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Living As The Last Person On Earth

VO: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
Picture the scene. You awake one day to find that you're all alone. That there's no one else in your town, city or even country. Quickly you realise that you're the only person left on planet Earth. What would you do? How would you feel? And how long could you survive? It's the ultimate post-apocalyptic existence, and in this video we explore what would happen if Armageddon did strike - and you were the only one left!
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Transcript

Living as the Last Person on Earth


Complete and utter silence is almost impossible to imagine. We’re constantly surrounded by noise, whether it’s the low hum of a fridge or the loud roar of a low-flying plane. But waking up and hearing nothing would be one of the first indicators of complete isolation, and one of the first signs that you were the only human being left on planet Earth.

It would probably take you a couple of minutes to clock that something was wrong, and a couple more to even begin to come to terms with it. No news reports, no TV bulletins, zero activity on social media. No emails in your inbox, and none of your friends would answer their phones – if your calls even still connected. The only noteworthy sounds would come from nearby animals; there’d be the relaxing ring of birdsong if you’re lucky, the scattered, high-pitched howls of pet dogs expecting breakfast if you’re not.

So, what would you do? Initially, being all alone might seem like a fun and exhilarating adventure. After all, you could do anything and be anyone, with nobody forcing the rules. You could stop by a five-star restaurant and use all their high-end ingredients to make yourself a fancy meal. You could solicit a sports car you’d never usually be able to afford and spend your time cruising through the impossibly open roads. Or, stroll right into a luxury hotel and live it up in the penthouse suite – though room service would obviously be unavailable. Sleep as long as you want, go to whichever places you ordinarily can’t, sing and dance like no one’s watching – because no one is.

But what happens when the fun stops? There are only so many five-star fry-ups you can make until the fresh ingredients run out; only so many times you can go speeding in a Ferrari until it just gets boring; and there’s only so long you can sleep in the world’s best hotel rooms before they all seem kind of the same.

For some, the magnitude of the situation will’ve kicked in immediately. For others, it could take hours, days, or even weeks. But eventually you’d realise that this isn’t just a brief vacation from the responsibilities of your life. In fact, your responsibilities have just multiplied tenfold, and your day-to-day existence from here on out will be anything but relaxing. Because in truth, you’ve been thrown into a brutal fight for survival, and as time goes by it’s only going to get harder.

Much would depend on the country you’ve been stranded in, and the location. If you’re the last person on Earth holed up in a sprawling capital city, for example, it’s a completely different prospect than if you’re out in the wilderness or on a tropical island. A city setting might leave you feeling relatively safe to begin with, given that there’d be easy access to tinned food, bottled water and shelter. On the other hand, you could be an exceptionally unlucky tourist, taking a once-in-a-lifetime trek through the jungle at the precise moment when everyone else disappears. Unless you’re someone who’s familiar with such extreme locations, you’d likely struggle to survive. But crucially, you’d simply have to deal with whatever situation you’re presented with – as your only means to travel away from it would be by walking, swimming or riding a stolen bicycle. You could car-hop for a while, switching from one hot-wired vehicle to the next whenever your fuel runs out, but travelling by air or sea wouldn’t be an option, with no-one to man the boats or fly the planes.

But, say you did find yourself in a once-busy city – as more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas – what options would you have?

You should set about gathering resources and information as soon as possible. And there’d be more than just food and water on your list, with one of your first stops being the local library. Without other people, the internet as we know it would be impossible to maintain, meaning that within a matter of hours (possibly minutes) it’d grind to a halt and disappear, never to return. So, those initial impulses to drive fast cars and live the high life just may have cost you your last opportunity to google the answers to difficult survival questions. Luckily, libraries (and vacant book stores) will likely bear at least some of the information you need – so select a few choice texts to take with you. Or, better yet, set up some sort of ‘base camp’ between the aisles of books themselves.

You don’t need a book to tell you how important it is to eat and drink, however. Once you’ve reoriented yourself at least a little bit by finding a supposedly safe spot, it’s time to plan your meals. In terms of fresh foods, you best make the most of them during your first few days and weeks – as they’ll quickly expire, especially once the electricity cuts out and the fridges and freezers switch off. From there, it’s canned food and long-life products all the way, and you should gather as much of it as you can – including bottled water – to build a reserve. Your every waking moment is essentially one long emergency from here on out, so you can never be too prepared.

Luckily, with only you roaming the planet, there should easily be enough supermarket stock (even within a single city) to keep you fed for years. Water-wise, you should also learn how to collect and filter your supply from rain or running streams. And, in time, you should learn how to grow your own produce, to create a small but infinite supply of certain crops. In fact, stocking a makeshift seed-bank during the early days would be a very wise move.

Clothing is another chief concern, but any cares you might’ve had for looking fashionable should quickly be ditched. You’re searching for comfortable, warm and all-weather threads. While you should probably try to keep your clothes clean – as there isn’t likely to be an infinite supply – regularly doing your laundry could prove difficult, and an unnecessary strain on water supplies. So, it might be simpler to just keep stealing new clothes from abandoned stores.

Whatever necessities you manage to gather, you’ll need somewhere to house them. We’ve already highlighted the plus points of procuring a library as your new home, but your search for shelter could lead you anywhere. That said, don’t expect a deserted city to stay safely standing for long. Without teams of people to maintain them, any building could quickly become dangerous, unstable and uninhabitable. With no electricity or power, ever-weakening structures, and the constant risk of gas and water leaks without anyone to fix them, staying in the city – even if it is a reliable source of food – would be risky. Throw in the fact that animals will’ve escaped from zoos, that roads would eventually succumb to weeds, and that if (and when) one building falls it could trigger a domino effect to turn a whole street into rubble, and your problems are mounting up.

All things considered, the best shelter may actually be a mobile one, like a large van, truck or RV. There’d still be the issue of fuel, but learning to siphon it out of other vehicles could be another handy skill to learn. Stocking a decent tent could also prove vital, as well as a means of starting a fire while on the move.

But, even if you do venture out of the city for safety reasons, you’ll inevitably need to revisit it for supplies. After a prolonged period of time, when wild animals have turned derelict neighbourhoods into dangerous territories, getting your hands on a weapon could be the difference between life and death. In some countries, getting guns and ammo would be as easy as getting all the other basic goods. But, if you’re operating somewhere where the regulations are tighter, you might have to break into a police station or military base to get what you need – a much more difficult task. In general, learning how to shoot a gun could become another essential skill, as it’d enable you to hunt for fresh meat. Alternatively, and if your location allows it, perfecting how to fish could be crucial.

The combination of unfamiliar firearms and unpredictable animals could easily lead to injury, though. And, in a world with no hospitals or doctors, even an everyday wound could be deadly. The manufacture of drugs and medicine will’ve stopped a long time ago, and most medical supplies that still exist will sport a use-by date. On the plus side, there wouldn’t be any other humans to spread dangerous disease. But, there’d also be no-one else to help you should you ever fall ill.

Just say you overcame all of these problems, though. Say you proved yourself an ultra-hardy survivor in the most incredible of circumstances, arranging food, water, shelter, medicine, weapons, and all the other resources you could possibly need. Practically speaking, you’re set up for life…

But, you could do precious little to combat the loneliness. It’s one of the biggest concerns anyone would have when entertaining the idea of being the last person alive. The daily determination to keep yourself healthy would dominate your thoughts, but your primary purpose would also be your only one. Because you’d have nobody to socialise with, laugh with, talk to, and nobody to listen to your ‘End of the World’ anecdotes. All in, if you did manage to survive, the fact that you didn’t slowly lose your mind would arguably be the most impressive aspect of your immense achievement.

After all of the struggles, and even though you would’ve truly and incomparably earned your right to enjoy your planet, could anyone really cope with living as the last person on Earth, in a vast and empty world?
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