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Facts about Earth for a story Im writing

  1. Jan 25, 2006 #1
    Im currently writing a story set in the distant future. 99 percent of the human race has vanished due to warfare and economic downfall. The 99 percent would be of the total number of the population when they were at their peak.
    So for the sake of argument, lets say that the human race reached their peak 200 years from now. What would be the estimated size of the population during that time according to what is known now?

    The story takes place about 5,000 to 10,000 years after that peak. Would that be enough time for earth to cover up most of the traces of our civilization or should I go further into the future? Im talking dense vegetation, crumbled cities, depleted resources and extreme climates.

    I want a very good portion of the lands to be ruled by large, evolved animals who would stump mankind from exploring too much. The same goes for the sea. How long would it take for animals to evolve, nature willing, into such extreme lifeforms? Would it be possible or required that mankind evolve along with these creatures?

    The story will take place inside a huge city where mankind has survived for so long but have not progressed. They have energy and food resources , limited but advanced technology and a governmental system. There will be several cities of this nature which will all be isolated from eachother. Should mankind evolve, would this isolation cause each civilizations evolution to take extremely unique paths from eachother?

    I know these may be simple questions but I am no expert in this area and I just need a little help to maintain the accuracy of my story. All replies are appreciated. :smile:

    *If any of this sounds familiar, know that I have had this idea for quite sometime and will attempt to root out most similarities to any other current books or movies.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2006 #2
    language evoleves differently for isolated groups after lots of time, so even if these cities were initialy all english talkers, they would have difficulties communicating after long time of isolation.

    i dont think mankind -has- to change evolutionary, i think technology is slowing natural selection down because its easier to survive no matter whats your systems... theres a smaller difference between mutations in terms of breeding because of technology.

    and anyway, evolution takes much more then 10000 years, more then hundred milllion years are required... its more likely that these creatures arent from earth.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2006
  4. Jan 25, 2006 #3


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    This should easily be researchable with a bit of googling. For example, I turned up this graph.

    Yeah, that's doable. A lot would still be around, though in ruins. But keep in mind, humans are extremely resourceful. They would certainly exploit any leftover resoruces they came across. And they would be very creative about it - ways we would never have imagined.

    Just a for instance: they might start "mining" the crumbling asphalt roads, and using them as "fuel bricks" in ovens to jumpstart industry.

    It would not surprise me if humans bounced back *very* rapidly. Our intelligence - combined with a very large amount of available "inspiration" from wreckage - would rebuild our civilization in no time. It might not look the same, but its sophistication would be somewhat comparable. We would not go hundred of years between major advances. We might go more like decades.

    We would likely have our whole economy/industry based upon salvage.

    There would be rampant forms of decay/putrefaction. Resources, concentrated by humans, would be making their way back into the environment.

    Nope. Ten thousand years ago, the animals were pretty much the same as today.

    I suppose though, with a wealth of resources lying about, it could be argued that animals could evolve to be larger. Or change their behaviours. You might get packs of grizzly bears travelling in wolf-like packs. The animals may not have evolved much, but they might make a major threat.

    Except, of course, that they would have moved into the cities where all the resources are. Humans are very good at collecting and storing very high concentrations of resources that other things want (including bacteria).

    One of the primary things that kept all life in check in pre-history was the relative difficulty and energy required to extract resources (such as volatile chemical combinations which we like to call food) from the environment. Anything that humans had done in the past made it even slightly easier to get at chemicals (anything better than rocks and dirt) would be exploited to its ends. You would have a golden age of scavengers - coons, bears, insects, fungus, bacteria.

    And it's not like these animals would keep to the forests on the fringe of civilization - they'd be all over the cities. Thus, humans wouldn't be discouraged from exploring - they'd be "invited" to move on.

    Not in ten thousand years.

    Mostly we rely on our intelligence.

    Well, evolution happens over longer time periods than that.

    You don't get useful mutations like the gills in Waterworld. You get backdoor mutations - something unexpected, something that evolved for some other purpose, but now seems to do semething that causes a different bahaviour that provides an advantage in a round-about way.

    I suppose if one city were on the slopes of an active volcano for ten thousand years, that was spewing sulphur dioxide, you might start getting some variation in humans like a disease that scars their lungs but has the accidental side effect of filtering poisons from the air. Really subtle, backward things like that. Read up on sickle cell anemia and malaria for an example of a plausible beneficial mutation. (Note in both cases, it's actually an "undesirable" mutation - yet it has a "silver-lining" side-effect.)
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2006
  5. Jan 27, 2006 #4
    You could always go the ÆON FLUX route and make it rather odd and surreal. You don't have to stick with making it realistic unless that is a major part of your intention.

    If your major desire for the large predators to have evolved is to keep these civilizations seperated then it may be more realistic to go the cataclysm route. Concoct major earth changes based more on climate and/or nuclear fallout that make it extremely difficult and dangerous to venture outside a protected city center. Think "The Day After Tomorrow" but perhaps a longer more drawn out process to keep it more realistic. If you do go the route of a major climate shift then I would suggest getting your hands on The Coming Global Superstorm by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber for a source on how it may supposedly happen and what areas of the earth may be effected in certain manners.
    The cities could be in underground bunkers that were built for the purpose of housing people through the storm (or fallout). You could also speculate that 200 years from now when your peak hits (and or the major climate shifts if you chose to use such an idea) there will be fully enclosed cities that would protect it's inhabitants from climate changes and/or fallout. It might be an interesting historical event for such a future "The day that we closed our cities". Only a certain number of people would be able to be saved in the city walls (or underground bunkers) and the people left would likely riot and attack them to try to get inside.
    As for human evolution. If really want to have your humans be evolved beyond where they are today then you have a situation with enclosed cities that could account for it in a realistic manner. With limited space and supplies to go around the population growth would have to be slowed down to such a point that the number of persons in the city stays pretty close to the same year after year. So far as natural evolution is concerned this would be a hinderence. On the other hand having children could become a privledge and perhaps some form of eugenics would be enforced. Only people who are considered genetically fit would be allowed to reproduce. Depending on just how advanced technologically you will allow them to be they could do all of their breeding through in vetro fertilization and perhaps add some sort of gene therapy to the process to try making them even more "perfect". For inspiration here see Gattaca. In this way you could at least make them extremely intelligent and physically fit. Perhaps immune to many diseases. This will also give you interesting chances for concocting the class structure of the societies.
    DaveC426913's scavenger idea is very good too.
  6. Jan 27, 2006 #5
    I appreciate everyones insight. I will use this information to make all the proper adjustments.

    Good point. Though this is true, in the story there will be a universal connection between these cities but hidden from the public. With this connection, people will all have the same, or similar, language.

    Technology will be their only means of survival. Kinda like The Matrix where in Zeon they live and depend on their machines. As far as the evolution, it will be minor and of the result of genetic engineering.

    The same could be said here that creatures will have been genetically engineered, but with major differences.

    DaveC426913, thanks for the link.

    I never looked at it that way. But due to the nature of this story, the public would have very little control over this aspect.

    Though that does inspire me, the city itself will be in a very sophisticated state. And as before, public would have little control over this. It would basiclly be a city "frozen" in time with any advancements comming mainly from the government.

    With this I have decided to go the route of genetic egineering. It will have been a highly focused and concentrated degree of engineering in which these animals will have taken very extreme and deadly forms.

    And with that, mankind would be at a disadvantage and rarely would they succeed in exploring and finding anything other than what they already know. Though there will be tons of information about their past that has yet to be discovered.

    With all this, it seems I am going to take a huge sci-fi shift on the story. These are good ideas though and they give me inspiration to create and add many elements to the story.

    This was actually my orginial intention. Though I had these ideas way before I ever new about Aeon Flux, it has given me more inspiration to write.

    This is also an idea I was going to add. The civilizations will be seperate for reasons relating to the story and will be due to cataclusm. Though it will take place years after the downfall to where it will no longer be post-nuclear and anyone living outside these great cities during this period will have long been extinct.

    Your ideas also give some good inspirations I could work with. The concept you are leaning toward is something I also had intended. I wanted to give it the feel of a "Shadowrun" enviornment. Thanks for the info on the books as well. I will check into them.

    Again I appreciate everyones insight and am greatful for your help. I will use all these ideas to broaden my horizons. If I have any other question, I will be sure to post them in these forums knowing I can gain many helpful hints. :cool:
  7. Jan 27, 2006 #6


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    One more bit of (unsolicited) advice, if I may (though I am not a writer).

    I suggest that whatever you do decide upon for the "venue" (i.e. the environment) of your story, don't just do it because it makes a great plot.

    What do *you* believe our future holds for us? Have the world reinforce what you believe about our future. Is this a cautionary tale about unfettered exploitation? Does it marvel that nature will survive through resourcefulness? The ultimate futility of survival? Is it man vs. man? Man vs. nature? Or man vs. himself?

    I don't mean beat it to death, like they do in Hollywood - you don't have to make blatant references. But your story should *want* to be told. And what *you* believe - that is the best reason of all to tell a story.
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