Why New Zealand could be the most resilient country against global societal collapse

  • Living
  • Saturday, 07 Aug 2021

According to the study, New Zealand would have the greatest potential to survive a global collapse. Photo: AFP

A new study has identified the most resilient places in the world in the event of a major economic or climate collapse. Islands with temperate climates and small populations like Iceland and New Zealand top the list.

"Human civilisation has undergone a continuous trajectory of rising sociopolitical complexity since its inception; a trend which has undergone a dramatic recent acceleration. This phenomenon has resulted in increasingly severe perturbation of the Earth System, manifesting recently as global-scale effects such as climate change.

"These effects create an increased risk of a global ‘de-complexification' (collapse) event in which complexity could undergo widespread reversal," state the scientists behind the research.

Overshoot Day, which this year fell on July 29, is a strong marker of this threat, as it symbolises the date on which the world exhausts all the resources the planet can generate in one year.

According to the authors of this study, a societal collapse could manifest itself in several ways: a major financial crisis, the destruction of nature, the occurrence of a pandemic even more serious than Covid-19, or a combination of all these factors.

It's a gloomy prospect, of which we can already see the beginnings. Everywhere in the world, natural disasters (fires, floods, hurricanes) are intensifying, water shortages are becoming more and more frequent. Not forgetting the Covid-19 pandemic that the whole world has been facing for a year and a half.

However, some countries may fare better than others, according to findings published in the journal Sustainability, which name New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Tasmania and Ireland as the places in the world best suited to surviving a global collapse of society.

This new research draws on the results of the 2015 "University of Notre Dame-Global Adaptation Index" (ND-GAIN), which assessed and ranked all nations in terms of their vulnerability and preparedness to future environmental change.

Countries were evaluated on a variety of criteria, including their ability to produce food for their inhabitants, maintain an electrical grid, and have some production capacity.

An example to follow New Zealand is the big winner in this ranking. This island state in Oceania is said to have the greatest potential for survival, thanks to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, its abundant agricultural land and its low human population density.

Other temperate and sparsely populated islands show similar resilience. These include Ireland, Iceland and Tasmania, an Australian island state located off the southeast coast.

The United Kingdom also features in the shortlist of top-ranking nations. This densely populated country, which currently produces only 50% of its own food, has significant potential for resilience.

However, it "presents a more complex picture and potentially has less favourable characteristics overall", caution the scientists.

Places that do not suffer the most egregious effects of societal collapse are described as "lifeboats" for human populations in the event of a collapse, thanks in part to the persistence of agriculture, the report explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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