1. Mr. Here
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    Mr. Here New Member

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    Sociology thought experiment: THE UNDERGROUND CITY

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Mr. Here, Feb 23, 2009.

    What if...

    A catastrophic event (nuclear war or an asteroid) wipes out almost all of the human race. The survivors, about twenty thousand, are forced to live in a massive underground bunker until the surface becomes livable again...not for another two hundred years

    How would society function?
    How different would that society become?

    I think the first thing that would have to be established is a form of government, responsible for order and rationing of supplies. I think it's safe to say the military would be a large part of that government, and I wouldn't be surprised if martial law was declared. I also assume that the majority of these survivors would be key figureheads of the higher echelon, or at least their relatives, and not necessarily used to rationing, recycling and maintenance. The blue collar types responsible for essential services, the plumbers, technicians, engineers, farmers, would eventually rise up in a worker's union, and conflict with higher government would rage.
    I would imagine this bunker would have to be supplied with a greenhouse, if not only to help with oxygen but to grow food. Maintenance and waste services would be essential, not to mention a plant to filter and process water.
    Would there be order in a world like this? Or would martial law need be declared? Would we rip ourselves apart, or find a peaceful way of life?

    How would the human race survive something like this?

    Discuss...
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Fallout 3. Question answered :p.
     
  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Wow, 20,000 aye? Just barely enough for genetic viability of the species to be maintained. Hope not too many of those 20,000 get their chromosomes rendered null and void due to the radioactive fallout. That would render the subsequent questions moot.

    I have much lower expectations of how things would go once the doors opened and the sun came up.

    I think there would be little reason for the survivors to adhere to a paradigm that was created and evolved to fit a population that was some 6 - 7 billion.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the same way it did in the society they lived in before...

    no different, unless very different rules and laws were imposed... it would depend on who and what set up the safe haven and who was chosen to inhabit it, but basic human nature would not change, thus the same conditions/problems would exist in the microcosmic society as existed in the larger one they left...

    no more or less than existed prior to their sequestering...

    again, that would depend on who controls the habitat...

    the former, because as i noted above, human nature would not change simply because the lifestyle does... and although the state of the world has changed constantly over the many millennia since humans first walked erect, no peaceful way of life has yet been achieved for all, thus it's clear to any honest-with-oneself, clear-thinking person that it never will...

    the same way it has so far... by the strong lording it over the weak, by the greedy taking advantage of the meek, and by the control freaks speaking for gods of their own creation, to make it all sound reasonable to those who don't use common sense and peek behind the curtain...
     
  5. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I don't even like the game, and that's exactly what I thought of after the first paragraph. :p
     
  6. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    Ka-ching. That's my training for the possibility of a nuclear post-apocalyptia. haha
     
  7. kyle777
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    kyle777 Member

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    Actually, this sounds like City of Ember. Google it.
     
  8. Mr. Here
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    Mr. Here New Member

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    Holy ****! Weird, I've honestly never heard of that movie. Looks like it's not very good either.
     
  9. ManicParroT
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    ManicParroT Contributing Member

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    Question: What culture do the survivors come from?

    That sort of determines the beginnings of any answer.

    I disagree.

    You couldn't have anything like the current freedom that most people in liberal democratic societies are so used to. Certainly, an authoritarian government would be needed. It would probably begin as a military government, as the OP pointed out, but the military would drastically change very soon.

    Just looking at it from an economic point of view, standards of living would collapse almost completely. Free market capitalism would be completely unviable in a scenario of such limited resources. You'd also need severe societal and cultural restraints on people, to prevent unrest and riots from jeopardising the entire project. Force can only keep the peace for as long as they have authority behind them. Such authority can only really come from ideology or religion.

    I reckon you'd have a totalitarian state, possibly with a strong theocracy to supplement it. Issues around inbreeding would become quite prominent - it would be necessary to carefully juggle who reproduces, to avoid a complete genetic disaster.

    Oh, and you'd probably see severe restrictions on population reproduction. If the population increased by even 1% a year, you'd have twice as many people after 70 years. Four times as many as the original population in 140 years. On a 200 year timespan, with limited room, such expansion is patently unsustainable.
     
  10. kyle777
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    kyle777 Member

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    The book's decent but the movie couldn't have been worse.
     
  11. othman
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    othman Member

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    In my opinion due to the amount of deaths of families most would be traumatized to such an extent that any form of violence ... would not be there.

    Unless all the survivors are politicians and the like spread out around the globe in nuclear bunkers...then they'd all perish after a while.
     
  12. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    The idea sends a chill up my spine...I HATE mushrooms! LOL

    Afterthought: would eating mushrooms grown on the bodies of our deceased constitute a form of cannibalism? LOL
     
  13. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    You can't generalize trauma like that. It's different for everyone who goes through it.

    IMO, I think the biggest concern after population issues, is food. How are they going to produce food without solar energy? Even so, life underground had to be prepared years before the actual cataclysm happened. By the government, perhaps? How do they ration water or food? How about education? Who teaches the young? How many people are prepared for living in the underground? How deep down is it?
     
  14. Mr. Here
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    Mr. Here New Member

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    Education was big question for me.

    The defeatist in me believes we'd have massive failure in the education system. I think a totalitarian theocratic regime would become established, and we all know what happens to education in those types of regimes. My guess is, in two hundred years, a completely new history would have been written.

    Regarding food, the way I see it, this bunker was created for the reason of preserving the human race. I assume, in the case of an impending asteroid impact or a long drawn out nuclear war, there was enough time to make sure that this bunker had the necessary facilities: a greenhouse, a waterworks, quarters, and enough food to feed everyone (or at least theoretically grow enough food).
     
  15. ManicParroT
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    The technical problems are formidable, but probably not insurmountable. The main problem you'd have, really, is that if anything went wrong you'd be totally screwed. And on a long enough time line, something will go wrong. The first bad fire would be the last bad fire.

    Putting aside plain bad luck, sustainability is the key issue. You aren't trying to keep these people alive for a year, you want the colony to last for 200 years.

    So, you use breeder reactors to generate power. Tap into underground springs for water, and recycle your sewerage. Use hydroponics and grow sun lamps to grow food (anyone into rectreational plants will know everything about this, heh.)

    One big problem with all this is that you wouldn't have an industrial base, and short of stockpiling fantastic amounts of replacement parts, things would break and you wouldn't be able to repair them. You can't really just shrug and let it go, either, because your existence depends on that infrastructure being in top notch condition. Not being able to build replacement scrubbers for your air filters would result in things going pear shaped really fast.

    The nearest extant example is probably Antarctic bases, and they're only plausible because everything gets choppered in, not because they've become at all sustainable. They're still miles off growing their own food, never mind replacing vehicle components or fixing their own computers.
     
  16. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    This is not exactly what you're looking for, but look up underground cities in Turkey. They had nearly everything underground, as well as a church that could seat up to 10,000 at a time.
     

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