet's surface. However, only two American citizens, both in Idaho, were found to have begun even the most cursory planning stages of this kind of race-preserving chamber.
"Even assuming someone eventually developed an above-ground super-house able to withstand the 1,200-degree temperature and massive force of lava and ash rain that would result from a globe-shattering asteroid impact, its occupants would be unprepared for the ensuing radical climate change," Olheiser said. "By the same token, the average household lacks the 1.2 million gallons of heating oil needed to withstand the prolonged sub-zero temperatures of another protracted Ice Age—perhaps the most shocking of the public's many oversights."
In the years after World War II, fallout shelters and stocks of canned goods were common in many American homes. However, as Malthusian Institute figures suggest, while public fears of world-ending scenarios grew more sophisticated, the level of preparation inexplicably dropped.
"America is at its lowest level of apocalyptic preparedness since the early 1950s," Olheiser said.
"Naturally, we're very concerned about the safety of our city's residents," said Billings, MT mayor Ron Tussing whose city was faulted in the study for lackadaisical endtimes-response policy. "But people can't expect the government to do everything. In the event of, say, the eruption of the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park, or a torrential rain of boiling blood, citizens realize they're on their own."
However, many Americans consistently point to the same two factors that they say hinder their ability to respond to the end of the world: time and money. The study found that many apocalypse-preparedness measures are cost-prohibitive. With virtually no tax incentives in place, many Americans share the "dangerous perception" that only the richest few can afford to survive the extinction of humanity.
"I just renovated my house with cantilevered leaden cofferdams for increased earthquake and radiation protection, and I'm working on a pantheistic altar to appease the god or gods most likely to return to this world with an insatiable wrath," said Seattle resident Tim Hanson, whose actions were praised in the study as a "highly rare display of prescience and vigilance."
"I installed solar panels and a generator so I could live off the grid for a while," Hanson added. "But it cost so much that now I might not be able to have the altar properly gilded. At least not in time."
Not only are Americans unprepared physically, but spiritually as well. The study found that fewer than one thousand Americans regularly monitored space for signs of an approaching hostile alien ship, and only one percent were aware that an all-red bull and an all-white buffalo had recently been born and that plans were underway to rebuild Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.
"We're advising parents to read this vital information, to take it to heart, and to share it with their children before it's too late," said Olheiser, who also called for the formation of more doomsday cults.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff sharply disagreed with the report's findings.
"This study is inaccurate and misleading," Chertoff told reporters on Tuesday. "Americans are a resilient, can-do people. We are more prepared than ever to survive a gigantic tsunami, a major gravitational disruption, or any other heretofore non-prophesied calamity."
Chertoff added: "As for Armageddon borne out of God's heavenly wrath, I can say with assurance that this nation has never seen a presidential administration that has given more thought to this very scenario."