Iceland is amongst the few “island refuges” that could save the human race from complete extinction in event of a global pandemic, researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington and Adapt Research have concluded.
The researchers were asked to rank 20 island nations that could act as starting points for rebuilding humanity from the ashes of a mass extinction event. One of the co-authors of the research paper, which was published in the journal Risk Analysis, believes that the risk of human extinction has never been higher, and that the threat is rising as technology advances.
“Discoveries in biotechnology could see a genetically-engineered pandemic threaten the survival of our species,” co-author Professor Nick Wilson of the University of Otago said. “Though carriers of disease can easily circumvent land borders, a closed self-sufficient island could harbour an isolated, technologically-adept population that could repopulate the earth following a disaster.”
The lead author of the study, Dr. Matt Boyd, goes a step farther in asserting that humans might, accidentally or on purpose, create the catalyst of their own undoing.
“The worst case scenario could see multiple genetically engineered pandemic organisms being released at once,” he said. “We need to be ready for these situations. Our study shows that certain island nations have the characteristics needed to preserve technological culture through a catastrophic event,” adding, “It may be that a clear and pressing need arises where the only option for humanity is an island refuge.”
The criteria by which the researchers assessed which island nations would be a good place for humanity to rebuild itself included elements such as the island nation’s location, population, resources and society. By these parameters, Australia came out on top on account of its “vast oversupply of energy and food”, followed by New Zealand and Iceland.
The paper itself, The Prioritization of Island Nations as Refuges from Extreme Pandemics, can be found at Risk Analysis.
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