No, a bunker will not save you from the apocalypse

Everybody talks about the apocalypse, but almost nobody actually prepares for it. But let's say you're one of the few visionaries who actually plans for every eventuality. You've been stashing your supplies. You've built a personal bunker, or you've purchased your own spot in a communal "survival suite."

When the apocalypse finally comes — possibly later this year — will you really survive if you're locked inside a bunker? (Answer: No.)

Top image: Jorge Louzao Penalva/Flickr

No, a bunker will not save you from the apocalypse

Protecting against any 2012 scenario
A thriving industry exists to offer structures that will defend against a variety of 2012-related events. These scenarios include pole shifts (and the earthquakes that would follow), electromagnetic pulses, and solar flares — along with more traditional scenarios, such as biological and nuclear attacks.

One of the most successful manufacturer of disaster bunkers, Hardened Manufacturers, speaks of the Maya Calendar as a reason why they've created their structures:

No, a bunker will not save you from the apocalypse

From our perspective as architects, engineers, physicists, future-scanning analyst and construction program managers, we view the 2012 phenomenon not as a question of the accuracy or validity of the Mayan date, but as a problem of shelter design optimization under severe constraints. In this perspective, we look at the anticipated possible effects and the design measures necessary to mitigate those effects.

Hardened and other survivor bunker building companies like Vivos and Survival Condo say you should have multiple backups of critical life support systems, air filtration, installation of an air-lock, and multiple escape hatches, to increase your chances of surviving a 2012-related event. These structures are not cheap — estimates from several survival shelter companies place a spot in these bunkers from $40,000 to $1 million. The companies also market their structures as "vacation homes" or unique corporate retreats, should a 2012 disaster scenario never arise.


You cannot plan for everything

There are some events that simply cannot be planned for, let alone imagined, among the multiplicity of possible 2012 disaster scenarios. A pole shift, and the ensuing tectonic movement, could lead to a chain of volcanic eruptions. The Yellowstone Caldera in the mid-western United States is long overdue for an eruption, with the U.S. Geological Survey closely monitoring seismic activity at Yellowstone National Park.

These fortified shelters will also have difficulty defending against strikes from above, as they are only prepared for a 500 pound (roughly the size of a small boulder) airborne impacts. Hardened Structures claim their bunkers will provide protection from the air burst resulting from a 100 megaton bomb detonated 20 miles away — but a ground impact in the same 20-mile radius would likely destroy the shelter, and render the surroundings uninhabitable.

No, a bunker will not save you from the apocalypse

The biggest threat?

"Hell is other people." - Translation of a line from Jean-Paul Sartre's Huis-clos

Many apocalyptic scenarios call for extended periods of isolation. With bunkers designed to supply and care for up to 1000 people, would you really want to spend a year or more of your life trapped underground in an isolated community, cut off from whatever remains of the human race outside?

What about the unforeseen psychiatric issues that would arise in the aftermath of the apocalypse, as people realize their extended family and friends are dead? Such an event would be akin to a bizarre psychological experiment. It's easy to imagine how the survival prospects of extremely bored people lacking distinct social ties could drop, the longer they're kept in a confined space together.

And then there would be the threat of other survivors — once all the local Wal-Mart, Target, and sporting goods stories have long since been picked clean, the roaming scavengers would regard any remaining shelters as a major jackpot.

Anyone searching through rural areas of Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Texas (areas with a high proportion of these bunkers) could simply canvass the area with a metal detector, since these bunkers include EMP shielding, which requires a metal lattice. Construction contractors that worked on the bunkers, regardless of the confidentiality standards held during the building process, will also know the specific location of bunkers in the area. So the people inside the bunkers could easily become sitting ducks, waiting for a series of assaults from other survivors.

No, a bunker will not save you from the apocalypse

Lottery ticket

If you lack the desire or finances to build a structure for yourself, Surefire Living offers a program for qualified individuals who want to live to see 2013. Surefire Living is creating 10 survival sites scattered across the globe, providing a financially friendly option for those who cannot pay for an entire bunker with personal finances. Inhabitants are chosen based on their education and usefulness.

Surefire Living also offers a Lottery of Fate option. Write an essay, pay an $80 entry fee — and if you're chosen, you win a vacation in one of their facilities. You are not guaranteed you'll have a spot should the apocalypse arrive, but you do get a free concealed carry gun permit course, along with the chance to write an essay for eighty bucks.

Surviving the unforeseen

It's extremely difficult to imagine every possible disaster scenario, and prepare for all of them. Not to mention all the changes that every scenario would wreak on the world afterwards. And then there's the more basic question: if society as we know it stops and your family and friends are dead, do you want to go on living? And if you survive these initial events, will you live though the madness and chaos that will come along with the long struggle to restart society?

Luckily, Hardened Structures also offers a line of armored vehicles protecting against ballistic impacts, hurricanes, and EMPs. So if we find ourselves in a Mad Max-style future, you can roll out of your bunker fully prepared. Give me an armored car and a nice underground reserve of fuel. That, or a stocked submarine with its own nuclear power supply — but if anybody's selling nuclear submarines to private individuals, they haven't put up a website.

Additional images via Hardened Structures and Surefire Living. The video is by the bunker manufacturing company Vivos.