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magine a giant asteroid strikes the Earth a few years from now, blocking out the Sun and collapsing agriculture worldwide. We see it coming, but all attempts to redirect its trajectory fail.

At first glance, our chances don't look good. The planet is engulfed in flames. Dead fish carpet the rivers and canals. Farmers lose most of their livestock. After just a few days, the air begins to cool, and global average temperatures plummet. Crops fail catastrophically, and the food supply system as we know it falls apart.

Yet what if I told you we were able to survive – that we managed to build a new food system by repurposing heavy-duty infrastructure and excavating knowledge from the past?

Focusing on how we'd respond to a post-apocalyptic scenario like this is not about pessimism or a macabre fixation with disasters. Instead, it is an exercise in research-based "future history" – a way to travel backwards in time from a possible future, inspecting every juncture that takes us from then to now. It's a practice beloved of both corporate leaders and military strategists because it encourages preparedness, but also because it requires imagination. It helps us see the present in a different light.

So let's begin. It's been one year since the rock struck. This is how we survived.

Catastrophic lessons

Our best means of predicting what will happen when a colossal object smashes into us involves studying past events. When the Chicxulub asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago it turned ocean bedrock into plasma, vaporised all life within a 2,400km (1,500-mile) radius, and sent debris circling the globe, only to rain back down in a hail of incandescent destruction. Around 25 trillion tonnes of disinterred matter entered the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight.

Unlike the dinosaurs, many of our mammalian ancestors survived the terrible consequences because they were burrowers. We would need to do the same for a while. But it wasn't just their lifestyle and morphology that helped them. It was their diet, too.

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Original text

magine a giant asteroid strikes the Earth a few years from now, blocking out the Sun and collapsing agriculture worldwide. We see it coming, but all attempts to redirect its trajectory fail.


At first glance, our chances don't look good. The planet is engulfed in flames. Dead fish carpet the rivers and canals. Farmers lose most of their livestock. After just a few days, the air begins to cool, and global average temperatures plummet. Crops fail catastrophically, and the food supply system as we know it falls apart.


Yet what if I told you we were able to survive – that we managed to build a new food system by repurposing heavy-duty infrastructure and excavating knowledge from the past?


Focusing on how we'd respond to a post-apocalyptic scenario like this is not about pessimism or a macabre fixation with disasters. Instead, it is an exercise in research-based "future history" – a way to travel backwards in time from a possible future, inspecting every juncture that takes us from then to now. It's a practice beloved of both corporate leaders and military strategists because it encourages preparedness, but also because it requires imagination. It helps us see the present in a different light.


So let's begin. It's been one year since the rock struck. This is how we survived.


Catastrophic lessons


Our best means of predicting what will happen when a colossal object smashes into us involves studying past events. When the Chicxulub asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago it turned ocean bedrock into plasma, vaporised all life within a 2,400km (1,500-mile) radius, and sent debris circling the globe, only to rain back down in a hail of incandescent destruction. Around 25 trillion tonnes of disinterred matter entered the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight.


Unlike the dinosaurs, many of our mammalian ancestors survived the terrible consequences because they were burrowers. We would need to do the same for a while. But it wasn't just their lifestyle and morphology that helped them. It was their diet, too.


Story continues below


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