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Old 01-25-2019, 10:01 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Five Years Following The Zombie Apocalypse

In the series of my earlier threads:

The effects of 'The Snap' from Infinity War
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=866890

and

The effects of the Independence Day fatalities
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=866339

I've been wondering again.

The time skip in The Walking Dead has me thinking about the downstream effects of the dead arising! Ahhh!

Anyway, five years downstream from the zombies murderizing everybody, what's the impact on civilization. There are a couple of ways to view this.

The first is if things really fall apart as in The Walking Dead - bear in mind I know the comics much better than the TV show - in which society is down to isolated protective bands.

But really, shouldn't five years downstream the problem be pretty much settled? Yes, according to the mythology, the dead still rise but that's a controllable problem, isn't it? Civilization collapsed because of the viral nature of things early on. One zombie bites three bites nine bites twenty-seven and things go off the rails. But as the population dwindles there's fewer and fewer new zombies to be formed.

Toss in that existing zombies appear to decay at a slower rate that normal but they still decay and by the end of five years I'm thinking the concept of a 'herd' of zombies has to be fairly rare.

That leaves the problem really at rebuilding civilization. Five years isn't long enough to begin repopulating 99%+ of the population. So we're left with estimates of fewer than one million humans left worldwide. That's not enough to maintain a technology civilization. So it's back to steam, coal and waterwheels and an agrarian society, right? And everyone who dies gets a pickax through the brain right away.

So how long to begin rebuilding things?

Or there's XKCD's solution:
https://xkcd.com/734/
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:20 AM
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Does the zombie virus affect only humans (and maybe other apes), or is it all animal life, or somewhere in between? It's going to be tough if we don't have our beasts of burden.
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:28 AM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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If we're using The Walking Dead as our baseline then no, animals are not zombified, only humans.

I'm going to assume that if animals were also zombified then humans would have been wiped out within a few days. Imagine little zombie mice running around.

Or Cats!
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Old 01-25-2019, 10:49 AM
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And everyone who dies gets a pickax through the brain right away.
Which brings up a side question concerning CPR and other life saving measures. Does society now lean towards "anybody that is near death gets the pickax", or do people still try to bring people back from the brink of death with heroics knowing that if you are unsuccessful in your CPR efforts there is a high probability your face is going to get bit?
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Old 01-25-2019, 11:42 AM
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I suppose the specifics depend on the "rules" of the Zombie apocalypse. Fast Zombies, vs. slow ones, are bodies rising from cemeteries or is it just the recently dead? Etc. Either way, I suspect that while the immediate aftermath would have a lot of violence and hording, after the initial horror civilization will endure. The population would be small and sustainable. There would be tons of resources for everyone. The remaining zombies would just be another natural phenomenon that people deal with like hurricanes. Knowledge would be preserved because there would be books and writings (this and disasters like it are why we must not digitize every single thing and always be printing books).

It would be awful for a long time but eventually the world would keep turning.

Last edited by Quimby; 01-25-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:03 PM
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When it comes to those approaching death I think there would always be someone willing to treat the dying, even though the risk might be great. It could develop into a vocation of sorts.

And for that period just after a person dies, and needs to be dispatched, I would envision rituals developing to deal with that, a prayer or invocation asking forgiveness from the deceased for what is about to be done to their body. Even Rick, early on, didn't want to chop that zombie up without acknowledging his hormer humanity, retrieving his wallet and reading out his name.
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Old 01-25-2019, 12:35 PM
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For the first few generations we will be reduced to 1700s technology simply because there won't be enough people around. Island nations like the UK, Ireland, Japan, and Cuba will recover more quickly because they will be sealed off against further infection by the sea. If we assume that only 1% of humanity is left and each couple has six children (out of perhaps 8-10) who survive to reproduce, that's a tripling of population every 20-25 years, so we'd only need three or four generations to get a population sufficient to support a modern society. Call it a century, plus or minus.
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:56 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Mmm. Might be worse than that. I've seen projections around the web of less than a million humans remaining on Earth by season six of The Walking Dead. Given those numbers I'd assume a lot of the island nations would be completely depopulated.

That that opens opportunities for survivors. Fall back to Catalina off LA. Or the barrier islands off North Carolina. Anyplace that's sort of defensible and can be cleared of zombies and try to reestablish things that way. Then ride it out and move back onto the mainland.
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Old 01-25-2019, 02:28 PM
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So that's 0.01% (roughly). That means there are still 6500 people in the UK. That's a breeding population, if they can get together (and we've discussed that elsewhere; ironically, this is easier in the UK than in America). And the zombies will have culled the halt, the lame, the elderly, and the ill, so those 6500 will be fit and healthy. Assuming the same rate of population increase, you only need 7 or 8 generations to get back to modern population levels. In the longer term it's actually no big deal.
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Old 01-25-2019, 02:31 PM
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I'm given to understand (I didn't read the books or see the film) that World War Z better addresses long-term zombie tactics. Adapting the military and police to go more for head-shots, preparing the human defenses for zombies to arrive by walking across the Atlantic Ocean floor, etc.
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Old 01-25-2019, 02:48 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Yes, it does. And features Michael Stipe!

Only the book, though. The movie, while good, doesn't hold a candle to WWZ the book.
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Old 01-25-2019, 02:53 PM
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Given the nature of the survivors that we saw on TWD, only stupid people survived. Nobody learns from either their successes or their mistakes. Further, a largish proportion of the stupid people who survived are also evil and/or crazy. Regardless of what happens with the walkers, I honestly believe that, in that universe, humanity dies out because the survivors are unable to rebuild society due to the shortcomings mentioned above.
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:19 PM
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Also, do zombies need food? If so, does it need to be humans, or can they survive on the same foods living humans eat? If they need to eat humans, then any small, isolated area will quickly become safe, one way or the other.
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:26 PM
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Also, do zombies need food? If so, does it need to be humans, or can they survive on the same foods living humans eat? If they need to eat humans, then any small, isolated area will quickly become safe, one way or the other.
In the show, we saw walkers devour a horse.
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:57 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
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If I understand the basics of the zombie outbreak in "The Walking Dead" it's that :

SPOILER:
1) People who die come back as bloodthirsty zombies (like Shane) that shamble along rather slowly and "die" when the suffer trauma to their brain.

2) When the zombies bite someone, that bite leads to an infection that ultimately kills the bite recipient.


I just don't see that snowballing into something uncontrollable that wipes out 99% of the population. Large "herds" of zombies were held at bay by standard chain-link fences at times. Something with sturdier walls would be basically impenetrable. It wouldn't be that hard for governments / the military to set up lots of safe zones where people could evacuate to and send out patrols to wipe out the walkers. A platoon of soldiers could probably wipe out thousands of walkers with virtually no casualties, if they exercised some basic tactical competence and arranged good fields of fire.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:10 PM
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Emphasis added:

Quote:
Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
If I understand the basics of the zombie outbreak in "The Walking Dead" it's that :

SPOILER:
1) People who die come back as bloodthirsty zombies (like Shane) that shamble along rather slowly and "die" when the suffer trauma to their brain.

You and I remember that movie very differently.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:17 PM
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If population was reduced to ~1% at Z+5 years, the relict environment would have an interesting mix of things you could use.

Canned / preserved foods - probably a lot is still viable, but also lot would be starting to expire, if it was not already looted or lost. Does botulism become a bigger killer than zombies?

Water - unless you had a good natural ground supply, wherever you were settled you'd have to seriously manage water capture and storage.

Petrol - I gather that it goes off within a few years at most so lets say most of it is gone. The various rubber bits and oils on engines probably perish as well making any mechanical power without a competent mechanic in attendance unfeasible. Post-apocalyptic motorcycle desperadoes are probably not too much of a concern unless you own an oil refinery in the desert.

Houses - pick your mansion, in fact, pick a streetful. Shelter is one thing that should be abundant and in reasonable shape, along with clothing and bedding. Could you rig up water tanks to every house near you so they become passive collectors? Need to balance clustering for protection vs land for farming, but chain-link fencing will be abundant.

Electronics, electronic data, batteries - become wistful stories told by old people. Maybe some harnessing and recycling of solar plant could work, but say goodbye to the Cloud and all your memories, and most likely capacity to do anything beyond mental arithmetic or long division with pencil and paper.

Communication - pedal operated ham radios and tin cans with string may be all that's left. That means communicating further than the next group will be a big problem, and the capacity to create any sort of collective action or consensus effectively zero without sending missionaries or Postmen.

Skills in the population - will there be sufficient literacy in the coming generations to access any knowledge in books. You may have a doctor, vet, mechanic, agronomist, nurse, teacher and so on now, but when they go, can anyone read and understand Knee Operations for Dummies?

Civil institutions - I've grown to believe that Walking Dead [TV series] is crap and unwatchable, but it does have an interesting meta-theme about different types of society and how they fare under pressure, and how morality is recreated from first principles. How do you decide what sort of society you will be and how do you ensure it stays that way beyond the tenure of a charismatic hyper-violent man-child?

Population growth - having people fucking when there is no longer TV or internet seems to be the least of your worries. Plus the maximum shelf life for condoms is five years.

Overall I think Z+5 is a critical point for civilisation. The threat should be contained or at least stable, there will never be more people who have actual training and knowledge still around, and there is hopefully enough scavengeable stuff in the landscape to support an expansive re-civilising program.

If you leave it for another five years you'll have lost more of your knowledge and skills, may not have taught kids to read or understand things from books and watched useful things around you start to rot.

Last edited by Banksiaman; 01-25-2019 at 05:20 PM. Reason: punctuation
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:23 PM
Uosdwis R. Dewoh Uosdwis R. Dewoh is offline
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If anyone dead automatically comes back as a zombie it would be risky to sleep next to your partner, especially the older you get. If you have a newborn, how would make sure it's still alive in the morning and not a zombie that died of SIDS during the night?
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:24 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miller View Post
Emphasis added:



You and I remember that movie very differently.
Which movie are you referring to? I thought we were discussing the AMC TV show The Walking Dead:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
... The time skip in The Walking Dead has me thinking about the downstream effects of the dead arising! Ahhh!

Anyway, five years downstream from the zombies murderizing everybody, what's the impact on civilization. There are a couple of ways to view this.

The first is if things really fall apart as in The Walking Dead - bear in mind I know the comics much better than the TV show - in which society is down to isolated protective bands. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Chance View Post
If we're using The Walking Dead as our baseline ...

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 01-25-2019 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:29 PM
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Which movie are you referring to? I thought we were discussing the AMC TV show The Walking Dead:
It was the one whose title I bolded in the spoiler.

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Old 01-25-2019, 05:36 PM
HurricaneDitka HurricaneDitka is online now
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If anyone dead automatically comes back as a zombie it would be risky to sleep next to your partner, especially the older you get. If you have a newborn, how would make sure it's still alive in the morning and not a zombie that died of SIDS during the night?
One of many reasons that co-sleeping with newborns is frowned upon . In all seriousness, if the baby is in a crib, when you check on it in the morning, it is either:

1) sound asleep, or awake and happy or crying

2) yellowish skin, snapping jaws, messed up eyes, making TWD zombie growling noises.

If it's #1, proceed as normal. If it's #2, do not touch!

As for the sleeping partner scenario, I imagine it would be something like Amy's death. I suppose some people will be caught by surprise and killed, but for a lot of people, there'd be adequate time to assess the situation and react before the fresh zombie killed them.

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 01-25-2019 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:38 PM
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It was the one whose title I bolded in the spoiler.

Gotcha, I'm tracking now.

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Old 01-25-2019, 06:22 PM
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A zombie outbreak would be over quickly.

Armed militias in armored vehicles would go around finding ways to attract them, then kill them.

WW2 probably did more damage. I think people underestimate how resilient society can be. Europe survived the black plague that killed up to half the people there.

Over the course of about 50 years Russia underwent a civil war, WW1, the spanish flu, stalinist purges, stalinist famine and then WW2. Society still survived.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:23 PM
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You've only got a brief window in which breeding-age females will be able to produce the next generation. If you miss that window, because everybody is still busy running or hiding, then humanity is on the downward slope.
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:33 PM
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You've only got a brief window in which breeding-age females will be able to produce the next generation. If you miss that window, because everybody is still busy running or hiding, then humanity is on the downward slope.
I started getting my period at 12, I was neither the earliest nor the latest girl in my school to do so. I finally had a hysterectomy at the age of 50 [thanks PCOS, endometriosis and ovarian cancer ...] so do the math - 38 years of being able to pop a kid out every other year ... call it 18 possible kids, with perhaps 10 surviving [if I was in good reproductive health - not every woman has PCOS but I did demosntrate 3 times I could get pregnant though health issues preventerd me from carrying to term. Just using my length of reproductive years as an example.]


Even if you grant 20 years of reproductive life, that would be 10 kids, with 5 surviving ... 20 years really isn't a short window, and in desperation you screw any male around to get pregnant instead of the monogamy thing.



I would forsee a return to the motte and bailey settlements - the core of the medieval town, with walls around the town as well. A few people with salvaged sniper rifles on the tower would help with that pesky zombie invasion. Though with my ancient nagant 91/30 or the less ancient M1 even stuck in my wheel chair, I would turn to standing a watch on a wall and be a combat effective even if I couldn't breed more population.



If you look at medieval Britain [ignoring the wars between invading Normans or Danes and the resident Anglo-Saxon bunch] it was actually fairly sustainable - a small fortified town with agricultural lands surrounding, people lived in the villages and went out to the fields and pastures instead of isolated farmsteads which is what we sort of had in colonial and federal America. There are actually oxen and horse farm hobbyists [friends of my parents organized the local annual meet and competition for farm teams of both horse and ox for at least 20 years I have knowledge of. My mom found it interesting because her family farm had used horse teams for the fields for her entire childhood and had for many generations. Love the Amish for using old tech =)] that have breeding stock and knowledge on using the old 1800s tech farming equipment, so plowing and harvesting could go on in almost modern amounts.



We would have the advantage of being able to recreate tech because we still have a hard copy knowledge base - you know how many university libraries are around with 10s of thousands of different reference books? If the average person who is interested in medicine and surgery can't work with the available text books, then hundreds of years of scholarship is wasted [even in the 1800s many 'doctors' never went to college, they apprenticed, or bought books and sort of winged it.] We wouldn't be able to produce many of the current antibitoics, but we could manage to reproduce sulfites and pennicillins as the processes are known. The herbs that are available to treat illnesses are known, I use colchcine - grown and used as medicine for some 4 thousand years, there is foxglove for digitalis, jimson weed for scopalamine, deadly nightshade for atropine, poppies for opium ... just because we use synthetics doesn't mean we can't use the original herbs at need ...
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Old 01-25-2019, 09:50 PM
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Banksiaman, canned food will still be good centuries from now. Botulism is only an issue when the cans weren't sealed properly in the first place.

Fresh water won't be much more of a problem than it is currently. Settle next to a river or a lake, and make sure that you poop downstream of where you drink.

The battery in your phone might not be any good, but marine batteries will still be just fine. And there are plenty of solar-powered calculators out there, so no need for long division.

Ham radio will still work just fine for global communications. In fact, that's why ham is given a slice of precious bandwidth: Because it's their job to maintain communications in emergencies where everything else fails.
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Old 01-26-2019, 07:51 AM
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Banksiaman, canned food will still be good centuries from now.
No, it won't.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:26 AM
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That's all "for best quality". People can, have, and do safely eat food that's much older than that.
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Old 01-26-2019, 10:59 AM
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That's all "for best quality". People can, have, and do safely eat food that's much older than that.
That assumes ideal storage. The fabled cool, dry place. Even if we assume that canned goods stored in such a place might still be edible after many years, the overwhelming majority of canned goods will be exposed to extremes of temperature as the seasons change. Much of it will also get wet as the buildings they are stored in deteriorate due to lack of maintenance and roofs begin to leak. Despite what Fallout taught us, survivors won't be eating canned food for centuries.
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:14 PM
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You've only got a brief window in which breeding-age females will be able to produce the next generation. If you miss that window, because everybody is still busy running or hiding, then humanity is on the downward slope.
I disagree.

In theory, a woman can have 20 or more kids if she starts pumping them out as a teenager.

In a true post zombie situation, I could see the remaining women being given IVF to increase the quantity of children they produce (lots more twins and triplets).

Humanity would recover fast. If every woman has 6 kids, population triples every generation.
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Old 01-26-2019, 03:09 PM
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The Walking Dead is one of those apocalypses where the disease itself apparently makes it near-impossible to recover from.

Specifically, the zombies appear to be functional in vast numbers years past the point that they should have starved to death. They also appear not to require an intact human body with functioning organs, other than a brain, as we see zombies still able to move with open chest cavities.

Finally, worst of all:
SPOILER:
Everyone in TWD has the disease, it's just a bite turns you faster. Any survivor may at random become a zombie, with or without dying. It is not known if this means that every survivor will turn into a zombie within 10-20 years, dying in a way similar to HIV.


Due to the factor above, net reproductive rates could easily become negative and human species survival is impossible.

Last edited by SamuelA; 01-26-2019 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 01-26-2019, 03:24 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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I disagree.

In theory, a woman can have 20 or more kids if she starts pumping them out as a teenager.

In a true post zombie situation, I could see the remaining women being given IVF to increase the quantity of children they produce (lots more twins and triplets).

Humanity would recover fast. If every woman has 6 kids, population triples every generation.
I'd argue that with the loss of technology, maternal and child morbidity would return to where it was during the early 20th century. So 20 children is probably out when 30% of those born alive die prior to their first birthday and 15% of mothers died while pregnant. Them's serious figures.

Toss in a lack of ability to manufacture vaccines and things get pretty hairy pretty fast.
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:02 PM
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Over the course of about 50 years Russia underwent a civil war, WW1, the spanish flu, stalinist purges, stalinist famine and then WW2. Society still survived.
But will they survive the Dash Cam?
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:45 AM
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Five years will be time enough for small survivor groups to begin seeking out nearby groups with which to ally. Economic progress is hugely accelerated by combining numbers and skills/surviving technologies. Also, the seeds for new systems of governance will be planted, this time without the Electoral College.
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Old 01-28-2019, 10:36 PM
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I'm given to understand (I didn't read the books or see the film) that World War Z better addresses long-term zombie tactics. Adapting the military and police to go more for head-shots, preparing the human defenses for zombies to arrive by walking across the Atlantic Ocean floor, etc.
Read the book, it is pretty much exactly what the OP describes. Its also a really really good book. I picked it up at the airport on holiday expecting schlocky horror, turns out it is really good sci-fi. Read it in one sitting (then gave it to my brother who did the same). It takes this fantastical concept, and thinks deeply about what it would do in real life, in the process making subtle commentary about political issues in the real world. Read it in one sitting (then gave it to my brother who did the same).

The film threw out everything that made the book awesome, and replaced it will schlocky dumb horror and Brad Pitt running away from zombies.

Last edited by griffin1977; 01-28-2019 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 01-28-2019, 11:08 PM
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If you think women are going to start cranking out a baby a year every year, five years after the collapse of civilization due to Zombie apocalypse, maybe you haven't met any women? Or babies?

Yes, women in settled farming communities with room for growth have sometimes reproduced like this. But you know, it requires a lot of work to care for a goddam baby, and it's a lot of work to be pregnant. Intentionally getting pregnant with a three month old nursing baby? When you're living in a filthy walled village eating scavenged canned goods surrounded by zombies?

The population can only expand when there are enough surplus resources to care for the newborn children and the pregnant mothers who are cranking out those children. That's not happening in a post-apocalyptic scenario. In a couple generations when the zombie infestation isn't a problem anymore, and new zombies are prevented through rational funeral customs, and people have re-learned subsistence farming, and formed a new farming culture, then you might see a rapid population growth. It's not happening with the traumatized and desperate survivors of the first generation. You'd be lucky if the second generation is half the size of the first.
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Old 01-28-2019, 11:29 PM
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John Ringo has his problems as an author, and in many ways his Black Tide Rising series isn't any different (and that's before the Sarah Palin expy becomes President in book four). But what we have in that series is basically a one-time population collapse (it's a human-modified version of influenza, which is both susceptible to degradation due to mutation and a reasonably-effective vaccine developed early on), followed by slow clearing and rebuilding. Now, the important part is that the affected are still alive, but that means they can be killed in the same way as any other living human. If the zombies in the Walking Dead actually made any sense, I'd think that'd be about the same. A mixture of modern technology that still works for as long as it's around and a reversion to older technologies that wouldn't support a modern economy but aren't needed for the time being. To somewhat misquote Heinlein in Tunnel in the Sky, horses can make more of themselves and tractors can't.
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Old 01-29-2019, 05:03 AM
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If you think women are going to start cranking out a baby a year every year, five years after the collapse of civilization due to Zombie apocalypse, maybe you haven't met any women? Or babies?
Not every year, but every other year or so. Historically, this is exactly what happened. Child and adult death rates were so high that a brood of 8 or 10 children was necessary. And there were no pensions: you needed children to provide for you in your old age. And death in childbirth was not uncommon - educated women often made out wills when they found they were pregnant.
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:14 AM
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In a true post zombie situation, I could see the remaining women being given IVF to increase the quantity of children they produce (lots more twins and triplets).
Without a modern, 20th Century or later medical system IVF doesn't exist and forcing twins and triplets on women tends to lower lifetime reproduction rates because of the significantly greater morbidity/mortality of multiple births on both infants and their mother. Even these days, multiple births are more likely to be fatal.

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Humanity would recover fast. If every woman has 6 kids, population triples every generation.
...except for all the people dying-before-reproducing from things like accidents there is no longer an ER to treat, marauding gangs of living humans, face-eating zombies...

Even in modern societies without zombie hazards the replacement rate requires more on average than two children per woman.
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Old 01-30-2019, 11:54 AM
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Not every year, but every other year or so. Historically, this is exactly what happened. Child and adult death rates were so high that a brood of 8 or 10 children was necessary. And there were no pensions: you needed children to provide for you in your old age. And death in childbirth was not uncommon - educated women often made out wills when they found they were pregnant.
Historically it HAS happened, in some places and times. But in most places and times population increase was small. We don't see doubling of the population every generation throughout history, and in many times populations have crashed. In order to crank out 10 kids you have to live in a society where this is possible. You have to have enormous economic expansion, and enough of a stable socioeconomic support system. Large population increases happened in the late 1800s and 1900s because of an economic revolution that made it possible. Go back to the middle ages and you don't see families with 10 kids, because there was only so much land that could be divided among those kids. If you're a subsistence farmer you can't have 10 kids because those ten kids are going to consume ten times as much food, which means you need ten times as much food production. Agricultural production can increase with more intensive cultivation, but only by so much.

A world like The Walking Dead is not a world where women can have 10 kids. It can't happen, because there are zombies eating everyone, and psychopathic humans killing everyone. The secret of The Walking Dead is that the humans are the walking dead, not the zombies, because humanity is doomed in that universe. Of course, if every other human being is a psychopath who will betray their fellow humans for the slightest advantage, how exactly is it that human beings survived in the first place? So the Walking Dead is not a realistic show, and not because of the zombies.

You can't crank out ten kids unless you live in a stable society that can support you as you crank out ten kids. Your mother and sisters and aunts and grandmothers have to be around to share the burden of taking care of an endless procession of babies. Was there a gigantic population explosion after the fall of the Roman Empire? After the Mongol conquests? No, rather the reverse. A population crash takes generations to recover from, because you can't just crank out kids in the ruins, you have to rebuild society into one where cranking out kids is possible. If zombies are roaming around eating people's faces, and megalomaniacs are roaming around enslaving everyone, you can't have a baby every year, even if there are plenty of canned goods still on the supermarket shelves. It won't work. It won't happen. And it didn't happen historically. When society can't protect and support a pregnant woman who is also taking care of a one year old, a two year old, a three year old, and a four year old, then that woman is not going to have a baby every goddam year. It requires an enormous economic expansion to make it possible.
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:35 PM
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Historically it HAS happened, in some places and times. But in most places and times population increase was small. We don't see doubling of the population every generation throughout history, and in many times populations have crashed.
Until recently people lacked knowledge of basic healthcare and food crops could not sustain large populations. That is not the case in our scenario.

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In order to crank out 10 kids you have to live in a society where this is possible. You have to have enormous economic expansion, and enough of a stable socioeconomic support system.
Actually, no you don't. In older times you cranked out 10 kids because only 3 or 4 of them might survive long enough. In a post-Z world, that knowledge of basic healthcare will not disappear and there will be ample room for expansion for your children. Note that historically, overpopulation is often a cause for war but in this case there will be no need for war because the expansion areas will be empty.

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A world like The Walking Dead is not a world where women can have 10 kids.
Not immediately, no, but we are talking of 5 years post-Z, a time period when the zombies have largely or entirely gone. A time when society will have stabilised.
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:53 PM
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How many diapers have you changed?

Dude. Raising a baby is a lot of work. Cranking out ten kids was not the norm in the past. That sort of thing only happened in particular places during particular times. People didn't have ten kids in the medieval era, or in the classical era. It's not the norm.

People aren't going to have ten kids because that's the only way to quickly repopulate the world. That's not how the human brain works.

Yes, a generation or two after the apocalypse, there will be plenty of empty space for humans to move into, and population growth will be rapid. Whether they're hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers or whatever, there will be lot of room for new farms and animal populations will rebound, after 99 percent of humans are dead. That's a situation where rapid population growth could happen.

But not five years afterward. The survivors of the apocalypse won't be physically or emotionally or socially capable of it. You're going to have a second population crash after the first population crash, because very few of the traumatized survivors will have the mental or emotional tools to prosper in the post-crash world, let alone raise ten kids.
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Old 01-30-2019, 02:33 PM
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The whole zombie thing ends if you just cremate, burn, everyone who dies. You don't need to worry about destroying the brain/head that way. No double tap needed. No body and nobody is a zombie. And the whole worry about returning to a current level of civilization is a non-starter. Things will revert to tribalism for awhile and we pick up where we left off, only armed with a lot more knowledge. The recovery will take a generation or so, but no longer. Zombie movies are dependent upon continuing to deal with the zombies. They stay and fight and become more zombies, repeat.

There will be storage tanks of various things that you might need until you can make them on your own. Warehouses full of non-perishables, tanks full of various things, you just need to access them. They aren't going away just because zombies are after you. Zombies appear to be non-materialistic, they don't want things.

What I found missing in the post nuclear war movie, Threads, is the idea that none of the tractors and farm equipment will ever run again. Give me an empty tractor, no fuel for hundreds of miles, and I will be plowing your field before spring. Bio-Diesel is a real thing. You can run your truck or tractor off the French fry grease from McDonalds, with a little processing and filtering. I know a couple guy who do that.

What? We are out of grease? We make our own, it is very simple. All you need is something formerly alive and cook it down. Most life forms are surprisingly oily. Cook it and it separates into oil, which floats to the top, meat, and bone meal. Hydrolysis. All I need is a tank, a heat source and some dead bodies of some kind, could be cows, or salmon, and I open up Zombie Diesel and Fertilizer Supply.

I used to run what is called a reduction plant that did just that.

People act like the end to civilization would be a real bad thing. I am not convinced. And anthropogenic climate change has just been solved.
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Old 01-30-2019, 02:37 PM
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How much fuel did your reduction plant require to do that, compared to the amount of fuel you produced?
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Old 01-30-2019, 02:54 PM
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Dude. Raising a baby is a lot of work. Cranking out ten kids was not the norm in the past. That sort of thing only happened in particular places during particular times. People didn't have ten kids in the medieval era, or in the classical era. It's not the norm.
Actually, yes, many people did. The thing is, many of those children did not survive. Queen Anne had 17 pregnancies. Even in 1851 the average number of children was over 4. Remember that before the age of scientific medicine, a LOT of children died very young. From 30% to perhaps 50%.
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Old 01-30-2019, 04:03 PM
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It's a lot easier to have 17 pregnancies if you're the Queen. You have people looking after you while you're pregnant, and when you give birth you hand the baby over to a team of wetnurses, nannies, tutors, chambermaids, and god knows what else.

It's another thing to be 6 months pregnant washing the diapers of your 9 month old baby and two year old toddler in the creek out back while keeping an eye on the three year old and the four year old while the five year old tries to help.

And 1851 is well into that economic transformation that I was talking about. It was called the Industrial Revolution.

The thing is, "you have to have 8 kids so 2 can survive to adulthood" only works if it actually works. If you can't do it, then guess what, there's a continuing population decrease, which is what I would predict. You try to raise a kid, the kid dies. You try to raise another, the kid dies. Then your husband dies, so you get another husband. You try to have another kid, the kid dies. Then you die. There you go. There will be a secondary population crash even after the zombies are done eating everyone, because people will have to figure out ways to live and thrive. Lots won't. Hence secondary crash.

Yes, it is physically possible for women to have large numbers of babies, and for the population to grow rapidly. It requires an economy and society that supports it. Labor saving devices, cheap manufactured goods, global trade in agricultural products, stable social structure so people can cooperate with each other. Most times and places in human history you were lucky to have 2.1 kids. 2.1 kids over thousands of years adds up to a large population increase. But the demographic transition that we went through isn't the norm.

Last edited by Lemur866; 01-30-2019 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:26 PM
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Please put your modern sensibilities aside and understand that this is what people did. Hell, an older friend of mine was the first of 8, and that's post-WW2. There have been multiple Dopers who have found families with 8 or 10 or more children in their recent past. And with a modern understanding of basic healthcare, a lot more children survive. And remember that in a post-apocalypse world your children are your pension - there are no pension funds. So there will be a lot of children and a lot of them will survive and so the population will increase rapidly (absent another disaster, of course) and we'll be back to modern population levels within a century or two.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:46 PM
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Potentially strong social effects from widespread PTSD. Most survivors will have had repeated traumatic experiences with no real options for early treatment. Those won't just be with the walking dead. There will be a host of traumatic events that are just related to the breakdown of society. Some of those other experiences will probably be direct combat with other fully living humans over resources for survival. It's bound to have some effects on how we approach each other as we rebuild a social organization.

We may well see a strong gender imbalance that society has to adapt to. On the one hand, there are cultural notions of men protecting women and children that might lead to them dying in greater numbers. We're also talking about an environment where the physical ability to perform violence and run fast are a clear survival advantage; that's not good for women. Maybe those effects balance out. Maybe they don't. If there's a strong gender imbalance it might prompt some revision to the current social structure that dominates mating.

Lots of people walking around visibly armed. Aside from the risks of straggler zombies it will take a while for rule of law to reassert itself. People that have had to fight killer zombies and their fellow humans to survive are more likely to lean towards a "polite and zombie free society is a heavily armed society" than we are used to.
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:22 PM
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The problem with trying to consider the future after a The Walking Dead-style apocalypse is that the premise doesn't hold very well, because there wouldn't be an apocalypse.

The Walking Dead zombie rules are basically the same as the original Night of the Living Dead. Dead people reanimate (regardless of how they died), and a bite from one leads to a fatal infection. And Night of the Living Dead got it right: It was a temporary blip. I just doesn't take very many people with rifles and pickup trucks to beat a ton of slow dumb zombies.

In order to plausibly have a zombie apocalypse, you need more formidable zombies. 28 Days Later, the Dawn of the Dead remake with fast zombies, Ringo's bio-engineered airborne virus that turns into a thing, etc.

I would be interested in reading or seeing something set in a post-Night of the Living Dead world. One where there wasn't an apocalypse, but where people had to be vigilant about zombies. Presumably a lot more people are armed. More people are going to die from trauma because it's more dangerous for EMTs to intervene. Hospitals and retirement homes would look a lot more like prisons. Probably every bedroom would have a lock complicated enough that a zombie couldn't figure it out, and everyone would lock themselves in to sleep. What else?
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:34 PM
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Oops, missed the edit window.

Also, as far as childbirth and death rates post-apocalypse, it's true that lots of kids died in infancy in the past, but a significant amount of that can be prevented without high technology. A basic understanding of sanitation, how to purify and sterilize things, and germ theory go a long way. That knowledge doesn't just go away even if the population shrinks by 99%.

A basic understanding of engineering goes a long way too. There are also tons of durable goods that don't go away, that make it a lot easier to jump start an industrial society. Machinists shops are still going to exist. Electrical generators can be modified to run on available fuels. There's a decent chance that some smaller hydroelectric plants can be brought back online, etc.

And all this stuff is written down. Even if you've never wired up a generator or built a smelter or whatever... if you can read and are of reasonable intelligence, you can do it.
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