Originally posted by ysterbaard
This is just a thought, so take it at face value please.
I'm from south africa where we are experiencing the worst drought in a century. In the paper a few weeks ago the drought "officially" surpassed the previous "worst" of 1933.
In 1933 there was a famine, this year there wasn't. in 1933 there was large scale livestock deaths, this year there we ...[text shortened]... able to do it faster this time around?
I just thought about it so let me know what you think.
The key is knowledge known ahead of time. Maybe you didn't know but electricity was known in ancient times but was thought of as some kind of party trick or something and went nowhere because they didn't understand what they had discovered. In ancient babylon, they actually took it a few steps further, discovering electrochemistry and batteries, but again, it was used to plate statues with gold and that was all their imaginations would get them to do with it. It may have been in that case the dogma of the priesthood that prevented anyone outside a very small cadre from knowing about this secret technology. Which is too bad because after WE discovered and controlled electricity we were on the moon in less than 200 years. The babylonians, again, did not know the potential of what they had discovered.
So if it was at THAT time when the fit hit the shan, it would have been somewhat like England after the fall of the Roman empire, we already have that as an example. After the fall, what, the year 400 to 600 AD, something like that, the indigenous people had very little in the way of built in knowledge like the Romans, who had developed engineering and technology to a pretty high degree, inventing concrete, for instance. But the Brits back in the day had none of that and so fell into dark ages that lasted nearly 1000 years. Well, maybe 300 or 400 years before things started looking up, then they got hit with the plague and that screwed things up once more for another few hundred years and it wasn't till around 1800 that things really started to pick up technologically.
All that said, if today the fit hits the shan, we would still have places with solar cells powering stuff like computers, laptops, tablets, and the like, and they could use that knowledge to get off the ground a LOT faster than the ancient Brits, for instance. There would be survivors who knew math, geology and so forth, so they could in theory find iron ore to start building machines and start up with drill presses, lathes and so forth. They would be like the US in the year 1700 or so where they were burning wood by the megaton to melt iron but they got the job done and bootstrapped themselves into the premier civilization on the planet today, premier in the technology sense, not morals or political correctness or any of that stuff, just talking about inventions.
So it was not evolution that led us to today's technology, it was the application of the same brain power for several hundred years, adding bit by bit to the earlier knowledge, like the stupendous development of calculus by Isaac Newton and Leibniz (controversy there but it seems they both figured it out independently). That was the biggest single boost to technology in the last thousand years. Hopefully we would still have that math, someone who can teach the rest of the survivors, and other mavens of other sciences. All it takes is a few of each of those and eventually it will all come back.
Of course there would be less in the way of natural resources since our present civilization has eaten up so much of everything, fossil fuels, minerals and so forth but the number of people would be so small compared to today that the leftovers would be plenty to start a civilization from scratch.
There is a movie made from a book I liked a lot, the Postman, by David Brin, and the movie by that name with Kevin Costner, that shows kind of that scenario, post apocalyptic future pulling themselves out of barbarianism and back to our modern world.
If you can find it, take a look at it, I thought it was a great movie. It also had Tom Petty.
The way our present civilization is developing, we may have the power to stop some of the worst disasters like that which hit the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, the asteroid hit in Yucatan that, between that strike and the rampant volcanism also going on back then, did the dino's in.
This is another example of where our civilization can build the resources to stop or deflect such asteroids from ever hitting Earth again, at least the big life ending ones, give us 20 years advance warning and we can nudge the suckers out of the way.
In the same way, getting independent colonies on the moon or Mars can do the same survival trick, no matter what happens to Earth in that case, humanity and our biosphere can go on.
So as we grow, we include in our bag of tricks ways to circumvent disasters that would have killed all of us 100 years ago. That is the hope anyway.
Another 100 or so years will show us whether we have the political will to carry any of that out.