Yes, NZ needs a systematic National Risk Assessment; but we must not repeat others’ mistakes

Image: Midjourney


  • Sir Peter Gluckman and Anne Bardsley have called for an apolitical NZ national risk assessment.
  • We support this call but note several weaknesses of existing national risk assessments both in New Zealand and globally.
  • The new assessment must be systematic, include global catastrophic risks, engage stakeholders, cooperate with other countries, and appropriately represent risk.
  • For more on global catastrophe and NZ resilience, you can read about our ongoing Aotearoa NZ Catastrophe Resilience Project (NZCat).

Risk and New Zealand

Risk analysis will be topical in New Zealand in 2023 argues a recent opinion by former NZ Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman and Dr Anne Bardsley: Risk listening: rethinking how we understand and manage risk

Ongoing disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic, and more recently extreme weather in the form of cyclone Gabrielle have highlighted New Zealand’s infrastructure gap and cut across multiple government agencies and ministries.

Gluckman and Bardsley note that there will be ongoing acute events, increasing climate impacts, and harms from a degrading digital and information environment. Programmes such as the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Accords, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction are all intended to work in concert to reduce risk and optimise development by 2030. However, progress remains variable, and the systemic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted progress.

The opinion also notes that current shortcomings of the risk assessment process include:

  • Insufficient transdisciplinary science and knowledge brokerage between science and policy.
  • A low priority given to developing redundancy and resilience (reactive rather than proactive policy).
  • The problem of short-termism in decision making.
  • There is insufficient ‘risk listening’, ie decision makers are not open to taking on board the risk assessments

Gluckman and Bardsley’s article proposes that NZ undertake an ‘extended’ and ‘independent’ national risk assessment. The resulting product must be ‘public facing as well as policy facing’. We support this call.

However, we note that national risk assessment processes of the past have exhibited significant weaknesses. These will need to be explicitly overcome to ensure that these assessments can act as a repository for risk information and a foundation for action.

Problems with existing national risk assessments

Some very recent publications that have raised concerns about national risk assessment processes include the following:

  • A February 2023 report by Kevin Kohler of ETH Zurich on cross-border risks that describes discrepancies and shortcomings in their assessment across nine European national risk assessments.
  • An Feb 2023 academic paper describing two key weaknesses of existing national risk assessment processes, namely exclusion of almost all the major risks, and a lack of stakeholder engagement.
  • A March 2023 report commissioned by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction that considers two major global risks often excluded by national risk assessments and notes that national risk assessments have failed to adequately account for them.

Important problems of national risk assessments can be summarised as follows:  

National risk assessments, even those with the best intentions, omit critical risks. This is evidenced in the omission of volcanic eruption as a risk in the UK National Risk Register prior to the immensely disruptive eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland in 2010, and also the assessment prior to the Covid-19 pandemic that a non-influenza emerging disease outbreak might kill ‘up to 100 people’ in the UK. Any assessment of national risks needs to be comprehensive. Including diverse known risks allows for comparison of risks and prioritisation of resources. Decision makers who exclude risks from the assessment are exposing countries to increased risk and are circumventing a democratic discussion of risk prioritisation.

National risk assessments often omit the entire class of global catastrophic risks (GCRs). Assessments thereby plausibly omit analysis of most of the actual risk. GCRs include anything that would impact the entire world, create severe systemic harm and/or kill a significant proportion of the global population. These risks include: engineered pandemics, risks from artificial intelligence, nuclear war/nuclear winter, major volcanic eruptions, rapid severe climate change, severe solar storms, asteroid/comet impacts, etc.

National risk assessments seldom engage the appropriate spectrum of stakeholders. This is evidenced, for example, in the Swiss national risk assessment (2020) in which members of the public accounted for 0% of stakeholders engaged in risk workshopping processes, and the NZ National Risk Register which was developed but then kept confidential. Decision makers need to analyse and address risks that an informed public is concerned about, and risk information must be freely accessible in order for all stakeholders to be able to prepare to mitigate the risks. Indeed, the UN has noted that lack of access to risk information is a critical weakness of present disaster risk reduction activities.

National risk assessments have produced highly variable assessments of cross-border risks. For example, the probability of impact from a major volcanic event in Europe was 1:4 to 1:20 per annum in the UK assessment, but 1:70,000 in the Swiss assessment. Neither assessment included the 1:625 likelihood of an even larger eruption elsewhere in the world that could cause massive disruption to global trade. This implies that working with other countries to share analyses and align expert findings would be valuable.

National risk assessment can become politicised or focused on recent salient events to the exclusion of major likely harms. It is well known that risk assessment processes can end up being manipulated for political gains, or to help consolidate the status quo or protect existing budgets. Resources often end up allocated to studying comparatively lesser risks in forensic detail, rather than addressing the low-hanging fruit for big inevitable ones. An example is plausibly the time and effort spent analysing domestic terrorism versus preparation for a catastrophic pandemic.

National risk assessments, and consequence-probability risk matrices, fail to appropriately represent the salience of risks. For example, categories are often used to represent the likelihood and consequences of hazards in a risk matrix. However, it is evident both that the categories chosen in many national risk assessments fail to adequately discriminate amongst risks, especially at the more serious end, and the salience of very severe risks such as global pandemics is not readily apparent. These shortcomings have been described by ourselves, and others.

Moving forward with NZ risk assessment

No one knows what the next catastrophe will look like, so preparation and resilience measures that cut across risks, and address systemic weaknesses (in trade, energy, transport, infrastructure, health, and plans to supply essential goods, etc) should be prioritised. There are many domains where investment in prevention offsets much greater impact costs.

Indeed, the biggest threats of undermining the SDGs globally, and of harming New Zealand specifically are global catastrophic risks. Yet, arguably, even with only short term (1 year) thinking, some GCRs appear to be the priority for mitigation measures as we have argued elsewhere.

We support Gluckman & Bardsley’s call for a comprehensive, public, apolitical, NZ national risk assessment. But the approach will need to address the key shortcomings we identified above.


  • A systematic national risk assessment should be a legislated requirement, and it should include global catastrophic risks. The recent US Global Catastrophic Risk Management Act (2022) could be used as a template.
  • The assessment needs to be cross-government and cross-sectoral and be undertaken by an anticipatory and apolitical entity. We have described how a well-resourced Parliamentary Commissioner could play this role (but other structures are possible, such as a Chief Risk Officer).
  • The national risk assessment needs to engage experts and stakeholders widely. This could help overcome the problem of poor foundational assumptions, for example around such things as scenario choice, discount rate, time-horizon, and decision rule. We have explained these issues in depth elsewhere.
  • Any national risk assessment needs to be connected to a capabilities analysis that assesses not just the consequences of a risk in expectation, but also the marginal benefit of various actions (eg CBA) and the value obtained from acting (eg equity or Treaty issues).
  • Options and trade-offs need to be put to stakeholders for a national discussion. We need more than a list of ‘bad things’, we need an agreed robust strategy to reduce risk across time.

Revolutionising National Risk Assessment (NRA): improved methods and stakeholder engagement to tackle global catastrophe and existential risks

By Matt Boyd & Nick Wilson

Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash


  • In a recently published paper, we identified two major shortcomings of National Risk Assessment (NRA) processes: (1) Lack of transparency around foundational assumptions; (2) Exclusion of the largest scale risks
  • We demonstrate the potential problems and ambiguities that arise in NRA due to these shortcomings. 
  • We identify the exclusion of global catastrophic risks (GCRs) and existential risks (x-risks) from NRAs as a critical process error.  
  • Even when only considering people alive today, and with a time horizon of just one year, the consequence in expectation of several existential risks is higher than all other risks commonly included in NRAs. 
  • A ‘longtermist’ perspective is not needed to prioritise existential risk mitigation through NRA, and potentially detracts from getting such risks onto the agenda for assessment. 
  • We propose the development of a freely available, open-access, risk communication and engagement tool to facilitate stakeholder discussions on NRAs.
  • Decision-makers should include GCRs and x-risks in NRAs.

This post is a partial and high-level summary of our research paper on national risk assessment (NRA) published in the academic journal Risk Analysis in March 2023. This post also places our work in the context of another recent report on NRA identifying common ground. Consider reading our full paper for complete details of our thinking on NRA as it applies to global catastrophe, and existential risk. 

You can also find this post on the Effective Altruism Forum here


Many countries undertake National Risk Assessment (NRA) to evaluate risks of national significance, assessing for example, natural hazards, infectious diseases, industrial accidents, terrorist attacks, cyberattacks, organised crime, or institutional failure. The NRA process is complex and cross-sectoral, often excluding risks with low probability, and often has a short-term focus of less than five years. The outputs of NRA tend to communicate results in some form of National Risk Register (NRR) and/or consequence-probability (C,P) risk matrix. 

However, NRAs and NRRs can be criticised particularly where the common practice of presenting a two-dimensional risk matrix obscures uncertainties, stakeholder disagreements on values, bias, and systematic errors. Critically, the exclusion of large-scale (and cross-border) risks such as global catastrophic risks (GCRs) and existential threats to humanity (x-risks) is another limitation of NRAs.

The aim of NRA should be to find common understanding across stakeholders of risks and priorities, stimulate local authorities to build capacity and capability, and identify common consequences across multiple risks. Prioritisation of risks is sometimes explicitly intended through the NRA process, but methods for prioritisation depend on foundational assumptions of the NRA process that are not always clearly articulated. 

Aim of our paper

Our paper sought to demonstrate some shortcomings of existing NRA processes and outputs, namely: 

  1. How the choice of fundamental NRA process assumptions makes a material difference to the NRR output and any subsequent deliberation on risk.
  2. The weaknesses and ambiguity of risk matrices for communicating NRAs.
  3. A major class of risks often neglected by NRA (namely GCRs and x-risks).
  4. The difficulties that uncertainty poses. 

We then suggest how those undertaking NRA could enter a productive dialogue with stakeholders, supported by an interactive communication and engagement tool, to overcome some of these difficulties (details of that are in the paper, not the post below). 

We note that another report, by Kevin Kohler, titled National Risk Assessments of Cross-Border Risks was published in February 2023, shortly before our paper. Throughout this post we also highlight some of the key points therein.  

Important Assumptions of National Risk Assessments

In our paper, we introduce a hypothetical set of six risks A–F (which vary by probability and consequences) to illustrate some key issues when undertaking NRA and when using NRAs and risk matrices to communicate national risk or inform prevention and mitigation.

We demonstrate how changing fundamental analysis assumptions changes the ordinal prioritisation of the risks. The importance of this is that the basis of the assumptions is often opaque to end users, or has not been authorised by public debate and stakeholder input (noting that future generations are also stakeholders). 

The assumptions we systematically alter are: the scenario of choice (challenging scenario vs worst case), the time horizon of interest (one year, 50-years), the discount rate on future value (0%, 3%), and decision rule. 

We demonstrate how different assumption combinations alter the ordinal priority of the risks A–F (when considering just expected fatalities for simplicity). We show that varying the evaluation assumptions leads to different prioritisation of risks in 7 out of 8 analyses, thereby emphasising the critical importance of agreeing on process assumptions. 

Probability-consequence Risk Matrices

The next section of our paper reiterates some criticisms of probability-consequence risk matrices in the context of NRA. We note that such matrices are fairly arbitrary constructions. Risk matrices generally look something like the following figure. Risks are placed in categories according to likelihood and expected impact. Darker regions (purple, red, orange) allegedly represent more salient risks than lighter regions (yellow, green, blue).

Figure 1: A probability-impact risk matrix

We dispense with the colours and simply plot our demonstration risks A–F on axes representing likelihood and impact. A concrete example of the misleading nature of risk matrices (if categories are used) can be seen in the following figure. Risks ‘F’, ‘D’, and ‘B’ all appear to cluster in one region, towards the ‘upper right’, ie, the highest priority area of the risk matrix. Yet, the numerical consequence in expectation (fatalities) of risk D is 20x that of risk B. This may be somewhat apparent when the logarithmic axes are labelled and the risks are plotted in a scatterplot, but it would be completely obscure in the coloured matrix above.

Figure 2: Risks with vastly different consequences in expectation can cluster in risk matrices

We provide further examples in the paper illustrating how risks with the highest consequence in expectation can end up being equated with minor common events due to the heat-map nature of some risk matrices. 

Global catastrophic and existential risks

Not only do fundamental assumptions and communication choices bias the assessment of national risks, but cross-border risks and in particular global catastrophic and existential risks are seldom included in NRAs. 

Our analysis of five NRAs (and Kohler’s 2023 analysis of nine) shows that no NRA appears to include many, if any, GCRs or x-risks. Surprisingly the Norwegian NRA mentions in one sentence that a large volcanic eruption could ‘cool the earth by several degrees’. But then never mentions the global consequences of what could be the single most catastrophic impact contemplated by any NRA.

In our paper, we consider only the existential risks among a set of GCRs and ignore the more likely but non-existential manifestations of the same risks. Simple estimates reveal that several of these risks harbour annualised consequences in expectation greater than all typically occurring natural hazards combined. 

Even when only considering people alive today, and with a time horizon of just one year, the consequence in expectation of several existential risks appears higher than all other risks commonly included in NRAs. We identify the exclusion of GCRs and x-risks from NRAs as a critical process error.  

A longtermist perspective is not needed to prioritise existential risk mitigation and potentially detracts from getting such risks onto the agenda for assessment. Indeed, it appears that standard risk assessment processes, and standard government cost-effectiveness analyses should be enough to reveal the overwhelming priority of GCRs and x-risks in NRA.

We argue in the paper that deliberation over such risks and whether they ought to be prioritised for mitigation, can only happen if they are included in the NRA, characterised, communicated to stakeholders, and put forward to resource prioritisation processes for prevention or mitigation.

Kohler’s new paper notes that the European Commission specifically recommends that NRAs include risks (no matter how rare) if the likely impact exceeds 0.6% of gross national income and the time horizon of interest should ideally be at least 25–35 years. These instructions mean that all GCRs and x-risks should be assessed in NRAs. 

Indeed, the US has recently passed a world-leading Global Catastrophic Risk Management Act, which mandates exactly this kind of systematic assessment of GCRs and x-risks, along with response plans to ensure basic necessities are available post-facto (we have blogged about this Act). There is no good reason why all countries can’t replicate this legislation or at least empower the United Nations to do it for all countries/regions (you can read a recent 2023 discussion of existential risks and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction by the Simon Institute here). 

Example: Pandemics

Pandemics are an interesting case, and although we don’t dwell on them specifically in our paper, the Covid-19 pandemic illustrates the clear shortcomings of NRAs. We argue in our paper that national risks should not be presented in a risk matrix, but should be communicated quantitatively in ordinal fashion according to the consequence in expectation of agreed scenario types, across an agreed timeframe, under an agreed discount rate.

A standard national risk assessment presents the risk of pandemics something like this:

Figure 3: Human pandemic as a relatively likely & catastrophic risk (source: DPMC publication: ‘NZ’s National Security System’ Sept 2011).

However, Kohler points out that the Covid-19 pandemic has already exceeded the most severe pandemic scenario in most NRAs. This is even though it ‘only’ had an infection fatality ratio of less than 0.6%. Even the conservative official death toll from Covid-19 accounts for 95% of the deaths from disasters in the 21st Century. The other 5% include all deaths from the 2010 Haiti earthquake, plus the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, plus the 2008 Myanmar cyclone (about 200,000 deaths each). 

If the risk from human pandemics in the first two decades of the 21st Century were presented in a treemap chart (rather than a risk matrix) it might look something like this, thereby revealing the real salience of human pandemics:

Figure 4: Gestural treemap chart showing scale of pandemics in the 21st Century vs other major disasters

Indeed, Kohler found that only Switzerland and the Netherlands have chosen risk impact categories at the upper end that roughly correspond to the impact of Covid-19. And these categories would not discriminate between Covid-19 and a worse pandemic in the risk matrix. 

It has been our own experience that even using the Swiss method for NRA, applied in a workshop on the nuclear war/winter hazard risk to a non-combatant nation, that these upper impact categories are seriously inadequate. 

The reality is that if NRAs were actually presented as Treemap charts, or in some other form than risk matrices, and if the suite of GCRs and x-risks was included, then the picture of risk communicated would look very different. Over longer periods of time most (almost all?) expected disaster deaths come from a few worst case scenarios.

However, any presentation of a chart or graph is packed with foundational assumptions and can obscure uncertainties. 

Uncertainty and Assumption

We acknowledge that the probability of GCRs and x-risks is highly uncertain. But this appears to be the case with many risks already included in NRAs. For example Kohler reports that the likelihood of a -1600 nano-tesla (nT) solar storm was cited as 1:80 per annum in the 2015 Swiss NRA, but 1:1700 in the 2020 version of the same analysis. The explanation was that a mathematical analysis concluded that intensity of solar storms decreases with time since an event. Yet, research post-dating that analysis suggests that tree ring radiocarbon evidence might indicate large solar storms might be much more common than we have thought. More expert input appears to be needed. 

Similarly, for volcanic eruptions, the probability of a volcano affecting Switzerland was estimated at 1:70,000 whereas the UK’s analysis cited 1:20 to 1:4. Kohler notes an annualised baseline probability of 1:3000 for a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) 6+ eruption in Europe. However, neither NRA mentions the 1:625 probability of a VEI 7 eruption somewhere else in the world, which like the Mt Tambora eruption of 1815 could have devastating consequences for global agriculture (we discuss the Mt Tambora eruption as it impacted potential island refuges in a separate paper in 2023).

In the present paper, our discussion then proceeds across other issues of uncertainty, including the problem that strength of knowledge poses (eg, equally likely risks but the strength of knowledge underpinning the data varies), the problem of dealing with different scenarios of a single hazard, the difficulty of probabilities that change across time, and how all these factors point towards the need for public engagement. 

Ultimately, NRAs are a social construction, built upon allegedly reasonable assumptions (about time frame of interest, discount rate, scenarios of choice, and decision rules), and including agreed choices about risk communication methods. All of this needs to be debated openly. 

Stakeholder Engagement

Most NRA processes involve little public consultation and in some instances overt secrecy. There is a documented lack of awareness of NRRs, even among local authorities to whom they are in part directed. This is despite the UN advocating for ‘increased access to risk information’ and that, ‘low risk awareness is one of the main challenges’. 

It is also unclear if citizens understand the foundational assumptions underpinning NRAs and whether they would authorise them if they did. 

In the paper we identify a range of arguments that would support wider public and expert engagement, including: risks of potential groupthink, politicisation, or uncertainty. 

We note that scrutiny must logically first be applied to the underlying process assumptions, then to the resulting empirical claims, and finally deliberative prioritisation (for prevention, mitigation or further research) can take place. We propose the development of a freely available, open-access, risk communication and engagement tool to facilitate discussions on NRAs. Aspects of such a tool could be tailored to experts and other aspects to the general public. 

In our paper we lay out the rationale for expert engagement, public engagement, and describe in some detail the sort of interactive online tool that could be deployed to support such engagement. 


In our paper we identified two shortcomings of National Risk Assessment (NRA) processes: lack of transparency around foundational assumptions, and exclusion of the largest scale risks. 

We discuss the importance of agreeing on key assumptions before conducting a NRA. The assumptions include methodological and normative choices that determine which risks are included, how they are characterised over time, and how uncertainties are expressed in risk communication.

A hypothetical demonstration set of risks is used to show how choices around time horizon, discount rate, and impact estimation affect risk characterisation. We highlighted the potentially dominating importance of global catastrophic and existential risks, which are often omitted from NRAs, and suggested using standard risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analyses to address them. 

Given the array of possible assumptions, uncertainties and inclusions, it is crucial that those undertaking NRA engage the public and a broad array of experts in the NRA process through a transparent and two-way risk communication process. This could help legitimise key assumptions, avoid omitting important risks, and provide robust critique of risk characterisations and the knowledge underpinning them.

A Historical Volcanic Winter & Future Sunlight-Blocking Catastrophes: New Study

Nick Wilson & Matt Boyd

Summary / TLDR:

  • Island nations may have potential long-term survival value for humanity in global catastrophes eg, during a “nuclear winter” or “volcanic winter”.
  • We studied a major historical eruption (Mt Tambora in 1815), and found that the “volcanic winter” impacts were less in the islands than on the continents (for latitudinally equivalent comparisons).
  • Out of the 31 islands studied, the smallest temperature drops were seen for islands in the Southern Hemisphere, the Indian Ocean, and in the tropics and subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Island nations could work to enhance their resilience to sunlight-blocking catastrophes to help ensure humanity can survive such events.

Our Study of the 1815 Mt Tambora eruption

Catastrophes such as nuclear war and large magnitude volcanic eruptions could fill the stratosphere with sun-blocking material such as soot or sulphur dioxide. Island nations may have potential long-term survival value for humanity in such sun-blocking catastrophes. We aimed to explore this further by studying the impact on islands after the largest historically observed volcanic eruption: that of Mt Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.

In conjunction with colleagues from Switzerland and the UK, our just published study1 involved 31 large, populated islands for which we conducted literature searches for relevant historical and palaeoclimate studies. We also analysed results from a reconstruction (EKF400v2), which uses atmospheric-only general circulation model simulations with assimilated observational and proxy data.

How did islands fare in the “volcanic winter” after the eruption?

From the literature review, there was widespread evidence for weather/climate anomalies in the years 1815-1817 for these islands (29/29 for those with data; Figure 1, below). But missing data was an issue for other dimensions such as impaired food production (seen in 8 islands out of only 12 with data). Data on food insecurity or famines was also largely missing, but for the 12 islands with data, four definitely experienced such problems. These were all in the North Atlantic region ie, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland and Newfoundland. In three of these there was also evidence of food riots or demonstrations (ie, all except Iceland). In Ireland there was also evidence of increased death rates from famine and/or famine-related disease.

Based on the EKF400v2 reconstruction for temperature anomalies (compared to the relatively “non-volcanic” reference period of 1779 to 1808), the islands had lower temperature anomalies in the 1815-1818 period than latitudinally equivalent continental sites (at 100 km and 1000 km inland). This was statistically significant for the great majority of the comparisons for group analyses by hemisphere, oceans, and temperate/tropical zone.

Figure 1: Summarised evidence for impacts from the Tambora eruption on 31 islands in the 1815-1817 period (see the published article for additional details; Image produced using Ferret v7.63; Reproduced from Wilson et al 20231 (published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,

When considering just the islands, all but four showed statistically anomalous temperature reductions in the 1816-1817 period (for most p<0.00001; with Figure 2 (below) showing the pattern for 1816). In the peak impact year of 1816, the lowest anomalies were seen for islands in the Southern Hemisphere (p<0.0001), the Indian Ocean (p<0.0001), and in the tropics and subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere (p=0.0057). The latter included the islands of: Australia [a continental island], Java, Madagascar, Marajó (Brazil), New Britain (part of Papua New Guinea [PNG]), New Guinea (PNG) and Timor.

Figure 2: Reconstructed temperature anomalies in 1816 (“the year without a summer”) relative to the “non-volcanic” reference period (1779 to 1808) using monthly data from the reconstruction EKF400v2 (Image produced using Ferret v7.63; Reproduced from Wilson et al 20231 (published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,

Relevance to island refuges – for humanity to survive catastrophes

We might draw some provisional conclusions relevant to the concept of island refuges for humanity from this study. The findings do point to the likely benefits of island refuges in the Southern Hemisphere, the Indian Ocean and the tropics and subtropics of the Southern Hemisphere. Such islands may have features that advantage them in some catastrophes and could be considered for resilience building measures with the aim of ensuring humanity’s survival, especially in case much larger eruptions or nuclear war eventuate.

But other considerations for targeting resilience investments include the following:

  • The findings of simulation studies of the global climate impacts of nuclear war – which also favours Southern Hemisphere islands, including Aotearoa NZ (as we have studied here 2).
  • The risk of islands being directly attacked in a nuclear war (eg, those in military alliances with nuclear weapon states such as Australia, Iceland and Japan).
  • Capacity of islands to survive extreme pandemics (as we have studied here 3)
  • And the islands having the socio-economic and technological characteristics to potentially be a “node of persisting complexity” 4 from which more technologically advanced societies could be re-built.

Ideally a number of island nations could build up their resiliency to best survive such catastrophes, perhaps with initial focus on energy, food, transport and communications resilience. Well-placed islands might be provided with support to do so by the international community. But failing such international support – individual nations such as Australia and New Zealand should give consideration to doing this – for both themselves and the future of humanity.


1.         Wilson N, Valler V, Cassidy M, Boyd M, Mani L, Brönnimann S. Impact of the Tambora Volcanic Eruption of 1815 on Islands and Relevance to Future Sunlight-Blocking Catastrophesdair. Sci Rep. 2023;13:3649.

2.         Boyd M, Wilson N. Island refuges for surviving nuclear winter and other abrupt sunlight-reducing catastrophes. Risk Analysis. 2022.

3.         Boyd M, Wilson N. Optimizing island refuges against global catastrophic and existential biological threats: Priorities and preparations. Risk Analysis. 2021;41(12):2266-85.

4.         King N, Jones A. An Analysis of the Potential for the Formation of ‘Nodes of Persisting Complexity’. Sustainability. 2021;13(15):8161.

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