How close are we to doomsday – the destruction of the planet and the end of life as we know it? The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic way to answer this question. In 1947, a group of scientists who had worked on the world’s first atomic bomb started tracking how close the world is to doomsday. They marked the end of the world at midnight on their metaphorical Doomsday Clock. The clock is adjusted yearly according to political instability and environmental dangers that threaten the safety of the world. In 1947, it was first set to seven minutes to midnight and has been adjusted closer or farther away from midnight 22 times. In January 2018, based on the current state of the world, it was adjusted to an increasingly dangerous two minutes to midnight.
While some people dismiss the doomsday clock as fear mongering, some of the world’s most well-heeled take the apocalypse seriously. Their focus is not on averting disaster, but on escaping it.
Gary Lynch, a manager in a survival shelter company called Rising S, is there to help them. He recently sold two 150-ton bunkers to a group of wealthy entrepreneurs. Lynch sent the bunkers to New Zealand where they will be buried eleven feet under the earth. When disaster hits, their rich Silicon Valley owners will hightail it to New Zealand on a private jet and hunker down in safety. According to Lynch, New Zealand is growing in popularity for rich people planning how to survive the end of the world. He says, “New Zealand is an enemy of no one…It’s not a nuclear target. It’s not a target for war. It’s a place where people seek refuge.”
Visas for New Zealand are easy to come by if you have a mere 6.7 million dollars for an investor visa. After Trump was elected, the number of Americans applying for these visas has almost tripled, from an average of six a year to seventeen applicants in 2017. New Zealand is well aware of its reputation as a safe haven for the ultra-rich. Former New Zealand prime minister John Key said, “I’ve had a lot of people say to me that they would like to own a property in New Zealand if the world goes to hell in a handbasket.”
Not everyone thinks New Zealand is the safest bet, however. Robert Ticino, another disaster bunker businessman, points out that an asteroid could set off a tsunami that buries New Zealand underwater. Despite this, he is building an underground shelter there that will hold 300 people at the price of $35,000 a person. Compared to Lynch’s eight million dollar bunkers, this is a bargain basement way to survive the apocalypse.