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In my world, right before WW3 went down, a few influential government members, well trained scientists and engineers built an impressive technologically advanced bunker for themselves to survive in.

So, the original plan was for them to hide out for a few decades, then emerge. But, for my story’s purpose they must stay down in their bunker, thinking the surface is completely uninhabitable. They have sensors and a few other things on the surface.

My question is, how can I make the surface seem completely uninhabitable to the Bunker Dwellers for at least 100-200 years?

Criteria

-The Bunker is near Pyramid Lake in Nevada, surrounded by desert.

-There was a nuclear winter, that lasted about 20 years on the surface, but humans survived it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Bethesda called, they want Fallout back ;) $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2020 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan: Uh, no! $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Aug 5, 2020 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ How many books and movies have you missed, that dealt with exactly that idea? Perhaps most obviously, Logan's Run; certainly no few others. Broadly, a combination of sensors and analytics failed as in - was it The Andromeda Strain - something like that, from at least 50 years ago. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2020 at 22:51

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Some possibilities:

  • The sensors were all near the bunker, which is in an area that was rendered uninhabitable.
  • They had sensors further away, but those were all all too damaged to transmit.
  • The sensors are transmitting faulty data owing to damage.
  • The computer program set up to analyze and determine whether it's safe has bugs.
  • Those who grew up underground are credulous of anything that doesn't require them to overcome their acquired agrophobia. (That will need something else to keep them underground until this is an effect.)
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    $\begingroup$ Agrophobia? Hmmm. $\endgroup$
    – DT Cooper
    Aug 4, 2020 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ Another option: The sensors have been deliberately sabotaged by a bunch of the people left behind on the surface, since they don't see any need for the elites that have abandoned them.... $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2020 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @DTCooper Some degree of agoraphobia is almost certain for people raised entirely in enclosed spaces coming outside for the first time. They might not realize what it would be like, though $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Aug 4, 2020 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ I read a book that had this exact premise. Unknown to the survivors in the bunker, the radiation detector was left deployed during the attack, and became radioactive itself. Whenever they checked the outside radiation, it measured hazardous. Their radio antenna was broken, but they weren't too upset, because they assumed they were the only survivors. The children of the bunker survivors never even questioned the situation - after all, it was the world they had lived in their whole lives. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Aug 5, 2020 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ Another idea (since the bunker is near a lake) is that maybe bunker's exit is now underwater, and they can't even open the door. $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Aug 6, 2020 at 18:08
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Those in power like the status quo.

Down in the bunker, it is comfortable for those in charge. They have control of the necessary supplies. They have other things they like. If they leave things will change and it is hard for them to imagine they will change for the better. The elites like the status quo.

They arrange for the sensors to show that the status quo must be maintained.

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When the war kicked off someone was aware of the bunker and didn't like the situation. They didn't have the ability to actually strike the bunker but instead arranged the mother of all dirty bomb attacks on the area the bunker is in.

The people in the bunker see the ground is still too hot, they are staying inside. They don't know it's because someone blew up some spent reactor fuel assemblies up there.

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