From the story of Noah to those worried about the effects of global warming, arks continue to inspire those concerned about impending apocalypse. Here are five takes on the theme.
1. Slow boat
Lu Zhenghai started building an ark two years ago, fearing that his family would be killed in a flood brought by the Mayan apocalypse predicted for 21/12/2012. Zhenghai, a 44-year-old former soldier who lives in north-western China (farther from an ocean than anywhere in Eurasia), has spent his life savings on the still unfinished 70x50ft vessel.
2. Rich refuge
The countdown-to-the-Mayan-apocalypse clock on its website has expired now but Vivos, an American “underground shelter network”, continues to advertise “assurance of life” refuges. Vivos hasn’t quite built the ark; rather a number of bunkers in Indiana, Nebraska and somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, capable of sustaining up to 1,000 people for a year. Membership costs just under £31,000 a head and is dependent on a screening test that assesses how meaningfully applicants will contribute to the continuation of humanity.
3. Floating pods
Liu Ziyuan, a farmer from the village of Qiantun in north-eastern China, has spent 20 years building six “emergency pods” in anticipation of the end of days. These fibreglass and steel spheres, each of which can accommodate 14 people, float in water. Ziyuan, 45, installed seatbelts in case the pods roll upside down. Ziyuan was inspired by the Hollywood disaster movie 2012. The film, which depicted the Chinese military building arks to save humanity, was highly popular in China. Its success may have something to do with the fact that, according to a survey by Ipsos-Reuters in May, 20 per cent of the Chinese population believed that the Mayan apocalypse was at hand on 21 December 2012 – higher than in any other country surveyed.
4. Greenpeace ark
Creationists have unsuccessfully sought traces of Noah’s ark on Turkey’s Mount Ararat, where, according to the book of Genesis, the ark came to rest when the flood waters fell. Since 2007, though, there has been an ark on the mountain. Members of environmental advocacy group Greenpeace built the 32x13ft model to bring attention to the dangers of global warming.
5. Noah’s ark replica
“This has nothing to do with the end of the Mayan calendar,” says 52-year-old Johan Huibers, of the ark he has spent the past three years building. The vessel is a full-scale, functioning replica of Noah’s ark. The Dutch millionaire contractor and creationist built the ark for religious reasons – he hopes it will encourage those who see it to turn to God – but he doesn’t believe He will flood Earth again. Nonetheless, Huibers worries that global warming will increase the Netherlands’ susceptibility to flooding. Perhaps with this in mind, a honeycomb system of hatches where food can be sealed has been built into the belly of the ark. In the ark’s main hold there is an array of stuffed and plastic animals as well as a petting zoo.