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Old 05-28-2016, 04:09 PM   #1
ericthered
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Default [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

I'm wondering exactly what eco-disasters I can use in Infinite worlds Hell Parrelells and After the end. I'm particularly looking for harder science scenarios that can happen in the 1950's to 1990's under human impetus. (yes, I'm asking for the hardest portion of eco-disasters to imagine. That's why I'm asking for it)

This question was inspired by the Lenin-2 timeline. IW provides enough details that I think I'm satisfied on that one (which has a really advanced date for IW), but I'm interested in the time frame shown above.

I'm also interested in what such a breakdown looks like. What actually kills the people? Which crops hang on? Which go quickly? how does that kind of collapse actually kill wheat?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-28-2016, 07:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Thanks in advance.
http://www.mindfully.org/Heritage/20...e-EndJun03.htm

"The United States is also at the peak of its power, and it is also suffering from many environmental problems. Most of us have become aware of more crowding and stress. Most of us living in large American cities are encountering in creased commuting delays, because the number of people and hence of cars is increasing faster than the number of freeway lanes. I know plenty of people who in the abstract doubt that the world has a population problem, but almost all of those same people complain to me about crowding, space issues, and traffic experienced in their personal lives.

Many parts of the United States face locally severe problems of water restriction (especially southern California, Arizona, the Everglades, and, increasingly, the Northeast); forest fires resulting from logging and forest-management practices throughout the intermontane West; and losses of farmlands to salinization, drought, and climate change in the northern Great Plains. Many of us frequently experience problems of air quality, and some of us also experience problems of water quality and taste. We are losing economically valuable natural resources. We have already lost American chestnut trees, the Grand Banks cod fishery, and the Monterey sardine fishery; we are in the process of losing swordfish and tuna and Chesapeake Bay oysters and elm trees; and we are losing topsoil.

The list goes on: All of us are experiencing personal consequences of our national dependence on imported energy, which affects us not only through higher gas prices but also through the current contraction of the national economy, itself the partial result of political problems associated with our oil dependence. We are saddled with expensive toxic cleanups at many locations, most notoriously near Montana mines, on the Hudson River, and in the Chesapeake Bay. We also face expensive eradication problems resulting from hundreds of introduced pest species—including zebra mussels, Mediterranean fruit flies, Asian longhorn beetles, water hyacinth, and spotted knapweed—that now affect our agriculture, forests, waterways, and pastures.

These particular environmental problems, and many others, are enormously expensive in terms of resources lost, cleanup and restoration costs, and the cost of finding substitutes for lost resources: a billion dollars here, 10 billion there, in dozens and dozens of cases. Some of the problems, especially those of air quality and toxic substances, also exact health costs that are large, whether measured in dollars or in lost years or in quality of life. The cost of our homegrown environmental problems adds up to a large fraction of our gross national product, even without mentioning the costs that we incur from environmental problems over-seas, such as the military operations that they inspire. Even the mildest of bad scenarios for our future include a gradual economic decline, as happened to the Roman and British empires. Actually, in case you didn't notice it, our economic decline is already well under way. Just check the numbers for our national debt, yearly government budget deficit, unemployment statistics, and the value of your in vestment and pension funds.

The environmental problems of the United States are still modest compared with those of the rest of the world."
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Old 05-28-2016, 08:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

One idea, a deliberate attempt to create a megatsunami from an engineered landslide at the Canary islands results in a moderate wave (by tsunami standards) hitting the east coast of the U.S. This wave while generating widespread damage to the coastline has one other unforeseen effect. The sediment and debris stirred up by the wave alters the albedo of that area of the Atlantic, this results in an increase of the temperature of the gulf stream. The end result of this is a sudden reduction in polar ice, so on and so forth.

As I write this up it seems less plausible than I first thought, I can continue if it passes the plausibility standards for your particular scenario.


Edit
- A Kuwait style Oil fire located in the antarctic might be globally catastrophic too
- Biological would be the most likely, fungi strains that develop resistance to chemicals could knock around cereal production.
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Last edited by (E); 05-28-2016 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 06-02-2016, 03:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post

(SNIP)

- Biological would be the most likely, fungi strains that develop resistance to chemicals could knock around cereal production.
This, all by itself, would likely be enough. Create a fungal blight that affects grasses, that thrives in an environment with elevated levels of CO2, and watch civilization die.

This was the scenario at the beginning of Interstellar.
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Old 06-02-2016, 07:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

Another possible action that might have global consequences, digging a tunnel/trench from the ocean to a salt flat that is lower than sea level. This could result in desalination of the ocean (Eventually) and the effects of that are (possibly) global cooling. This could also be used as save the (AtE) world mcguffin.

Lots of reasons to create an inland sea too, 1960s farm the desert mentality leaps to mind. As does the plot to the superman 1(?) movie. I.e. getting coastal real estate.
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:44 PM   #6
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Another possible action that might have global consequences, digging a tunnel/trench from the ocean to a salt flat that is lower than sea level. This could result in desalination of the ocean (Eventually) and the effects of that are (possibly) global cooling. This could also be used as save the (AtE) world mcguffin.

Lots of reasons to create an inland sea too, 1960s farm the desert mentality leaps to mind. As does the plot to the superman 1(?) movie. I.e. getting coastal real estate.
Wow. I didn't realize there were so many such places. Based on what I'm seeing, here, flooding them might actually result in some pretty significant climate changes, at least locally -- and maybe even for the better, in a lot of cases.
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Old 06-02-2016, 09:22 PM   #7
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

There's a book by Jared Diamond, Collapse, that discusses the topic at some length. You might give it a look and see if it helps.
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Old 06-02-2016, 09:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
There's a book by Jared Diamond, Collapse, that discusses the topic at some length. You might give it a look and see if it helps.
My post was a quote from Diamond.
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Old 06-02-2016, 10:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

All right let's list options:

Air Pollution: The problem is the atmosphere is big. While it's relatively easy to turn the air in the vicinity of an actual city semi-toxic, (Billings, Montana was unbelievably horrific in the 80s), the air space of cities comprises such a small proportion of the whole that really that we'd have to work at it for millennia to create true global catastrophe. However cities under clouds of smog can be added as an element to other sources of catastrophes.

Red Tide: Toxic algae reproducing out of control can mess with the fishing industry and make the oceans look really disgusting. I'm sure we can find some reason to blame humans for it.

Weather Control: One of the conspiracy theories suggested that the Russians and or the Americans were using secret weather manipulation technology to mess with the weather. What if they actually had such things and misuse of it causes world wide devastation, with hurricanes, tornados, floods and drought everywhere?

The Big One: OK, the Big One is only supposed to affect the west coast of North America. Still, it's a respectable catastrophe, and we have been experimenting with triggering earthquakes. That could go wrong.

A Nuclear Exchange: Duh.

Biological Warfare: Widespread distribution of say, anthrax would be devastating to mammalian life.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:52 AM   #10
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Default Re: [ATE/IW] Ecological Collapse

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
All right let's list options:
Quote:
Air Pollution: The problem is the atmosphere is big. While it's relatively easy to turn the air in the vicinity of an actual city semi-toxic, (Billings, Montana was unbelievably horrific in the 80s), the air space of cities comprises such a small proportion of the whole that really that we'd have to work at it for millennia to create true global catastrophe. However cities under clouds of smog can be added as an element to other sources of catastrophes.
Natural disasters, such as a meteor strike can potentially cause global atmospheric problems. Plans to use an asteroid for benign reasons could transform into a catastrophe.

Quote:
Red Tide: Toxic algae reproducing out of control can mess with the fishing industry and make the oceans look really disgusting. I'm sure we can find some reason to blame humans for it.
It's at least possible that a bio-terror attack of genetically engineered algae could cause much more damage.

Quote:
Weather Control: One of the conspiracy theories suggested that the Russians and or the Americans were using secret weather manipulation technology to mess with the weather. What if they actually had such things and misuse of it causes world wide devastation, with hurricanes, tornados, floods and drought everywhere?
In the same vein, you have the chem trails conspiracy for any manner of ecological problems.

Quote:
The Big One: OK, the Big One is only supposed to affect the west coast of North America. Still, it's a respectable catastrophe, and we have been experimenting with triggering earthquakes. That could go wrong.
The Yellowstone Caldera and the New Madrid fault could all go off at the same time. Supposed super-volcanos might be triggered, in a fictional setting, by fracking.

Quote:
Biological Warfare: Widespread distribution of say, anthrax would be devastating to mammalian life.
The Andromeda Strain and The Stand, IIRC, both posit a disease which wipes out, or could wipe out, almost all human life.

Others:
Magnetic Pole Shift: Some conjecture is it causes EMP effects and mass extinctions as everything on the surface if fried by cosmic rays. Perhaps it could be caused intentionally, maybe even by chem trails. Survivors live beneath the surface until the magnetic field is re-established. Mutations etc. of course.

Corona Mass Ejection: A world-wide EMP event caused by solar activity. Perhaps, again, caused by human events. Maybe a failed terraforming operation drops a large meteor into the sun or near it and the CME is a result. No realistic, but probably enough slim justification for a RPG campaign.

MKULTRA: The goal of the CIA program was mind control. What if it were possible for a raging, violence-inducing agent to be induced into ground water, radio signals, internet memes, etc. on a world wide scale? Mass murder, suicides, etc. This isn't ecological, per se, but it could be used to produce the same patterns in the whole biosphere...
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