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New Zealand's epic Mount Cook. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kiwis have an edge when it comes to surviving total societal collapse, according to a new study.

Why it matters: Civilization is "in a perilous state," according to the researchers behind the study, and New Zealand's mix of geographical isolation and ability to grow its own food and maintain electricity and manufacturing makes it particularly well-suited to see it through the end times.

What's happening: In a recent study published in the journal Sustainability, researchers identified what factors would make a country most able to withstand civilizational collapse, whether because of a major financial crisis, out of control climate change, or worse.

  • Those factors include the ability to be self-sufficient in food production and electricity, the ability to control borders from mass migration, a temperate climate and generally low population density.

The winners (or not losers) are: New Zealand, followed by Iceland, Tasmania, the U.K. and Ireland.

  • New Zealand should be no surprise — the country has recently been a popular place for Silicon Valley billionaires in search of a doomsday bunker.
  • Iceland has significant domestic renewable energy capacity, abundant fisheries, low population density and presumably whatever protective powers result from the presence of Bjork.

Thought bubble from Axios' Rebecca Falconer, a New Zealand resident: The study findings are unsurprising, when you look at how the NZ economy has rebounded since entering a recession last September following a hard lockdown early in the pandemic.

  • Bars and restaurants are busy, and the only domestic pandemic measures are face mask requirements on planes and public transport.

Yes, but: Relying on New Zealand as a "collapse lifeboat" features one large downside — it has severe seismic activity and happens to be the site of the Earth's last supervolcano eruption, some 26,500 years ago.

The bottom line: So watch out for that.

Go deeper

Climate change made deadly European floods more severe: study

The town of Euskirchen, Germany, after severe rain and flash floods hit on July 18. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Human-caused climate change increased the likelihood and intensity of the heavy rainfall that helped cause the devastating floods in Europe in July, an international team of 39 climate scientists stated Monday.

Why it matters: The study, released Monday, demonstrates how global warming is already influencing extreme weather events in ways that ramp up disaster risks.

8 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

41 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.