New Zealand named best country to survive a global collapse

New Zealand has been named among five countries that are best likely to survive a global collapse of society, a new study has found.

Researchers say it comes as no surprise, with billionaires reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse.

The country was found to have the greatest potential to survive a collapse somewhat unscathed because of its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low population density.

Other places ranked highly to survive are Iceland, the UK, Tasmania and Ireland.

Researchers said human civilisation was “in a perilous state” as a result of a highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that had developed, and the environmental damage that has come from it.

A collapse could arise from shocks, such as a severe financial crisis, the impacts of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists said.

Countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability.

Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities came out on top.

The study highlighted that nations need to increase their resilience. They said a globalised society that prized economic efficiency would cause setbacks, and that spare capacity was needed in food and other vital sectors.

“We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” said Professor Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK.

Jones added: “We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already [make up the list].

“We were quite surprised the UK came out strongly. It is densely populated, has traditionally outsourced manufacturing, hasn’t been the quickest to develop renewable technology, and only produces 50 per cent of its own food.

“But it has the potential to withstand shocks.”

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, said: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

It also states that because of environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth: “The [academic] literature paints a picture of human civilisation that is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour.”

Places that did not suffer “the most egregious effects of societal collapses and are therefore able to maintain significant populations” have been described as “collapse lifeboats”.

Jones said major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic had all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time”.

However, Jones also warns that there’s no real reason why potential crises can’t all happen in the same year.

“As you start to see these events happening, I get more worried. I hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important.

“With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic had shown that governments could act quickly when needed.

“It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.

“This drive for just-in-time, ever-more efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity.

“We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.”

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