10 Elements for a Realistic Postapocalypse

1. Humans work together

There are a lot of assholes in the world, but there are more normal people, which means that when a disaster or accident happens, more people try to help and collaborate than try to take advantage of the situation. We see this in hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, car accidents and any other catastrophe. In a post-apocalyptic world, people would band together and collaborate; bandits and profiteers would be few, and established groups would not conflict with other groups, they would seek to collaborate as well.

2. Fights are lethal

Professional fighters are trained to punch people in the face with their fists, yet they often get injured and require specialized treatment and time to recover. You’re not a professional fighter and don’t have a team of doctors to treat you, you need to avoid getting hit as much as possible; without your hands, you’d die.

3. Feral dogs

Have you thought about what happened to Max and Bella? They most likely joined up with other dogs, forming a pack to scavenge for food from the wreckage. Over time, the dogs have reverted to a previous state, no longer man’s best friend, now they want to eat man. This has happened after events such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Before bandits and mutants, these packs would be an immediate danger to survivors.

4. Diseases and infections

Medicines last only a few months on the shelf before they spoil and lose their effects. The collapse of civilization means that there’s almost no one to produce new drugs, and any untreated injury could lead to death. Even during the first few months, when the drugs are still in good condition, who would know what substance and in what quantity you need to soothe those bruises that just won’t go away?

5. Rabies

Rabies would be one of the most common diseases and one of the most constant and lethal dangers. Not only dogs transmit rabies, other animals that can transmit it to humans very easily are cats, cows, ferrets, goats and horses, as well as wild animals: bats, beavers, coyotes, foxes, monkeys, raccoons, skunks or groundhogs. Although it is not common, poultry can also be infected, but since they do not present symptoms, transmission from bird to human can be very easy.

6. Malnutrition

Without an organized society, who produces food? Are you going to resort to hunting, fishing and gathering? Are you going to start a small vegetable garden? Do you know how to do it? Even if you manage to grow some potatoes and lettuce, will you be able to get enough iron? Vitamin B? Calcium? Chances are you’ll be weak and sleepy most of the time, that is if you haven’t gotten scurvy or leukemia. Engaging in a fist fight is not a realistic option.

7. Automobiles

Gasoline dissolves in a matter of days. After three months, and without a petrochemical industry to produce more, in three months the reserves will be depleted. Electric cars are not a more advantageous option either, without hydroelectric plants, who will produce the energy to power them? Solar cars might be a better option, but when damaged, will you be able to repair it, or even get the materials to try.

8. Cities would be flooded

In the absence of infrastructure and institutions in charge of urban maintenance, wastewater would no longer be pumped or directed to the sea and drainage systems would collapse. In addition, cities are not very porous to rainwater, as there are few areas of land compared to concrete or paved areas, so water would accumulate more quickly, covering some parts of the city.

9. Fires

Fires are common but usually do not become a big problem because there is always someone capable of controlling them. But even with government and infrastructure in place it is not uncommon for a fire to get out of control, without a competent authority, forests and cities would be reduced in a few years. Forests can grow back, but not cities.

10. Nuclear meltdown

More than 30 countries have nuclear power plants, and the number of these plants is more than 400. It is enough for just one nuclear plant to fail to produce an explosion so large that it would raise a cloud of radioactive dust that would cover the entire Earth. This would prevent sunlight from entering and consequently all plants would die. There would be lethal radiation all over the world, and only people living in underground shelters, where they could protect themselves from the excess radiation, would survive.

Author:

Chaos Magick-User, Vagabond, Dork

6 thoughts on “10 Elements for a Realistic Postapocalypse

  1. Humans would work together…until the food starts running out.

    People help each other after disasters in part (I think), because they hold out hope that it is a temporary situation. Red Cross or some other “disaster relief program” is going to come eventually with supplies and aid and people just need to hold out till then…help each other as the Good Book says.

    In a true post-apocalypse, I think you can’t underestimate the rise and power of bandit/warlord culture…unless, perhaps, there is some “common enemy” for humanity to band against (zombies, alien invaders, etc.). The bleaker the future looks, the less hope appears on the horizon, the faster people succumb to selfish survivalism.

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    1. Maybe I want to believe in people (which is strange, I tend to be sort of a cinical misanthrope). I think people will work together until they rebuild some towns and their safety is “ensured”. Once that’s done, they will start new wars. But in the meantime, they will organize to defend from bandits, and try to avoid nuclear winter.

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      1. Well, folks DO tend to surprise us. I try my best to be hopeful about humans, but my mind sometimes goes to dark places. PA settings tend to scare the bejeezus out of me, when I think/dwell on them too much, and that’s probably a large part of it.

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      2. I can understand. My vew is based in the fact that I have seen this solidarity after some catastrophic events, like earthquakes or more common accidents. Even the director of the place I worked for, a decade ago, organized a recollection of medicine, clothes and other stuff, to send to Haiti (the Mexico City governor paid the plane), and every single person doing the job was a volunteer; I voluntereed to go, but the number of people going was limited and was not selected. It surprised me how many people wanted to join!

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  2. Bicycles would presumably replace cars as transportation since you still have a continent-spanning network of smooth roads. Cycle rickshaws could be used for light cargo.

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