If you missed part 1, click here.
For all our creations
For all of mankind’s creations, scientific developments and achievements there’s no getting away from the fact that relative to the size of the planet, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe, we barely register. As the scenarios in part 1 have shown, there are many, many ways to wipe us off the planet. Even without a natural disaster, as the History Channel’s documentary “Life After People” has shown our many urban developments and even the Great Wall of China will not be long for this world once man has stopped maintaining them.
Even the abandoned towns and villages that were teeming with life as little as 25-30 years ago, such as Pripyat are already being reclaimed by nature and turning to rubble.
Knowledge is Power
During its reign, mankind has invested trillions of dollars/pounds in research, development and scientific investigation. Much of what we know is held in human memory, books and computer hard disks. If the minds have gone, the power stations have stopped turning and the books have burned, what do we really have to show for our efforts? The Book of Eli deals with this in an interesting way. It sees Denzel Washington walking across a bare, almost lifeless landscape clutching a book. It’s the last, most important book (if you subscribe to that thinking) and he needs to take it to man’s last refuge.
Whatever the book is, it isn’t the most durable way to store the world’s knowledge is it. Compare this to the Mayan’s and the ancient Egyptians, whose wisdom is still very much there to be found.
The supermarkets require staff to keep them open, lorry drivers to carry the produce from the farms and farmers (and a healthy climate) to produce the food. Take any one thing out of the equation and you are looking at some very hungry survivors. Similarly, if you take one thing away from the food chain you are likely to see that chain collapse quite rapidly. If the atmosphere or the soil is incapable of supporting plant life, the animals can’t eat. There will be no animals left for us to eat and no plants or berries either. Whoever manages to survive the initial catastrophe is going to spend the rest of its days looking for food. With no plants or animals to feed on, the only other place to turn is to each other. How long could humanity survive before it turns to cannibalism?
“The Road” deals with this in a frightening yet realistic way. It doesn’t say what the disaster was, merely focussing on the main protagonist, his son and their fight for survival as they head for warmer climes in the south. It’s a brutal, depressing story of mankind at its most desperate.
Forging an existence
Life has a way of thriving in the most bleak of situations. Whether you are a microbe living next to a volcanic vent at the bottom of the ocean, or one of the last humans left, life will start to rebuild itself slowly. People will return to being pioneers, scavengers, miners and leaders soon enough. There is “money” to be made in the things people left behind. Just as ancient civilisations disappeared, new civilisations took their place.
For examples of mankind’s “reboot” you could look to the Wild West. They were a simpler time, but commerce was in full swing, as was farming and the basic building blocks of our modern society. I would also look at Kevin Costner’s often overlooked epic The Postman, which is based in the not-too-distant future where the United States has fallen and people have started to gather into lawless societies.
However, if you want to get some practice in, Red Dead Redemption by Rockstar Games, or Borderlands by Gearbox would be a fine place to start from.
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Enjoy it while you can folks!