"Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history," a U.N. panel says, reporting that around 1 million species are currently at risk. Here, an endangered hawksbill turtle swims in a Singapore aquarium in 2017.

The bad news is that we (the planet) are in our sixth ‘extinction’ event in the geological record. 

The first five were caused by ‘natural’ events; the sixth – dramatic loss of biodiversity and ecological collapse – is human caused: “… driven by the concurrence of phenomena unique to human actions including changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of animals and plants; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species”.

The good news is that New Zealand is one of five locations – joining Iceland, Tasmania, Ireland and the UK (there’s a surprise) – assessed as best-positioned to survive calamity, be that in the form of an even more deadly biological pandemic, ecosystem collapse due to global warming, or nuclear war in the northern hemisphere.

So say the experts writing in the journal, Sustainability.

NZ comes out as the #1 safe haven because of our theoretical ability to be self-sustaining in food and energy and to be self-isolating. Plus we have a reasonably complex society – called “nodes of persisting complexity” – capable of adaptation and problem solving. The study calls these “favourable starting conditions”!

Reading through the report, one gets the sense that ‘breaking free’ of extended supply chains is the key to national resilience in the extreme future scenarios presented. 

By comparison, Covid has been but a minor disruptor to those of us awaiting parts for our various machines and appliances and other imported ‘necessities’. Who has not heard a story about or directly endured this ‘inconvienience’? Now, imagine that supply chain dissolved forever. I’m not sure where we’ll get microchips, but we can adapt to no P fertilisers.

There’s a certain naivete in the assumption that an itty-bitty country like New Zealand could actually survive as a free state in the face of raw geopolitical muscle exercised by self-interested, survival-driven superpowers.

When the armadas of China, the U.S., India, Japan and the U.K converge in Hawke Bay demanding landing privileges, who will repel them … the Napier Sailing Club?

Colonisation will begin all over again!

This report is certainly thought-provoking … a reminder of how vulnerable we all are.

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