Shelter on Earth can save us from global catastrophe
Films and television series often show how, in the face of a global catastrophe, part of humanity is sent to other planets or to completely different places to ensure its survival. But a recent study says shelters don’t have to be in exotic places to save us.
Published in the journal Risk Analysis, the research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that a safe haven is a viable concept, although the authors argue such places must maintain certain reasonable living conditions to be successful.
“For example, if a place isolates itself from the world to avoid disease, but then runs out of food and everyone is hungry, it’s not really providing shelter,” geographer and CEO Seth Baum told AFP. Subway. Global Catastrophic Risk Institute in Washington, DC, and research co-author.
To confirm that shelters do not need to be completely geographically isolated, researchers explored how and why China and Western Australia managed to build shelters during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. acted like.
In their article, Baum and Vanessa Adams, a geographer at the University of Tasmania and co-author of the study, looked at both the differences and the similarities between the two places. China is authoritarian, collectivist and densely populated by the most populous region in the world. Whereas Western Australia is democratic, individualistic and sparsely populated in one of the most remote regions of the world.
However, the two jurisdictions are similar in other important respects. Both have a high degree of centralization and great potential for self-isolation: China for its authoritarian rule, Western Australia for its social isolation and strong economy fueled by a booming mining industry. China and Western Australia have also maintained significant foreign trade during the pandemic.
Baum concluded, “This is encouraging because it suggests that pandemic shelters can provide high levels of economic support to outside populations during pandemics, a key element in achieving the overall purpose of shelters: the pursuit of civilization.”
“Pandemic sheltering is a risk management policy concept that deserves serious consideration, along with other public health measures such as vaccination and physical distancing.”
, Vanessa Adams, geographer at the University of Tasmania and co-author of the study.
Seth Baum, geographer and executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute in Washington, DC, explains:
There is no one way to build a shelter. For example, shelter needs are different for a pandemic than for a nuclear war.
An epidemic shelter must be separated from an epidemiological shelter so that the pathogen does not enter, which can happen anywhere as long as border controls are tight enough.
A nuclear war shelter is necessary to maintain an adequate supply of food during the nuclear winter.
– Regardless of the location, a refuge must also be prepared to maintain the advanced civilization as much as possible, or at least be positioned to rebuild it.
Geographer and Executive Director of the Global Disaster Risk Institute in Washington, DC
Q: Why did you decide to study the concept of pandemic shelters?
You have already studied the general concept of global disaster shelters. I published an article in 2015 called “Isolated Shelter for Surviving Global Disasters”. After this study, I stopped working in shelters because I didn’t think they had enough potential in the real world. They seemed like an interesting idea that would be too far-fetched for the company to actually put into practice. Back then, our thoughts were quite fascinating, like sheltering on the Moon or inside glaciers.
My thinking about shelters changed when I spoke to my colleague Vanessa Adams about her experiences in the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m in the US and he’s in Australia. At the time, most of Australia had virtually no cases of COVID. good for them! We realized that these parts of Australia served as a haven for the pandemic. This prompted us to look at the general theme of shelters for COVID-19 and other pandemics.
Question: How has the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that shelter is a viable concept for human survival?
Many places around the world have managed to avoid a significant spread of COVID for a long time. There is no guarantee that shelters can or will keep people safe in any global disaster scenario. However, it does show that, at least for some global disaster scenarios, shelters are both technically and politically viable, meaning that it is possible for shelters to succeed and few places actually choosing to install shelters. shelters. .
Question: Tell us about the successes of China and Western Australia.
– China and Western Australia have maintained near-zero spread of COVID-19 for an unusually long period. In fact, China continues to do so even now. There are downsides such as travel limitations and the use of strict lockdowns, but the benefits have been significant in terms of reducing disease risk. China is an interesting case because it is a very large country with long land borders with many other countries. It should be noted that China managed to maintain its refugee status under such difficult circumstances. Western Australia is interesting because it is a sub-unit within a country. There has been a tendency to think of refugees as countries, but the story of Western Australia prompts us to think more broadly about what asylum can be.