New Zealand.
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  • Researchers created a "shortlist" of five nations most likely to survive the apocalypse.
  • The list includes New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland.
  • Silicon Valley billionaires are already investing in bunkers and doomsday shelters in New Zealand.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

With climate change strengthening its grip on the planet, researchers are searching for the best possible hideout locations post-apocalypse.

Using data from the University of Notre Dame's Global Adaptation Initiative, researchers at Anglia Ruskin University's Global Sustainability Institute in England graded the 20 least vulnerable countries on three main criteria:

  1. Carrying capacity: How much land is being used for farming to sustain the current population? High agricultural land per capita is good.
  2. Isolation: How close is the country to other highly populated areas? Further away is better.
  3. Self-sufficiency: Does the country produce its own renewable energy and have manufacturing capacity? More is better.

Using these parameters, co-authors Nick King and Aled Jones found five locations particularly suited for global collapse, or what they call "de-complexification." Each of the five are notably islands with large metropolitan regions, meaning they've already shown they can sustain millions of people. Their work was published in the peer-reviewed journal Sustainability on July 21.

New Zealand

Hydroelectric plants in New Zealand.
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New Zealand is naturally cooler than many regions in the world, boding well for the area in the event of a large temperature increase due to climate change.

Close to 40% of the country's primary energy supply comes from renewable energy sources and the nation produced enough energy to cover 75% of its energy requirements, according to a New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, making it an ideal location in the event of societal collapse.

Sheep on farm land at the base of the crown range are seen on June 25, 2020 in Queenstown, New Zealand
Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The only highly populous country close to New Zealand is Australia, making the country harder for global refugees from around the world to travel to in an apocalypse with scarce resources. Based off the country's Covid-19 response, New Zealand's already proven that its leaders and region can survive intense periods of hardship.

The nation shuttered its borders to nearly all travellers early on in the pandemic and instituted internal lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus - and it worked. Only 26 people have died of Covid-19 in New Zealand, making it one of the safest places to be in the world during the ongoing pandemic.

A lone walker on Oriental Bay beach on April 06, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Wealthy Silicon Valley executives have reportedly been buying property in New Zealand over the last decade in preparation for an apocalyptic scenario. Billionaire Peter Thiel has already purchased several properties in the region and buying property in New Zealand is code for getting "apocalypse insurance."


Bjarnarflag Geothermal power station / Bjarnarflagsvirkjun, operated by Landsvirkjun near Námafjall Mountain in the geothermal area of Mývatn, Iceland.
Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Coming in at No. 2 on the list, Iceland is home to an abundance of natural and renewable energy sources in the form of geothermal and hydroelectric power plants.

Workers transplant saplings at Kvistar greenhouse near Selfoss, southern Iceland before the young trees are planted on May 20, 2019.

Being substantially closer to the North Pole than the equator, Iceland's climate is much cooler than other regions of the planet. So the arable land should continue to be tenable as the climate keeps warming.

While Iceland's land is icy and seemingly inhospitable, the country grows more than half of its produce with renewable energy, according to the US Green Chamber of Commerce. Many farmers use greenhouses and natural geothermal steam to "actively enhance photosynthesis" in their plants.

Arnardrangur / Eagle rock, basalt sea stack on the Black sand beach Reynisfjara near Vík í Mýrdal in summer, Iceland.
Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Iceland is also home to an abundance of fisheries along its coastlines, allowing for readily available food in the event of a sudden collapse. According to the the Global Sustainability Institute, the nation has several "favourable starting conditions" and is prepared to survive a disaster.

United Kingdom

Tregothan Estate staff member Darcie Dawe oversees the first pluck of tea in October on the west banks of Tregothnan on October 14, 2020 at Truro, England.
Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

The United Kingdom has lots of available farmland, a milder temperature climate, and a plethora of precipitation that makes it a fantastic region to rebuild society, the researchers found. The area also isn't regularly hit with major natural disasters, which bodes well for its survival chances.

Hours before the England football team play an historic game against Italy the first time since 1966 that the English national team have played in a major mens' international football final, thousands of supporters congregate.
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One major drawback of the United Kingdom is its fairly limited amount of land and increasingly large population. The study authors noted the energy demands of the UK's population is substantial enough to be a problem in the event of an apocalyptic scenario.

Nearly half of the UK's energy comes from fossil fuels and nuclear power generation, making it difficult to adjust to changing supply chains in a de-complexification scenario. About 42% of the country's power comes from renewable energy, a statistic that continues to rise as the nation slowly taps more into unexploited wind resources.


Sheep graze in front of wind turbines on Lake George on September 1, 2020 on the outskirts of Canberra, Australia.
David Gray/Getty Images

The only continent on this list, Australia's location and massive land mass make it another prime spot to ride out the apocalypse. Each region boasts a different climate and temperate, which allow for increased agricultural and animal biodiversity.

The study notes that climate change is expected to have a large impact on Australia by exacerbating trends: rainy regions will see more precipitation, deserts will get less water, and so on. Trees becoming drier and drier due to hot and arid conditions have already led to repeated wildfires in the continent.

Tasmania, an island state directly off the coast of Australia, faces fewer effects from climate change and already uses an abundance of hydroelectric and wind-powered stations. A quarter of the island is already used for agriculture, which could be increased in the event of a disaster.

The study authors note that Tasmania could become Australia's "lifeboat" if conditions on the main continent become uninhabitable.


Brian Staunton of Lettershinn brings the sheep and lambs back to the field after spray marking. On Saturday, 1 May 2021, in Lettershinna, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The entire island of Ireland comes in at fifth on the shortlist and is notably a combination of Northern Ireland - which is part of the United Kingdom - and the Republic of Ireland. Ireland's climate is similar to the UK's with lots of precipitation and fertile soil.

Windmills producing alternative energy near Kenmare, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland.
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Ireland's low population conversely means it has less energy demand. While about one-third of Ireland's energy came from renewable sources in 2018, the region continues to expand its clean energy initiatives via wind generation and hydroelectric plants.

Low energy demand and increasing renewable energy sources make for a promising spot for a doomsday bunker, the authors concluded.

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