Humanity’s one shot

[Sometimes I write to myself just so I have the thoughts persisted.
A thought written is a thought not forgotten.
This is one of those posts.]

Blue Across the Sea & Shadow Shoals foundational premise.

Here’s my theory.

First off this happens: Blue Across the Sea Epilogue, (a pair of massive CMEs destroy the Northern hemisphere’s electrical grid).

Supporting theory…

Coal and oil allowed the 19th and 20th and the first 1/3 of the 21st centuries to become the mega-food and people generating periods that we’ve seen thus far. Without oil, particularly, there would have been no way to produce the food that has produced, to date, 7.4 billion people. And, once sucked from the ground and burned, oil is gone. Humanity got exactly one shot at our technological advancement — and that shot has been expended. If 80-90% of people were to die off today, leaving about one billion, this would approximately represent where the human population would have been without coal and oil. And that would be it. No technological renaissance 2.0. One shot, bang!
[Cite: ]


Okay, so the primary driver here was energy — in the form of oil — which produced food. Food is the crux, the fulcrum which makes or breaks all civilizations. I go into this theory in the previously linked post, but suffice to say, with out fossil fuels, humanity would never have attained the populations necessary to spawn the technological revolution. No great world wars (which require oil), no space race (which require oil), no massive move to the cities (which required food produced by oil). The tech revolution just wouldn’t have happened. Humanity would have burned whale oil until all the whales were dead. And then maybe hydrolyzed wood to produce methanol as a fuel, and of course ethanol from fermentation — energy is life. Without fossil fuels, we’d literally still be in the 1800’s

Now back to the post CME apocalypse: So, even though the buildings and cities and structures in the stories still exist, many were burned or ransacked after the sunstorm, but, yes the cities are still there, and the roads exist, and there are people who might still live there. But the major problem now is that food is scarce, similar to the 1600’s and 1700’s, but without the prior hundreds of years of people having learned how to leverage the land and live on less. Only the countryside can provide food now. There are villages and towns that exist and thrive, but without electricity – we’re back to the 1800’s at a maximum technological level — but without the possibility of being rescued by fossil fuels.

All the agriculture lore that the people of the 1800’s had available to survive — that has been lost. Horticulture? Animal husbandry? Those were reset to zero. Now, it’s been 230 years since the storm so there are enclaves and substantial areas thriving. But food is still the prime driver for all societal organization.

Recall that the Southern hemisphere avoided the sunstorm. That’s how that catastrophe would work; the Northern hemisphere would get destroyed as, when the CMEs hit during the summer, the Earth’s tilt would have allowed the plasma wave to obliterate the Northern hemisphere’s electrical grid. The Southern hemisphere collapsed due to the influx of 600-700 million people escaping the north. But there would be countries there returning to productivity and that will become evident when a steamship shows up in the Chesapeake Bay with intentions of establishing a colony from New Brazil.

One of the ideas I use to justify the existence of stuff in this future world is by looking backwards about 300 years and thinking “what is here today that was built or made back in the 1700’s?” Books survive, some clothing (especially that made from non-organic materials). Roads, buildings, metal signs even, and metal of many kinds. Guns that were well taken care of, sure, but ammo is gone. Glassware, some plastic, pottery, many tools  but nothing made from rubber. Nothing electrical or electronic. But the wire would still exist and have been reused for other purposes. No engines or motors, as fuel hasn’t been refined for centuries. Although, in remote mountainous areas there are some solar cell systems running at perhaps 5-10% efficiency. And a few hydro generators still work in tucked-away places.

More on this to come.

11 thoughts on “Humanity’s one shot

    1. No doubt contributing factors. But without cheap nearly inexhaustible energy – nothing else matters.
      One of the Catch-22 aspects of this is that there are thresholds of population, that, when met, trigger exponential growth through the cross-pollination of ideas. But still, with out cheap energy to cultivate, fertilize, and transport huge quantities of food – cities can’t become the idea factories that they are today. Scientific and medical breakthrough are some of those ideas that were spawned from people living in cities being fed by industrial food production — powered by fossil fuels.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think back to ancient Egypt, the pyramid builders, and the stone-circle builders of Europe with regards to how we use (or abuse) coal and oil today.

    There are also some that believe the claim that these fossil fuels are going to run out, at least any time soon, is a lie… that might be the flat-earthers though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Peak Oil has probably already happened. But, yeah, so what. The multi-trillion $ engine that is fossil fuels will eventually have to surrender to alt-energy, and the sooner the better, I agree. But that industry is run and owned by some of the BIGGEST oiligarchs on the planet, and they will not easily relinquish control.
      This concept, however, is not a factor in the premise proposed here. Were humanity to try to start over, from 1800’s era technology (primarily food production tech) I propose it would be impossible to replicate the 20th century’s progress — or even 10% of its progress — due to the absence of easy energy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a friend, at work, that talks about nothing more than the post-oil world that is coming (fast, by his research). I am, by no means, as studied as he (or you), but he keeps bringing up the 2030 Agenda and says that the “plan is already in place” to sustain — aye, thrive — beyond the era of coal and oil. And this man, he is the cynic of our times.

    What do you know of the 2030 Agenda, and what do you think about sustainable development and the technologies that will allow humanity to prosper, when all the primordial ooze is gone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looks like this is what you speak of:
      Excellent goals, those. And I’d be a Scrooge to say that such goals are unattainable. But, yeah, they’re unattainable.
      Post oil? I’ve been following global energy production/consumption patterns for a few decades and can guarantee that oil for fuel is going to be with us for at least fifty years. How does a place like Japan operate without either restarting its nukes or continue its consumption of ~5M barrels of oil PER DAY?
      And oil for industrial uses will never stop.
      Easy oil is gone. But hard oil, and harder oil is still too lucrative to surrender.
      The rate of increase in the use of fossil fuels may have stopped and even reversed. But that’s the acceleration rate. The consumption rate is immense. Maybe this deserves a post…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fascinating. I look forward to your elaboration on this. I read an article recently that mentioned that even though oil won’t be gone, the fact that alternative fuels will bring the price of oil below $25/barrel will stop companies from going after the “hard oil,” because the price of securing it would be more than the price they could sell it for.

        It’s an interesting time.

        Like I said, this is a topic I know very little about, so I am relying on the research of folks like you and my co-worker. Either way, going to be very interesting to watch as it all plays out…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So, imagine trying to replace coal, oil and nat.gas shown in this chart:

          in less than 50 years. That’s nearly 80% of all energy consumption in the US three years ago. And that’s just the US. What about China and India?
          And you can reduce some of this consumption. But for the most part to eliminate fossil fuels — you’ll have to replace them — fully. We All Want Our MTV.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have to say that your argument is much more coherent than the one I’m hearing from him, which constitutes deep digging into alternative deep-web sources. Sometimes I fear he’s finding what he’s looking for instead of what is apparent. I find it hard to believe this chart will vary much in a dozen years …

            Liked by 1 person

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