A recent article by the New Zealand herald referring to a study published in Risk Analysis Journal points to New Zealand as the potential ‘ark’ to restart civilization in case of a global pandemic or extinction event. It also revealed Australia, Iceland, and island nations with more than 250,000 populations as places of refuge.
You might be wondering what a global pandemic or extinction event has to do with climate change.
The paper “Climate change and human health, risks and responses” by the World Health Organization says that climate change has a role in infectious disease occurrence.
Excessive rainfall and humidity have enhanced mosquito breeding causing a malaria outbreak. here will be the appearance of various infection diseases like:
- cholera from water contamination and urban crowding;
- dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that can be fatal;
- consumption of seafood exposed to red tide from toxic algal blooms due to ocean warming; and
- Venezuelan haemorrhagic fever from rodent abundance.
The above are just examples of diseases that can build up that environmental and climate change cause, according to the World Health Organization study.
Add to it the threats of the human-induced spread of diseases and modified organisms with the potential to exterminate humankind, as stated in the NZ Herald article.
It mentions that Dr. Matt Boyd’s study revealed that humans could wittingly or unwittingly unleash a modified organism with the potential to kill all humankind. Boyd is the study’s lead author and research director of Adapt Research.
With increasing advances in biotechnology or genetically engineering diseases that would threaten humanity, professor Nick Wilson of Otago University said, threats have never been higher.
He says that carriers of diseases can quickly spread across land borders, but in ‘closed, self-sufficient island could harbour an isolated, technologically-adept population that could repopulate the earth following a disaster.’
The article said that the researchers in the study had created a scoring system for each characteristic of each island nation, like location, resources and society, and population. Australia is number 1 on the list because of its abundance of energy and food, followed closely by New Zealand and Iceland.
The study has ranked each island nation according to its population from 250,000 and above. The article stated that the larger the population, the better it is to repopulate the earth.
Wilson said it’s better to have a mitigation plan for disasters and an ‘extinction-level pandemic’, a strategy that must be in place. The worst scenario, Wilson says, is the release of multiple genetically engineered pandemics at once.
It follows then that New Zealand (and other countries) invest in resiliency measures and rehearse the rapid introduction of border controls, and collaborate with other nations like Australia, which would also most likely survive these pandemic threats, the article suggests.
Why NZ could be humanity’s ‘lifeboat’ in an extinction. (2019, October 1). NZ Herald. Retrieved from https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12272496
McMichael, A.J., Campbell-Lendrum, D.H., et al. (2003). Climate change and human health, risks and responses (chapter 6, pp. 16-17). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/en/chapter6.pdf