Monday, April 21, 2014

Dog-eat-dog world

There are lots of dystopian movies and TV shows. And current subgenre is the zombie flick. But many dystopian movies and TV shows don't feature zombies. Examples include Gibson's Max Max series, Jericho, The Book of Eli, and Revolution.
Some dystopian films have a political agenda. During the Cold War, you had movies promoting unilateral nuclear disarmament (On the Beach; The Day After). Others have an environmentalist agenda (Soylent Green; The Day After Tomorrow). 
In these films, with the destruction of civil authority, human society reverts to barbarity. You have roving rape gangs. Cannibals. Brutal, dictatorial city-states. 
Some survivalists promote the gold standard, on the theory that in the event of gov't collapse, gold will become the fallback currency. But in a post-apocalyptic scenario, many things will be far more valuable than gold, viz. guns, bullets, batteries, gasoline, medicine, flashlights, lighters, pocket knives, chainsaws, solar chargers, drinking water, canned goods, women of childbearing age.
One question we might ask is what are some of the more realistic causes of a post-apocalyptic world? Likewise, what would be the greatest threats in a post-apocalyptic world? 
One looming concern is whether, in the not-so-distant future, pandemics will return because the overuse of antibiotics (and antivirals) led to resistant strains. A post-antibiotic world which reverts to a pre-antibiotic world. Antibiotics are also essential in surgery to stave off infection. 
Another possibility is that when scientists clone fossilized organic matter, that will accidentally release an ancient pathogen for which modern-day humans have no resistance.

Like theories about how the vastly outnumbered Conquistadors were able defeat Mesoamerican warrior cultures. Was it due to their exposure to European diseases? 
Suppose most of the human race was wiped out by one of these pandemics, leaving scattered survivors. What would pose the greatest threat to survivors? In movies and TV shows, it's usually desperate fellow humans. 
But here's a neglected threat: dogs. Of course, a percentage of dogs would starve to death because they can't escape the house or fenced yard after their owners die. But other dogs would be on the loose. Without owners, they'd form packs and revert to their wolfish instincts. Big dogs would eat little dogs (as well as cats). Tough dogs would kill sweet dogs. Bad news for Golden Retrievers. 
You'd end up with roving packs of pit bulls, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Malinois, Tosas, Presas, Rottweilers, Irish Wolfhounds, &c. And humans would be on the menu. 
Handguns and rifles might be inadequate, since you might be unable to get off enough shots to drop a vicious dog pack. You'd need a submachine gun. 


  1. Good post!

    At the same time, we may have a small foretaste of a diseased world wiping out much of humanity if we look at contemporary anti-vaccination communities (e.g. here).

    Also, in a world where dogs are no longer man's best friend, it's possible it'll be difficult to protect our flocks, cattle, crops, and the like. Wild animals including wild dogs could break in and eat them, or otherwise scatter them. This might make it more difficult to carve out a safe niche somewhere for human civilization to begin to flourish again.

  2. Another possible cause is a synthetic pathogen accidentally or intentionally developed in a private or gov't scientific laboratory.

  3. Also, without antibiotics, we can't treat diseases like chlamydia, which in turn may cause male infertility (source). Of course, increased infertility in an already diminished human population would significantly compound matters.

  4. The development of antibiotics and antivirals has arguably led to increased life expectancy for humans.

  5. That raises an issue that I have yet to see considered in any time travel stories: the notion that if a character went back in time to the era of Buddha or Jesus or Charlemagne or even the Enlightenment, what are the chances that the time traveller would instantly keel over due to the swarm of bacteria and viruses that his immune system isn't ready for?

  6. A huge problem would be nuclear plants. Even if they were safely shut down, you still have to keep the fuel cool for years, and to do that you have to constantly pump water into them. If the electrical grid goes, you can't pump cool water in. So in the end you'll have a meltdown. With dozens of plants in the US, a large part of the US will end up radiated.

  7. Another problem is chemical plants. Unless each is taken through a shutdown process, you're like to end up with fires and explosions that release all sorts of toxic gases in urban areas.

    Domesticated cattle, hogs and chickens would be another problem There are tens of millions of these animals and without farmers to feed them, millions would die very quickly, polluting the land and water in many areas.

  8. One question we might ask is what are some of the more realistic causes of a post-apocalyptic world?

    I collected links to Doomsday Scenarios videos HERE

    But here's a neglected threat: dogs.

    Isn't there simple technology already on the market that one can use to keep dogs away from oneself? The devices use sounds that are irritating to dogs but are imperceptible to humans. With packs of barking dogs, I suppose the sounds those devices make could be drowned out. The devices would have to be amplified. Nevertheless, I agree that people would probably also need machine guns.

    I don't know how some GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods are being produced, but if they are using viruses or retroviruses to manipulate the DNA of plants and animals, isn't there a possibility that such viruses accidentally infect humans and so cause unexpected diseases and plagues?

    I agree with many that because of global travel and antibiotic resistance, pandemics are the most imminent and likely cause of a post-apocalyptic world. More imminent than a large asteroid impacting Earth, than the eruption of a supervolcano, than the supernova of a nearby star, than the uprising of artificial intelligence, etc. etc.

    Epidemics of various plagues are recorded in many sacred texts (including the Bible) and pandemics have happened worldwide before. Why not now with global travel, trade/commerce and the overuse and abuse of antibiotics?