WHY WE SHOULD ALWAY LOOK UP ON NORTH ?
It’s the place people go to escape,
a place made of cabins, pine trees and lakes.
But no matter how far you drive,
there’s no sign to say “You’ve arrived.”
So just follow your heart til you find,
your special place that brings peace of mind.
As you breathe in the air and unwind,
your cares are all left behind.
It’s no mystery where the northwoods start.
When you’re “up north,”
you’ll know in your heart.
— Suzanne Kindler 1996
Honestly, I love apocalyptic stories and movies. They are thrilling and they let my imagination works with no limits. Due to the high level of daily risks we live with and numerous security and biosafety challenges we meet, the question of certain future of our Planet is somehow blurry. There are so many political insecurities that address the local, national and international situation and stability. Even if starts in one part of the world, far aways from you, it is like a domino effect, will be spread faster as fire, it will reach you, it will reach all of us.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not sharing here Doomsday Preppers initiative or anything similar but rather addressing the rise of potential apocalyptic events and emotions in people and analysing pro and cons about it. Once when happens, it is too late for it so I act preemptive.
Have you ever wondered why in so many “end of the world” books and movies, the north is always glorified as a shelter ? I have researched this phenomena for years and still not sure how to shape my opinion. It must be trend made by Hollywood but it has to be something also based on the scientific facts. The north itself sounds safe, no matter what…but, let’s see what’s behind the curtain.
Depending on what type of apocalypse scenario we believe, the way-outs could be diverse. If we expect the miracle from Universe that will sign the death to the Earth, the danger from asteroid is not naive and definitely worth of preventive studying. What about zombies ? This theory makes me laugh because I do not believe in such things. It is great to have phantasy but zombie apocalypse is rather comic as reality or one of its future dimension. I read one article that scientists have researched if the rabies virus could be abused as potential zombie virus trigger. Even if that could be operated, it will take many years of active military research and work on the designed bioweapon, capable to create zombistic world. Some doomsday people have talked about subterranean monsters that will come from the tomb of the Earth, attack us and kill us all:”We’ve all seen the battle scars on sperm whales when they come back from their hunting trips in the deep blue. There’s proof of existence 10km below sea level in the Mariana Trench – 10cm single-cell organisms called xenophyophores. These extremophiles may not be a prime example of civilisation destroyers, and not akin to the giant squid. But anything is possible. On land, the deepest-dwelling creature found to date is in a cave 1.98km beneath Earth’s surface – the eyeless Plutomurus ortobalaganensis, which eats decaying matter. Not particularly life-threatening, seeing as they’re blind.” For me as a logical person, this is also a bad tale. Then, there is an Alien invasion theory. First of all, we need to confirm that they are out there, waiting for a moment to organise the invasion. I am not really sure they would like to come here and live on the Earth. Maybe they are just curious observers and zero destroyers. Not all creatures must be evil, like majority of the human race nowadays.
The next issue is overpopulation. We will have a Malthusian crisis since the human beings produce each others with no end, with no limit. This is a big pressure on the resources and available agricultural surfaces. On the other side, the bee population is declined. This circle of tragedy wont last forever. But, I guess some other indicator of apocalypse would address the problem of the human parasitic production. Maybe large-scale volcanism ? That is more realistic as anything else on the top 10. Some apocalypse researchers argue about the Heath Death of the Universe or so called Big Chill and Big Freeze. For someone who is not an expert in physics, it is a process when the whole universe turns into the state of no thermodynamic free energy, with no capacity to reduce entropy. The more the space expands, the cooler its gets. If some Langolier from the universe doesn’t eat up the Earth´s energy, there could be a space microbe launched on our Planet with death mission. The homo sapiens is vulnerable and fragile on domestic germs, what about the interstellar ? It would be a horror. Nevertheless, global public health shows all signs of weakness as we witness now, due to the Covid-19 pandemics. The virus X is yet to come and if we don’t change our priorities, the dangerous and vile pandemics will close the book of the humans.
Nuclear holocaust is, regrettably, even more possible as anything else, since we have lunatics on global scene that do not recognise the disorder of climate and its terrible deviations that will hit our future life. On the top, if everything else is giving up on killing the world we know, you can still count on cybergeddon and the worldwide technologically breakdown that will disable the economy, cause the crisis all over and make people crazy, as they are still, so addicted on cyber and bytes in every simple segment of their human life.
Now, when we listed all those options we must agree that North may be the real shelter, in any of those directions. Yes, but why? I will tell you about Robert, who I met 10 years ago, in Austria. He arrived there from Canada, for 10 days of mountaineering. Robert was born and raised in Yukon. Geologist. We talked a lot about north since he told me, once when we all have been deep in the mountain resort of Alps, that I should always look up north, for safety. I am afraid I didn’t understand what Robert from Yukon really thought by saying this. He was a strange man with great know-how but indeed didn’t manage to convince us, the worldwide globetrotters and mountain lovers why north should be safe. If anything or even all go wrong, the right should be go to the mountains, any mountain it is available for you, reachable from your current location.
As far as I understand, the northern shelter are the remote parts of Norway for Europeans and remote corners of Canada and USA for Northamericans. Then I met Maria, whose husband was a volcanologist in Canada. Maria herself works more than 30 years in seismologic field in British Columbia and her John passed away 5 years ago but Maria can’t forget John words:” It’s happening Marry, we must pack and go up north….” Maria had told me that she loved me like her own child she has never had and she suggested me that I go far away on north, somewhere in Canada, before it is not late or too late. Whatever happens, I should be safe there and for some time. It is the peaceful and the subterranean layer of the Planet is in good state over there, as well as ozone layer, climate and sources for survival.
Many explorers warn that the best is to live somewhere in the nature, even when everything is right, because you are safe from lunacy, crime, pandemics and urban malign events. The social distancing is probably good for the world we live in, according to the modern scientific theories but homo sapiens is a social being and needs company, the sign of belonging to the society. Otherwise, we could be declared as beasts. Those borders are so tiny at this moment that you think that society turned homo sapiens into the beasts and not vice versa.
I love north, there where is a polar light, I feel safe.
2 thoughts on “THE NORTHERN SHELTER: POSSIBLE WAY – OUT DURING APOCALYPSE”
What an intriguing article, Sarah ! I love it !
There are so many factors as to the importance of the North. Though I love apocalyptic stories and myths, as a mathematician and scientist, I think logically and analytically.
One fact that I have observed throughout my life, and my travels, is that the North in most countries tends to be, in general, better from an economic standpoint. Further, most countries choose a northern city as a capital. The latter factor may be based on the fact that the North has a better economy.
Moreover, since the primordial age, humankind has chosen the North as the direction to look for in order to know one’s coordinates. Once the North was determined, by means of the North Star, or later, of a compass, all other three directions were logically inferred, i.e. South, East, and West. Hence, the North has always been associated with finding one’s way. Therefore, in my opinion, this is why the North is thought of as providing “safety” and “security” !
Thank you so much, Sarah, for this wonderful article ! Your writing is, as always, mesmerizing, and your illustrations are, as always, perfect !
Sarah’s intriguing article reminded me of the evolution of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction of the recent centuries…
The French author Jean-Baptiste de Grainville (1746-1805) wrote a novel about the decline of humanity called ‘Le Dernier Homme’ (i.e. The Last Man) in 1805. This was the first modern novel to depict a cataclysmic end to the human world.
Jean-Baptiste de Grainville had a troubled life: he began to study for the priesthood, but left during The French Revolution, as he perceived the connections between the elite and wealthy hierarchy of the Catholic Church and sustained poverty. After completing his novel, he committed suicide.
The novel, Le Dernier Homme, depicts a dying Earth borne of human asininity. The author was inspired by John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and by Malthusian theories on humans using up natural resources without replacing or recycling them.
Eventually, the novel influenced Mary Shelly to write ‘The Last Man’ in 1826: this novel depicts the Earth at the end of the 21st century, with the human world ravaged by a pandemic. The British authorities suppressed the novel and it did not resurface until the 1960s, in London. It was the first dystopian fiction ever published.