[Paper]: Is­lands as refuges for sur­viv­ing global catastrophes

Link post

Our pa­per “Is­lands as refuges for sur­viv­ing global cata­strophes” is pub­lished in Foresight. The pre­print is here.

This art­icle con­tin­ues a series of art­icles which ex­plore the plan B of global risks mit­ig­a­tion which is an at­tempt to sur­vive a pos­sible global cata­strophe (where plan A is pre­ven­tion, and plan C is leav­ing a mes­sage to the next civil­iz­a­tion in Earth).

The sur­vival on is­lands is pos­sible only in case of a very nar­row range of cata­strophes (likely, less 1 per cent of all pos­sible cata­strophes), but it is still much cheaper than cre­at­ing space refuges on Mars or Moon, and moreover, most needed in­fra­struc­ture on is­lands already ex­ists, like re­search sci­entific bases on re­mote is­lands, so con­vert­ing them in a cata­strophic shel­ter will be thou­sands time cheaper than cre­ation of the space refuges and could be done much quicker in case of emer­gency.

Dif­fer­ent is­lands may help to sur­vive dif­fer­ent types of cata­strophes.

A cri­terion for is­land refuge is sug­ges­ted and only a few from mil­lions ex­it­ing is­lands are suit­able as refuges. The most suit­able for such refuge is Kerguelen group of is­lands, as they are very re­mote, don’t have air­strip, could provide food, have moun­tains and small sci­entific base.

A com­bin­a­tion of a nuc­lear sub­mar­ine con­ver­ted into a refuge, an is­land as its base and an un­der­ground bunker on that is­land could provide most di­verse and ef­fect­ive way of sur­vival on Earth (Bran­son, btw, sur­vived hur­ricane Irma on a wine cel­lar on his Necker Is­land.)

Ab­stract. Is­lands have long been dis­cussed as refuges from global cata­strophes; this pa­per will eval­u­ate them sys­tem­at­ic­ally, dis­cuss­ing both the pos­it­ives and neg­at­ives of is­lands as refuges. There are ex­amples where isol­ated hu­man com­munit­ies have sur­vived for thou­sands of years on places like Easter Is­land. Is­lands could provide pro­tec­tion against many low-level risks, first of all bio-risks. However, they are vul­ner­able to tsuna­mis, bird trans­mit­ted dis­eases, and other risks. In this art­icle, we ex­plore how to use the ad­vant­ages of is­lands for sur­vival of global cata­strophes. The large num­ber of is­lands on Earth, and their di­verse con­di­tions in­crease the chance that one of them will provide pro­tec­tion from a cata­strophe. Ad­di­tion­ally, we could in­crease this pro­tec­tion if an is­land were used as a base for a nuc­lear sub­mar­ine refuge (the “Yel­low sub­mar­ine” pro­ject), and/​or com­bined with un­der­ground bunkers, and/​or ex­tremely long-term data stor­age. We ex­plore the re­quire­ments for sur­vival on is­lands, their vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies, and ways to mit­ig­ate and ad­apt to risks. We look at sev­eral ex­ist­ing is­lands, suit­able for the sur­vival of dif­fer­ent risks, tim­ing, and budgets. To end, we will com­pare is­lands with dif­fer­ent types of refuges, and look for places sim­ilar to is­lands, which could also provide pro­tec­tion.

This table from the art­icle presents the re­la­tion between dif­fer­ent cata­strophe sizes and needed refuges.