A serious, coordinated cyber attack could easily disrupt us enough to cause social collapse – and from the attacker’s point of view, it’s even safer than an EMP. It’s hard to prove who carried it out; even if you can pin down where the attackers were located, their government can claim it was nothing to do with them. Meanwhile the attack could cause a runaway collapse, where the failure of one system brings down others in a cascade it could take years to recover from.

Though its light weight and long shelf life are ideal for navigating harsh conditions, freeze-dried food is probably most famous as a cultural curiosity: Like many Americans, I discovered it in a museum gift shop, gawking at the styrofoam-like ice cream that astronauts used to have for dessert. More recently, I encountered it at a disaster preparedness convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, where smiling, gray-haired preppers manned tables piled with plastic bags full of vegetables, meats, and stews.
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