63

I'm going to respond to this with a framing challenge, because as it stands I think you're asking the wrong question. The issue is that the modern industrial world is a product of population DENSITY rather than total population. This may seem semantic but in a post-apocalyptic environment it's very meaningful. Modern industrialism depends on and benefits ...


34

Already Exists Behold, the Submarine Cable Map! A wide network of underwater cable that connects the major coastal population centers. In fact, I believe you may be using it to view this page, or even if not you, someone else. (By the way, don't use solar power. A nuke-fest that destroys the Earth and forces everyone to live in bunkers will cause a nuclear ...


27

I've used a personal analogy for this, which I call "The brake pad problem." I estimate (without any serious research) that maybe a few hundred people around the world really know what it takes to manufacture an automobile brake pad. If you kill them all off, we're in serious trouble at least until a new process (or a reconstruction of the original) can be ...


21

Unsurprisingly, some people have already put a lot of thought into this sort of problem, and come up with some quite neat ideas. I particularly like the Rosetta Disk, part of the much larger Long Now project (well worth a closer look, especially the 10000 year clock) and a prototype of their information-preserving library idea. The Rosetta Disk in particular ...


12

The New Scientist article "Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable" from Issue 2650, which is based on the work of Jared Diamond, in particular Collapse suggests that killing as few as 2% of the workforce could initiate a cascade of failures in infrastructure and transportation systems sufficient to bring down modern western civilisation; if those ...


12

Given the sheer volume of disposable electronics that have been manufactured to date it seems inevitable that junkyard scavengers would be able to get some working again. Old smart phones, iPods, etc.. are literally in landfills. No cellular network left but as long as you have battery power it can still play music. Charging a small DC battery really is ...


11

Why wouldn't someone wear tear-resistant, puncture-resistant, light armor in a desert wasteland? Deserts do present a problem. For example, we learn... Because of the climate, very little armor was ever worn in Africa. In Egypt's Old and Middle Kingdom, Egyptian soldiers never wore armor. In the Old Kingdom they are usually depicted wearing only a belt ...


11

A modest shock would be enough to prevent maintaining "our current industrial world". 7nm process semiconductors would become economically infeasible with a sustained 33% global depression, let alone megadeaths. Note, however, that "rare earth minerals" are not rare; they are rare as in "rarer than iron" or carbon or silicon. Rare earth minerals are ...


11

Until Edison patented his phonograph, the only way for people to listen to music was to be present at a live performance. Therefore I see two possibilities here: rather tongue-in-cheek, if they want to listen to music, they just need to build musical instruments and play them, or have someone play for them. Percussions are probably the easiest to build, ...


9

I'm no expert, but to the best of my knowledge, depending on the construction materials and the environmental conditions... building paint can wear enough to significantly expose the materials underneath in as little as 10 years. The best roofing I'm aware of comes with a 100 year warranty, and is made of metal. Assuming every structure has the best roofing ...


8

Yes and No. Even today it is easily possible for older people to notice the change. When you for example compare the amount of insects on your car window from 40 years ago to today it is easily noticeable that the insects have decreased. So why no? Because this decrease is not caused by climate change (at least for the most part), but due to air ...


7

Old-style wind-up phonographs would be the way to go. They require no electricity; just turn the handle to wind up the spring. They use flaring horns to amplify the sound picked up by the pickup. In some travel versions, the horn is built into the lid. There are plenty of old phonograph records out there, but it might be difficult to get recent pop music in ...


6

How would you justify having mining-robots (or automatons), that are able to take basic orders and use weapons without going into steampunk or superscience territory? You can't. The electronic in those years was based on vacuum tubes, good enough for a bulky radio, but not enough for a robot capable of doing what you are envisioning. The simplest ...


6

I think the two most important pieces of knowledge to preserve are midwifery and reading/writing. And if you want to call that three things, fine. With these two pieces of knowledge widely available to the remaining populace you can ensure that the human race can continue on and they have the capacity to learn and record and share knowledge with each other. ...


5

Assuming an extinction level event takes place today, the majority of our cities will vanish withing 25 years. The vegetation will cover/bury everything except the tallest of buildings. Quick timeline of "the day after": A few hours later: Most of the lights around the world would shut off because power plants would run out of fuel and solar panels would ...


5

You're either trying to rip off Fallout, or Mad Max (which Fallout also ripped off). In both storylines, radiation was a concern. Leather offers great protection against alpha radiation, which is emitted by radioactive materials decaying. It offers better protection against beta radiation than if you were naked, but scary beta radiation sources are rare if ...


5

First, small details - the character absolutely needs some form of headwear. A wide-brimmed hat, a headscarf, keffiyeh - anything to prevent sunstroke and rapid sweat evaporation through the head. Next, there should be a loose long-sleeved shirt under the jacket (even if the jacket itself lacks sleeves) - again, to prevent the evaporation of the sweat. A ...


5

Lack of new textiles is the key here. After the fall of civilization, there will not be a lot of people making new cloths. For starters, lighter fabrics will wear out more quickly meaning that things like leather and denim may be the last "old world" clothes you have left that have not completely fallen apart. Especially in a desert where such things ...


5

Making their own music is surely the most likely outcome. Whistling, singing (and making up songs, most likely), and simple percussion (clapping or stomping) don't require any equipment. Simple whistles (which can be made from twigs with loose bark), more advanced flutes (an animal thigh bone or the slipped bark from a branch, or a reed stalk), more ...


4

As a matter of fact, I suggest in this case reading a story: Earth Abides by George R Stewart. A short synopsis of the book can be found in an Extra Credit's talk. Basically, the story explores how the knowledge that made the world before the fall run - all the high technology - has become mainly obslete by the fall as it does no longer provide a benefit ...


4

Scenarios, which are according to IPCC are based on ultra pessimistic assumptions but technically within bounds of science, would give you global temperature higher by 5 C at the end of century. So within remembered lifetime you may get maybe 3 C. While sudden temperature shift would cause (speed up) some extinction, insect have short life cycles and are ...


4

You want actual tech of the time. That leaves you with clockwork. When I was a teenager I took apart an old adding machine. It had so many parts! http://madrona.ca/e/mechCalc/RCAllen805/index.html I use clockwork in the broad sense here - moving parts moved by mechanical energy that output a complex result, like the time or a sum. So too your ...


4

It's a tough question. Someone mentioned population density above, and that's definitely a major factor. But I'd also mention two more: logistics and specialisation. Civilisation requires specialisation - if everyone's hunting or in the fields, they've not got the time or energy to focus on more abstract things. So you need a way to give people time ...


4

The problem is that most of the work today goes towards maintaining a society that supports this many people. You would not maintain everything we currently have. Would you field a single aircraft carrier? Would you keep one airline running or would you optimize to horses and electric cars. You wouldn't need or even want most of the stuff you mentioned (...


4

What kind of plastic? In what form? Unless the plastic is easily degradable, they have some very good properties, which is way better than anything else they could make by themselves. Depending on the situation, it is not about recycling but treasuring every piece of plastic as treasure. No more is coming for a long while. Storage. They are lightweight and ...


3

I think it depends on the level of technology your world possessed before the Great Nuking. If the world was already connected via deep underground tunnels burrowed miles beneath the surface then sure. But creating them after the Great Shellacking that presumably killed lots and lots of people would be a big challenge since they would require a power ...


3

It is possible. More so for bunkers in Eurpoe to be connected with one another or with those in Asia, or North to South America. You just lay cables as we do now. or you could just lay them on the surface, if there is no-one left to steal them. If you are thinking of potentially laying thousands of miles of tunnels then this is not a trivial task, but ...


3

Nuclear Winter would probably the biggest factor upon drastically decreasing the population of Earth. It's already been simulated that about 100 nuclear bombs, similar to the ones dropped in Hiroshima, can cause multiple firestorms that is capable of sending enough material in the air to block the sun, hence Nuclear Winter. This will cause the global ...


3

It's the Post-Pockyclypse! The only people likely to be out in the desert when the proverbial sh!t hits the fan is motorcycle gangs and motorcycle gang wannabes. These are the people who will shortly become the proto-roadwarriors. And also an assortment of random civilians on their way somewhere else at the time. (These are also known as food and fuel ...


3

That is all the clothes anyone wore before the apocalypse. https://confidentials.com/manchester/manchester-pride-2015-mr-leather-corrie-sir-ian-mckellen Fashions change. Pre-apocalypse, fashions had become such that the only clothes available outside of niche markets were leather jackets and leather pants and maybe blue jeans. That is what everyone wore ...


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