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8 Tips For Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse

Here at What Culture we consider ourselves to be experts in many different things. Sure we have massive brains filled with the latest gaming news, movie tidbits and comic book geekery but did you know that we’re also the leading experts on surviving a zombie apocalypse? Darn tooting we are! In fact, if the Government called upon us to protect you lovely people from having your brains eaten by your dead grandma we’d know exactly what to do. So it seems only fair that we share this information with you – our dear readers – just in case we’re a bit busy helping the Governments of the world sort out their living dead problems.

So let’s begin with the basics.

1. How Likely is A Zombie Outbreak

According to the BBC, researchers in Canada concluded that unless a Zombie outbreak was dealt with quickly and aggressively it would in fact lead to the downfall of civilisation. You see, people have actually been funded to look into this kind of ‘eventuallity’ under the pretence that the idea of an outbreak of Zombieism works in much the same way as any other alien infection and thus the research can help prepare for such a real life scenario. Personally we think this is all part of the Government’s attempts to keep Joe Public in the dark. Research is being undertaken to prepare for Zombies, like it or not.

If you’re still unsure about the reality of Zombies then just take a look at nature and you’ll see that such infections already exist within the animal world. Take Toxoplasmosa Gondii for example. It lives inside the body of the common Rat, but the only place it can bread is inside the intestines of a Cat so it takes over the brain of Mr Rat and makes him get himself eaten. The parasite actually programmes the Rat, much like a similar parasite could programme the human brain. In fact over half the world’s population is infected by this little bugger already. What if it were to evolve? Scary thought, hu?

Need more examples? How about Haiti, home of the term Zombie. People there were infected with an acute neurotoxin that actually wiped the memories of the victims, left them in a barely conscious state and caused them to shuffle around performing basic daily tasks such as eating. There are books and documentaries on this – and we don’t mean ones called Zombie Flesheaters. And if you’re STILL not convinced then have a look at the symptoms of Mad Cow’s Disease – muscle spasms, dementia, rage, changes in gait – it’s all there in black and white for the sceptics out there. All that’s keeping us safe at the moment is the fact that none of the aforementioned causes have taken hold … yet.

2. Know Your Zombies

Like with most things there are different types of Zombie. As we haven’t been face to face with any as of yet it’s safe to assume that any of the weird shit you’ve seen on TV or in a video game could actually be true. However, tradition dictates a certain type of Zombie – at least in the first instance. Who knows if they can evolve or adapt over time?

Here’s what we do know:

1. Zombies can be both the reanimated corpses of the already dead OR any living thing that has been bitten and thus transformed.

2. Zombies are slow. Any notion that they may be able to run should be disregarded. Sure, if you’ve just been turned then you may have use of your full leg muscles a while but rigor mortis reaches maximum stiffness after 12 hours, so beyond that we should assume the creature cannot run.

3. The brain of a Zombie is not entirely dead. It continues to operate at 0.5%. No Zombie will ever win a pub quiz then – but they are brighter than most of the people who go on Jeremy Kyle’s TV show.

4. The primary weapons of a Zombie are it’s hands/claws and it’s teeth. You’re not likely to change sides if you get scratched but a bite will damn sure bring about a sudden case of death. Well, more like a slow agonising case actually.

5. The original cause of a Zombie plague grossly affects how us humans can be turned. For example, if the cause is airborne then you might become a Zombie just by breathing. Likewise the original Zombies may just be reanimated corpses and you could be turned by a bite – the transference of saliva which carries a parasite etc. Or in some cases you may already be carrying whatever it is that turns you (like in The Walking Dead) and when you die you will become a member of the undead without ever coming into contact with one. Let’s just hope that if/when Zombies walk the Earth the only way for you to be turned is by a bite. At least that gives you more of a fighting chance at survival.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Zombies

Zombie survival guides are a blood-stained dime a dozen, but won’t somebody please think of the zombies?  It’s a hard “life,” full of unending hunger, long monotonous stretches of boredom, a homogenous diet, and unceasing drool.  Plus, you never get to change into a clean pair of underwear, and that’s just bad luck.

Well, I’m somebody—a yummy body to the zombies—and I’m happy to oblige.  It seems fitting that I, man of alterity and otherness, would be considerate of the needs of zombies.  You don’t get much more otherwise than they.  So without further moaning, zombie-walk ado, I present seven habits of highly effective zombies.

  1. Get Involved in a Community – The lone wolf or isolated zombie is easily seen, easily avoided, and easily whacked.  Join a mass of your fellow flesh-eaters and stay hidden.  It offers you safety, strength in numbers, and a better chance of surrounding and getting your mouth on some of that living meat you so excitedly crave.
  1. Be Patient – Aristotle taught that virtue is a mean between excess and defect.  When you’re in a group advancing on your prey, don’t rush to the front where you’ll be the first to fall, and don’t meander at the very back where you’ll never get your hands on even a multiply-stomped-on strip of intestine.  You want to be close to the front, but biding your time.  Wait for the frontline zombies to wear down the food.  When it’s your turn to strike, your meal will be exhausted, out of bullets, and primed for you, the walking abattoir.
  1. Have Foresight – This habit is also important before you become a zombie.  If you know you’re doomed to be dinner and maybe to life as a zombie, try to get bitten on a part of your body that won’t slow you down or handicap you later.  Avoid bites on the leg.  You’ll want mobility.  The face is fine, but make sure you still have a working jaw.  You can get by without an arm, but you’ll be a much more effective killer with all your appendages intact.  I recommend guiding the gnawing jaw of a zombie to your chest or back.
  1. Keep Your Moaning to a Minimum – No sense in announcing your presence.  If your voice box alerts your prey, rip it out.   You’re a zombie; you can take the biblical injunction literally.
  1. Eat on the Run – Some zombies like to sit or crouch down to relax and enjoy their food.  This is usually unwise.  The living may be lurking, looking for distracted zombies to bash in the head.  If you must sit, have your back against a wall, and eat with your head up and your eyes peeled.  By the way, peeled eye is quite succulent if you can get your hands on some.
  1. Attack the Unarmed – This may seem a no brainer, but that’s part of your problem, isn’t it?  Stay away from humans with guns, blades, bats, and other weapons.  You may want to focus on anyone unarmed who could conceivably obtain a weapon and appears to have the knowhow to use it, but this approach obviously has its risks.
  1. Stalk Close Friends and Family – No one wants to shoot a spouse, parent, child, or good friend in the head.  Take advantage of this momentary hesitation to go in for the kill.  Beloved celebrities like Justin Bieber or Katy Perry should stalk their once adoring now delicious fans.  On the flip side, avoid your enemies, and, if you were a horrible boss, your former employees.  People lose their moral compass during a zombie apocalypse and won’t hesitate the blow the brains out of people they really hated if presented with the mere possibility that they’ve become zombies.  In The Simpsons, Zombie Flanders learned this the hard way when approaching his neighbor Homer, who, after shooting his undead foe, remarked, “He was a zombie?”

So there you have it.  Happy effective hunting!

IF YOU THOUGHT ZOMBIES WHERE TOUGH – Try Surviving Yellowstone’s super volcano

For preppers, it’s the ultimate end game: surviving the eruption of Yellowstone’s super volcano.

While some folk worry about an asteroid strike bringing about the end of the world as we know it, as scientists say it did for the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, North America is actually sitting on its own extinction-level event waiting to happen.

“Everything would be wiped out; it would take years for the climate to recover and decades for the rivers to clear up because everything would be choked with volcanic ash for a wide area around the eruption site,” said Kelly Russell, professor of volcanology at the University of British Columbia. “The southern latitudes of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba would all see ash cover, how thick it would be depends on the winds and the amount of magma.”

Russell stresses that such super eruptions are extremely rare — the last one happened before human civilization — but that they can and do happen, and Yellowstone, in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, is an active field that has seen three massive eruptions.

He compares Yellowstone to Mount St. Helens in Washington state in 1980.

“It produced one cubic kilometre of magma, and we saw ash fall from it in southern B.C., a small amount, but it was there, and when we look at the very largest eruptions that have taken place at Yellowstone, they can spew out a thousand cubic kilometres, so that’s a thousand times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption that’s in everybody’s minds.”

Russell points out that two feet of ash from the Crater Lake eruption in Oregon 7,700 years ago can be found in Oliver, B.C., and in the banks of the Bow River in Calgary. He says if Yellowstone cuts loose, the southern Canadian prairies could get covered in many feet of ash, and the American states closest to Yellowstone would be smothered with an even thicker layer of the sterile rock powder, killing off livestock and leaving them unable to grow food.

“The ash is terrible, take a window and grind it into a coarse flour, then breath that in, it does terrible things to the human body. It would be important to have masks and filters, if you were trying to survive it,” Russell said. “The United States would stop being a food-exporting nation and starting being a food-importing nation.”

Yellowstone’s volcano doesn’t have the classic menacing cone shape, so many people don’t know that a magma chamber bigger than New York City lies beneath the steaming surface.

640,000 years ago, animals similar to elephants, rhinoceroses and zebras roamed the plains of the United States when Yellowstone blew — and it took out the animals and every other living thing that couldn’t fly away from the blast.

Scientists estimate Yellowstone’s volcano explodes every 600,000 to 700,000, and some say the time could be coming for another eruption. If it blows, the chances of survival sound bleak, but that’s not stopping some survivalists from preparing.

“Some people who visit there say there are more hot springs popping up there, and there is more of a sulphur smell that’s stronger than ever. You take from it what you want and I just pay attention to it a little more than the average person, just in case,” said Jason Charles, a firefighter in New York City. “I don’t want it to be a curve ball we don’t see coming. I keep it in the back of my head.”

Charles was a paramedic on 9/11 and saw thousands of people struggling to breath through the toxic dust. He has special dust and ash filters for his gas mask in case of another NYC disaster, or if Yellowstone blows.

“I know some people who have bought UV lights, in case they need to grow their own food – but that’s also assuming that the power grid stays up, but then there’s a space issue, how much could you grow?” he said. “It’s better to store food that will last.”

Charles has a one-year supply of food for his family, including his wife and four children. Meal-ready-to-eats (MREs), canned pasta and lots of canned fruit are stuffed into his apartment and his storage locker. He prepares for all sorts of disasters because he says no one should depend on the government to save them.

“The government couldn’t handle (Hurricane) Katrina. Compared to Yellowstone, Katrina was a drop in the bucket,” he said. “I have always heard as a rumour, they would wait for the masses to die and whatever survivors are left, that’s who they’d take care of, because they can’t take care of hundreds of millions of people we have living here in the United States.”

Jake Lowenstern, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, is the guy in charge of the Yellowstone volcano observatory.

“Worst-case scenario, a super eruption is a thousand cubic kilometres of material gets sent out of the magma chamber. When that happens it’s going to send out a lot of ash, and it circles the globe and changes the climate for years, drops the temperature for a few years,” Lowenstern said.

He said while a super eruption is highly unlikely, and even if it does happen not many would survive, it doesn’t hurt to prep.

“Things you can do to prepare for one kind of disaster are useful for any kind of disaster: lots of food, water, medical supplies and batteries on hand, and for an eruption, add good masks, air filters and weather stripping to keep the ash out of homes.”

Massive eruptions of the past:

— Archeologists say human beings barely survived the last super eruption on Earth. 74,000 years ago, Toba blew up on the Island of Sumatra. It cloaked the planet in sulphur, reducing the temperature by 20 degrees, wiping out growing seasons with snow cover nearly all year and causing mass starvation. Geneticists say the disaster reduced the human population to as few as 1000 people, thus causing the genetic similarity between individuals which is traced to the same time period.

— A volcanic eruption has been blamed for plunging civilization into the Dark Ages and triggering the bubonic plague. In his book Catastrophe, archeological journalist David Keys pinpoints a Krakatoa explosion in 535 AD. He says with the power of two billion Hiroshima bombs it darkened the sky and caused drought and flooding all around the world, including in Northeast Africa, which led to a bumper crop of rodents that passed their infected fleas onto rats and mice on European ships docked for trade off of southern Egypt, beginning the spread of the plague of Justinian.

— In 1815, the Tambora volcano erupted in the East Indies. Global temperatures dropped. Europeans and North Americans called it a “year without summer.” Snow fell in New York in June. Frost was recorded in each of the summer months and crops failed. 200,000 people died in Eastern and southern Europe from starvation and typhus.

— In 1783, Iceland’s Laki Volcano erupted. 9,000 people died in Iceland and thousands more died around the world from crop failure, disease and starvation. Temperatures dropped 13 degrees Celsius.

— Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 in the Philippines, a comparably small explosion, ejecting 20 million tonnes of sulphur. Scientists say it reduced global temperatures by about 2 degrees.

Mutant bird flu would be airborne

Mutant bird flu would be airborne, scientists say
June 21st, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Mutant bird flu would be airborne, scientists say

Here’s what it takes to make a deadly virus transmissible through the air: as few as five genetic mutations, according to a new study.

This research, published in the journal Science, is the second of two controversial studies to finally be released that examines how the H5N1 bird flu virus can be genetically altered and transmitted in mammals. Publication of both studies had been delayed many months due to fears that the research could be misused and become a bio-security threat.

Although these particular engineered forms of H5N1 have not been found in nature, the virus has potential to mutate enough such that it could become airborne.

H5N1 influenza can be deadly to people, but in its natural forms it does not easily transfer between people through respiratory droplets, as far as scientists know. The World Health Organization has recorded 355 humans deaths from it out of 602 cases, although some research has questioned this high mortality rate.

The journals Science and Nature had agreed to postpone the publication of the two studies related to the genetically altered virus.

In January, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity recommended that this research be published without “methods or details” that terrorists might be able to use for biological weapons. The board also said the data could assist in preparing for a possible future outbreak, however.

Then in February, the World Health Organization convened a meeting, at which the recommendation was to publish the studies – just not yet. In April, the National Institutes of Health chimed in, also recommending publication.

The first study to be published on the topic was in the journal Nature, and was led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka. It was released in May.

The other research group, which authored the new study in Science, was led by Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Both Kawaoka and Fouchier’s groups created a mutated version of H5N1 that made it easier to transmit from mammal to mammal. They used ferrets because these animals are a good approximation for how viruses behave in humans.

Fouchier’s study examines what mutations would be necessary to get the virus airborne. He and colleagues found five mutations consistent in a form of the H5N1 flu virus that could spread among ferrets through the air.

None of the ferrets died after developing the flu, the researchers said.

In a separate analysis, researchers looked at the likelihood that an airborne avian flu virus would evolve on its own from the H5N1 currently found in nature.

This study, also published in Science this week, looked at nearly 4,000 strains of influenza virus and frequently found two of the five mutations that appear to be involved in airborne transmission. These two mutations have been found in viruses from both birds and humans, although not in naturally-occurring H5N1 strains.

Derek Smith of the University of Cambridge, who co-authored that study, said at a press briefing that it’s possible that only three mutations are necessary for the virus to evolve.

Smith’s group also did mathematical modeling to look at whether the other mutations could evolve when the bird flu jumps to a human or other mammal.

“We find that it is possible for such a virus to evolve three mutations within a single host,” Smith said during the press call.

If it takes four for five mutations to become airborne, that would be more difficult – but it’s unclear just how likely it would be, Smith said.

While the Nature study looked at how a bird flu virus could become airborne through mutations and re-assortment with other viruses, the latest research in Science suggests mutations alone could do the trick.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters that the benefits from the Science study, in terms stimulating ideas and pursuing ways to understand the transmissibility, adaptability and pathogenesis of the virus, outweigh the risks that someone will use the data for nefarious purposes.

“Does that mean that there’s no risk? No, of course not. I can’t tell you at all
that there’s no risk. But the benefits in my mind outweigh the risks,” he said.

Making the research available generally will hopefully spark input on this topic from researchers in a wide variety of fields, he said.

It is technologically possible to create vaccine based on the genetic code of a flu virus strain including this one, researchers said. Several companies are already making H5N1 vaccines.

Research is ongoing to accelerate the amount of vaccine doses available by using adjuvants, which are agents that modify the effects of vaccines, Fauci said. There is also work ongoing into using computational sequencing to anticipate every possible influenza strain that could emerge, such that a databank could be established to prepare for the outbreak of any one of them, he said.

“Right now we’re in a much, much better position than we were when we had vaccine available after the peak of the 2009 H1N1 two years ago,” Fauci said.

A viral pandemic has the potential to cripple the nation’s workforce and infrastructure

A viral pandemic has the potential to cripple the nation’s workforce and infrastructure. Where does government provision end and your contingency planning begin? By Andrea Kirkby

With 5.3 million extra tourists arriving for the Olympics, the risk of avian flu and other pandemics arriving in the UK has greatly increased.


But back in December 2005, the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology said the country was not ready to defend itself against an avian flu pandemic. Have things changed since?

According to Dr Doug Quarry, medical director of International SOS Pandemic Planning Services, the spread of the H5N1 virus is not the only issue – new strains have developed, too. Has preparedness kept up to date with the risk, or are we becoming dangerously complacent?

Globally, government preparedness varies widely. But overall, in terms of healthcare, preparedness has certainly improved. Major vaccine manufacturers ramped up their capabilities in 2006 and the UK government stockpiled 16,000 doses of Pandemix. In fact, now the political issue is whether the UK government has bought too much vaccine and paid too high a price.

The government also put a detailed pandemic strategy in place, which was overhauled in 2011. However, while this covers NHS and social services preparedness in detail, it’s pretty vague on how businesses will cope. Generally, it foresees ‘business as usual’; borders won’t be closed, nor will schools, and while events organisers ‘may prefer’ to cancel major events, there will be no government compulsion.

Unfortunately, that throws the entire burden for preparedness on to individual businesses. And the Association of British Insurers says business interruption policies are unlikely to cover closures as a result of an influenza epidemic. In terms of medical preparedness, a number of businesses are now stockpiling antivirals for key staff and their families. But that’s only the tip of a very large iceberg. Bird flu or swine flu here and in the rest of the world could have a major impact on businesses in many different areas of operations.

Logistics is an obvious area where business continuity plans will be vital. Even if the UK itself isn’t affected, companies that import supplies or outsource parts of their business process are at risk from outbreaks in other countries. British business is now highly dependent on the Far East for its components and sub-assemblies. Call centres in other countries could also be badly affected.

Continuity plans need to enable a speedy response. Australia declared it would close its borders within two hours in the event of a bird-flu pandemic – that would give businesses little time to prepare.

Know your own needs 

Many companies are handicapped by lack of detailed knowledge of their own supply chains. For instance, multiple sourcing won’t help if suppliers all depend on a single crop or base component manufacturer. Service Level Agreements should help guarantee supply, but strategic stockpiling may be necessary.

Within the UK, cash handling and postal services are likely to prove bottlenecks – cash handling was one of the concerns arising from the FSA’s market-wide exercise in 2006. Neither banks nor the Post Office are on the government’s list of Category 2 responders, although arguably they are as vital to the smooth running of the nation as the railways or ports. Smaller bank branches could have to close if staff are sick, leaving some areas without banking facilities and ATM top-ups depend on transport, which could be knocked out early in a pandemic.

Businesses will also rely on telecoms and so network resilience is a major issue. While telecoms companies (both fixed and mobile) are listed as Category 2 responders, facilities will be stretched, particularly where companies have told staff to work from home.

Some companies are now looking at the possibility of using distributed or ‘virtual’ call centres, possible using such services as OPEX hosting. Routing calls to employees’ homes rather than setting up large emergency centres may well be the best way to cope with a pandemic (although ironically, the government plans to set up a centralised public information call centre – just the kind of facility businesses are likely to be avoiding.)

Will the internet stand up to increased usage? There are real concerns about the ability of service providers to cope with the increased traffic. A Booz Allen report in April 2006 speculated that internet provision might only last two to four days into a pandemic. Even then, Jeroen Meijer, an expert in risk at Control Risks, says he believes that working from home requires a completely different way of managing staff. “Businesses will have to change and change fast, or their plans won’t stick.”

While most business continuity plans are focused on assets – offices and IT – pandemic preparedness has to focus on human resources. Meijer says: “It’s like a neutron bomb – your hardware is still there, but you are losing your staff.”

Worst-case scenarios

Government advice appears to understate the risks to business. The 2011 UK Influenza Preparedness Strategy sees the worst-case scenario as flu affecting 50 per cent of the population, with 15 to 20 per cent of staff absent on any single day, and mortality rates of 2 to 5 per cent.

However, the 2006 FSA market-wide exercise modelled staff absence as high as a 60 per cent peak in some business units. Businesses with a high proportion of female, particularly part-time, staff also need to assess the likelihood of staff who are not ill having to look after children if schools close.

Meijer points out that most business systems aren’t yet able to offer staff absence data in a form that’s useful in stress situations. “Absenteeism monitoring is crucial and not many companies have it on a day-to-day basis, so you could say with one push on the button, who is available where.” This is one area where, compared to the sophisticated systems with which many supply chains are run, human resources scores relatively low.

A pandemic is difficult to protect against since it is not a singular event; pandemics typically come in waves lasting six to 15 months. Flexibility has to be built in; equally, companies need trusted sources of information to monitor the pandemic internationally and that feedback will provide the triggers to action. Meijer warns against believing in a “one-button solution” to a dynamic threat. “Your decision-making process needs to incorporate flexibility and continuous monitoring.”


Fortunately, one area that has advanced a good deal recently has been the availability of good information. National media will generally not report in detail on the situation in other countries – affecting the supply chain – while some governments may downplay the situation in order to avoid panic. There are no government plans for a business-orientated information service, so all public information will be consumer focused and therefore of limited utility to the business manager.

Fortunately, a wide range of information products is now available. For instance, International SOS reports include the ascertaining of medical suppliers and reports monitoring government response.

Keep calm and carry on?

One question divides experts: how bad can a pandemic get? At worst, some believe, most of the transport infrastructure might be shut down, telecoms would be badly impacted by lack of maintenance and high usage, and there could be public order problems if the supply of food and other basic items is interrupted. In the face of a social breakdown of that order, there might seem to be no point planning.

However, Jeroen Meijer says that even in this case, those businesses that have planned well will gain an eventual competitive advantage from having done so. “The objective is to stay in business as long as possible and if you have to shut down completely, do it in a controlled manner that provides the best security to your staff and assets, and enables you to restart operations quickly and efficiently.”

It’s difficult to judge business preparedness, since many businesses won’t talk about their preparations. Most companies do now have pandemic plans as part of their business continuity framework, but those plans may not have been revisited for several years. Perhaps they should be.

There’s a huge impact on the work of facilities managers. A plan needs to be put in place for managing the consequences of a pandemic – checking sanitation and air quality, handling high absenteeism and planning for interruption to basic services and to transport. Basic cleaning services should be stepped up – that might mean cleaning lift buttons, door handles, ATM machines and check-in desks as often as hourly. That means increasing the level of service at the same time as managing a staff shortage – not an easy task.

Cross-training staff so that they can step in to replace staff who are absent will be vital – particularly where remote working is not a possibility. In some cases, upgrading systems to allow for remote operation could be a good investment.

Some facilities may need to implement perimeter protection, possibly including thermal scanners (which can detect if someone has a fever) or even DNA testing. New procedures for deliveries may be required to prevent drivers from entering the building – dropping off the deliveries in a secure car park, for instance. Where security is provided by a contractor, common policies and procedures need to be developed with them, including where staff are not admitted, what to do next (send them home? To hospital?) and who to notify within the organisation.

Facilities managers also need to ensure that subcontractors and suppliers have plans to deal with a pandemic. Unlike many disasters, a pandemic will be a sustained event, probably lasting eight to 14 weeks, so planning needs to take that into account. For instance, stocks of critical supplies may need to be built up. Tenant relations and contracts also need to be put under the microscope. If the government or a tenant closes a building, how can you continue to manage it? Are you going to be required – and are you going to be able – to provide emergency relocation for the tenant?

However, while the pandemic threat does have some special characteristics, developing a specific pandemic plan could be a waste of effort. Rather, pandemic plans should be developed within the framework of overall continuity plans.

The most worrying gap is the absence of government involvement in assuring the regular supply of basic goods. Booz Allen Hamilton noted back in 2006 that government needs to assurethe ‘last mile’ – but the 2011 strategy still doesn’t seem to have taken any notice. Is reliance on the private sector, without compulsion or assistance, a responsible government strategy?