SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Bob Gaskin is an upbeat kind of guy, friendly and funny like a fishing buddy.
And that seems to run counter to someone who believes that within a couple of years all of humanity will be faced with a mini-ice age, coastal flooding, increased volcanic activity, likely asteroid strikes and a general shredding of the cultural fabric.
But if anyone can survive that, he expects to be that person.
Gaskin, who runs the Black Dog Survival School near Cooke-ville, Tenn., was among the dozens of exhibitors this month at the Mountain Prepper Home, Gun & Outdoor Expo at the Sevierville Convention Center.
The expo drew hundreds to an exhibit hall that featured gear to help you survive a summer rain, a body center-mass hit from a .30 caliber rifle and pretty much anything in between.
With enough camouflage to outfit a rain forest, it was a political liberal’s bad dream.
And if you need anything to help you get through, it might be “Making the Best of Basics,” an inch-thick paperback handbook designed to prepare you for whatever Gaskin’s vision of tomorrow might throw at you and more. The book is the four-decade endeavor of James Talmage Stevens, also known as “Dr. Prepper.”
Gaskin said his prediction of multiple cataclysms within 18-36 months is based on four astronomical cycles all expiring virtually simultaneously, cycles ranging from 432 years of regularity to many thousands.
The explanation is complicated, but his simplified answer is our planet and solar system are going from their zig to their zag.
The result, he said, will be a realignment of the earth’s magnetic poles, a 78-hour-long day or night as the planet’s rotation pauses, a tectonic shift of continents and asteroids passing nearly as close to us as the moon.
And the U.S. government knows all this, Gaskin said.
Within months, 88 percent to 94 percent of humanity will be dead, Gaskin said.
But he does not believe he will be among them, as he has devised ways to procure water, food, fire, hygiene and other necessities once the collapse comes.
He’s not among the “preppers” who only stockpile the necessities and the firepower to defend it.
He said he advocates helping those who come to him seeking food or water, because they might be the ones who can get the lights back on or treat the sick.
He advocates sharing. Preppers, he said, are not looking at the larger picture.
Gathering together resources is Stevens’ specialty. At 75, Stevens is a retired college instructor from the San Antonio area who stresses not self-sufficiency, which he says does not exist, but self-reliance.
He is preparing for “TEOTWAWKI,” he says: The End Of The World As We Know It.
That is a phenomenon that can come in many forms, he said, and can happen multiple times in individual lives.
But his book is designed to be of use in preparing for when it happens to everyone at the same time.
In it are many recipes, tips on water storage, treating minor ailments and much more.
“Self assurance,” he calls it.
Steven said he does not subscribe to conspiracy theories and his work is not based on religion or Armageddon.
He has no “bugout” destination, he said, because he does not think he needs it.
“I will bloom where I am planted,” he said.