We’ve all heard about the national rankings that the UN and other global human rights or wellness put out, and have either bemoaned or cheered our national ranking based on them. In fact there are several international reports that nations can point to as arguments why they’ve one of the best in the world. Canada, the place where I live, often finds itself in the top 5 of many of these lists – the exception being military spending – or the very least in the top 10. While this is encouraging as a Canadian, none of them really consider civilization altering global catastrophic events. While often seen as hilarious or epic Hollywood events, there are some real world dangers we face that as residents of Canada are in one of the best places to survive. Perhaps this is the reason many end-of-the-world type movies that come from our friends in the south never mention Canada; they realize how unaffected and boringly safe we would be. Based on a variety of data sources, essentially simulations I’ve run from various online sources, here’s some ways Canada is the best place to ride out some of your typical “end times” scenarios.
Zombie Virus outbreak
Let’s get the most popular and most obvious one out of the way. There is real life evidence that a Zombie is actually a thing, but there is equally real evidence that no matter how prolific the idea, a Zombie hoard taking over the world simply can’t happen. However, if, for a moment, we pretend it did happen where suddenly the US was overrun with the hoards of Zombies. I’m not specifying the US because this is the nation that typically undergoes catastrophic disasters in Hollywood, I’m choosing them simply for the fact that only Zomibes from that country would effect us. We’ll also assume the traditional definition of a Zombie, not the new-fangled “hive mind” formula now making the rounds (the first is more accurate to the real life Zombie diseases). Assuming all planes or boats carrying these creatures have crashed and burned, which they have, our only source of infected hosts is continental. Zombies from South America would have to pass through the states and those from Russia would be dead…er frozen solid in our relative tundras or water, thanks to Global Warming (more on that later). Canada is the second largest by landmass but one of the least populated. In fact our population density is 3.79 people per square KM (1km by 1km square). Seriously, we can’t even fit four whole people into a whole square kilometer in this country. This translates to ample space for us all to scatter and just simply avoid any contact with Zombies, letting our natural environment kill..disable them permanently.
But wait, there’s more! Canada’s population is a funny thing. The vast majority of it, to the tune of over 90% of it, lives within 160km (100 miles or 606 people worth) of the US border. At first read that sounds like a very, very bad thing when it comes to Zombie infections. The majority of our population in condensed population centers right at the border to the largest infected population on earth (according to Hollywood). But geography fans will point out that this section of Canada is isolated from the US by large rivers (here, here and here) and giant freshwater lakes. Seriously, all it takes is detonating a few bridges and we have a several hundred thousand square kilometer safe zone. Sections of Canada which are attached to the US are largely unpopulated or so sparingly so that Zombies would likely give up and turn home.
All out Nuclear War
Unlike the completely fictional nature of Zombies, this subject is a much harsher, much more real potential. In fact recent events have raised the risk for this type of event to levels seen only during the cold war, aka the nuclear standoff. Canada’s natural defense to this sort of situation is two fold. First is the natural population density of our nation, which we’ve already covered. Canadian cities and major centers are so far apart it would be difficult to effectively target all of them. Fallout travels far, but it pales in comparison with the distances Canadians travel just to visit their families, not to mention simply leaving their province. While most people assume large population centers would be the targets, the actual reality is that may be more the exception than the rule. An aggressor is likely to target military and government installations first. In a nuclear war they will give launch and defense capabilities of their enemies top priority. Your nuclear war scenario likely sees one or two aggressors against a group of allied nations. Suddenly Canada, even as a member of said alliance, isn’t high on the target list. Major nuclear threats and their nuclear strike capabilities would consume most if not all of the first strike capabilities of the opponents.
Now I’m making the assumption that neither side will have the capability, at least nuke wise, to launch more than one wave of strikes. The time to load and launch a second strike seems unlikely given the damage nuclear launch facilities or military installations will receive. Even so, I maintain that Canadian targets, due to their lack of nuclear-ness, would likely go untouched. Potential targets would include military bases, our national capitol and maybe Toronto. Besides these few areas our nation would likely remain unblasted. But what of fallout? Major nuclear weapons (those greater than 50 kilotons) would send fallout way into the distance. Well, given the westerly nature of wind patterns in our upper atmosphere, most of the fallout would pass harmlessly away from major cities in the west and east. Southern Ontario, however, may be different. Detroit, because of military bases and economic activity, is likely a high profile target that would send fallout into Southern Ontario over the a wide swath of London, Stratford and many other cities along the 401 corridor. The tri-cities of Waterloo, Cambridge and Kitchener would be just beyond or under the easternmost tip of the fallout cloud, meaning radiation values would be tolerable.
Basically, if you live in the US, don’t build a bomb shelter: move to Canada. Our universal healthcare will take care of that radiation sickness too.
Another in the impeding-really-happening-global-disasters is Global Warming. As the earth’s mean temperature and water levels rise, that is unless – you know – we do something, Canada becomes a wonderfully attractive place to live. While other nations in the north would also “benefit” from this phenomenon they will seem less attractive to potential residents due to political issues (think Russia, China) or resource poor geography (Iceland, Scandinavia). Canada, meanwhile, will loose our winters but will gain a pleasant summer and spring. Our barren northern tundras will grow into lush hardwood forests ripe for human migration. Hudson’s Bay will become the new West Virginia. Ok, ok, I’m making a bad situation sound good. Climate effects of global warming will be devastating and destroy the lives of millions. It’s something we need to try and stop or slow like yesterday. Current estimates put the range of climate related migration to Canada between 25 million to 1 billion people by 2050. If anything, all this migration to Canada will destroy the safety net we have in our population density.
Okay, this is where my speculation moves from slightly educated to complete near fiction. Economics and money are things I can’t even begin to fathom. What I do know, however, is that Canada is one of the most naturally resource rich nations in the world. Not only do we have crap ton (a legitimate unit of measure in Croutchian economics) of volume, we have the Vegas style all you can eat buffet version. Canadian resources, both the renewable and non-renewable kind, and their diversity mean that when things really go south our nation has something to rebuild on. See, the world’s economy is centered around one major thing: debt. We’ve all got it, some of us more than others. Somehow along the line debt became a tangible, trade-able commodity. Crazy, right? Even worse, our stock market system combined with easy access to credit has hyper-inflated the value of things and companies. Even now, alarm bells aren’t just being raised by those crazies on the fringe, but by legitimate people who made a good living in this system. Basically it’s not a matter of if, but when.
What you want then, to survive this crashtastrophie, are tangible resources. Real things that you can trade, refine and export that people need. Phones, social media and many other regular “stuff” of our lives will take on their real value: nothing. Firewood, coal, basic agriculture are all things of sudden and great need. Things that Canada has in abundance. And space. Land itself has value as something that can be leased, rented or, as a last ditch, sold. Add to that natural mineral and elemental resources like Gold, Diamonds, Plutonium and Natural Gas, we can produce and power our nation, selfishly, while other nations scramble to find these sources.
The truth is each of these scenarios imply a massive and devastating loss of human and ecological life. Our world would change so dramatically that even society in places of low impact would be completely upside down. It just seems that with every ecological, man made or fictional scenario that we hear, Canada somehow gets off easy.
Unless its a maple syrup and poutine thing. Then we’d be screwed.