Zombies have been in the news a lot lately–what with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies making the New York Times Bestseller List and with several new zombie movies out recently. I even suggested a few weeks back to a couple of colleagues that Worldwatch’s next book should focus on zombies and sustainability as that would draw much more attention to our work than even the best written State of the World report could.
After I said that I remembered that there is The Zombie Survival Guide, which while focusing mostly on how best to kill zombies, could be retooled to be a perfect forum for detailing essential information for how to survive a global ecological collapse–knowledge we’ll certainly need if we don’t quickly shift our cultures away from consumerism, considering this is the leading driver of our sustainability crisis.
This information is already found in books like Where There Is No Doctor and The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook (a highly recommended book by Albert Bates, the co-author of the State of the World 2010 article “From Agriculture to Permaculture”) and could readily be adapted and reframed.
While there is no Worldwatch Institute’s Complete Guide to Permaculture and Zombie Defense yet, the good news is that people are already recruiting zombies to draw attention to issues of overconsumption and unsustainability. For example, John Rooks, president of The SOAP Group (short for Sustainable Organization Advocacy Partners), recently wrote an interesting commentary on CSR Wire, “Zombie Consumerism.” Here he compares zombies directly to consumers, drawing on George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, where survivors hole up in a mall and try to fend off hoards of zombies, who instinctively return to the mall they so often frequented during life.
I particularly like John’s conclusion:
Zombies reproduce through consumption of the living, which serves as a nearly endless supply of brother and sister Zombies. Consider earth’s current human population explosion as a metaphoric never-ending supply of both brains and new Zombies. As one character in the original Dawn says when warning survivors of the process: “It gets up and kills. The people it kills get up and kill.” It’s a never-ending supply of both consumables and consumers (a capitalist dream). But, of course, the perishable items (bread and bullets) in the mall run out. And when they do, survivors need to make very difficult choices. Where’s the next mall? What place do we pillage next? An island, perhaps?
As today and in the Zombie world, sustainability and survival are interchangeable. When the resources for survival run out and the malls have been picked clean, then we will reach for sustainability as a final solution. Or we will eat brains.
Originally written by Erik Assadourian in November 2009 for the Transforming Cultures Blog.