If the title of the post rings a bell of familiarity for you, then you may have seen the history channel “documentary” series of the same name. I believe there were 3 different parts, but I just recently seen the one surrounding a pandemic.
If you have not seen it, it follows a families journey out of suburban Las Angeles, after a pandemic’s massive death toll triggers the collapse of all the various grids and systems that keep modern society running.
The series follows the family as all of the modern necessities we take for granted, one by one, become unavailable.
First goes the information (cable television, the internet etc). Then electricity. And as these dominoes fall, so does refrigeration, logistics and sanitation. Meaning grocers, supermarkets and restaurants stop getting deliveries. On top of that, the water stops flowing (as does the sewage and trash pickup). Once things get this bad, people will become desperate and nasty.
But this, we already knew. The examples set by Katrina and post blackout NYC back in the day, show just how riled that society can get, so quickly.
What was most interesting to me, was not the show (though it does make you think). It was more, in the comments.
The show is on youtube, broken up into 9 different parts. On the last part (the last 10 minutes of the show), the commenter’s were describing how they envisioned the post-collapse society will be. While the books of the modern era will still be around, they figure that the mechanisms that drove our previous society, will not ever return.
A good part of the reason for this, is the deterioration of infrastructure.
But many commenter’s seem to think its a bit oxymoronic to have the educational tools available, yet assume that industrial start up will be impossible.
One thing I don’t think they are factoring in, is human population numbers POST collapse.
A virus that kills over 50% of the population of any nation, will cripple any critical services that require any amount of continuous human intervention.
Which is, EVERY single pillar of modern life. The food system, water distribution, telecommunications, electricity. We see only the end result, but not the army of people that keeps it all running smoothly.
So once much of the death occurs on account to the pandemic, and the subsequent societal breakdowns, your left with a very limited population, with the priority of survival.
In the first while after the die off, things will be quite a mess. I think that those in smaller communities far removed from large urban centers will be better off then those close to the cities. For the simple reason that, as the resources in the cities dry up (which will not take long with a panicked populace), even otherwise “good” people may be forced to do bad things. Not to mention the criminal element that already exists, will take over.
Some will loot what is still left in the cities, no matter who it is in the hands of. And others will move out, and start going after what is close to the cities.
Which means that the show was right about one thing. No matter the post apocalyptic situation, a city of any size is a good place to be far away from, when TSHTF (“The Shit Hits The Fan”. Doomer speech).
For a few years (im guessing), there will be upheaval, as those who remain settle into their new situations. While some will go the mad max route and embrace the anarchy, others yet will form new communities. With ones survival now completely dependent on ones own skills, people will band together for a common good.
Lets say that it takes those who are left, around 5 to 10 years, to reform and build up various sized communes around the world. Each would be different, because each would be reflective of the location (a community here in Canada, would be different then one in say Russia, China or even the US). There will even be variance within the nations, depending on things like climate.
But I will give it around a decade for these communities to form, and develop good enough food production skills to sustain its current members, and offspring.
So, 20 years seems about enough to develop small, organized settlements and communes. And we will say another 20 years or so, before there is enough children, to possibly restart the electronic civilization that we enjoy today. As the youtube people say, the books will be here, so they can can still be educated in the working of the equipment left behind.
While that is true, before one can even consider a reboot of the civilization of old, they have to first repair the infrastructure that is in place. Infrastructure that has been siting in decay for a good 30 or 40 years.
Some good examples of infrastructure decay, can be seen in the past manufacturing power houses in the United States. Detroit, Flint, Cleavland and other such cities and towns. Take these photos of Detroit.
I cite Detroit as an example, because it seems to me that the time frame is more or less aligned with the time frame of this piece. Detroit had its peak in around the early 50s and started its decline around the late 50s and early 60s, which means that much of the facilities have been empty and decaying for 40/50/60 years.
But not only have they been decaying just due to exposure to the elements, they have also been scavenged and vandalized. A recent segment on the TV news magazine series “Vice” showed us how some are making ends meat in Detroit, by stripping, scavenging and selling for scrap, materials out of abandoned factories, schools, hospitals, homes, apartment complexes and other infrastructure in the cities.
In a situation of mass human population decline, I think that one could expect something similar, on a massive world wide scale.
Not only will the buildings and other infrastructure have decades of damage due to exposure to the elements, but there is also the matter of scavengers taking whatever they can find an alternate use for. One of the useful materials may be copper, and other metals. In which case, every town and city has a huge amount of the stuff, in the form or wiring and pipes, among other things.
So not only will you have a lot of repairs due to neglect, but also you have to deal with systems that have been stripped, possibly (probably) on a massive scale.
And speaking of neglect, time and regular weather is not always the big culprit. Detroit has a cold and harsh winter climate, but it does not strike me as a place that would have a lot of VERY severe weather. Like hurricanes or tornadoes. Or even earth oriented situations like earthquakes.
First, one has to look at the power grid. Even what has not been stripped, or worn by the elements, is susceptible to big weather events. Think of the repairs required after localized storms. Think of how much time it took to get the east coast fully online after Sandy, or how long it took the gulf coast to come back after Katrina.
Now imagine all these major and minor weather events occurring as they always have (and always will), but without anyone to repair the infrastructure. And I am not just talking of downed power lines (though that is a massive problem in itself). Think of, places like New Orleans staying under water, permanently. Think of all the critical and fragile underground infrastructure of huge coastal cities like New York, being permanently engulfed in salt water.
This is not even considering the condition of the oil refineries, power plants, factories and other staples that keep our modern society moving. And its also not considering the question of where one would get the materials in order to even attempt to repair and rebuild. If our critical infrastructure is as dependent on imported goods (and therefore, international trade) as most of us are, then that is a whole new problem.
While I started out initially with this piece to educate youtube commenter’s that there is more to the story then education, writing this has made me realize something. I have come to realize that we are likely living in the golden age of civilization. Possibly in the golden age of our species. But also, that the underpinnings of this golden age that we live in, are fragile.
When we collapse out of the golden age of the modern era, that may not be the end of mankind, but that will likely be the end of life as convenient as we are used to today.
Cars. Cell phones. Groceries in the supermarket, prepared and ready to be easily prepped and eaten. When it ends, its likely gone for good.
Makes you appreciate what you have even more, doesn’t it?