General Question

seawulf575's avatar

What would the new civilization look like?

Asked by seawulf575 (15820points) 2 months ago

I recently read the old book Earth Abides. This is the story of a guy that survives a pandemic that wipes out most people on Earth. The story follows along with all the changes he noticed happening because most of the humans were suddenly gone. In the space of his lifetime things changed tremendously and the society that was rising again looked nothing like the one he remembered.

The question is if 99.5% of all humans disappeared in the next month, what would happen to the survivors over the next 100 years? What would society look like? Would they be able to create any of the things we take for granted today?

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21 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

Are books still available? If so, I would guess that within a century, possible much less, civilization would recover.

Acrylic's avatar

Eventually that could happen. We did it once, can surely do it again. In this society, are all forms of the former world (books, records, art, etc.) known, discoverable, or are humans starting from scratch like they did from Creation? That could make a huge difference in outcome.

gorillapaws's avatar

In the US, we’d probably have today’s gun nuts with private armories becoming warlords and enslaving whoever they could. I imagine it would be like a much more violent version of Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” where small fifedoms were constantly at war with their neighbors in a decentralized power structure.

Forever_Free's avatar

There would be no politely Right or Left. No borders. No classification or judgement.
People would truly listen to each other and not judge.
People wouldn’t just dismiss another’s feelings or opinions but rather embrace them as their right with a willingness to accept and understand.
Kindness would prevail.
Each day would be filled with Ease and Grace.

ragingloli's avatar

0.5% of the current population would be what the population was about 5000–4000 BCE.
Meaning you would see the collapse of global civilisation, nations, and a regression to singular city states.
And that is assuming they all survive the destruction of supply chains of food and energy.
With a considerable amount of them dying from starvation/exposure, you could very well see the reemergence of tribal structures and hunter/gatherer societies.

Dig_Dug's avatar

That would leave about 10% of the US population. Not that many people to start over. I think this world would become a Mad Max utopia with small factions of crazy people running around with guns looking for energy sources and killing everyone that gets in their way. Dog eat dog, survival of the fittest society.

Caravanfan's avatar

I love that book. Men go and come, but Earth abides.

jca2's avatar

Those who might want to see a show that features such a thing would love the new HBO show “The Last of Us.” It’s about a fungus based virus that wipes out the majority of the world’s population, and how the remaining survivors deal with it. It shows military rule, a resistance movement, and pockets of people who are living on their own, some in relatively idyllic situations and some in bleak situations and everything in between.

The show is, as of last week, the second most streamed HBO show ever. It just came out a month or two ago.

kritiper's avatar

They would slowly die off due to continuously declining sperm counts.

canidmajor's avatar

@kritiper: Not necessarily. The rising infertility rates in humans very often correlate to more crowded, unsustainable environmental factors. Removing those issues could well reverse the problems of modern infertility. Various species have different ways of restoring a balance to ensure survival.

Small agrarian communities that don’t rely on urban infrastructure would likely thrive, the heavily armed folk would only prevail for a short time, as most of the weaponry being hoarded today is unsustainable over time, the failed infrastructure would not be supporting the manufacture of ammunition and parts.

Zaku's avatar

It might depend a lot on what the nature of the danger was, and whether that caused certain types of people to survive.

If it were a disease that spread through social contact, the survivors might tend to be mostly introverts, for just one obvious example.

mazingerz88's avatar

Depends on the nature, character and intelligence level of those who survived. It’s easy to assume humans would evolve in almost the same vein as those humans in the last 5,000 years. I assume it’s not guaranteed.

kritiper's avatar

@canidmajor It is happening due most likely to chemicals in our environment.

In the last 50 years, sperm counts of all male animals have declined by 1% per year. And now the rate has increased to 3% per year, and accelerating.
When I first heard of this some 30 years ago, it was thought that it was the use of birth control drugs, the excesses not used by the body being flushed into the environment. Now they say it could also be causes by PFA’s (if I got that right). These drugs and chemicals are found throughout the Earth’s water sources, and have permeated them completely no matter how remote the sources are.

Believe it or not.

flutherother's avatar

The Black Death wiped out 30% to 50% of the population in the 14th Century yet civilization survived. If it had killed 90% t0 99% then things might have been different but life was simpler then and could probably have continued much as it was even after such a huge death toll. The people of ten hamlets might have come together to make one viable community for example.

Whether our incredibly complex civilisation could survive seems less certain to me. It is already unsustainable and contains the seeds of its own destruction even without a pandemic. The information required to rebuild would remain in the world’s libraries but for how long before mildew and rot erased everything.

What would survive? Just selfishness and the desire to perfect the art of living together.

seawulf575's avatar

I am sure things would go on…the survivors of the pandemic would find a way to move on. But it is highly likely that the ability to build a cell phone or keeping an electrical grid operational would be lost. The ability even do things like make cloth or metal would be gone. The survivors would learn to exist on the plethora of stuff left from the dying civilization but wouldn’t have the ability to replenish it.

flutherother's avatar

@seawulf575 Great book by the way. I read it about 50 years ago.

RocketGuy's avatar

@seawulf575 – people would realize very quickly that they will need to learn to replenish the previous skill base in order to survive long term.

seawulf575's avatar

@RocketGuy Would they though? why? There would be plenty of food and shelter, even fire would be easy for a while. Why would they have to learn how to smelt ore into iron or mix it with other things to become steel? Would they be able to figure out how to pull oil out of the ground or refine it into many other useful forms? My guess is that if you did a completely random selection of who survived, the necessary knowledge and skills would be lost.

RocketGuy's avatar

Yep, 90% of the skilled people would be gone. The forward-thinking people would start to look around to re-acquire the skills.

seawulf575's avatar

@RocketGuy Where my curiosity leads me is to this: They COULD conceivably do some of the things. But most people aren’t forward-thinking and after suddenly having nothing of this society left other than the dregs, it might be some time before they come to the realization of the things that they really need to re-learn (or learn for the first time). And not everyone would follow along with those that were forward thinking.

RocketGuy's avatar

That happens in a lot of post-apocalypse sci-fi stories – people living in ruins surviving on cobbled up/ jerry-rigged technology. I have a research and development background, so am always looking at capabilities needed for the next step. Post-apocalypse, the next step would be to get back to the “good ol’ times”, which means expertise would need to be built back up.

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