I haven’t watched all of Roland Emmerich’s movie 2012, about the end of the world, but I have seen some of the scarier highlights on YouTube, and the scariest of those, in my opinion, has to be the moment when a gigantic super-tsunami threatens to engulf the very peaks of the Himalayas. How would you ever escape from something like that? You’d need, of course, some sort of ship or ark – which is indeed what the people in the movie actually have, hoping to ride out the catastrophe in a number of strongly-built vessels, each large enough to hold many thousands of refugees.
Despite the summer’s latest doom-laden news about fires, heat waves, melting icecaps and now Hurricane Isaac, there’s nothing remotely as awful as Emmerich’s world-engulfing disaster on the horizon. Which is just as well, because no-one – to my knowledge, anyway – has built the sort of huge vessel that you would need in order to survive it.
However, people are building arks. Just – on a smaller scale. The latest of these to hit the news is a giant steel ball – 13 feet in diameter and painted bright yellow – built by Chinese inventor Yang Zongfu. It contains a year’s worth of food and water, three weeks’ worth of oxygen, and has room for up to three people (Adam And Eve, plus one spare?) Here on YouTube, you can witness the moment when the giant ball was rolled down a hill and into a small lake with the inventor inside. He survived unhurt (bar a slight mishap with a safety belt), although the ball itself appears to have picked up a rather impressive dent, on its way down.
If your budget won’t stretch that far – or if you only need to survive a modest catastrophe – the Japanese company Cosmopower has designed a much smaller and more basic capsule, called Noah. It’s – again – spherical and bright yellow in colour, with a diameter of 4 feet. You won’t be able to escape with much in the way of provisions – maybe a small bottle of water and a Snickers bar, if you’re lucky – and there’s no room for loved ones, pets, livestock, etc., or really anything else than just yourself. Basically, the Noah capsule would provide a very temporary refuge for one person during the sort of tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 or South-East Asia in 2004, but after a few hours that person would still be in urgent need of rescue.
There’s evidently a lot of room for development, then, in the field of spherical personal survival capsules. By the time I become a billionaire and establish my Bond-villain style mansion on a volcanic island somewhere, no doubt Mr Yang Zongfu will have perfected his Noah’s Ark Mk.10 and I’ll be in a position to order a dozen of them for myself and my entourage. We will then be able to weather the catastrophe in style, and perhaps repopulate the Earth later, if we feel like it.
Mind you, if the world is going to end in 2012, we’ve all clearly left it a bit too late to be planning anything like that.