Which countries are best suited to survive a global systems breakdown?
Daniel Harries

The UK, Ireland and Iceland are among five countries most likely to survive a collapse of the global system, according to a new study. 

A combination of factors including population growth, limited resources and ecological destruction may trigger a global breakdown within the next "few decades," ​​researchers at the Global Sustainability Institute at the UK's Anglia Ruskin University suggest. 



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The world has become increasingly linked by complex systems, the report's authors ​​Nick King and Aled Jones write. This accelerated growth might lead to catastrophic events such as significant and damaging climate change. 

This could prompt "de-complexification" – a widespread reversal of the trends of contemporary civilization, the failing of supply chains, international agreements and global financial structures.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, identifies the criteria required for nations to survive this reversal, ranking them on geographical and economic factors: 

- Isolation, distance from large population centers 

- Self-sufficiency, energy and manufacturing infrastructure 

- Carrying capacity, the availability of arable farming land, and overall population. 

The researchers identified five countries, all islands, with the likelihood of stable climate conditions even if global temperatures rise. 

New Zealand 

The best-suited country is New Zealand due to its capacity to produce geothermal and hydroelectric energy. The island's abundant agricultural land and low population would also allow it to survive a global catastrophe relatively unscathed. 


Number 2 is Iceland – which, like New Zealand, has an abundance of renewable energy sources. With nearby fisheries, a low population and a small but not insignificant fraction of arable land, the Nordic nation would be suited to isolation. 


Despite being both more heavily and more densely populated than the nations above, the UK does still have plenty of available farmland. Combined with its mild climate and lack of natural disasters, the UK has a relatively good chance of survival. 


The only island continent on the list, Australia is boosted by having the island of Tasmania, which the study suggests could become a refuge for Australian mainlanders. The island's significant renewable energy resources and mild climate make it a suitable location in the event of a global reversal. 


Ireland shares many positive climate factors - low precipitation and fertile soil - with its neighbor the UK. The nation's chances are increased even more by its relatively low population and expanding renewable energy resources.


Video editing: Steve Chapell

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