Science | July 30, 2021 12:23 pm

When Society Collapses, You’ll Want to Live In These Five Places

A new study suggests only a few areas could serve as a "collapse lifeboat"

Between two iconic Auckland beaches - Anawhata and Piha - lies White’s Beach, New Zealand. if society collapses, new Zealand is seen as one of five areas that could serve as a "collapse lifeboat"
New Zealand is one of five places you'd want to live if society collapses
Kyle Myburgh / Unsplash

There’s a good reason billionaires are moving to New Zealand — if we reach end-of-times, it’s essentially one of five places that you could possibly eke out a semi-normal existence.

That’s the conclusion reached by researchers Nick King and Aled Jones in the science journal Sustainability. Their study, “An Analysis of the Potential for the Formation of ‘Nodes of Persisting Complexity’,” takes a biophysical perspective on post-industrial human civilization vs. the Earth system and biosphere.

Basically, human civilization is a “non-equilibrium thermodynamic or dissipative system that must maintain a minimum level of available exergy to avoid entropic decay and a yet higher level to permit physical growth” and the Earth is, well, a finite resource.

Add in climate change, pandemics, economic inequality and overall global interdependency, and there’s a good chance we’re headed toward something catastrophic. The question here is, if and when that happens, where do you want to be?

According to the researchers, the answer is New Zealand, followed by Iceland, the United Kingdom, Australia or Ireland (which are referred to as “nodes of persisting complexity” and “collapse lifeboats”). As The Guardian notes, these conclusions were assessed based on a country’s ability to grow food, protect its borders, maintain an electrical grid and offer some manufacturing. Temperate climate and low-population density also played major factors.

While praising some government responses to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Professor Jones (the paper’s co-author) warned (per The Guardian), “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more efficient, economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity.”