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not sure if this goes here: the possibility of a new dark age

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
Long range distribution of fresh food needs high speed. Distribution of anti famine food just needs to be cheap. Rome was fed by slow boat.
 

Heavy Arms

Registered User
Validated User
I think that doesn't quite represent how must rural communities are designed either.

Most rural towns are built on active (if not nearly as heavily used as they once were) train tracks, where things like mills and refineries are.

Agricultural communities are already engineered around farmers gathering all their food into a central location on the farm, and then relatively short range transport to a central hub, which then processes and loads onto rail or truck. It still how things work today, because it's the only functional system once you get past farmer growing the majority of their production for their own use.
 

Wharrgarble

Comunista para Cristo
Staff member
Moderator
RPGnet Member
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That's OK. The original premise is flawed. It's racist, among other things.

Moderator Text:


Orientalist, this is probably a record time on escalation. We did not object to the contents of the post you were warned for, just the curtness and the unwillingness to unpack the idea.

Then you escalated, for which you got a very very short ban, and made us chat a bit about this.

Then the "bullshit" socks came out to play, and by now we're pretty convinced you're not a good fit for the board.

So thank you for all your insights, but we're going to ask you to leave us forever.

This is a perma. As always, appeals go to the admin email.
 

Rupert

Active member
Validated User
That's hard to reproduce for societies without the Mediterranean just sitting there in front of them waiting to be turned into a distribution system.
The USA has a rather large river running through the (rough) middle of it, which is useable for this sort of thing. The England before and as railways were built there was a fairly massive canal system built for the purpose of moving goods reliably and cheaply.
 

JohnBiles

Registered User
Validated User
The USA has a rather large river running through the (rough) middle of it, which is useable for this sort of thing. The England before and as railways were built there was a fairly massive canal system built for the purpose of moving goods reliably and cheaply.
Usable in some parts of the USA; the Mississippi is a HUGE advantage for rebuilding civilization in its basin as it connects a huge area and thus could support large cities even with 1500s tech. (Well, large by the standards of the 1500s). Which is why it was one of the urban civilization zones before the Little Ice Age threw the Cahokians down the stairs. (The other was the Ancient Pueboans in the Southwest, who also got thrown down the stairs by the Little Ice Age.)

New Orleans, Paducah, Saint Louis, and Cairo (Illinois) would probably all be major centers. (Saint Louis is where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi, Cairo is where the Ohio joins the Mississippi, Paducah is where the Tennessee river flows into it and New Orleans controls the mouth.)
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
Validated User
That's hard to reproduce for societies without the Mediterranean just sitting there in front of them waiting to be turned into a distribution system.
The point was that shipping grain around at 3 knots is totally reasonable; the issue is cost, not speed. A steam-electric hybrid truck or a horse-engine land barge at 6 MPH may seem to be crawling by modern auto standards but could be a huge win over oxcarts in both speed and fuel/food consumption. And if it doesn't work, the cost is likely the problem, not the speed. (It's hard to freight food if doing so consumes more food than you're freighting -- thus why land freight was historically expensive.) For famine purposes, relief food needs to arrive no earlier than the failed harvest, and you probably have a good deal of warning on that.

The trickier bit is having a society that coordinates such large scale movements of food, whether via bureaucracy or markets, including communication networks that can solicit the shipments, and an absence of bandits or robber barons along the way.
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
Validated User
I've been told that most of the minerals, precious metals, and fossil fuels have been mined out of the parts of the Earth's crust that a pre-technological society could access, which is why we're doing things like deep-sea drilling, shale sands and so forth. This is to say nothing about the biodiversity we're losing at a chilling rate.

What we have here, now, is kinda our one shot. The only way out is through: we gotta keep going, because if it all falls apart, there's nothing left for the survivors to rebuild with, at least for the next couple million years.
I first came across this concept in Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. I suppose a good way to recycle rusted iron is important.

I believe Charlie Stross was quoted here speaking about the myriad formats of electronically stored information being a potential issue. So much practical knowledge is accessed via the internet these days that, if it became unavailable, an unexpected dearth of specialists in a given field might cause a real problem.

Two of my deities in this setting would be Feema, the provider; and Googol, the mythical greatest sage.
 

zincorium

Registered User
Validated User
I suppose a good way to recycle rusted iron is important.
Recycling rusted iron is easier than digging new ore and trying to purify it, because there's nothing in it that you don't want except oxygen. If you can get a hot enough fuel, charcoal being the best bet, to turn it back into liquid then you've got all the iron/steel you need. Said fuel is the major choke point for this, and you have to have enough of it to work through the various issues you'll encounter. If you don't have wood to turn to charcoal, or don't know you can or should turn it into charcoal for a hotter fire, then sufficient amounts of most hydrocarbon fuels will do.

Aluminum and glass are even more easily recycled, which is why we're doing it right now. You don't need as hot a fire and the various shaping methods are easier. If something doesn't absolutely need to be made of steel, our post apocalyptic descendants will probably be making it from the piles of aluminum we've left lying around everywhere.
 

Heavy Arms

Registered User
Validated User
The hardest part of recycling steel is going to be rediscovering the carbon content metallurgy. Very few blacksmiths know how to take liquid iron and add just the right amount of carbon to get the type of steel they want for a given project. While the knowledge that alloying iron with rather small quantities of other things gets different steels for different jobs is going to be around, how do to it is probably going to take some experimentation to get back. Though there's a lot of steel already existing as a decent alloy out there, and you don't need to completely re-smelt it to reforge it. So there's probably a pretty big window here in terms of time.
 
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