Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ok ok now for the fun

So here you sit in your stone built, steel cladded home with hot and cold running water, heat on demand, a perfectly functional toilet and shower, stores of food, active gardens and a bunch of farm animals you are more than a little clueless about that live right next door. You have renewable and non renewable energy sources, though getting through all the available coal and wood will be a herculean task for a very small group so let's not label it non renewable too quickly.You have a wind mill, a water wheel (for that mill you are going to build sometime) maybe some geothermal.In the basement there is one room filled only with small and giant batteries and a second room filled with friction flashlights and lamps. You have more than enough energy to provide security.

You have constructed ingenious security measures all over the damn place to keep the scary, weird and desperate out of the garden and off the front lawn. Yes, you did get a few guns because sometimes a huge jolt of electricity is just not enough of a deterrent for some.

You have effectively isolated and quarantined yourself in a place remote enough that getting there would cripple the resources of most people.

Outside the world is still struggling to contain what are really minor outbreaks of an unknown, non treatable virus. Because there was no effective plan in place hospitals were overrun and could no longer function. Unfortunately during this spell of minor outbreak the power grid experienced a comprehensive failure throughout North and South America . There was no espionage, no terrorist attacks but there was a media/intelligence blackout caused by the loss of power so everyone jumped to the wrong conclusions. Including those governments that have been waiting for any excuse to start some Shock and Awe on a few enemies. Hell, who could blame them ? First a plague and then the darkness? Had to be the bad guys right? Of course those so called bad guys are a little panicked themselves and gear up to retaliate against their favorite enemies too.
While everyone gets busy grabbing a weapon( hopefully something huge like a fully automatic machine gun and a rocket launcher or two) all the traffic stops. Sadly almost all our food arrives to the city by train, plane or big trucks. Those in charge of transport services are a little busy panicking in their basement preparing for the invasion of the Islamic/Christian/Jewish fundamentalists or the South American socialists or worse the dreaded communists to go and do their jobs. And they really don't want to be out on the streets anyway in case they get coughed on by a fever frazzled bird flu carrier or get t-boned by some idiot because the streetlights aren't working and no one knows the four way stop rule.
Because you could see this shit coming you didn't have to get into a fight to the death over a shopping cart filled with canned beans , spaghetti ,12 cases of diet Pepsi and a bag of extra cheesy Doritos at your local Piggly Wiggly. You did have the pleasure of watching that fight on CNN while their generators still held out. You also noted that no one had the good sense to go for the perishables before they became bacterial breeding grounds. The groups that came after had the dubious distinction of having no sense and they didn't need any strange new virus to die. Bad meat worked faster.
Ever wonder how long the food will last in a city of millions if it doesn't get resupplied? I guess if you have a few big guns and a few big trucks you could empty out most grocery stores in a day or two and find out. Then all you need are electric or gas generators and storage. Storage is something we all excel at. We have buildings for nothing but storage and a lot of them are climate controlled. All they need is access to some energy and Home Depot and friends all stock generators large and small.
Control the food and you control the city. Get a few rival gangs vying for food power and we usher in the time of Urban warfare.
How long will the cops stay on the side of the angels? Yeah, right. They will be the first gang formed and their firepower will be awesome. The military and the politicians will be a rival gang. Their firepower will be a thing to behold...they have jets, jets with bombs. The there will be the common roving groups of family bonded bandits scooping up the leftovers.
The US and other fundamentalist countries are going to have one more group than everyone else. The religious zealot who is filled with ecstasy and fury. The ecstasy because The Bible was right dammit but the fury will be worse because they are still on earth and have obviously been judged unworthy to join the rapture. These are going to be some very,very pissed off Christians who will promptly burn every copy of the New Testament so they can get right back to "my god is an angry, jealous, vindicative motherfucker Old Testament style God who is more than happy to nuke your ass if you don't bring me food,gas and lodging right the fuck now." And because half these nutjobs are US senators, Governors or congresspeople they wont have any trouble finding an Army Fort filled to the brim with jets and nuclear warheads to get their point across.
This convergence of minor, multiple events will scare the shit out of the US because their first response to disaster is always AlQueda did it until proven otherwise. And because all the lights are out and communication is near impossible it's going to be hard to prove quickly that it was nothing but a regular,dumb, fuck up of neglected maintenance. Now stir in some "refugees" running away from drought stricken areas. Then spice this mess up with the fact that there are no staple grains, corn or rice in mass, global production and the available surplus is a) being converted right before your eyes into ethanol or b) way too expensive for the likes of you to buy. The only problem is only about 10% of the population has a vehicle that's been adapted to accept 100% ethanol . Then there is the issue of no one in their right mind going out for a drive so there really is no market for that ethanol. Even when farmers go back to farming grain it will still take another three to six months for the first crops to come in( if the climate is agreeable). Then it will take a little time to process it and convert it into a loaf of a bread. By that time there wont be any stores open to sell it but I am pretty sure our two main gangs would be happy to exchange protection for food. That may involve some minor farming wars for control of the fields,the water, the seed and the machines.

You can mix and match each of these small disasters, make the energy ethanol crisis come first if you like. See the prices of grain, corn and rice explode. No one can afford to buy it. Whole countries begin to starve while the economies of the sellers first prosper causing global fury and then when no one can afford to buy watch these markets collapse and bring down whole governments.
You can actually witness this in real time in Canada with the hog crisis. We have a massive surplus of pigs because we discovered a vaccine that stopped a virus that was created by factory farming millions of living creatures in grotesque conditions. The result is too many hogs and the grain prices are too high to feed them all and still make a good profit. The governments solution is to kill as many as possible and pay the farmer $225 for each dead breeding pig. The catch is to get that money you have to kill all your pigs and promise to stop raising pigs for three years. So the giant hog factories will survive as intended and all the smaller farms will have no choice but to take the money because they cannot afford to buy the grain to feed the hogs at the low, low prices hogs are traded at. These farms disappear creating a new wave of unemployment , resentment and poverty. Not only have they lost their jobs they can't pay their farm mortgage and end up homeless.Who wants to buy a hog farm you aren't allowed to have hogs on? Anyone?
Then the hogs get scarce and the prices go up but because no one can afford them except an elite few the market will collapse because markets during disasters don't behave as expected anymore.. The hogs will be worthless except as food and no one wants food, they want money to buy food.
Let's add more and more cases of bird flu striking all over the east and the west. Show that it is jumping to humans faster and faster and let the media incite the terror. Watch for billions of domesticated poultry and wild water fowl being slaughtered leaving a trail of bankruptcies and fear and unlucky chicken feet. The chickens will have the same fate as the Canadian hogs....one day worthless, the next a luxury commodity no one can afford. In enough time there wont be any grain to feed them anyway and they will either be slaughtered or abandoned. I predict abandonment. It costs money to slaughter and no one will want to waste any resources on something that no longer has any value, except as food. Abandoned flocks will mingle with wild fowl and who knows? Maybe a new mutation of avian flu.
Anybody else seeing the irony of slaughtering food when millions are starving because of the margin of profit? Do you think we may regret this some day when the pork industry consists of your two pigs?
You could have started with drought and the loss of millions of acres of grazing land that leads to the starvation of beef cattle, those that survive sold at terrible losses. more bankruptcies. Beef joins the luxury items list. More unemployed, homeless farmers to stir the pot.
We can mix in more severe global drought that creates global migration of people and animals. The people unwelcome, persecuted and left at border lands to starve or adapt to their new conditions.

It could be fascinating to see human refugees, wild chickens,wild hogs and wild cattle fighting it out with evolution. Adapt or die. And after the African experience with transplanting our brand of cattle to semi arid grasslands we already know the cattle are going to die. I have high hopes for the chickens though and the people.
The loss of the electrical grid that goes on too long in a world already too overstretched with food and water shortages , a world that has been stretched to the breaking point by George Bush and his fear everyone campaign of terror. Big Pharma unable to keep up with the Ativan and Xanax demands. Mass untreated, unrelieved anxiety that devolves into suicides and family violence and the circle of violence widening to include anyone who appears threatening in any way.
A global community that has only one thing in common: everyone is afraid of everyone else . Everyone waiting for the other shoe to drop, already knowing who to blame and retaliate against if it does.

I haven't even mentioned global climate change once...add some natural disasters in there if you are so inclined.

So it doesn't matter the sequence of events. What matters is you are snug and have enough extra energy to run the tv and DVD player. Every night will be movie night if you planned well. You should have at least one good book a day to read. If you thought ahead to buy a sewing machine now is the time to see whose ass you could have kicked on Project Runway. You do to have time to create couture now. It doesn't have to be all "Little House on the Prairie". It's possible to make the end of civilization fun and rewarding.
And when about fifty years pass and the survivors have all stopped bombing, shooting and glaring at each other you could have a chance to build a better world this time. And that could be a lot of fun.


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