The Crossroads of the Aether
I am entertaining the notion about what we Steampunks might do in the event that an EMP pulse takes out all technology worldwide. Rather than an end of the world scenario. If the Steampunks were to rebuild, exactly what might everyone do to make that happen? What creations might you bring to the fore and what might you ressurrect? For me, firstly, I see gas lamps in the future to light our way. What would you bring about or create? What sort of society might you envision yourself living in?
Keep in mind that I am looking for real world solutions please. Thanks all! :-)
Living as we do an essentially 19th century lifestyle here aboard our shanty boat (here see : floatingempire.blogspot.com) we already have a number of the systems in place and in use to continue our lives fairly uninterrupted. I think the key here--and the difference between this and "prepping"--is to make the systems that we would be using part of our everyday lives, not merely an emergency option. As an example, we heat and cook either with wood or kerosene, we light largely with Kirkman #2 lanterns, and, being on the water and near some rather lovely wild areas, we fish and forage for a fair percentage of our food. We do this anyway, and as a consequence are quite good at them, not merely holding them as an option in the case of disaster.
In the conjectural EMP disaster, communities and individuals with functioning alternative systems would form the anchors and intellectual seed corn for the rest of society, and such ideas would spread from there. Doomsday scenarios notwithstanding, humans tend to pull together during disasters, not apart. Having lived in both hurricane and earthquake active regions, I have seen this first hand.
I am quite interested to see what others come up with.
Yep, thats us :)
Are you running 12v? We do not see enough of that burning sky orb thingy here to rely on solar but I have seen people power their 12v cabins by cycling portable battery jumpers that they charge in town. If you don't mind me asking, two stories? About how many square feet? Do you have your own motor? What kind of heat?
My lovely wife has made it crystal clear that we are never living on a boat nor may I own a sailboat. :-( We recently put our old Bayliner up for sale/barter since we just don't make time to use her.
Oh, i forgot: We're about 220 sq feet total, larger than most tiny houses, smaller than most cabins, and just about perfect for us.
Much to my surprise my lovely wife let me buy a 25' Bayliner. 20 minutes later it had a "tasteful autumn decor" and a name that I cannot pronounce. I can't even pretend that it is my boat. We have camped on her a bit but we have not even put her in the water the past two summers (slight shortage of harbor slips due to a very, very, very, very slow harbor "improvement" project). I just listed her for sale. Cheap. Those two happiest days in a man's life and all.
I would have a better chance reasoning with a suicide bomber than convincing my wife to live on a boat smaller than a cruise ship.
I would much rather have a sailboat or motorsailer but there is not much chance of my lovely wife agreeing to a sailboat.
I'm curious why. They're far more stable, and ever so stylish :)
Just surviving in a world suddenly without the technology to sustain most of the roughly 6 billion humans would be a greater challenge than most people have ever faced. How many people here have kept themselves and their families fed and warm for even one year. How many other people have heirloom gardens? Hunt? Know canning? Dehydrating? Curing? Trap? Fish? Gather wild foods? Trauma medicine? Sailing? Horsemanship?
Once you survive the next objective is to thrive which means barter, networking, and building. At this point skills like weaving, tanning, sewing, cobbling, reloading, fletching, machining, wood working, smithing, gambling, brewing, etc....
How many people are prepared for the tremendous physical work needed to live without gasoline and electricity?
I would fall back on having been military, a SAR volunteer, an 18th century reenactor (I can sustain flintlock tech), and just normal Alaskan traditions. SteamPunk is based on Victorian living which was rapidly separating itself from the land and limitations of seasonal agriculture. Eventually I would want transportation which means cobbling together slow, fugly, vehicles at which point things would start looking SP.
We have a dozen or so local SP and many would be high on the networking list like one young lady who is a ships engineer. Some would have unfair psychological disadvantages such as being vegans and some have medical conditions that require modern technologies to keep them alive. This is another local group that might be much higher on my network list (high enough that I would expect help from them in a pinch):
Nearly all fish, hunt, load, and have amazing toys packratted away. No one is taking what's their away and they are a trustworthy group. We might start looking more wild, wild west than traditional SP.
Sadly what few skilled machinist left who can maintain steamboats or locomotives are old and dying. There are maybe as few as half a dozen steam powered riverboats left in the US and a few dozen steam locomotives. These limited lines would have a hard time picking up the work of the huge US fleet of tractor trailers, barges, and diesel trains required to maintain our current way of living. We do have a steam locomotive still running out of Skagway and the tracks can be restored all the way to Whitehorse for trade. http://wpyr.com/
I live in a landlocked community of about 31K (summer). Most Alaskans even in a big city like this have at least a month's food and heat. "The Road" ends about 29 miles north so with little or no fuel we could still manage to get around. We currently relay on barges and commercial jets for EVERYTHING produced outside. After a Carrington event the jets, most shipping, and most vehicles would be dead. We would be limited to a few dozen sailboats and older (magneto driven) airplanes. We probably have more airplanes that would work after a Carrington event than cars since old cars do not do well in Alaska but the seals used in aircraft engines cannot handle alcohol so fuel would be a problem. A rough scenario but better than most of the world especially the big cities. The Ferry http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/ could theoretically be restored but would be slower and much more hazardous without electronics. We only have a couple dozen horse on the road system but there are many semi-wild/semi-tame "punt" horses just over the icefield that can carry a lot more than a man can. I am aware of only two local dogsled teams but there are a lot of big dogs that are happy to eat fish scraps and at least two trainers.
Potatoes. Potatoes, peas, rhubarb, cabbage, etc.. would need to be planted in every flat, sunny area. Hopefully a lot of less prepared people would immediately try and "escape" which would take a lot of pressure off the local community. We do have a substantial fishing industry but it will be hard to fuel. We have one of the best hydroelectric systems in the world and shamefully way too few electric cars (no local dealers). There used to be a successful dairy here but there are no cows or goats left to graze on the salt grass. We have a bit of a ham community to at least get rumors from the outside world. Lots of ducks, geese, large sea birds, larger ravens, pigeons, and spruce grouse in addition to a growing chicken raising community (when the black bears, brown bears, ermine, mink, fox, wolverines, wolves, coyotes, martins, cougars, lynx, and eagles don't eat them). Lots of warm furs to trap. We also still have more miles of hard rock gold mines than paved roads here which has some potential. We have a glacier in the backyard so food preservation is not a problem even if the hydroelectric lines fail.
Oh yes, we still have two real wood burning (and lots of wood in a rainforest) steamboats: http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/group/riverboats/forum/topics/lau... They are not much but they can reach nearby isolated communities for trade so we would not be completely dependent on mostly smaller, non-cargo, sailboats.
I ran into an engineer who works for the Ferry last night at practice. The Ferries use diesel engines and have self charging compressed air tanks that are supposed to have enough stored pressure for three starts without electricity. An EMP/CME/SF would not kill our Ferry system at least but a lack of diesel (they can also run on crude oil direct from the pipeline but then require more cleaning) could still be an issue.
There was fisherman at the same practice and did not see many options for keeping most of the fishing boats running after this event.
We still need an electric car dealership. Maybe a dealership for these electric ATVs: http://www.ecoeatv.com/
I remember the ferries well. When I was a boy, I traveled on one with my mother and two brothers out of Alaska (we used to live in Anchorage) to Washington on our way to our new home in Colorado. It's a great way to see the Western/Northern coastline. I'm loving your insights, Captain. Keep 'em coming! I'm feeling a bit nostalgic reading them.
Subsistence living and harnessing natural energies has always been a root of respect for me. Farming, or living an agrarian existence, is hard and something that as a child, I never been truly privy... in the 70's the prospect of permanent space travel was just in its infancy with NASA, and spin off technology was on the horizon to make the world a better place, however. When it comes to earthly living, we need to turn back the clock, say 150 years or so, just enough to bare in mind that the industrial age, was a mere fancy with the inventors of your and the steel barons. I'm talking about the provision laid by the household and farmer. There provisions have sustained a nation in its infancy.
Such techniques are slowly dwindling by the age of the circuit and with it the a more efficient automated society. We forget how to do the most basic of things, such as cook and even fix things around the household. Don't get me wrong, technology can be used in tandem, but not to completely replaced the most advance piece of technology of them all, the human being.
As an advancing society, we need to at least consider the more viable ability of the human being and harmony with technology and not allow one to excel over the other. Whilst machines are biding to take over the world! As this is a popular aspect of science fiction. It is this that such modes of thought can be reality. Although, we have seen that machines, the super computers, have been able to repair themselves, think for themselves and the most sophisticated robots, not one has the ability to emote abstractly what death means, or have a soul... sorry, a bit of a lecture there.
I like machines and technology, however. I dread the day that such devices would replace our president and run the world. The opinion is, would the world be a better place, or would be be worse off, not knowing how to take care of ourselves in the long run.
Think of it as a society filled with new prejudice, like iRobot or any other movie depicting something so different, that we obtain a fear that has always plagued man, their loss of humanity. Or is it the robot yearning to be human?
So if an EMP were to strike us all, if not a Solar Mass Ejection, then what do we truly have to fall back on... something a machine could never adapt without the assistance of its human counterpart, and that is adaptability.
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