Monday, January 28, 2019



I called my anonymous source Sally to get an insider’s assessment of whether the deadline for national strategy submissions would be met. She was characteristically blunt: “All submissions are expected by the due date, but not with the degree of completion and quality required for efficient integration. Most egregious is a generally insufficient consideration of the threat’s global nature and how to adapt with rapid deployment of people, technology, and personal behavior modification.”

“You mean like droughts and floods?” I asked, trying to focus on relatable examples.

“Preferred territorial and cultural integrity is inconsistent with minimizing casualties under those and many other conditions because of the dynamics and scales involved,” she said.

I thought of how other species adapt, moving from place to place depending on availability of food, water, and livable temperature ranges. “Are you suggesting that we go back to being hunter-gatherers?”

“You cannot go back, since you never had that experience,” she corrected. “There would be strong similarities between a part of what is required and what people like you typically associate with that behavior.”

“Tell me if I have this right,” I said. “Based on recent population projections, I imagine five billion people split into communicating groups that move around the planet staying in temporary housing near food caches on every land mass, carrying with them the technology, general skills, and knowledge to build or consume whatever they need. A basic, common culture ensures that people work together rather than fight, and that population growth matches what accessible resources can support without disrupting any affected ecological support systems.”

Sally’s response was both reassuring and terrifying. “That is a reasonable approximation. As soon as possible they must also attempt to disassemble and render ecologically reusable everything that poses an extinction threat to any species. No strategy team has yet included a plan for doing so.”

Reality Check

The final strategy is in keeping with the general approach of planning for the worst case and uses some ideas I’ve developed over several years for implementing similar scenarios.

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