The best places to survive the collapse of society

Experts rank island nations at top of ‘most resilient’ list

View from Titterstone Clee Hill
(Image credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The UK is among the five best countries in the world to “restart life” in the event of a sudden global catastrophe, a new study has found.

Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute has ranked the UK alongside New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and the Australian island state of Tasmania as the places “most resilient to future threats” or a total societal collapse.

According to the researchers, a catastrophe “could arise from shocks, such as a severe financial crisis, the impacts of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, and even worse pandemic than Covid-19, or a combination of these”, says The Guardian.

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In a study paper published in the journal Sustainability, the experts warn that human civilisation is in a “perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

The experts single out “only a handful of countries” as “places of refuge” - dubbed “collapse lifeboats” - that seem “protected even in the event of mass floods, drought or food loss”, Metro reports.

The rankings are based on countries’ ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders, maintain an electrical grid and preserve manufacturing ability.

And “islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top”, says The Irish Times.

The best-rated nations were also found to have “higher levels of societal and technological ‘complexity’ within their borders, as well as lower temperatures that could offset the worst excesses of climate change”, Metro adds.

New Zealand tops the best places list, having “scored particularly well on population and geographical location”, notes The Independent.

The UK, meanwhile, gets a high rating for self-sufficiency, owing to its “abundant indigenous renewable and non-renewable energy sources, modern high-tech economy and large manufacturing capacity", and also “scored highly in its ability to protect its borders from unwanted mass immigration”, the newspaper adds

Study co-author Professor Aled Jones told The Guardian that “we weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list”.

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

But “we were quite surprised the UK came out strongly”, Jones added. “It is densely populated, has traditionally outsourced manufacturing, hasn’t been the quickest to develop renewable technology, and only produces 50% of its own food at the moment. But it has the potential to withstand shocks.”

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