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View Full Version : Science Hypothetical: You and Disaster


Rain Man
04-12-2011, 11:42 PM
You're minding your own business, sitting in your easy chair reading Frazz and eating an ice cream sandwich when disaster strikes. Bam! A meteor strikes or the terrorists attack or a giant interstellar radiation wave hits or aliens take a potshot or a supervolcano erupts - you're not exactly sure, but whatever it was, the infrastructure takes a big hit.

I'll offer five scenarios below. In each case, one part of the infrastructure gets destroyed and four parts remain intact. Assume that it'll take you two years to get the destroyed part back up and running and that everyone within 200 miles of you has suffered the same fate.


Scenario 1. Power grid destroyed. Your house is fine and you've got plumbing, and the transportation grid is fine. You can get food. But you have no electricity or natural gas. Assume that supply and demand will price alternative power sources such as solar panels out of your reach.

Scenario 2. Water and sewer infrastructure destroyed. Your house is fine and you've got power. The transportation grid is fine and you can get food. But you can't get water into your home, and you can't get sewage out. Assume that you have to travel five miles each way to get water, and your allotment is enough to drink, but you can only shower once per week. There is no Plan B on sewage, so you're on your own there.

Scenario 3. Transportation grid destroyed. Your house is fine, and you've got power and water. You can get food. However, you can't use your vehicle and must travel on foot, bicycle, or double your normal time using public transit. Also, because of the transportation problem, assume that prices on goods that must be transported into your area will increase by 50 percent until the transportation grid is repaired, and your pay isn't going up. (Locally produced stuff will go up similarly due to supply and demand.)

Scenario 4. Housing is destroyed. Your home was pounded into rubble. You've been given a tent, and you can get electricity and water to it, and you have a community bathroom nearby. You can get food. You just have to live in a tent for the next two years. Assume the tent has 75 sq. ft. per person in your household.

Scenario 5. Food production system is destroyed. Your house is fine, and it has power and water/sewer. The transportation grid is fine. However, for the next two years your diet will consist of only bread and corn until the rest of the food system can recover.

JOhn
04-12-2011, 11:46 PM
Transportation grid, I live in Wyoming.

We got horses :thumb:

mnchiefsguy
04-12-2011, 11:50 PM
I went with transportation as well. Seemed like the lesser of all the evils.

cdcox
04-12-2011, 11:50 PM
I voted no water/sewer. As an environmental engineer, I'd really be able to serve humankind, and I would find that very fulfilling.

Rain Man
04-12-2011, 11:56 PM
I think my general ranking would be:

1. No transportation. The cost increase would stink, but my need for transportation is generally minimal. (Maybe I'm underestimating the impact of this on society, though.)

2. No housing. Uncomfortable, but survivable.

3. No power. Toughie, but this is presuming that I can keep the house warm enough with the fireplace to keep the water pipes from freezing. If not, this would move to fifth and water would move up to third.

4. No food. Bread and corn would get pretty boring. If it wouldn't affect my health I'd pick it third, but it seems like it'd be unhealthy.

5. It would really stink (figuratively and literally) to be without water and sewer. Showers, washing clothes, watering the lawn - all gone or severely limited. And then you'd have to turn your lawn into a big cesspool, and I don't have a big lawn. Seems like a recipe for trouble.


I also debated adding telecommunications infrastructure in - no TV, no phones, no cell phones, no Internet. But I figured that would be an easy answer for the #1 preference.

beach tribe
04-12-2011, 11:57 PM
Too easy. Remove transportation if possible.

Fitting thread. Me sitting in the Tokyo Narita airport waiting on an earthquake and all.

JOhn
04-13-2011, 12:00 AM
Actually now that I think about it, food would be my answer.

Again, I live in Wyoming. I can kill all the game I would need. :thumb:

Lonewolf Ed
04-13-2011, 12:01 AM
Several of these options are better for those who live in various areas where the option chosen would hurt the least, such as transportation loss not affecting the guy in Wyoming with horses. Power could be less of a hassle if you leave near a forest and could get wood to burn easily. Some MacGyver types could even use a river or creek to generate electricity. A close friend of mine has acreage in LaCygne with pecan, persimmon, pear, and plum trees on it, as well as blackberry bushes and wild garlic, and deer, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, and ducks are common, so he wouldn't starve there. Ducks often make use of his large fish pond. I wouldn't mind living there even if there wasn't a disaster or invasion!

Woodrow Call
04-13-2011, 12:05 AM
No housing for sure.

Basically just a 2 year camping trip but I'd actually get to have electricity. I'm tempted to do it right now.

Just Passin' By
04-13-2011, 12:09 AM
1. Power
2. Housing
3. Transport
4. Water
5. Food


If everyone inside of 200 miles is without food, we'll strip the place bare in no time, so that would definitely be the last on my list.

Rain Man
04-13-2011, 12:19 AM
I probably should've taken public transit out of the transportation option.

Question for the people picking transportation. If there was no transportation at all, including public transportation, and you could only walk or bike (or use horses if you're in Wyoming), could you keep your job? And if you could get there, would your company be able to stay in business without transportation?

In my case I think I could get to my job easily since I walk anyway and seldom have to drive to meetings. I think my company would also stay in business. I figured this would be a problem for many other people, though.

Just Passin' By
04-13-2011, 12:22 AM
I probably should've taken public transit out of the transportation option.

Question for the people picking transportation. If there was no transportation at all, including public transportation, and you could only walk or bike (or use horses if you're in Wyoming), could you keep your job? And if you could get there, would your company be able to stay in business without transportation?

In my case I think I could get to my job easily since I walk anyway and seldom have to drive to meetings. I think my company would also stay in business. I figured this would be a problem for many other people, though.

Businesses will die without power, too. I went on the assumption that you gave all the relevant losses.

cdcox
04-13-2011, 12:36 AM
Losing water and sewer would be like money falling from the sky for me. I would be much better off if this would happen.

I didn't pick transportation, but my plan would be to bike to work (less than 20 miles) and work M-R, sleeping in my office between commutes. We live about a 30 min walk from the grocery store, so that would not be a big deal either.

Loss of shelter would be no biggie if I had everything else. My wife would be none too happy. She hates camping and has arthritis. But within a month i would have a serviceable shelter even if building supplies were scarce. Throw in her electric blanket, a space heater, and I think we would make do.

Since I live in a high population density area, food would be a huge problem. But I think we'd all survive on bread and corn. If you took those staples off the table, this would be my worst case.

Being without power would be the worst of the scenarios presented, IMO. It affects your food supply (no refrigeration), heating and AC, communication, etc. I could burn wood for heat and cooking, but life would totally suck.

ChiefsNow
04-13-2011, 12:48 AM
No housing for sure.

Basically just a 2 year camping trip but I'd actually get to have electricity. I'm tempted to do it right now.

I am doing it RIGHT NOW in a 16' by 32' army tent. power and water ran to an old run down trailer for shower and kitchen purposes. It's kinda cool. My buddy just bought the property.

Phobia
04-13-2011, 12:52 AM
I voted water. Transportation was tempting but I earn my living transporting tools and materials to my clients' homes. If transportation were toast, everything else would be the least of my worries.

Steron
04-13-2011, 07:31 AM
I went with Transportation. Plenty of horses where I live in rural VA.

DMAC
04-13-2011, 07:59 AM
Why cant I just pour some water in my toilet, take a dumpass, and flush it?

tooge
04-13-2011, 08:01 AM
I'd be OK with any but housing. I have a pond, so water and food is not an issue. I could bike to work. I wouldn't like it, but could survive without electricity for two years. Sewer isn't too bad, just crap in the woods. Living in a stick hut for two years would suck though

luv
04-13-2011, 08:06 AM
Normally, I would vote for #3. I live close enough to everything I do, so that I would have no problem walking or riding my bike. However, think of the weight I could lose in two years of eating bread and corn.

Also, if I was still making the same salary, but not buying as much food, I'd save more money as well.

luv
04-13-2011, 08:09 AM
I voted water. Transportation was tempting but I earn my living transporting tools and materials to my clients' homes. If transportation were toast, everything else would be the least of my worries.

I just don't see how bathing once a week, especially if everyone else within two hundred miles of you was only able to do the same, would be worth giving up of those five. Think of the disease that would spread in two years. And no alternative to a sewer? Ugh.

Jaric
04-13-2011, 08:13 AM
Just do some reverse thinking to figure out what the best option is.

Survival priorities.

1 Water
2 Shelter (this could also be number one or number three depending on climate and season)
3 Food
4/5 Transportation/power.

Therefore I'd pick either a lack of transportation or power as my cross to bear

ExtremeChief
04-13-2011, 08:39 AM
I voted water/sewer. My house has a lagoon so that wouldn't be an issue. Five miles to get water is no big deal if I still have transportation. Could also catch rainwater, etc. Transportation would end me since I drive 30miles to work (although they use half a million gallons of water a day for processing, doh)

KurtCobain
04-13-2011, 08:42 AM
This is crazy and extreme chief is preparing to smell really bad trying to bathe in rainwater.

I guess I'd rather walk everywhere as long as I can go home and shower.

ExtremeChief
04-13-2011, 08:43 AM
This is crazy and extreme chief is preparing to smell really bad trying to bathe in rainwater.

I guess I'd rather walk everywhere as long as I can go home and shower.

Meh... our local water doesn't smell the best anyway!

loochy
04-13-2011, 08:49 AM
You're minding your own business, sitting in your easy chair reading Frazz and eating an ice cream sandwich when disaster strikes. Bam! A meteor strikes or the terrorists attack or a giant interstellar radiation wave hits or aliens take a potshot or a supervolcano erupts - you're not exactly sure, but whatever it was, the infrastructure takes a big hit.


Well there is one thing we CAN be sure of. Whatever happened was surely the government's fault.

Saulbadguy
04-13-2011, 08:51 AM
Housing.

A 75 sq foot tent would be cozy.

Misplaced_Chiefs_Fan
04-13-2011, 09:22 AM
I spent 9 months living in Bedouin Bob's rent-a-tents in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War. As long as I had the other four options (since if we have power, I can run heat into the tent), I'd be set for two years.

Power would be the hardest to give up, since nearly everything else relies on it these days.

Old Dog
04-13-2011, 10:29 AM
Housing would be by far the easiest for me to give up. Given all of the other resources intact, I don't think it would be a big issue. My last deployment, I had a 10'x10' room, and that was a veritable paradise compared to the conditions of some previousl deployments.
I still get grub, can drive back and forth to wherever, hook up to the internet (can't give up Chiefsplanet) and walk down to the restroom....too easy.

Bump
04-13-2011, 10:48 AM
transportation, I would rather live without that than the other 3. I'd just go steal a bike.

Hydrae
04-13-2011, 11:12 AM
Housing

I would be less likely to pick this option if I lived anywhere it gets truely cold but here in Central Texas it wouldn't be too bad. Hot in the summer but that is not very likely to kill you. Plus, if I have transportation then I can go outside the 200 mile area and spend a night in a motel if it gets too bad.

The reason I didn't gp with transportation is the rising food costs that compound the problem. Well, and a 35 mile round trip commute without a vehicle would be a pain although I do have public transportation available.

MOhillbilly
04-13-2011, 11:15 AM
My grandparents taught me how to live off the land. All of the above.

Detoxing
04-13-2011, 11:20 AM
I'd go with no Power. But im also thinking no housing wouldn't be that bad either. The only thing that irks me about the no housing thing is the public restrooms.

I fear disease more than anything.

Rain Man
04-13-2011, 11:27 AM
I'd go with no Power. But im also thinking no housing wouldn't be that bad either. The only thing that irks me about the no housing thing is the public restrooms.

I fear disease more than anything.


I kind of fight the urge to see positive aspects of some of these. With no power I wouldn't be watching TV and I wouldn't be surfing the Internet at night. I'd read and do other hobbies that may be more fulfilling in the long run, and I'd probably get a healthier amount of sleep. However, no power also means no refrigerated food, which would be a huge quality of life dropoff, and in my climate I'm afraid that no power would eventually mean no water in my house. Freezing water pipes would be a major issue to deal with.

Detoxing
04-13-2011, 11:35 AM
I kind of fight the urge to see positive aspects of some of these. With no power I wouldn't be watching TV and I wouldn't be surfing the Internet at night. I'd read and do other hobbies that may be more fulfilling in the long run, and I'd probably get a healthier amount of sleep. However, no power also means no refrigerated food, which would be a huge quality of life dropoff, and in my climate I'm afraid that no power would eventually mean no water in my house. Freezing water pipes would be a major issue to deal with.

Being In San Diego, There are plenty of things to do around here with no power, and I don't have to worry about freezing temps or overly hot summer days.

I would have to worry about over crowded bathrooms that are poorly sanitized and our food being depleted rather quickly. Not really much farm land out here considering it's basically a desert. Soil out here is really dry and low quality.