Climate Change Is the New Zombie Apocalypse: Who Will Get Hit the Hardest and How to Prepare

In any post-apocalyptic survival scenario, it pays to be prepared. Climate change may be a zombie-level existential threat, and the best time to act is right now. Prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario with these climate change preparedness strategies.

Climate Change or Climate Apocalypse?

The expected impacts of climate change have a lot in common with an endless wave of the undead: both share a sense of inevitability and dread, and both make for a fantastic movie plot. While we might be safe from a zombie apocalypse for the foreseeable future, the threat of climate change is much more real.

Global sea level rise: tidal Flooding in Miami. October 17, 2016
October 17, 2016, tidal flooding on a sunny day during the “king tides” in Brickell, Miami that peaked at four feet MLLW. Tidal flooding is getting worsened because of the global sea-level rise. Rather than increasing steadily, global sea-level rise has been accelerating in recent decades. If this trend continues, by the year 2100, sea-level rise will be around 65 cm (25.6 in), twice as big as previously thought, because of global warming. This is more than enough to cause significant problems for coastal cities.

Increasing climate hazards are already being felt across the globe. Many of these changes will set in slowly over the coming months, years, and decades, but there’s still time to prepare your home and your family for the future. Depending on where you live, you may already be experiencing some or all of these climate-related threats:

  • Heat Waves: Global warming is producing unprecedented temperatures across the globe. Temperatures in Australia soared so high in 2013 that the Bureau of Meteorology had to add a new color to their heat maps (we’ll call it “Zombie Flesh Purple”). In major cities, heat waves are causing electricity use to soar, which can trigger rolling blackouts. Heat waves can occur anywhere but are especially dangerous in cities, where the Heat Island Effect makes it even worse.
  • Increased Storm Frequency and Severity: Across the globe, seasonal storms are getting worse. Last year was the most active hurricane season on record, and many of the largest recorded hurricanes have occurred over the past decade. These impacts mostly affect communities on the Eastern Seaboard, as far north as New England.
  • Polar Vortex: Most zombie survival guides teach you to migrate toward cold places, but the same isn’t true for climate change. A polar vortex, with record-breaking cold temperatures, gripped the northern US and Canada this past year as the jet stream shifted due to climate change, funneling arctic air farther south than usual. In many midwestern states, the temperatures were low enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin in minutes-great for slowing zombies, not great for you.
  • Wildfires: The West Coast’s most recent wildfire seasons have been the most destructive on record, and we still don’t know where 2019 will end up. These destructive infernos might, impressively, be worse than a roving herd of zombies; a wildfire can burn through a football field-sized area every second as it consumes everything in its path.
Hurricane Dennis
Across the globe, seasonal storms are getting worse. Last year was the most active hurricane season on record, and many of the largest recorded hurricanes have occurred over the past decade.

Living in a Post-Climate Change World

You don’t have to be a zombie enthusiast to insure yourself against an uncertain future. These climate change impacts introduce new risks to your home and your well-being, which makes planning for climate change a good investment. These tips should be a lot easier than stocking up on machetes and crossbow bolts for a zombie horde, but they’re just as important.

1. Understand Your Climate Risk

Zombie risk varies by the local population, but climate change risks vary by region. Your local risks are going to dictate the steps you take to prepare yourself, so it pays to research what to expect. There are lots of good ways to determine your climate risks. Your state or city may have already undertaken a climate change preparedness plan themselves, and these resources can be rich with climate data, modeling projections, and local contexts that can help you make better decisions.

Most of the scientific community talks about climate change in terms of scenarios. You can follow this same logic by working through a few scenarios in your preparedness plan. What will your family do in the event of an extended power outage or a flood? How about the night of the living dead? Working through scenarios helps ensure your preparedness plan fits the situations you can expect with climate change.

2. Get Ready to Evacuate

In the zombie apocalypse, it pays to keep moving, and an evacuation may also be your best bet in a natural disaster. If you live along the coast or in an area prone to wildfires, landslides, tornados, or other hazards, get to know your county or town’s evacuation protocol, and plan your route in advance so you don’t have to waste time when the worst-case scenario occurs.

If you live in a high-risk area, consider leaving a “go bag” in your car so you can move quicker during an emergency. A go bag might include some basic survival equipment like blankets and first aid, copies of your most sensitive documents in a waterproof container or bag, and some small portions of energy bars and water to hold you over until you can find help. Take your family’s needs into account, and pack any medications you might need as well.

3. Make Your Home Climate-Smart

You can prepare your home for the next natural disaster before it strikes. Many smart home technologies function as early warning systems for climate-related impacts before damage is done. These upgrades might not keep zombies from crashing into your living room windows, but they can help you protect your property from storm damage.

A DIY home security system can connect you directly to emergency services and crews when a disaster happens. You can also add multiple sensors around the perimeter of your basement or ground floor to ensure you’re alerted immediately about rising water. And your security hub can link to fire and carbon monoxide detectors so you receive alerts even if you’re away from home.

You can use smart thermostats to regulate and monitor the temperature in your home. Sensors can let you know if your furnace shuts off or if any extreme cold spikes are reaching your pipes-plus these devices help you track your home’s energy usage to help you be as energy conscious as possible.

4. Prepare to Lose Access to Resources

Like a zombie apocalypse, a natural disaster could totally overwhelm your local emergency services and utility companies. If you haven’t planned for this eventuality, you could be in big trouble without access to electricity, cellphone service, food, water, or shelter.

Keeping several weeks of food in a dry, cool place doesn’t automatically make you a doomsday prepper. When Hurricane Harvey slammed the US in 2017, it left many Americans without access to food for days. Store a few basic, nonperishable food items in your basement for the next natural disaster… or the night of the living dead.

In many areas, water access can become a critical issue during extreme weather. A rainwater capture system is a great way to meet this risk head-on, and constructing a DIY system can be a fun summer project with a purpose. If you don’t want to commit to a suite of rain barrels, consider storing a Lifestraw or other portable filter for a rainy day.

5. Be Part of the Solution

A zombie apocalypse isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Climate change, on the other hand, is all but certain. The severity of the impacts we’ll feel tomorrow can be altered based on our immediate actions today. You can be part of the solution to the climate crisis by setting an example for those around you with a few lifestyle changes and habitat upgrades.

Your home may be a good candidate for an energy efficiency audit. An energy audit can help save you money, and you’ll be doing your part to stave off the apocalypse. Your actions can have a ripple effect within your circle of friends and family. By setting the example for others, who knows, you may just save the human race from extinction!

Krystal Rogers-Nelson

With 14 years of experience working in the non-profit field, I branched out as a freelance writer in 2017. I enjoy writing articles that educate and inspire others to innovate, make smart decisions, be resourceful, alleviate stress and make the world a safer, more socially-connected place.

Topics I cover: tech, home, safety & security, parenting, leadership & management, sustainability.

Words to describe me: driven, creative, fun-loving, resourceful and collaborative.

Personal Interests: Hiking, gardening, art, travel, board games.

Strengths (according to Gallup's Strengths Finder 2.0):
1) Achiever, 2) Developer, 3) Learner, 4) Positivity and 5) Empathy.
Krystal Rogers-Nelson

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