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PlutonianEmpire
2012-Jul-10, 03:23 AM
No 2012 silliness here. :p

Basically, how might life [i]actually[i] be after a globe-spanning apocalyptic event? Specifically, one involving one or more major, naturally occurring calamity? A lot of times, I hear only about doom and gloom, where everything is dead or dying, all land is a barren waste-land, etc. Or, it is at least implied.

Although, earlier today, I came up with the concept of where there was some sort of global disaster, but yet, life went on, for the most part. Such as, rural areas being set back to, like, the equivalent of the early to mid 1800's (or earlier), while modern life, to an extent, continued on in the major cities, with the exception of a large reduction in world population.

Would that sort of "post-apocalyptic" scenario be feasible (for lack of a better word), depending on whatever the "apocalypse" was; or is it indeed the total, utter, soul-crushing doom and gloom so often suggested of?

(If a mod sees fit to move or lock this, I won't blame ya. I was just wondering if there could be a more scientific approach as to what might or might not be feasible after a globe-spanning major event.)

Solfe
2012-Jul-10, 05:13 AM
I vote for global pandemic, something natural that only takes humans, centipedes, chinchillas, and goldfish. It is kind of an interesting scenario in the fact that you could see in the fossil record but it would be difficult if not impossible to prove a million years after the fact. Any survivors would still have some technology available, but only so long as the supply of fuel and parts lasted. Simpler items like wood fueled steam engines would be possible, so you could have electric lighting and such.

PlutonianEmpire
2012-Jul-10, 05:41 AM
Yeah, I most certainly thought of pandemics, although I was wondering of something maybe a bit more destructive, like a natural disaster (eg, geologic or meteorological processes, or both; I don't know if space-related disasters would allow for the scenario I outlined).

One thing that came to mind, what would happen to all the trash (literal) we left behind? I know the bio-degradable ones could easily be re-absorbed after a while, although I'm curious as to what the survivors might do with the rest. First thing that comes to mind is trying to recycle some of it, in one form or another, if possible.

Solfe
2012-Jul-10, 06:11 AM
A supervolcano would fit the bill.

Scriitor
2012-Jul-10, 06:31 AM
You're describing a "cosy catastrophe" (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CosyCatastrophe) of the John Wyndham variety. Anything from a superflu, alien man-eating plants, or the kraken might be to blame.

PlutonianEmpire
2012-Jul-10, 06:36 AM
You're describing a "cosy catastrophe" (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CosyCatastrophe) of the John Wyndham variety. Anything from a superflu, alien man-eating plants, or the kraken might be to blame.
Not quite. :p

I was thinking of at least a billion or two survivors.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-10, 12:38 PM
The results will very much depend upon the event and how and where people are located. If people are removed from the living population randomly or evenly, then the result and the ability to carry on or rebuild would be different than if wide areas were affected and other areas not affected at all.

Secondary disasters would be problems. Some systems need to be maintained or safely shut done before they are abandoned or else they will fail catastrophically. Nuclear power plants and their spent fuel ponds is one example. Dams are another.

R.A.F.
2012-Jul-10, 11:30 PM
... how might life actually be after a globe-spanning apocalyptic event?

Simple...not worth living...

Noclevername
2012-Jul-10, 11:35 PM
Simple...not worth living...

I just want to make it clear to any post-apocalyptic wandering death squads who read this, R.A.F. does not speak for all of us. I prefer to rage against the dying of the light.

KABOOM
2012-Jul-12, 12:27 PM
There are some scenarios posited that could result in an AGW-driven apocalyptic condition somewhere between 2030 and 2300.

The changes could take place much more suddenly than many realize, as quickly as a decade (per the analysis done by Ward in "Under a Green Sky).

Quick and dramatic decreases in global food sources due to ocean acidification and deserting of mega agricultural strips. The planet has 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050, then stabilizing per Nat Geographic absent "apocalypse"). Big swatches of population zones - 2 billion in strips of India, Bangaldash, China may starve first according to some assessments. Once a disaster of this magnitude starts - grave economic global chaos on a scale never seen before will take place with laser quickness. With a crashed financial system, trade flows will freeze. Governments around the world will quickly break down. Martial law, coups, and smaller regional footholds will replace by national governments. Resources available to areas such as technology, sceince will immediately dry up. Communication servers and technologies will crash. More starvation and death will ensue. In a matter of a few decades "survivors" will be blasted back to a pre-Industrial era way of life.

Long term this will expedite the global recovery as AGW will have dramatically decreased, but it is still likely to take many thousands of years.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

mike alexander
2012-Jul-12, 02:37 PM
A relevant read, still, would be George Stewart's Earth Abides.

transreality
2012-Jul-12, 11:25 PM
Rather that a graceful return to a pre-industrial age, more likely a scavenging society may result. Where some technology based around robust artifacts would survive, but other evolved technologies would be lost and not reinvented. Would such a stressed survival culture develop the spoked wheels of the 19th century, produced with such care when they represented cutting edge technology, when steel wheel and rubber tyres are easy and abound. Similarly clockwork, steam powered shipping, or the literary society of that era evolved over many centuries, the post-apocalypse world may either have no need for these things, or have easier alternatives, such as re-developing batteries.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-13, 12:06 AM
The level of scavenging and/or reinvention would depend greatly on the type and degree of catastrophe. If as stated above there are a billion or two survivors, it's likely that many of them would be skilled workers who would retain sufficient technological knowledge to restart factories and power plants.

publiusr
2012-Jul-14, 04:53 PM
I wonder if steam power might make a comeback then. A combination of old and new. A nuclear reactor provides steam--and modern belt material is used to give new power to factories that had tools running before electrification. Heck--even certain belts might have printed information as one writer thought we might have. The result would be technology no EMP or hacker's code could bother. Yes there would still have to be means to still produce nuclear material which would require electricity in that spot--but it might be something to keep in mind perhaps for harsh off world conditions...

primummobile
2012-Jul-14, 07:41 PM
The History Channel had a docudrama called After Armageddon a year or two back that was very un-History Channel like in that it wasn't about conspiracy theories or reality television. It followed one family for a period of about twenty years after a global pandemic wipes out most of the human race. "Expert" commentary was throughout.

It didn't really differ much from what I've always thought life would be like after a non-violent catastrophe. The basic message was that, in the beginning, you want plenty of food and water, medicine, and guns. You would want to keep as low a profile as possible and you would want to stay away from cities. In the story, I think it was ten years before life started to calm down and twenty years before there was any kind of return to normalcy, although the "normal" wasn't anything like what we are used to now.

Iirc, the main character died from a simple scratch that became infected and they were unable to get antibiotics.

Robert Tulip
2012-Jul-18, 01:20 PM
There are some scenarios posited that could result in an AGW-driven apocalyptic condition somewhere between 2030 and 2300.

The changes could take place much more suddenly than many realize, as quickly as a decade (per the analysis done by Ward in "Under a Green Sky).

Quick and dramatic decreases in global food sources due to ocean acidification and deserting of mega agricultural strips. The planet has 7 billion people (growing to 9 billion by 2050, then stabilizing per Nat Geographic absent "apocalypse"). Big swatches of population zones - 2 billion in strips of India, Bangaldash, China may starve first according to some assessments. Once a disaster of this magnitude starts - grave economic global chaos on a scale never seen before will take place with laser quickness. With a crashed financial system, trade flows will freeze. Governments around the world will quickly break down. Martial law, coups, and smaller regional footholds will replace by national governments. Resources available to areas such as technology, sceince will immediately dry up. Communication servers and technologies will crash. More starvation and death will ensue. In a matter of a few decades "survivors" will be blasted back to a pre-Industrial era way of life.

Long term this will expedite the global recovery as AGW will have dramatically decreased, but it is still likely to take many thousands of years.

Enjoy it while it lasts.The traditional four horsemen of the apocalypse are famine, plague, war and death. The contemporary planet is rather vulnerable to all these problems, especially as the current economy is only sustained by fossil fuels that create a devilish heating scenario - economic growth delivers stability but cooks the planet. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, I would choose the deep blue sea. If we can invent floating islands, supported by large bags of fresh water, there is the prospect of escape from the terrestrial turmoil. After all, 71% of the planet is sea, with average depth three miles.

Solfe
2012-Jul-19, 03:06 AM
With two billion survivors, I think a "softer" event would be needed. A pandemic that takes two thirds of the population is pretty nasty.

What about a comet that breaks up on its first pass and then the Earth is pummeled years later? If the fragments were small enough to wreck a city without turning it into a big crater, if the warning is early enough, if the delay between impacts is predictable and long, then people themselves would be their own worst enemy.

Rather than the tired scenario of people being too foolish to get out of the way of the impactors, you could have a case where too many people move. The issue then becomes people can escape, but they can't bring their normal level of infrastructure with them. Too little water and food, fewer hospitals, people are off the normal transportation routes for supplies, on poorer land, etc. Plug in some violence and disease and the population plunges. It could take years though.

Robert Tulip
2012-Jul-19, 04:47 AM
A good book on related issues is World War Zombie by Max Brooks. The author is the son of the great satirist Mel Brooks. He uses the fictional framework of a global zombie epidemic to explore how people would react to a genuine crisis.

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham is another good book on post-apocalyptic life, with the theme that people develop extreme intolerance towards mutation following a nuclear war.

Doodler
2012-Jul-19, 05:47 PM
The History Channel had a docudrama called After Armageddon a year or two back that was very un-History Channel like in that it wasn't about conspiracy theories or reality television. It followed one family for a period of about twenty years after a global pandemic wipes out most of the human race. "Expert" commentary was throughout.

It didn't really differ much from what I've always thought life would be like after a non-violent catastrophe. The basic message was that, in the beginning, you want plenty of food and water, medicine, and guns. You would want to keep as low a profile as possible and you would want to stay away from cities. In the story, I think it was ten years before life started to calm down and twenty years before there was any kind of return to normalcy, although the "normal" wasn't anything like what we are used to now.

Iirc, the main character died from a simple scratch that became infected and they were unable to get antibiotics.

I remember that one. Had an interesting perspective on the mentality of a collapse, it would seem that Hollyweird occasionally gets one right. Particularly the town that falls back on Old West mentality when dealing with roving scavenger gangs. The father died of a scratch, the narration was done by the son.

John Jaksich
2012-Jul-20, 01:18 AM
As for a scenario of how it goes down--there are truly too many bad situations to mention --IMO

However, humanity always finds a way to believe in itself--there are the resolute survivors who use their "hope" and their uncanny ability to survive during the darkest of times. It is as if some are hardwired to evolve, survive, and surmount the harshest of conditions.

Cougar
2012-Jul-20, 07:41 PM
... life went on, for the most part. Such as, rural areas being set back to, like, the equivalent of the early to mid 1800's (or earlier)...

Most people now understand the cause of disease and sickness. They had little clue about this in the early 1800s. At least that's something that wouldn't be lost. Future survivors may not have the medicines and surgical abilities we now have, but just the knowledge of what causes disease would be helpful.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-20, 07:54 PM
Most people now understand the cause of disease and sickness. They had little clue about this in the early 1800s. At least that's something that wouldn't be lost. Future survivors may not have the medicines and surgical abilities we now have, but just the knowledge of what causes disease would be helpful.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. Lots of people might revert to superstition, especially if the people who survive either already believe in superstition instead of science, decide that the precipitating event is proof of superstition and is disproof of science, or simple wants to use superstition to control the survivors.

Cougar
2012-Jul-20, 09:42 PM
I wouldn't be so sure about that. Lots of people might revert to superstition....

Well, judging from the polls I've seen on scientific literacy, in the U.S. anyway, you might be right. But the germ theory of disease has been adopted by nearly every household, I would think and hope. Success breeds acceptance. Many things would revert to the ways of old. I'm thinking some things would not... ETA, ...due to what has been learned between, say, 1780 and today. Everyone knows humans have walked on the moon...

PlutonianEmpire
2012-Jul-21, 12:28 AM
The traditional four horsemen of the apocalypse are famine, plague, war and death. The contemporary planet is rather vulnerable to all these problems, especially as the current economy is only sustained by fossil fuels that create a devilish heating scenario - economic growth delivers stability but cooks the planet. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, I would choose the deep blue sea. If we can invent floating islands, supported by large bags of fresh water, there is the prospect of escape from the terrestrial turmoil. After all, 71% of the planet is sea, with average depth three miles.
Somehow, I think people would still manage to bring their problems with them, regardless of what they try to do to escape it.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-21, 05:20 AM
Well, judging from the polls I've seen on scientific literacy, in the U.S. anyway, you might be right. But the germ theory of disease has been adopted by nearly every household, I would think and hope. Success breeds acceptance. Many things would revert to the ways of old. I'm thinking some things would not... ETA, ...due to what has been learned between, say, 1780 and today. Everyone knows humans have walked on the moon...

Falls down laughing. Good one!

Unfortunately, a lot of preppers are HB/CT/ATM types. :-/

Solfe
2012-Jul-21, 06:25 AM
Lots of people might revert to superstition...

Many people operate on superstition already. My daughter has to have treatments to remove a mass from her face. I noticed that no doctor, nurse, administrator, or insurance company will EVER refer to a "thirteenth treatment". She has series of 12 treatments and one assessment, then 12 more treatments and a second assessment and so on. It struck me as odd the first two times, shocking the third time, but now that she has had 4 assessments and is working towards her 5th, it is slightly embarrassing that pencil pushers and medical staff fear the number 13.

Robert Tulip
2012-Jul-21, 01:23 PM
Somehow, I think people would still manage to bring their problems with them, regardless of what they try to do to escape it.

If somehow an extreme event occurred, say a climate tipping point caused the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets to fall into the sea, the population movements from low fertile areas such as Bangladesh and Vietnam would be immense.

The psychological shock might be so great that if people moved to the sea on floating cities, they would be open to establishing new institutional structures that would be scientific.

I mean, if delusory beliefs got blamed for the catastrophe, there would be strong pressure to abandon delusory beliefs.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-21, 09:20 PM
Unfortunately, when people get scared or undergo massive change, they tend to cling more tightly to their beliefs rather than abandon them.

toolazytotypemyname
2012-Jul-22, 03:26 PM
Most people now understand the cause of disease and sickness. They had little clue about this in the early 1800s. At least that's something that wouldn't be lost. Future survivors may not have the medicines and surgical abilities we now have, but just the knowledge of what causes disease would be helpful.

After a couple of generations what happens? There's these things in the air, that you can't see, that'll make you sick. Are they germs or evil spirits?

swampyankee
2012-Jul-22, 04:12 PM
If somehow an extreme event occurred, say a climate tipping point caused the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets to fall into the sea, the population movements from low fertile areas such as Bangladesh and Vietnam would be immense.

The psychological shock might be so great that if people moved to the sea on floating cities, they would be open to establishing new institutional structures that would be scientific.

I mean, if delusory beliefs got blamed for the catastrophe, there would be strong pressure to abandon delusory beliefs.

More likely, the survivors who had been the strongest proponents of delusionary beliefs (we know who they are; they don't: they're delusional) would say that a global catastrophe was proof of their beliefs.

Incidentally, I think a catastrophe that's minor on the global scale, say a 500 m rock hitting Cheyenne Mountain, (granted, it be really bad for the locals) will trip a global nuclear war, which would (conservatively) kill billions.

John Jaksich
2012-Jul-22, 06:03 PM
More likely, the survivors who had been the strongest proponents of delusionary beliefs (we know who they are; they don't: they're delusional) would say that a global catastrophe was proof of their beliefs.

Incidentally, I think a catastrophe that's minor on the global scale, say a 500 m rock hitting Cheyenne Mountain, (granted, it be really bad for the locals) will trip a global nuclear war, which would (conservatively) kill billions.

Pardon my expression---but is it not fairly simple to cite how the those who are delusional would find a way to survive---I am certain that it would be harder to evaluate how those who hang on to some form of reality find "hope" to learn from their experiences.

swampyankee
2012-Jul-23, 12:31 AM
Pardon my expression---but is it not fairly simple to cite how the those who are delusional would find a way to survive---I am certain that it would be harder to evaluate how those who hang on to some form of reality find "hope" to learn from their experiences.

Well, for one thing a shared belief system can keep a community coherent. It doesn't have to be a valid belief system; it just needs to be strongly held by a community. Belief systems, even delusional ones, can be remarkably robust. Witness, for example, any of the (delusional) belief systems which hold a tenet of the one group's racial superiority or inferiority. These groups have survived decades of evidence that this particular belief is totally nonsensical, but that hasn't changed them one iota.

John Jaksich
2012-Jul-23, 03:08 AM
Well, for one thing a shared belief system can keep a community coherent. It doesn't have to be a valid belief system; it just needs to be strongly held by a community. Belief systems, even delusional ones, can be remarkably robust. Witness, for example, any of the (delusional) belief systems which hold a tenet of the one group's racial superiority or inferiority. These groups have survived decades of evidence that this particular belief is totally nonsensical, but that hasn't changed them one iota.

It may be a "shared belief" system--but many communities will dwindle in numbers if their belief system eventually leads to their demise. Many so-called communities that have a coherent belief system--however ending ignorance of a false belief is usually a simple matter giving a "truth" a proper way to engender itself.

Truth is hard-fought and is stubbornly lost---ignorance--on the other hand is fleeting and easily forgotten.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-23, 05:41 AM
It may be a "shared belief" system--but many communities will dwindle in numbers if their belief system eventually leads to their demise. Many so-called communities that have a coherent belief system--however ending ignorance of a false belief is usually a simple matter giving a "truth" a proper way to engender itself.

Truth is hard-fought and is stubbornly lost---ignorance--on the other hand is fleeting and easily forgotten.

Have you met many humans? "Truth" only lasts as long as it's convenient. The germ theory of disease is useful while we have tools that help us utilize that knowledge. However, if the world were turned upside down, people might run out of those tools and then they may be relegated to expedients, such as isolation, which can easily be explained to kids and the uneducated as purity laws to simplify it. Even if you try to tell them the "truth", they may not believe without proof and if you can't prove it, then it's as good as superstition and just as true and may be replaced. The whole point of science and empiricism is that it can be done by anyone. Once technology is lost then it's as good as magic and stories one must just have faith are true.

John Jaksich
2012-Jul-23, 11:51 AM
Have you met many humans? "Truth" only lasts as long as it's convenient. The germ theory of disease is useful while we have tools that help us utilize that knowledge. However, if the world were turned upside down, people might run out of those tools and then they may be relegated to expedients, such as isolation, which can easily be explained to kids and the uneducated as purity laws to simplify it. Even if you try to tell them the "truth", they may not believe without proof and if you can't prove it, then it's as good as superstition and just as true and may be replaced. The whole point of science and empiricism is that it can be done by anyone. Once technology is lost then it's as good as magic and stories one must just have faith are true.


I beg your pardon?....We have yet to in the situation that you mention...I for one don't intend to let myself be caught up in this situation. . . . It is much too hypothetical.

quotation
2012-Jul-23, 01:28 PM
I beg your pardon?....We have yet to in the situation that you mention...I for one don't intend to let myself be caught up in this situation. . . . It is much too hypothetical.
Not even sure anymore how I found this yesteday as I was simply reading some economic blogs, but any way, ran across a purportedly first-hand account of a guy and his family who lived in a small southern Bosnian town back in 1992. One day they woke up and an army had them encircled...game on. Things were really crazy for the first couple of days, then settled into a new "normalcy" of hiding, trading and surviving. Guess the point is the situation went from beyond "hypothetical" (no one saw it coming) to real before anyone even had a chance to prepare, so it's sort of a worst case scenario and an interesting study in human adaptability. A couple of things stood out:

http://www.tacticalintelligence.net/blog/shtf-survival-qa-a-first-hand-account.htm

...be trained and educated, in times like that it worth a fortune if you know how to fix things, all your goods is going to be exhausted one day, but your specific knowledge can be your food...I think i have knowledge now to smell trouble, you know when everybody is saying that everything is going to be fine you somehow know that is everything going to fall apart...I don’t anymore believe government and authority, not at all. When they really doing their best to assure you that everything going to be fine, you can be sure that something bad is happening...About moving trough the city: always night time as i mentioned, never alone, 2-3 man, very fast, never attract with anything, look like everybody else, if most folks look desperate, poor, dirty you need to look same...Concerning the smell of the food, hm, i ll try to picture situation: no electricity, no running water, sewage off for months, dead bodies in ruined houses, grime and mess, believe me it was very hard to smell something nice...It was not like in movies, it was ugly,dirty, and smelly...Most of the time you are not able to determine who is enemy or friend, expect my family and few real friend, everybody else is potential enemy. When your friend must choose between his child s death and your death quess who is going to choose...Real SHTF scenario demands completely change of normal mindset, hard to explain

Robert Tulip
2012-Jul-23, 02:26 PM
survivors who had been the strongest proponents of delusionary beliefs would say that a global catastrophe was proof of their beliefs.
The main catastrophic trend that will test how robust delusion can be is global warming. Bill McKibben has just published a superb article in Rolling Stone magazine, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719?stop_mobi=yes&goback=.gde_2792503_member_137051116). He sets out the economic drivers of delusion - an extra 500 GT of CO2 would produce 2 warming, but current plans expect to deliver five times this quantity of CO2 into the air. He compares it to knowing the legal limit for drink-driving and then wilfully ingesting five times as much alcohol as that before getting behind the wheel.

At some point, before or more likely after a tipping point, the delusional nature of expectation of business as usual will become undeniable, much as it became obsolete to advocate geocentrism after Galileo.

As McKibben says, there's simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to go chasing after zephyrs and sunbeams. But like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene...

The OP asks if modern life, to an extent, would continue in the major cities after a global catastrophe. Our world is very fragile, with an economy premised on exponential oil fired growth. An alternative to fossil fuel would be needed for the complex technological web of modern cities to remain viable. A state of collapse could see a return to feudalism with no large scale organization.

John Mendenhall
2012-Jul-23, 02:58 PM
OP, try William Fortschen's novel, One Second After. Very good everybody survives apocalypse, technology doesn't story.

At the other end, the previously recommended Earth Abides. Civilization ends not with a bang, but a whimper. Very depressing.

swampyankee
2012-Jul-24, 12:10 AM
The main catastrophic trend that will test how robust delusion can be is global warming. Bill McKibben has just published a superb article in Rolling Stone magazine, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719?stop_mobi=yes&goback=.gde_2792503_member_137051116). He sets out the economic drivers of delusion - an extra 500 GT of CO2 would produce 2 warming, but current plans expect to deliver five times this quantity of CO2 into the air. He compares it to knowing the legal limit for drink-driving and then wilfully ingesting five times as much alcohol as that before getting behind the wheel.

At some point, before or more likely after a tipping point, the delusional nature of expectation of business as usual will become undeniable, much as it became obsolete to advocate geocentrism after Galileo.

As McKibben says, there's simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to go chasing after zephyrs and sunbeams. But like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene...

The OP asks if modern life, to an extent, would continue in the major cities after a global catastrophe. Our world is very fragile, with an economy premised on exponential oil fired growth. An alternative to fossil fuel would be needed for the complex technological web of modern cities to remain viable. A state of collapse could see a return to feudalism with no large scale organization.

Combine money and a profitable, albeit delusion idea that must continue for personal profit among "respected" people, and they'll loudly expound how anything, true or not, must continue forever! For a long time, the tobacco companies claimed tobacco was good for you and lead producers that lead in gasoline and paint was not a health hazard. Were angel dust legal, the producers would deny it caused any problems.

You'll still get USians who think that the entire Clean Water Act was just nonsense, and there wasn't any problem, or the problem would magically stop at state lines, or all sorts of other counter-factual hypotheses. Intelligence doesn't necessarily preclude stupidity: witness Williams Shockley and his moronic racial theories.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-24, 06:00 AM
I beg your pardon?....We have yet to in the situation that you mention...I for one don't intend to let myself be caught up in this situation. . . . It is much too hypothetical.

A lot of superstitious people live away from urban centers which tend to be considered prime candidates for destruction and may be rendered unlivable in many world-ending events. Those who tend to survive are those who know how, and many of them are not in cities. In a world where life is full of uncertainty, order becomes useful and those who tend to create order tend to make use of superstition to justify that order because they are willing to go to great lengths to maintain that order.

I'm nto sure how hypothetical you think this is, but it may happen regionally, as others have noted, when government collapses. Right now we have several governments on the verge of collapse and mechanisms that may allow them to collapse the entire global economic system. Meanwhile, we have climate change that runs the risk of creating famines from droughts and floods and spreading endemic pests and their plagues to new areas, and we have the potential of infrastructure collapse from well known hurricane zones to recently realized seismic risks that could devastate regions that aren't prepared. Incidentally, these are the same causes of decline that have happened historically. Some of these are eternal and expected, but some potential disasters are of our own making, so calling them hypothetical kinda misses the point that we're going out of our way to increase both the damage and the probability of occurrence.