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  1. Gadock

    Gadock Member

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    Post-apocalyptical world - What would the reconstruction look like?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Gadock, Sep 10, 2017.

    I'm working on a certain idea, it's Fantasy but has the same principle:
    • What would happen to this world if anything electrical related would become unusuable?
    Let's forget the cause, as it's not really important right now. The only thing you know is that it doesn't affect anything within nature, but we can't have anything run on electricity.

    Immediate: Millions of deaths, causing uprival et. and the entire world will be in chaos for many many years to come. But what afterwards? To start off with we'd have to live pre-industry type of settings. Or would we straight away make machinery again? Steam engines/ computers working on gravity? Or will we find a new way of processing information without the need of an electrical current?

    What would happen to social statuses? Royals/famous, become ordinary? Who would be the first to take control? Power crazy with no remorse? Would money remain of any value?

    What would the world look like 50/100 years later? Will we smaller countries once more and be in a contineous war amongst each other? So basically once again like we were before the industry arised. Or would we be able to create more of a harmonious time?

    What will happen to any of the information we know about making electrical equipment, will be forgotten within 1 generation? Would any of the books be stored and for how long?

    What about a 1000 years? Would we be scientifically more advanced than we are now or will we have another middle age?

    A lot of questions, sorry. So last one: What do you think?
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One thing your post-apocalyptic world will benefit from technologically is simply knowing that certain things are possible. As an example, even if I have zero clue how to make plastic, I do have a layman's knowledge that it all started with plant polymers. I also have a better-than-basic working knowledge of an internal combustion engine, and the fact that while not as efficient as gasoline, you can make them run on ethanol (alcohol) which is quite easy to get from plants. Even if I can't use spark-plugs to make that engine go (I'm assuming spark-plugs are out since you have a story-related restriction on electricity), I'm sure a few people who knew engines from The Before Time™ could think of a work-around.

    One thing, though: No electricity at all? You know your brain functions - in part - on electricity, right?
     
  3. Gadock

    Gadock Member

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    We indeed have far more knowledge than anyone would've had technological wise from 300 years ago. However, how practical would it be? And do you also personally know this, or the you just have the capacity in order to learn so. And if you momentarily don't, where would you find this info?

    I'm using electrical equipment due to my story being fantasy. It's (like so many others) post-apocalyptical. And instead of electricity the entire world based their creations on magic. However it should have a similar downfall as I would expect one with us.
     
  4. Mouthwash

    Mouthwash Contributing Member

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    Use real life. Aftermath of an African civil war.
     
  5. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributing Member

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    Not to mention the electromagnetic force is one of the four fundamental forces of physics. Any event that could completely destroy people's ability to create electricity would also destroy mankind and wholly change the universe as we know it.
     
  6. Surcruxum

    Surcruxum Member

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    Just remembered that the idea of a world without electricity has been done by a tv show called revolution. Only electrical devices are affected, and it doesn't affect human body functions. Here's the gist of it:

    The series is set in a post-apocalyptic near-future, in the year 2027. Fifteen years earlier, in the year 2012, a worldwide event known as "The Blackout" caused all electricity on Earth, ranging from computers and electronics to car and jet engines, to be disabled permanently. As a result, trains and cars stopped where they were, ships went dead in the water, and aircraft plummeted from the sky and crashed. In the years after the Blackout, people adapted to this new world without electricity. Because government and public order collapsed, several areas are ruled by militias and their generals.

    Since the story only takes place 15 yrs after the incident one can only speculate what would happen 50 or even 1000 yrs in the future.

    If u want you can look at their take on things and then find ways to differentiate your story from theirs or replicate some aspects from it.

    P.S. The show was cancelled.
     
  7. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Contributing Member

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    Electricity is naturally occurring almost everywhere all the time. If there were no electricity, there would be no rust, oxidization, no static, etc. I know you said it doesn't affect nature, but if it is present in nature, man will utilize it.

    What would happen to people & countries? My guess is borders would melt away due to nobody going out to watch/protect them, then probably fall into a fuedal system or a large scale Escape From New York situation.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm confused. So your story isn't actually about a world that used electricity, losing electricity?
     
  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributing Member

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    My guess if we lost the ability to use electricity in the current world would be more of a reversion to sort of industrial revolution era technology. Diesel engines can run without electricity, so can coal and steam engines. I don't think that governments would fall without someone taking advantage of the confusion to make a coup. Great Britian, Rome, the Mongols and even Alexander the Okay, all had widespread empires before the advent of electricity and they failed more to political and leadership issues rather than anything electricity would have fixed. There would probably be a lot of famine until people learned how to live without refrigeration. There would also probably be migrations of people from the less habitable areas, like Nevada and pretty much everywhere north of the tree line, just because electricity supplies most of the amenities, like water, needed to live in those areas. The cost of goods would skyrocket because most labour would again be done by hand and it would take longer to import goods from other countries. Human rights violations and intolerance would probably gain some ground again due to the lack of global communication and ready access of cameras and other ways to capture evidence of crimes, but it'd probably be more like the great depression hit us again really really hard, than the end of the world.
     
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  10. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    The biggest problem in the post-apocalyptic world is simply survival. I have a similar scenario in which a massive solar flare disabled the majority of the planet's electrical and electronic equipment. Main casualties are long-haul services, power generation, telecommunications and associated "cloud" databases: financial transactions, orders for goods/services/food, etc. Surviving electronics will still work, like short wave radios, as long as generators run or someone adapts a generator to a water wheel, but no one is making parts, and over time, these will become irreparable. In the aftermath, the priority is finding food and water, being able to relocate from where things are really bad to where they are not so bad. Plans to reconstruct the world are not going to be on anyone's horizon. If it is bad enough to last a full generation, which might be just 25-50 years, there will be no one alive who remembers how the world was, and how they might go about recreating what was lost. Electronic books were the first casualties, and lugging along a personal library of technical information in the search for food is not a likely scenario. The books will be left where they are, and a century later, many may be unreadable due to water damage, mold, mildew, and rats. Society will go through the equivalent of falling off a cliff, tumbling down and down, until, hopefully, it snags a branch and stops the descent. Then begins the slow and laborious task of muscling back up the cliff. But first, one must stop the descent.
     
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  11. Gadock

    Gadock Member

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    I like your ideas, other technologies would indeed still be useable. Society would tumble but not everything would disappear.

    Seems you've written/read quite a bit about this. How would you see the muscling up look like? Do you think after let's say 300 years have blooming cities again, or would you think we would maintain survival mode longer?
     
  12. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it could be quite a while. If we lost just the majority of electricity, telecommunications and "the cloud" transactions, I think the majority of people in cities would die of starvation or lack of water... you can't pump water without electricity. People fleeing into the countryside would find a countryside unable to accommodate them. The downhill slide would be ugly. Complicated now by the fact that much of the farming seeds are genetically modified, and GMO seeds are infertile to keep them from propagating in the wild... and also to make sure you buy your next year's seeds from Monsanto. You have to buy special potatoes now to get ones that will sprout. Next year's seed crop might as well be used to fatten the animals, because it won't sprout.

    I think one of the best post-apocalyptic books I ever read was written in the 60s, a post nuclear scenario, "A Canticle for Leibowitz". I also started a post nuclear scenario in the 80s, which came to a halt for a variety of reasons. then seemed to go by the wayside. I made what was for the late 80s a bit of a prescient forecast, that the Iranians would use a handful of nukes placed in truck bombs to destabilize a crisis between the US and USSR into a full-fledged nuclear exchange between the two to usher in the rule of God under Islam. With the fall of the USSR it seemed to be increasingly unlikely, now not so. I am working (thinking) of "The Carrington Event," which is the solar flare scenario, but it is taking a backseat behind my non-fiction "True Believers, the Founding Fathers of TACAMO," which is getting very close to done.
     
  13. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributing Member

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    I really love this book on so many levels. In it, though, there is what's called "The Simplification." A movement from survivors who came to view technology as evil and sought to destroy it and anyone they thought was working towards rebuilding the world. It's a pretty solid explanation as to why all references to technology and it's understanding was lost for centuries after the apocalypse.
     
  14. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    BBC produced a movie in the 1980s, Threads (available on YouTube), the premise of which was how many threads in society can you cut, before the rest of the threads give way and society inexorably collapses. It, too, was post-nuclear, and gave a very good description of how a society would degrade following a nuclear war. At first you had relief efforts, hospitals, people trying to have schools for the surviving children, but it got worse and worse, until you find some children, barely able to speak something recognizable as English, eating an animal that they had found dead. Sobering.

    The fall of Rome gives a pretty good model of how a society decays after major elements are broken. I think the major thing that put the nail in their coffin was the loss of their sense of invincibility, when the Goths began rampaging around the Balkans @ 380AD. However, the collapse of Rome included economic, military and political components that began 200 years earlier. Once their invincibility was lost, the floodgates were open, the various German tribes charged in to take various provinces. Gaul, Spain and North Africa in particular were major contributors to Western revenue, and as these fell by the wayside, Rome had less and less resources to fund the army to defend against the next intrusion. Around 465, Constantinople contributed 100,000 pounds of gold ($1.3 billion) in a joint operation with Rome to retake what is now Tunisia from the Vandals for the West with 1000 ships and 100,000 men. However, at the last minute, as the fleet was at anchor awaiting to launch the invasion, the wind shifted, the Vandals launched fire ships and the entire operation was destroyed... kind of a Normandy invasion gone horribly wrong. After that, there was nothing left. Five years later the emperor was irrelevant, deposed and not replaced. Rome continued to stumble along, but the power was now with the Goths in Ravenna, the Visigoths and Franks in Gaul and Spain, and the Vandals in North Africa. Rome was irrelevant, except to itself.

    The city of Rome had a population of about a half-million when the collapse started, supported a vast network of aqueducts and massive imports of grain from North Africa and Egypt, which dried up. Sometime during wars with the Goths, the Germans destroyed the aqueducts, which could not be rebuilt... they were the end result of centuries of investment. The population shrank to just 50,000, sheep grazing in the forum, the downtown buildings, abandoned, now just a source of marble. The rest of the Western Empire, which had been relatively well-off, well-educated and literate, even down to the slaves and lower classes, lost all education, and those who were able to survive became illiterate subsistence farmers. By 600 AD, Western Europe was poverty-stricken, illiterate, ruled over by warlords and their gangs. The famous Roman roads had become cowpaths, travel and trade stopped. Europe would not begin to recover for two centuries, until Charlemagne achieved some kind of unity among the German tribes. And that recovery would take more than 400 years to reach anything close to what had been lost in 1200 AD.
     
  15. halisme

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I do agree with a lot, you have vastly over emphasised the population's ability to read and in general, be educated. At most 20% of a population was literate, with the average being ten percent. Not to mention that the claim the people became subsistence farmers is also off, considering that if people were only providing for themselves, they wouldn't be able to have feudal lords to tax them, not to mention that anyone raising animals is going to get products from them, be it leather or milk, not to mention greater developments in agriculture like the horse-collar or heavy plow, though this could just be due to how you are generalising. The other issue that must be asked is what is the difference between a "warlord and his gang" compared to a feudal lord and his knights, or even a Roman governor and his soldiers?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  16. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually 20% is probably a good figure and the one I use in discussing Roman literacy. The basic Roman army unit was the contubernia, a squad of eight men, almost always of the lower classes, who shared a tent, heavy cooking equipment, and a mule to carry it all. The army required, or perhaps more accurately preferred, that one of those eight had to be able to read and write, and teach the others. Also in Pompeii and Herculaneum, slaves' quarters and public lower class latrines indicated by their graffiti that those classes too were to some extent literate. That is not very high by today's standard but was probably the highest ever achieved by a European society as a whole until modern times. Virtually all of the upper class citizens were literate, most in both Latin and Greek, and bilingual. You may compare that with kings of period 600-800 AD who were proud of their illiteracy... Charlemagne did not learn to read or write until he became emperor. Literacy in the dark middle ages was limited primarily to the clergy and a few merchants.

    There is no way to compare the lower classes of Rome with peasants of the Middle Ages. Skeletal remains indicate most were well fed in Roman times, even slaves. And Roman soldiers did not raid the civilian population of the Empire even when two would-be emperors were vying for power, such as during the Year of the Four Emperors: see Tacitus. Unless there was a rebellion, such as in Judea, the Boudicca uprising in Britain, or the Xenobia revolt. Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth gives a fairly accurate. picture of how the medieval warlords and their gangs, by which I meant the feudal lord and his knights, could run roughshod over their own people. Feel free, however, to cite counter-examples.

    As to the horse collar, that did not reach Europe until around 1000AD and did not become common until around 1200, long after my period in question. It is part of the recovery, but came from Asia, not part of the spontaneous recovery we were discussing. The heavy mouldboard plow is a Roman or maybe Slavic invention, earliest noted in Roman Britain, second and third century, preceding, not during, the Dark Ages.
     
  17. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Citing Raoul MacLaughlin, Rome and the Distant East, he determined the Roman state budget around 100AD to be $2.8 billion, half of which was financed by the tetarte, a 25% tariff on foreign imports, the other half by the portaria, a 2.5% sales tax on inter-provincial transactions. Dividing each half of $2.8B by the tetarte and portaria rates to determine total internal and external sales transactions gives a gross domestic product not less than $56 billion internal with imports of $5.6 billion, total $62 billion. Dividing the sum of the two by the population of 50 million gives a per capita GDP of $1240 per year. This is consistent with MacLaughlin's statement that an unskilled day laborer's wage in the first century was about one silver denarius, worth about $14, The point is, this was an extremely high standard of living for a whole society back then, far above the subsistence level of five hundred years later, and not matched again until modern times.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    One issue with arguing historical literacy rates: Historically, was there a common agreement that most people should be literate? Was there a motivation to ensure wide literacy rates? That would, I think, be a difference in this post-apocalypse world--plus the fact that when doom falls, literacy rates in many places will be high, so passing on literacy won't be a matter of finding the one person in town who knows how to read.

    I think that the GMO seed issue wouldn't be as overwhelming as it might sound--there's a LOT of non-GMO seed still out there. IMO, just getting it planted, tended, and harvested, and saving any seed for next year rather than just eating it all, would be the big issue.

    Grocery potatoes do still usually sprout--most potatoes aren't GMO, and the anti-sprouting treatment doesn't seem to work that well. However, disease runs rampant in potatoes, and without the ability to create disease-free seed potatoes (a lab activity, I believe) crops will deteriorate generation by generation.

    That sounds like, eh, there are countless other crops, but it's more serious than that--potatoes have a lot of very substantial advantages. They're easy to grow, easy to store, incredibly productive per square foot, they have protein and carbs and vitamin C--if someone created a fictional potato, it would be so perfect that it would be hard to believe it really existed.

    The book Grow or Die, by "David the Good" is an interesting work on survival gardening. In a major societal collapse, one thing to do would be to dig up every last square foot of un-paved dirt in every city and plant low-care, high-calorie crops--including, until they have a few disease-increasing generations and become useless, potatoes. Of course food would also be grown in the suburbs and in actual farmland, but if I were the dictator in a post-apocalypse city, I would require that every citizen tend a certain number of square feet of food-growing ground.
     

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