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Islands as refuges for surviving global catastrophes

Alexey Turchin (Science for Life Extension Foundation, Moscow, Russian Federation)
Brian Patrick Green (Santa Clara University, Santa-Clara, California, USA)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 5 September 2018

Issue publication date: 11 March 2019




Islands have long been discussed as refuges from global catastrophes; this paper will evaluate them systematically, discussing both the positives and negatives of islands as refuges. There are examples of isolated human communities surviving for thousands of years on places like Easter Island. Islands could provide protection against many low-level risks, notably including bio-risks. However, they are vulnerable to tsunamis, bird-transmitted diseases and other risks. This paper aims to explore how to use the advantages of islands for survival during global catastrophes.


Preliminary horizon scanning based on the application of the research principles established in the previous global catastrophic literature.


The large number of islands on Earth, and their diverse conditions, increase the chance that one of them will provide protection from a catastrophe. Additionally, this protection could be increased if an island was used as a base for a nuclear submarine refuge combined with underground bunkers and/or extremely long-term data storage. The requirements for survival on islands, their vulnerabilities and ways to mitigate and adapt to risks are explored. Several existing islands, suitable for the survival of different types of risk, timing and budgets, are examined. Islands suitable for different types of refuges and other island-like options that could also provide protection are also discussed.


The possible use of islands as refuges from social collapse and existential risks has not been previously examined systematically. This paper contributes to the expanding research on survival scenarios.



This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.


Turchin, A. and Green, B.P. (2019), "Islands as refuges for surviving global catastrophes", Foresight, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 100-117.



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