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Suppose our current world advanced enough to build a space elevator or two (not necessarily the classic kind, maybe it is a space fountain for example), build some space stations around the solar system, maybe even some ground colonies (not of the terraforming kind).

Then countries went to "WW3", except now we span the solar system.

Assuming people ended gunning from total war and diplomacy mostly failed, what would be the aftermath?

Would be everyone nuked? Bombed with asteroids? Would earth be full of asteroid/nuclear/carbon/chemical/biological dust? Would countries resort to Kamikaze ships, crashing space shuttles into each other capitals?

I am looking for this in a harder sci-fi context, no FTL, no aliens, no sound in space, no stealth in space, etc...

EDIT: I want to clarify that I am not asking about social changes, I am asking in the context of the technology, and its effects, again repeating the question itself: would people use nukes for example? what would be the effects of using nukes in a space war? what other weapons countries on earth would come up with when fighting a space war?

Also, I am not assuming humanity survives, but I am not assuming humanity fails to survive either, I just want to know the realistic scenario after all hell broke loose.

EDIT2: Since people keep nagging about what happened.

  1. Suppose somehow it is 1930s but we already have a couple space stations here and there, some countries have bases on mars, moon and venus (floating ones there, ground ones are too hard to do), and whatnot.

Now WW2 started for the exact same reasons, but Japan has weapons factories in orbit instead of just Tokyo, Germany megalomaniacal weapons plans result in invention of kill sats, "paris gun" can actually shoot into orbit, and US while creating manhattan project obviously already have technology to lob nukes anywhere it wants using missiles instead of airplanes (since it already sent people to other places in the solar system using rockets).

How the solar system (but specially Earth) would look like in 1955?

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closed as too broad by Cort Ammon, Aify, kingledion, James, JDSweetBeat Dec 20 '16 at 19:52

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ You have to add more details about the parameters of your war. Its hard to tell if someone is going to nuke someone else unless you know what they are fighting over. We aren't going to nuke ISIS any day soon, but if, say, India invaded Pakistan, nukes are much more likely. If you don't add more specifics, then this question is too broad. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 20 '16 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close as too broad. As a general statement, the outcome of wars is hard to predict, even if we know the environment and players going into the war (which we know nothing of from this question). If the outcome of wars were easier to predict, you would find that countries would tend to go to war less often -- war is hell. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 20 '16 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ @speeder We legitimately need to know more about your scenario to predict what exactly would happen (actually, what would LIKELY happen, as anything CAN happen in war)- my answer basically just says "same thing that happened after every other major war" and elaborates and gives examples in both fiction and the real world. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Dec 20 '16 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ You have to define time/level of advances. Try do do that in different ways, not only sate it is +100 years in the future or year 2500? try to say as an example how many humans permanently live outside of the earth, do they have thermonuclear engines, is there some mega structures in solar system(orbital rings, light highways, system of mass drivers for interplanetary travel etc). If there just 1 million people outside the earth, nothing spectacular expected, 10 billion that is more interesting, 100 times of earth population - sad sad earth. $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Dec 20 '16 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ Don't get me wrong, it is an interesting premise explored in multiple science fiction works, but we need to know things like, in addition to those things in @MolbOrg's comment, exactly what the war is being fought over, who the major participants are, are there any countries based in space or on other worlds, where we have colonies, the rough number of people in each participating faction, ideologies (such as the Koslovics and Freidenists in the Halo universe' own iteration of this concept), rough technology level. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Dec 20 '16 at 19:58
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Well, if it's the near-mythical total war of annihilation, then the only notable weapons used will be rods of tungsten accelerated to ridiculous, dinosaur-killing-asteroid speeds and launched at planets or stations. The only remains would be the rubble of small asteroids and space stations, and the surfaces of various larger planets scraped clean but for tremendous craters. Earth would remain mostly untouched, because every country has a foothold there (assuming there are no purely space-based countries, in which case it'd just be pulverized like any other planet); however, war WOULD occur, and it WOULD probably involve nukes. Assuming nobody miscalculated the strength of a bomb and cracked the planet, you'd probably get any one of the many post-apocalyptic worlds already created. Look to those for reference.

Wars of annihilation do not end well for anyone, and space warfare (in hard scifi) is just as bad. The two combined are worse than anyone wants to think about. Besides the crazy people here, of course.

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  • $\begingroup$ Just saying - you would need quite a lot of Tungsten rods to destroy an entire planet with orbital bombardment. I mean... a lot. You can damage and destroy infrastructure and kill people, but I doubt any actual planet-destruction would happen. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Dec 20 '16 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Why use tungsten at all? Asteroids are much cheaper, and it hardly matters what its made of if it is 10 km across. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Dec 20 '16 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan it depends, how reusable are those tungsten rods, I'm sure they can be made from usual SiO2 so high re usability guaranteed. (catch debris from the planet and make new "tungsten rods") $\endgroup$ – MolbOrg Dec 20 '16 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan Yes, it would take a lot to blow up an actual planet; however, that's why I specified that planets would "just" be cratered. Small asteroid outposts and space stations, however, would not fare so well. $\endgroup$ – Jacob Dec 20 '16 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg, there's also the problem of "why destroy them and their shiny stuff if we can kill/enslave them and take their shiny stuff" especially considering it's likely that there is decades to centuries of infrastructure and development on-world, and for non-habitable planets like Mars it might be much more worth-while to selectively bombard their defenses and send ground forces in to seize their artificial habitats with minimum damage. You know, lebensraum. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Dec 20 '16 at 19:47
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Assuming we did not immediately jump on the nuke train, the aftermath would be like any other war; with the victors writing the history books, and the losers damned to the same "villain" status of Germany (they legitimately earned it after WWII, but we punished them waaaayyyy too harshly for a WWI they didn't even start).

I would like to think that modern humans are respinsible enough to sign some sort of "let's keep this from driving us to extinction" treaty, but depending on the reasons for the war, the outcome, and the participating parties, it might legitimately end in the destruction of Earth.

This concept reminds me a lot of the Interplanetary War in the Halo universe, where significant ground battles and several space engagements raged on Earth, Mars, and the Jovian moons.

It ended with the somewhat idealistic unification of Earth under the newly-formed Unified Earth Government and the creation of the mildly-dystopian military-exploration branch known as United Nations Space Corps (UNSC). People were likely resentful for a century afterward, to say the least, but the UNSC was able to suppress the (likely) many mild rebellions that happened afterwards.

On the other hand, nuclear weapons would not be all we have to worry about. Biological weapons are another big danger, and they have the potential to wipe out significant portions of the population. A country doesn't even have to intentionally release one; all that needs to happen is a specimen escapes a lab - maybe during a bombing raid - and the horsemen of the apocalypse will be set free. Depending on the level of interplanetary travel (is there frequent trade? Easy, cheap civilian travel?) this hypothetical microbe would spread everywhere people went.

What I guess I am trying to say, it all depends on the setting. Do you WANT to display a post-apocalyptic, disease-ravaged Solar System populated by dispersed groups of human survivors in aging space ships? Do you want to play it as a largely nuclear war, where at the end the human race was unified or destroyed? Within reason, anything can happen in this scenario, depending on our technology level.

Edited to take into account OP edit

Assuming it was LITERALLY WWII in space, I would imagine that everybody would be screwed. The Nazis were, in all fairness, lunatics through and through. The Japanese were lunatics in a different way. They would have fought to the bitter end using every weapon available to them, nuclear weapons included. And if they still lost, they would have left a burned, destroyed world behind, any space colonies destroyed, and massive swathes of nuclear wasteland. There would never have been a Cold War - there wouldn't have been enough people left. And if the Nazis and Japanese won... You see where I'm going with this.

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