December 1, 2013
Forbes had a fascinating article on their forbes.com page this past week, titled, “Billionaire Bunkers: Beyond the Panic Room, Home Security Goes Sci-Fi”. http://www.forbes.com/sites/morganbrennan/2013/11/27/billionaire-bunkers-beyond-the-panic-room-home-security-goes-sci-fi/?utm_campaign=forbestwittersf&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=bufferc37c9&utm_medium=twitter
The caption under the picture at the top of the page reads, “Al and Lana Corbi stand in front of their Hollywood Hills home, complete with helipad on the roof. Their company, Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments (SAFE), specializes in securing high-end homes with technologies and architectural features meant to thwart everything from home invaders to nuclear holocaust to natural disaster. Their Los Angeles residence serves as a show house for prospective clients”, which give you an idea of the thrust of the article.
Some of them made sense. After all, the “safe suite” is just the billionaire’s version of the “safe room” which is the millionaire’s version of the extra deadbolt on the door/security grills on the windows, poor man’s “safe house” in a bad neighborhood.
What didn’t make sense to me were the real bunkers and the reasoning that seemed to underlie them. From the end of the article:
“These bunkers can span tens of thousands of square feet and tunnel as much as 30 stories into the ground …
“SAFE’s bunkers operate on geothermal power and have sustainable food supplies, their own wells for water and full medical facilities. Many have amphitheaters, restaurants and health spas; for one client, Corbi designed a promenade with ceilings hand-painted with blue skies and “stores” displaying the family heirlooms. “These are things you would want to have personally, so right now it’s an ultimate entertainment area, but if there was a disaster you could go there and stay for a long time,” says Corbi.
“A long time, indeed. He estimates that families could survive in the best planned of these luxurious strongholds for up to three generations. “They would be the new Adam and Eve, essentially, who would start up everything again.””
What struck me as I finished the article wasn’t just the hubris (most of us have come to expect that from our billionaires), but the delusions – that life after that type of catastrophe would simply stop and wait for them to exit their bunkers and take over, or that a generation raised in the pampered environment of what amounts to a small, underground city would be psychologically prepared to simply step outside and go on.
Yet, thinking about the article over the rest of the week, I wondered if a lot of us ordinary “doomers” aren’t subject to those same delusions. I understand the urge to protect our loved ones from the immediate effects of a catastrophe, where your first concerns will be food, water and shelter. I even understand the urge to make longer term survival preparations – whether it’s a bunker where you hunker down for one to five years after a nuclear war, a bug-out place where you can wait out the mutant zombie bikers, a farm, transition community or just a well-stocked pantry and a garden in your backyard where you can “build something more lasting” after the economic collapse/peak energy/climate catastrophes we all expect.
What I sometimes sense and don’t understand – whether in myself or others – is the belief that all this will somehow prepare us for life after whatever catastrophe we expect. That after a month, a year, a decade or a generation in our various “bunkers”, we will necessarily be mentally or physically prepared to engage a world where whatever life survives, human or otherwise, has begun to adapt and move on in its own unique directions.
Whether we like it or not, we will still exist in a wider world, battered though it may be. And we will have to engage that world sooner or later, in ways big or small.
From Nagasaki and Hiroshima to Chernobyl and Fukushima, the Great Depression to the Great Recession, Sandy to Haiyan, life moves on, as halting and poor as the adaptations may be.
Assuming that whatever preparations we make allow us to survive with a modicum of ease, comparatively, I think whatever life awaits us outside that comfort zone we have made for ourselves will be more likely to greet us with the same attitude we would greet those billionaires coming out of their thirty-story bunkers and a lot less likely to greet us as the new Adam and Eve.
We would probably be wise to spend some time preparing for that.