A new study from the Global Sustainability Institute suggests New Zealand is the best place to be during a global societal collapse, aka, the end of the world as we know it. The study calls New Zealand and other places where humanity might ride out a worldwide collapse, “lifeboats.” Here’s the study’s conclusion:
Human civilisation underwent increases in sociopolitical complexity since the Agricultural Revolution (ca. 100 centuries ago), the Industrial Revolution (ca. two centuries ago) and with exponential characteristics as part of the ‘Great Acceleration’  (starting ca. 70 years ago). This generally has been characterised by phenomena such as large increases in population, energy use and interconnectedness and has resulted in increasingly extensive and severe perturbation of the Earth System and the biosphere. This perturbation has resulted in a wide range of effects and feedbacks on global human civilisation including (but not limited to) climate change, increased risk of pandemics, ecological destruction (manifesting as a sixth extinction event) and growing risks of systemic instabilities. In combination, these effects place complex human civilisation in a precarious and perilous position with regards to its future; the risk of an uncontrolled ‘de-complexification’ event (a systemic reduction in the overall complexity of civilisation at global scale) occurring may be increasing.‘De-complexification’ has previously been described in the scientific and popular literature as ‘collapse’ (or alternative descriptors including ‘the Olduvai Collapse’ and ‘the Great Simplification’, which may take place through various rapid or prolonged mechanisms). The concept of ‘lifeboats’ has also been previously presented as a phenomenon that may emerge from ‘de-complexification’ events and generally describe geographical locations that have capacity (by virtue of natural features and/or potential for human action) to avoid the most egregious effects of climate change or other global events and therefore maintain significant populations. This study introduces an alternative description and narrative in the form of the ‘node of persisting complexity’. These are defined as nations that may have certain characteristics (‘favourable starting conditions’) that may feasibly allow them to retain localised, higher levels of societal, technological and organisation complexity. A key difference with preceding narratives is that ‘nodes of persisting complexity’ would form through evolutionary system behaviour, rather than through any direct human agency.The methodology for assessing which nations have the potential to form ‘nodes of persisting complexity’ utilises the outputs of the ‘University of Notre Dame—Global Adaptation Index’ (ND-GAIN) study, which assessed and ranked all nations in terms of vulnerability and readiness to future environmental change. The ND-GAIN ranking was screened against additional semi-quantitative measures specifically related to the ‘nodes of persisting complexity’ concept to generate a ‘shortlist’ of five nations (New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Australia (Tasmania) and Ireland). Each of these was then further qualitatively assessed for their individual, local-scale (primarily energy and agricultural) characteristics. This identified New Zealand as having the greatest potential to form a ‘node of persisting complexity’, with Iceland, Australia (Tasmania) and Ireland also having favourable characteristics. The United Kingdom presents a more complex picture and potentially has less favourable characteristics overall.The analysis of the possible systemic evolution of global complexity is by itself of limited potential value, so this study applies the analysis of the ‘nodes of persisting complexity’ to identify potentially useful insights for enhancing resilience for nations that do not have the natural confluence of ‘favourable starting conditions’. This analysis identifies that actions that may provide the means to address the interlinked factors of climate change, carrying capacity, indigenous energy and manufacturing capacity and the over-reliance on complexity might provide the greatest resilience against future ‘de-complexification’. Overall, the human predicament of exceeding global environmental limits, creating unmanageable and increasingly ineffective complexity and perturbing global life support systems may be typical of any energy and material resource-harvesting civilisation in a constrained environment. In this context, ‘nodes of persisting complexity’ may provide the greatest opportunity for human society to retain technology and organisation into the longer term.
Action Line: You may not be able to move to the ends of the earth to wait out the apocalypse, but you can focus on protecting your family right where you are. Build yourself an “island,” where you’re prepared as best you can be, and you’re left alone by others. If you want to know what state is the Best State for Survival, click here.
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E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
E.J. Smith is Founder of YourSurvivalGuy.com, Managing Director at Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd., a Managing Editor of Richardcyoung.com, and Editor-in-Chief of Youngresearch.com. His focus at all times is on preparing clients and readers for “Times Like These.” E.J. graduated from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with a B.S. in finance and investments. In 1995, E.J. began his investment career at Fidelity Investments in Boston before joining Richard C. Young & Co., Ltd. in 1998. E.J. has trained at Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, NH. His first drum set was a 5-piece Slingerland with Zildjians. He grew-up worshiping Neil Peart (RIP) of the band Rush, and loves the song Tom Sawyer—the name of his family’s boat, a Grady-White Canyon 306. He grew up in Mattapoisett, MA, an idyllic small town on the water near Cape Cod. He spends time in Newport, RI and Bartlett, NH—both as far away from Wall Street as one could mentally get. The Newport office is on a quiet, tree lined street not far from the harbor and the log cabin in Bartlett, NH, the “Live Free or Die” state, sits on the edge of the White Mountain National Forest. He enjoys spending time in Key West and Paris. Please get in touch with E.J. at email@example.com To sign up for my free monthly Survive & Thrive letter, click here.
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