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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Earth is doomed, who will be on the ”Lifesaver ships”?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (20307 points ) December 27th, 2013

disclaimer For now this is all conjecture on the realm of science fiction. Should a comet, meteor be destined to smack this planet, we are all toast. But look at if from the view point that there is a solution to save mankind.

Through a friend or acquaintance you discover that the government has been hiding the fact that a earth-killer comet or asteroid is headed on a collision course with the Earth. Governments around the globe are secretly building ships to ferry people off this planet with the home of making it to Mars to perhaps construct domed communities to preserve mankind. Who do you think will be on those ”Lifesaver ships”, the mega rich, government officials and their families, the average Joe? For a sense of scale let’s say the US had 350 ships in the works each holding 675 people, and 480 cargo ships with a crew of 8. Would you leak the plan or try to angle a way to get a seat on the ship or become one of the crewmen to save you? By the way, from the time you discover the information the comet/asteroid will not arrive until another 4 years and 7 months.

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56 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Look around you right now. Take your time… I’ll wait.
Everything you just looked at was either designed by, or built with machines designed by engineers. If you want to survive for a significant period you’d be wise to have at least half the occupants be engineers.

ragingloli's avatar

Mostly the corporate and political elite, followed by a limited number of engineers, scientists, doctors.
They might also take some low class peasants with them for the manual labour (most likely only ones who have been determined to be completely obedient), and of course a sizeable military contingent to keep the non-elites in line and oppressed, just to be sure.

Pandora's avatar

A few rich cats, some politicians and the rest will be young healthy smart scientists, engineers, astronauts who are skilled enough to pull off a society in a bio-dome. They can only survive by having people with real skills. The rich and politicians will be very few. Most won’t survive the harsh conditions or are too old to be viable. They would also have to leave most of their family behind.

zenvelo's avatar

The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist, the engineer. People who do; civilization doesn’t need people who only manage.

Seek's avatar

I won’t make the cut.

I’m a great person to have around during the Zombie Apocalypse, but I don’t qualify for the Exodus Ships. They’re granted a pre-screening process that would – if it were sensible – weed out people with past labor and delivery complications.

If they want the human race to survive, more than they want our politicians and wealthy to die in space instead of on Earth, they’ll have to have 90% or more of the population regardless of skill level to be capable of reproduction, and they’ll need a good sampling of DNA.

Engineers, scientists, farmers, doctors (especially trauma surgeons), anthropologists, and historians of a wide variety of genetic backgrounds should make up the lion’s share of the ones we let go.

So, I’ll see the rest of you mugs on Earth post-apocalypse, where I’ll be happy to try to keep you and me both alive as long as possible.

jerv's avatar

The smart thing to do would be to load the ships with engineers, scientists, and healthy females. One male could father many children in a day, but a female averages about one every 9 months at best, so we’d need a pretty female-heavy gender distribution to repopulate elsewhere.

The American thing to do would be to ship a few billionaires and celebrities, and each would have their own private ship. Kanye and The Trump would be safe while we all perished.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Your America reminds me of the titanic.

@Seek_Kolinahr I won’t make the cut either.

I wonder if this new world will be fairly void of religion? I don’t think many very religious people are making the cut either. I’m sure there will still be some.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I don’t want to live the rest of my life on a spaceship. I’ll stay here and die, and I recommend that others do too. Spending you whole life on a crowded spaceship? It would be a dictaotship, not a democracy.

No thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso Why can’t it eventually land sometime in the future? I would think it would be pretty cool to be in a society where there is a high proportion of scientists. Although, I can see some negatives in that situation too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

<— Thinking about @jerv ‘s comment “load the ships with engineers, scientists, and healthy females” and wishing he still had a prostate.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@JLeslie – primarily because in the scenario that @Hypocrisy_Central laid out, it said nothing about landing on another orbiting body – not that there is one nearby that is even remotely hospitable to life.

Science fiction aside, we (the US) have been so anti-spending the last 30 years, that we have fallen way behind on the exploration and ability to do space travel in the first place (thank you, anti-science conservatives). So if the scenario @Hypocrisy_Central wrote were to come true, the US would be a eunuch in the earth evacuation game, because our science and capabilities are so degraded. It will take generations to catch up, if the US ever got around to deciding that space was a priority.

hearkat's avatar

Not me… I don’t have reproductive parts anymore and am not healthy enough for space travel.

@jerv: So young, healthy female scientists and engineers are pretty much guaranteed a seat?

antimatter's avatar

I tend to agree with @jerv, knowing me I would make peace with my fate, who needs a forty plus year old retail manager on Mars? So let the pretty young ones go with good birthing hips and good DNA and genes to rebuild the human race. Us sorry bunch will find a way to survive.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, so we know who is making the cut. Now I’m wondering if the people who get to pick and choose who is allowed are thinking about things like how the societies on the ships will function; social norms, things like that. I’ve joked in the past that half our greatest scientists probably have asperger’s. I doubt it is that high, but I bet it is higher than the average population, so now we have a lot of people with those traits, unless they have weeded them out. @jerv feel free to correct me if you think that is incorrect. My dad, who is a sociologist, he is very literal, very bad at reading other people and how he affects other people. He does not have asperger’s but probably would have to answer yes to a few of their personality questions on an evaluation. He and many of his peers don’t care how they dress, have no time to listen to what they consider to be trivial and stupid information.

Only 675 people on a ship? That’s nothing. Smaller than most high schools. Is one ship going to have all the scientists and another the farmers and another with some other sort of group? Or, it’s all a mix on every ship? Do the ships go through space in clusters and people can move from one ship to the other?

Are they going to keep nationalities and races together or purposely mix them up as much as possible? Will people finally completely not see race and ethnicity and just see people as people.

What about diseases? Will Measles, Hep A,B, and C, Mumps, Pertussis, Polio, all be gone forever? AIDS? The flu? The common cold? No one allowed on board with certain contagious diseases. Everyone quarantined to their quarters for two weeks after launch. The only disease I can think of that we address that cannot be contained in 4 years time is varicella. If someone slipped through the screening process because of fraud or false negatives will they be cast out to the one ship that has people with AIDS or Hep C? I guess maybe the flu could still start up from farm animals, but it seems more unlikely than what happens on earth. I don’t know how the common cold works? Does the rhinovirus mutate constantly and rise from what seems like nothing, or are the many different strains just out there existing and travelling the world?

filmfann's avatar

@LuckyGuy One of my favorite lines from Jurassic Park:

“God help us, we’re in the hands of engineers!”

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie As a sci-fi fan, I think I can address your issues.

1. Who is on which ship – You must have a enough people to create a viable infrastructure on each ship. Lots and lots of redundancy. Because there is no guarantee one of the however-many ships won’t get blasted by an asteroid, or that only one ship will happen to crash-land on a Class M planet.

2. Nationality and race – Combination is key. You MUST mix DNA. No woman on New Earth should have a child by a man more than once. Ideally as a minimum, each female would bear one offspring each to three different men. Otherwise with such a small sample group recessive traits would cripple society quickly.

3. Social norms: The “rules” of our modern society with regards to race and monogamy are luxuries that the Exodus Ships will not have. The goal is preservation of the species, not preservation of 21st century morals. No one on New Earth will put a great amount of care into their appearance, nor will they have much time for social niceties or trivialities.

4. Illnesses – Each person would have to be innoculated against everything we are capable of innoculating for, and the ship should have innoculants stocked for I would say at least the following generation or two. They won’t have the luxury of a yearly flu shot, but with any luck no influenza virus will follow them into space. Obviously, anyone testing positive for HIV or any form of contagious disease would not pass muster. I think we’re pretty much stuck with rhinovirus.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr The tricky thing about chicken pox is nonimmune people catch it from people with shingles. I think the vaccine is given at one year old and then a booster is needed a few years later. In such tight quarters we might see more children coming down with chicken pox again. The other viruses don’t shed in the same way.

I’m not sure what I think about women having to have children from different fathers, I don’t think I agree with that. It could get out of control in the wrong way and a man might father many many children and then the gene pool is risky also. Possibly a more conservative idea of having children is actually better. I have to think about it.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie the mating would be strictly kept track of. It would have to be, like the breeding chart of horses or pedigree dogs.

Seek's avatar

No one with the varicella virus would pass muster unless absolutely necessary.

And really in the grand scheme of things, chicken pox isn’t really life-threatening. It may be something we have to live with.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yeah, I’m not concerned about the varicella, just pointing out it might be tricky to conquer while we might be able to easily completely eradicate masles, mumps, rubella, and polio. Almost everyone has varicella at this point. Even people who were vaccinated can get shingles.

@cazzie Interesting. Each ship certainly is an extremely small population, but all ships totalled, what is that like 250,000 people? My math or a decomal point might be wrng doing it in my head is still a small population, but the size of many cities and it will be much much more diverse than small villages in the worl when populations were much more homogenous back hundreds of years ago, or even towns in the US a couple hundred years ago that were often settled by people with similar backgrounds and ethnicities were more likely to marry their own so to speak.

When you say chart the breedong, do you think they would actually try to control it? Approve marriages or approve children being born based on likelihood of genetic problems?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@filmfann You already are. You already are. Muhhahaha…

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie

We’re talking about the survival of the species. Yes. A person’s feelings on the matter are irrelevant. A little bit of selective breeding will be absolutely necessary in order to continue survival. It will likely go so far as infanticide in the case of deformity. If we’re stuck on a strange planet in a new stone age, we won’t be able to waste resources on disabled children.

- I take exception to the OP’s positing carrier ships and cargo ships. The two should absolutely not be separated, unless we have Battlestar Galactica type technology where we’re all travelling together in synchronized warp “jumps” to predetermined coordinates. Definitely don’t want to show up to a class M planet to find our your supply ships are gonzo.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I have to think about it. Already in America 90% of fetuses found to have genetic problems like downs syndrome are aborted without force. Probably voluntary abortion will be even higher in space. I don’t like the forced selection. Also, a portion of children born with these problems need surgery to survive, which might not be easily available on the ships and they die anyway. Some of the genetic proplems the individual is naturally infertile. I can see why in some circumstances there would be infantacide if it endangers the group as a whole. I’m not thinking genetically, but if the child and later adult will cause a whole group of people to be at risk bevause they need to care or protect the individual I can imagine it. But, I don’t think that would happen on the ships. Maybe if they land on a planet and need to worry about savage animals or other life forms of some sort.

Although, I have to admit some disease really upset me, like CF, which we can detect, and people still bring CF babies into the world even after they have already birthed one. I remember one family on TV had 4 CF children. That is an awful life for the individual, an incredible amount of medical care and medicine, and we know the genetic marker for CF. we can test the parents before they even have a baby. Maybe they won’t let people with CF heterozygous on the ships? Where does it stop though? What genetic diseases do we allow in and what don’t we let in?

Seek's avatar

^ That’s pretty simple. As long as we’re still able to observe DNA, we simply don’t allow CF carriers to breed with other CF carriers. It’s fairly uncommon to be a carrier, anyway – only about 10 million Americans are carriers of some mutation of the 7th chromosome, and not all mutations are “active”.

When we’re no longer able to screen DNA, then the CF kids will likely be weeded out of society.

The future isn’t going to be pretty.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Then we have to tell people who are both recessive CF they can’t make babies even when they love each other and want to marry? See, I don’t like that. I’m pretty sure we can test a fetus for it, but then it would need to be aborted if homozygous for the trait. Ashkenazi Jews it would be Tay Sachs. Black people sickle cell. Mediterranean Thalessemia. The list goes on and on. We could even do more trivial things like color blindness I guess? I am a carrier since my dad has it. I don’t even need to be tested, 100% of daughters who have a colorblind father from inherited colorblindness have the recessive gene. My sons would have a 50/50 chance of being colorblind.

Seek's avatar

Color blindness is not a life threatening disability.

Not being able to walk or talk is.

This is the apocalypse, not the love boat.

hearkat's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Colorblindness may not be a life-threatening disability on Mother Earth, but on Second Earth, it may be a lifesaver… one can not know.

Seek's avatar

You’re right. It could, maybe.

My point is that when survival of the species is the goal, we can’t afford to get hung up on romantic notions of caring for physically disabled babies. In most cases throughout history, a Downs baby would be exposed. That would most likely become standard again, though hopefully more humane than simple exposure.

The goal is to prevent these diseases from showing up in the gene pool. No exceptions.

JLeslie's avatar

Actually, some studies say that colorblind people find people and objects better in a camouflage scenerio than nornal sighted people. My dad, who is red green colorblind, can do puzzles pretty well even if half the thing is shades of grey to him, I am always stunned by it.

He can’t be an electrician though.

hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – Those studies are based on conditions on Mother Earth. Again, we’re imagining a sci-fi scenario where we can only speculate what challenges homo sapiens might encounter off planet. For example, what if there are two plants that look, feel and smell identical, but one has reddish veins that is safe to eat, and the other green and is toxic?

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat In that scenerio the colorblind person cannot be responsible for collecting the food. Sometimes there are unforeseen advantages like possibly colorblind people are more likely to be immune to a terrible disease on the planet Jyrus. Those sorts of things can happen. The genes kind of flip around in bunches. If two genes are near each other in the sequence they are more likely to occur together sometimes. Like sickle cell people having immunity to malaria. Those are both illnesses, but sometimes it is not two illness it is two things seemingly unrelated.

My dad can’t tell the difference between the red and green lights on the traffic signal, but he still drives. Red green is the most common kind of colorblindness and they are almost all driving probably. Actually, if my info is right, Pres. Bill Clinton is red green colorblind and they changed the light system for him during the debates to make it easier. I wonder how many scientists and leaders have been colorblind? I know the actors who are, and even then I only know a handful off the top of my head. We have some fabulous jellies who are also, like Zen. Actually, I have a feeling Jews have it more often. I knew someone who worked with a scientists who studied genetic diseases in Jews. We were a group that stayed pretty clannish for most of history rarely marrying outside the faith and so diseases were passed down more. Maybe if Einstein were colorblind we would just make sure someone else did the plant picking. He wasn’t colorblind as far as I know, I just use it as an example. Mark Zuckerberg is red green blind, which explains the blue and white Facebook screen. My dad always compliments me when I wear blue. I am thinking of decorating my guest room in blue for him, my own house tends to be green and orange colors.

MadMadMax's avatar

I’m in late but that was a movie and the Queen of England and her corgi’s got on the ship. Only the very wealthy were saved but the poor built the ships.

A lot of special effects. I particularly liked the way Santa Monica and Venice were pictured going down.

chewhorse's avatar

Let’s be perfectly frank.. It will be ‘selective’ as it’s always been, by those who think their above all others and would not feel elite if they chose anyone below them.. How would they choose? Just as they choose today, the wealthy, the elite and those who would benefit them throughout the ordeal.. They wouldn’t care that much who they were so long as they had credentials, come from old money or had the means to not only protect them during hard spots but be willing to sacrifice themselves for their new ‘masters’.. You and I? Well if your not wealthy enough to buy a ticket, don’t have a masters degree in careers that they have been told would be the most beneficial for them and their off-spring AND (of both) aren’t willing to lay your life down for them then I guess we’ll hang around this rock with the other 99% and watch the fireworks on that fated day 4 years and 7 months from now.. (I’ll furnish the popcorn).. ☺☺

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Well, a lot of interesting trains lf thought I never thought of.
2. Nationality and race – Combination is key. You MUST mix DNA. No woman on New Earth should have a child by a man more than once. Ideally as a minimum, each female would bear one offspring each to three different men. Otherwise with such a small sample group recessive traits would cripple society quickly.
3. Social norms: The “rules” of our modern society with regards to race and monogamy are luxuries that the Exodus Ships will not have. The goal is preservation of the species, not preservation of 21st century morals. No one on New Earth will put a great amount of care into their appearance, nor will they have much time for social niceties or trivialities.
This particular revelation is interesting to me. How far would the bar be lowered to help humans survive? If a woman would be steered or even made by whatever obligation to spread her eggs around the current male gene pool, when a female was physically able to bear children would she be made available, or would ”old world” thinking, morals, politics, and believes be a luxury people can’t shake, even giving the time span it takes for a female to bring a child to term?

I’m not sure what I think about women having to have children from different fathers, I don’t think I agree with that. It could get out of control in the wrong way and a man might father many many children and then the gene pool is risky also.
This also was interesting, if woman are having babies by three to five different men, at some point people wishing to couple up or marry might be distant relatives, and would that not bring it back to inbreeding the gene pool?

When you say chart the breedong, do you think they would actually try to control it? Approve marriages or approve children being born based on likelihood of genetic problems?
In regard to the breeding chart I wondered that myself. Would someone who had the chance of triggering something like dwarfism not be allowed to marry and breed with another who shares that trait? Who would determine, the committee of proper breeding?

Breaking it down to practical measure for survival however harsh or unfair it seems to the point:
We’re talking about the survival of the species. Yes. A person’s feelings on the matter are irrelevant. A little bit of selective breeding will be absolutely necessary in order to continue survival. It will likely go so far as infanticide in the case of deformity. If we’re stuck on a strange planet in a new stone age, we won’t be able to waste resources on disabled children.
That led me to another thing I had not thought of, if any person admits to being openly gay would they get a ”ticket” seeing if they coupled with another gay person no children would come of the relationship to further repopulation efforts? Would they get a ”ticket” if the gay man agreed to boink a childbearing woman in the spirit that women have offspring of three to five different men? What about a lesbian, for her to get a seat she has to agree to boink a straight man? Would all the babies, or a good number simply be test tube babies so that physical contact would not play that much importance, but if that was a luxury that was not doable, and it had to be the ”old fashion way”, would gay men and women bring themselves to have sex they believe repugnant to assure them a seat on the ship?

You and I? Well if your not wealthy enough to buy a ticket, don’t have a masters degree in careers that they have been told would be the most beneficial for them and their off-spring AND (of both) aren’t willing to lay your life down for them then I guess we’ll hang around this rock with the other 99% and watch the fireworks on that fated day 4 years and 7 months from now.. (I’ll furnish the popcorn).
This makes me think that the rich will control everything, and the scientist, engineers, etc. that Are along will be those who will benefit those rich. Even those rich who are handicapped, too old to breed, or too hold to any meaningful work or bring any viable survival skill will get a seat simply because of their money, which will greatly be useless once they leave Earth. Double amputees, quadriplegics, mentally challenged people, ex-felons, etc. might as well crawl in a hole because they won’t have the chance a drop of water has on the hood of a black Chevelle SS Sup;er Sport at high noon on the hottest day in July.

JLeslie's avatar

I saw a movie regarding this type of a scenerio, but I cannot remember the name of it. The ships were water ships though, the earth was going to be flooded. The movie was in the last ten years I would say. I can’t even remember if it was made for TV or the theatre. Does anyone know the movie I am referring to?

gailcalled's avatar

Waterworld, starring Kevin Kostner, 1995…a different premise. Big screen.

JLeslie's avatar

I was thinking of a different movie that was more recent.

JLeslie's avatar

I found it. The movie was called 2012. I could not remember the name for the life of me. I had to skim the wikipedia page to make sure it was the right movie, because even when it came up in google I still was not sure. My memory is really going. I can’t get the link to work for wikipedia when I paste it here.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks. The wikipedia page had a lot more detail about the movie. I tried to link it, but it doesn’t work.

hearkat's avatar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_movie
This movie ranks as one of the worst I’ve ever seen. I was in need of a distraction for a friend who was going through a really rough breakup, and we wound up at the movies. It is the only movie that I can recall wanting a refund of my time and money when it was over.

gailcalled's avatar

^^. It did engender some very funny reviews.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone criticized the film… : “Beware 2012, which works the dubious miracle of almost matching Transformers 2 for sheer, cynical, mind-numbing, time-wasting, money-draining, soul-sucking stupidity.

JLeslie's avatar

It was not a good movie; I agree with that. Kind of stupid. However, it entertained me enough that I didn’t feel like walking out.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I am torn, I want to go to space but probably wouldn’t make the cut, but I also think like @jerv I could survive here fairly well with lots of the idiots gone…lol

JLeslie's avatar

By coincidence I saw the last 45 mnutes of 2012 last night! My husband was watching TV on his own in our bedroom while I was in another part of the house, when I finally retired to the bedroom he was watching that movie. He said he barely remembered ever seeing it before. LOL. His memory is usually very good. Obviously, the movie didn’t make a big impact on him originally.

We here on the Q didn’t mention bringing along animals, do you think we should do that? Bunnies and tigers and dogs and deer? At least two of many of our animals here on earth?

cazzie's avatar

Favourite quote so far, ‘This is the apocalypse, not the love boat.’

antimatter's avatar

Well said @cazzie than it should be the “incubator ship”

antimatter's avatar

@hearkat I just spend two hours checking Carl Sagan, really mind blowing stuff, this whole topic made me think about the movie Eslym about the rich living in a spacestation and the poor had to life on Earth. I think it’s only going to be the rich that will be on that ship.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ I think it’s only going to be the rich that will be on that ship.
Who will make the beds, mop the floors, clean the toilets and make the sandwiches?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@jerv If they do not have robots smart enough to carry out those task, then who does them?

jerv's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central You! Now go make me a sandwich!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^ But you will be cleaning the floors, you, as I, are not one of the rich. ;-)

jerv's avatar

I’ll be too busy in Engineering for that; somebody has to make sure that the ship has power. If one have the right skills, one can be essential enough to make sure that a middle-class always exists, and will always have a bargaining chip.

And hold the lettuce!

antimatter's avatar

Good thing I’ll be the Captain. I want a cola with my sandwich…

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