How about the fact that oceans are becoming empty of marine life, more acidic, more toxic, and full of rubbish? I imagine that a world where the marine life dies off or becomes too polluted to be useful as a food source would make for "an event" that could rock your world and mine.
Fukishima. (Bless you!) And Chernobyl. Two radioactive material spills that will keep giving us tainted air, water, food, and fallout for millenia. Suppose there was another few like that, and between them they left plumes that covered 75% of the globe? Is that SHTF (Shit Hitting The Fan) enough for you?
Oh yeah. Drought. We've just come off the worst years of a drought that has been steadily increasing in severity for the last 25 - 30 years. It may be a temporary relief, or it may mean a reversing trend. But it led to hundreds of farmers walking away from farms, and led indirectly to a rise in land baron farmers who now continue to ruin land. That's been pretty life-changing around here in Australia.
And I almost forget - how long would the world last if fuel stopped flowing?
So - the question isn't so much whether there are events that could cause a SHTF scenario, it's how long we have before they occur.
It's worth thinking about this. Not from a full-on prepper/survivalist point of view, but from the point of view of "would I manage, if this happened?" Would you?
And how have we come to this, that we're such an advanced civilisation yet we're seemingly more precariously balanced than our forebears from a few centuries ago were? This is a long convoluted subject that I could drag out into 10 - 20 consecutive blog posts but I can say it in three words "loss of community."
When communities got above village sized, we had two simultaneous outcomes. We gained in artifice and technology, and we lost the sense of tight knit community that smaller population centres have.
Over the next few articles, (yeah, I gave in to splitting this into more easily digestible chunks) I'll explore a lot of these themes.