Revival Timeline - is it even probable?

Revival Timeline - is it even probable?

Postby TheGreek » Thu Jul 31, 2014 8:11 pm

Let's say that you find yourself in the ideal situation for this thought experiment. The world as we know it as ended, and the vast majority of humanity is gone. There has been a period of turmoil after the apocalypse, but order has now been restored by a ruler. You are a member of a surviving community of a few thousand people, in a largely peaceful society. Given the appropriate guidance, what do you think is the quickest that such a society could progress from rudimentary means to a technologically competent civilisation with, say, electricity, radio, and engines?

Sadly, I think that the ideal situation is one of pure fantasy. It feels like the only way the scenario could occur is if there was some group of people actively preserving the knowledge needed to rebuild society and then doling out the wisdom when we were ready for it again.
-Read a A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Let's look at the world today and why it dims our chances.

1. Very, very little is actually built to last.
- What's left after 20, 50 or 100 years of decay? By that time what machinery/technology would be left that could be revived through some blood, sweat and tears? Pre-plastics revolution machinery and mechanically powered machinery is gone. Capitalism, or what we perceive to be capitalism has created such fast production cycles for nearly everything in society that nothing built now is meant to last beyond the next cycle or 2. Keep them buying to keep them happy....

2. No minerals, oil, metal ore is abundantly available from surface collection.
-As mentioned elsewhere, all fossil fuels have been surface mined decades ago. Without advanced technology we cannot dig deep enough to mine ore, or fossil fuels with pre industrial revolution methods.

3. Majority of the developed world inhabitants are too specialized in their knowledge base/education
- Not enough people will survive with knowledge and skills required to fix anything, build anything or that know how to live off the land.

4. Books containing knowledge on building or repairing machinery etc.. will be extremely difficult to find intact as the libraries that house them will have most likely been ransacked or decayed into ruin. The books will have probably been burnt for heating/cooking.

5. Much of the world's most fertile land will be ruined because it's also where we have built all of our cities and industry. It will be covered in large swaths of pollution from decayed industrial sights, untreated sewage and polluted waterways, nuclear fallout(either from war or from reactor failures), fossil fuel spills(destroyed oil rigs, tankers and pipelines)

Lastly, although I am sure that others may want to chime in on my fatalistic views, I'd like to turn it over to Thomas Hobbs,

There would be “no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” If this is the state of nature, people have strong reasons to avoid it, which can be done only by submitting to some mutually recognized public authority, for “so long a man is in the condition of mere nature, (which is a condition of war,) as private appetite is the measure of good and evill.”
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Re: Revival Timeline - is it even probable?

Postby lewis » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:17 am

Hi, thanks for your thoughts! I agree with you totally that if civilisation is to have any chance of a rapid bounce-back after a global catastrophe then it would be best to preserve as much knowledge as possible. Canticle for Leibowitz is a great read and one of my recommended books, but as Walter M. Miller, Jr. discusses, without understanding that knowledge is useless and the monks end up copying scrolls without comprehension and practical application. So I think you're right, it would need more than just the texts to be preserved, but an active community or society of people who continue to practice these processes and skills, and such practical, hands-on expertise is lamentably rare amongst most people in the modern developed world, although not absent.

I suspect, though, that you are being overly pessimistic about the availability of viable agricultural land after a disaster, and you wouldn't need to mine metal ore because you could scavenge what you need. Unlike oil, the metal already extracted from the ground is still here, lying around on the surface and can be reclaimed.
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Re: Revival Timeline - is it even probable?

Postby Strongbow » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:31 am

I think the first priority would be the immediate start of a food growing/gathering cycle. Any initial agricultural projects would be most likely have to be done by hand. The sea would provide if you were near it. You would also probably want to sent out parties to source what was left and to find an ideal location to start up civilisation again. Once this was done, I would imagine something as basic (by current standards) as a steam engine to assist your developments, then that would be utilised from what ever priorities you would have. We might never have electricity manufactured on a huge scale again….
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