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That was too close... Five natural disasters that may yet happen

AndyC

Rating constellations? Cassiopeia: five stars
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
#5
I, for one, enjoy the 5 x style. -punk sounds good, but I'm not convinced there's a rush to get there.

I guess it comes down to whatever you feel happiest with writing.
I think I'd prefer the 5(x) that never happened format. I may be able to do the -punks alongside, when I've got time.
YES IT CERTAINLY HAS

THANKS FOR THAT
:)
I aim to please.
(The solar storm one is what keeps me up at nights, though)
Must admit my first thought wrt Houston was when it looked like Harvey was going to make a direct impact and flood the whole place.
There are so many potential PoDs with hurricanes - the two I grabbed are just scratching the surface.
I really don't think natural disaster PoDs are used very often in alternate history and there are just so many of them.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#6
I aim to please.
(The solar storm one is what keeps me up at nights, though)
I think a big question is whether turning things off beforehand would be sufficient mitigation, especially for portable objects disconnected from the mains and turned off.

If so, even with a couple of days warning you could put out an emergency broadcast and shut down everything but the bare emergencies and avoid most of the issues.

But if not, yeesh.

Still. Probably the most beautiful way for society to end.
 

Geordie

We're going to privatise swans
Published by SLP
Pronouns
he/him
#7
I'd never considered an earthquake levelling somewhere like Istanbul. It's been such an important city for so many years. There are dozens and dozens of times when you could turn the trajectory of Europe, the Near and Middle East on its head with a quake there. Provably further afield, too. Political and religious consequences galore.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
#8
Still. Probably the most beautiful way for society to end.
Eh, we can rebuild. Might have to build most shit back from the ground up, but the solar storm ain't killing people. Books exist, and so does institutional know-how and reliquary deposits. Things would be hard for the next hundred years, but it would be something to be overcome, not something to end the world.
 

Zillian

New member
Patreon supporter
#9
Nor is that first time our civilisation had come to an near end.
For 100.000 years ago, the Homo Sapiens was reduced to only 10.000 individuals
The 4.2 kiloyear event in 2200 BC was catastrophic to all cradle of civilisations
This bronze age in 1.200 BC collapse killed most of civilisations in Europa
...and yet they overcome it and built themselves up.

I am sure we will survive ever if the Cuba crisis in 60s led to an nuclear war
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#10
Eh, we can rebuild. Might have to build most shit back from the ground up, but the solar storm ain't killing people. Books exist, and so does institutional know-how and reliquary deposits. Things would be hard for the next hundred years, but it would be something to be overcome, not something to end the world.
Humanity would survive. Society in its current form would completely collapse in the absence of an electric grid if the whole thing imploded at once.

And yes, given the number of things requiring power theseadays to ensure the smooth supply of food, water and medicine, lots of people would die.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
#11
Humanity would survive. Society in its current form would completely collapse in the absence of an electric grid if the whole thing imploded at once.

And yes, given the number of things requiring power theseadays to ensure the smooth supply of food, water and medicine, lots of people would die.
Not as many as you'd think. As much as modern society depends on electricity, a lot of critical systems like water infastructure are equipped with systems in case of power failure, and the transportation network is remarkably fault proof. All you'd need to get a truck started would be to disconnect the battery, ground the circuit, and plug in a new one from a shielded container- and bulk batteries are shipped in electrically shielded containers- and you're ready to roll. The hardest thing to replace would be computers and the actual physical infastructure of grids themselves, IMO.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#12
Not as many as you'd think. As much as modern society depends on electricity, a lot of critical systems like water infastructure are equipped with systems in case of power failure, and the transportation network is remarkably fault proof. All you'd need to get a truck started would be to disconnect the battery, ground the circuit, and plug in a new one from a shielded container- and bulk batteries are shipped in electrically shielded containers- and you're ready to roll. The hardest thing to replace would be computers and the actual physical infastructure of grids themselves, IMO.
But most of the grid and most systems that modern society relies on are run by computers.

Also most vehicles today use some sort of electronic start-up system and computer chips regulating the engines, which might be alright but on the other hand they could well not be.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#13
The important thing is that while the human race would survive and rebuild, I'd likely die.

And some other people too but that's secondary importance.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
#14
The important thing is that while the human race would survive and rebuild, I'd likely die.
That's what extensive conditioning and bushcraft are for. If you don't got it, you can always learn it.

Also most vehicles today use some sort of electronic start-up system and computer chips regulating the engines, which might be alright but on the other hand they could well not be.
Four plus air filled rubber tires are a pretty good insulation source, so the gross volt carriers are fine. The computers may or may not be screwed, but if they are it shouldn't be hard too much work to check if they're bricked- just see if the car still can wipe the widows with the engine idling. Brakes and throttle shouldn't be tied to the computer for a lot of cars, or failing that can default to run to a straight hydraulic throttle. Most cars from before '04 should still run fine, and most American type large trucks and farm equipment too. I don't know how European stuff would handle- never been in a Scania- but I know most John Deer, International, Kubota, and Izuku vehicles would be just fine.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#15
Four plus air filled rubber tires are a pretty good insulation source, so the gross volt carriers are fine. The computers may or may not be screwed, but if they are it shouldn't be hard too much work to check if they're bricked- just see if the car still can wipe the widows with the engine idling. Brakes and throttle shouldn't be tied to the computer for a lot of cars, or failing that can default to run to a straight hydraulic throttle. Most cars from before '04 should still run fine, and most American type large trucks and farm equipment too. I don't know how European stuff would handle- never been in a Scania- but I know most John Deer, International, Kubota, and Izuku vehicles would be just fine.
'04 is 15 years ago now. The average age of a car on the UK road network is about 7 and half years. The vast majority of cars from before '04 will have been scrapped by now.

Brake and throttle might not be tied to a chip for most cars, but the engine start certainly is.

Also I think you're seriously underestimating the amount of computer technology that goes into modern farm equipment, at least assuming the stuff they're showing on Countryfile theseadays is even halfway representative.
 

AndyC

Rating constellations? Cassiopeia: five stars
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
#16
There's also the collapse of supply chains for Just-In-Time delivery, support, manufacture, and service.
Simply fears of a No-Deal Brexit have caused very significant worries about this. If deliveries of food, consumables, ordered complete units of anything, parts, and so forth, get delayed by hours, things start to shake.

Days, and things fall apart.

Connectivity, communications, control, and information management are a huge thing these days. Distribution centres failing because they don't know what is going to where. Supermarkets running out of important things abruptly, with resupply taking time.
Payment? All electronic payments are stopped. All schedules are lost. All underwriting of standards and acceptability are gone. Bills of Materiel no longer exist.

That's before you get into the question of whether or not you do, indeed, have transport available.

Any computer control of utilities (gas, electricity (which itself could be in a bit of bother, considering the description of the Carrington Event itself), water, sewage, telecomms (if the carriers can be reset, damaged areas replaced, and brought back)) - if that's fried, who's got water, sewage, heating, power?

There will be people who are prepared and resilient. And millions more who aren't, and could rapidly get desperate (how many meals are we away from barbarism?)

Does money exist any more? Are the electronic records backed up? If not, who has what? It's down to whatever paper money was out there at the time, plus barter.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#17
Does money exist any more? Are the electronic records backed up? If not, who has what? It's down to whatever paper money was out there at the time, plus barter.
Paper money, no less, where the value of which is solely down to fact that society has decided to embark on a collective thought experiment about whether you can assign an arbitary value to a piece of cotton/polyester just by writing a number on it in a fancy enough way and getting somebody important to say it's true.
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#18
Any computer control of utilities (gas, electricity (which itself could be in a bit of bother, considering the description of the Carrington Event itself), water, sewage, telecomms (if the carriers can be reset, damaged areas replaced, and brought back)) - if that's fried, who's got water, sewage, heating, power?
I've stayed out of this, as it's spreading dangerously close to work.

As far as the electricity grid is concerned, the technical phrase for the state of it after an event as described is: "totally screwed." It's several categories beyond FUBAR.

An individual gas turbine is screwed beyond belief, quite possibly catastrophically. The grid is screwed. Nuclear plants have shut down, and they're going to take forever to get restarted. Don't get me started on the state of CCGT units. They more screwed than a really badly screwed thing.

Of course, grids have built-in redundancies, being able to switch to other control systems, but these are screwed as well.

I've a friend who used to work for Electriciens sans Frontieres; similar to Medicins sans Frontieres, but providing electricity supplies to emergency zones. Such a situation is going to be a lot of not-fun.
 

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
#19
Brake and throttle might not be tied to a chip for most cars, but the engine start certainly is.
That's if you use a key. Once you learn the tao of engines, keys are optional, and more importantly aren't actually that useful since picking a car ignition takes like ten seconds with a rake and an Allen wrench.

'04 is 15 years ago now. The average age of a car on the UK road network is about 7 and half years. The vast majority of cars from before '04 will have been scrapped by now.
In England, sure. Elsewhere that does not have that wasteful of a turnover, you'd be amazed what's still running. I've worked on cars pushing half a million kilometers or more, and twenty years on a reasonably maintained car is not unreasonable in America if you need a budget car for daily work.

Also I think you're seriously underestimating the amount of computer technology that goes into modern farm equipment, at least assuming the stuff they're showing on Countryfile theseadays is even halfway representative.
I've worked around the fancy new shit, it's a hoot. The thing most people who haven't worked around the agg industry though is that storage space is cheap, and once something gets paid off it's usually put into mothballs and not used until that fancy computerized widget factory they call a disking rig or towed watering system breaks down. Once that happens, you dust off Ol' Red, check the seals, and dump your POL's in and off you go.

Does money exist any more? Are the electronic records backed up? If not, who has what? It's down to whatever paper money was out there at the time, plus barter.
In a regression of society like this, any fiat monetary system is rather drastically in default, since the entire thing holding up fiat money is that to the little man in London it's worth something. Barter and gold standard would be the name of the game, since both of those have intrastic value, and a possibility exists for pseudo-currency exists but I reckon would be unlikely.

Any computer control of utilities (gas, electricity (which itself could be in a bit of bother, considering the description of the Carrington Event itself), water, sewage, telecomms (if the carriers can be reset, damaged areas replaced, and brought back)) - if that's fried, who's got water, sewage, heating, power?
People with independent means, mostly. I live in the Great Lakes area, which means I have water throughout just about anything short of a nuke because the entire water system runs off natural pressure from the input valve on the floor of Lake St. Claire. I have heat because I have a wood stove, and a good axe and canvas sling to move the wood with. Said wood stove also covers my cooking needs, even if making eggs in the family room is a tad odd. I have sewage through the septic tank of course considering the age of the house, and food storage would be of a concern until I get my existing stockpiled frozen food all canned up.

The thing about this sort of disaster scenario is that you need to understand what your personal needs for survival are, and then maintain systems that will operate in case you actually need them. I know all of the following because in Detroit, shit happens that means you need that information and ability, which means it's a part of my general skill set. If things work on a day to day basis that you feel not having a series of contingencies is reasonable, that's fine and dandy- don't be surprised though when the people with said skills think you're being a bit of a niny about the affair though.
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#20
That's if you use a key. Once you learn the tao of engines, keys are optional, and more importantly aren't actually that useful since picking a car ignition takes like ten seconds with a rake and an Allen wrench.
I haven't seen a new car sold with a simple key ignition only in years. Even if you've got a key ignition they still use an electronic push start to actually get the engine up and running.

We've got an old friend of the family who's a mechanic and he's been complaining for years about the number of things he just can't fix because its all down to faults in the chips and he's not got specialist equipment.

The thing about this sort of disaster scenario is that you need to understand what your personal needs for survival are, and then maintain systems that will operate in case you actually need them. I know all of the following because in Detroit, shit happens that means you need that information and ability, which means it's a part of my general skill set. If things work on a day to day basis that you feel not having a series of contingencies is reasonable, that's fine and dandy- don't be surprised though when the people with said skills think you're being a bit of a niny about the affair though.
I think the issue is you're just assuming that this level of activity is possible in most places. It isn't. To take the example of locally, the nearest mature forest is about 30 miles away and nowhere near large enough to actually supply even the people locally. Water? Well if the Derwent Valley reservoirs are gravity controlled only it might give me some limited supplies. Anything else? Forget it. Nowhere near enough space.

Essentially this is why I've been saying it's the end of Society not Humanity. There's enough people who would survive that its not an extinction level event, but millions, if not billions, will die and what emerges isn't going to be recognizable as anything like the current situation.

Like maybe the US can pull through as a nation of Jeffersonian Farmers, but its not been that since the 1810s so...