What, we worry?

It’s hard not to on days when every hour seems to bring news of fresh disaster, and even harder to figure out what to worry about most.

We know we should be prepared, but for what? The coronavirus? Climate change? World War III?

If we had all the answers, we’d be asleep at 3 a.m., not thinking about canned goods and wishing we’d paid more attention to Doomsday Preppers and less to Project Runway.

Sometimes, it’s all we can do to focus on what we do know.

Are we all going to die?

Yes. There’s much speculation about what does or doesn’t happen next (see Religions, World), but dying is nonnegotiable (see Science). Timing remains unpredictable.

Are we living in a disaster movie?

Between unprecedented wildfires, the latest potential pandemic, earthquakes, melting glaciers, an actual plague of locusts in Africa, and whatever the government still isn’t telling us about Area 51, we may be living in a multiplex full of disaster movies. And that’s the good news.

How can that be the good news?

Because in a disaster movie, there are always survivors. Are you young and reasonably attractive? Do you own a dog that would follow you anywhere? Are you separated from or in a testy relationship with someone who works too much but who’s good in an emergency? You may have what it takes to survive a disaster movie.

So what’s the bad news?

It’s mostly bad news, to be honest. Disasters, by definition, are sudden and catastrophic. They are, in real life, likely no kinder to dog people than to cat people. Few of us are in relationships, troubled or not, with San Andreas’ Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

If it’s the end of the world, will I know it?

Good question. On Jan. 23, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reset its Doomsday Clock 20 seconds closer to midnight, leaving humankind with just 100 seconds, metaphorically, to save ourselves and the planet. That’s the least amount of time until last call since the clock’s founding in 1947. Originally intended to assess the risk of nuclear war, its scope has broadened in recent years to include climate change.

This year, the Bulletin also called out “a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond,” by creating distrust "in institutions and among nations.” If the worst happens, can you count on Facebook to tell you when it’s time to grab the go bag? Or will it just try to sell you one, along with another for your cat and dog?

Should I do my taxes?

Yes, and not just because of that old line about “death and taxes” — generally, but not entirely, attributed to Benjamin Franklin. You don’t want to wake up on April 14 and realize you’re still here and you don’t know where you put your W-2. Survival’s meant to be good news.

I’ve read that the coronavirus, so far, has mortality rate of less than 1%. I don’t live in an earthquake zone. I’m an hour from the ocean and much farther than that from the nearest wildfire. Can I still worry?

You can. Worrying is free, though probably less effective against viruses than hand-washing.