catastrophy, Children of Men, crisis, elderly, EMP, One Second After, P. D. James, parthenogenesis, skills, survival, W. R. Forstchen
One of the good things about vacation for me was that I could read as much as I wanted to, laying at the pool side at my hotel. The sun was shining, my wife next to me, music in my ears (not from Apple product) and a book in my hand (either from Kindle or paper one). I couldn’t really wish for more…
I wanted to share some thoughts about two of the books I read there:
“One Second After” by W. R. Forstchen was written to present us with a possible scenario how America could fare under an EMP attack (please read more about EMP here). Basically such an attack would render all electronic equipment, which would be not “hardened” against it (which means pretty much everything, except some military stuff), useless. Imagine a world where there no planes (those would literally fall off the sky), no cars (at least made after 1970 or so), no refrigerators, no phones, computers, air conditioners, door openers, nothing… Back to basics – or back hundreds of years – in an instant. Imagine how many people would die in those initial moments – all elderly with heart pacifiers, diabetics, specific medication takers… Imagine no communication, no transportation and no food. Where would you be then? How would you fare? The main thought for me is – what skills do I possess that would give me a better chance of survival? Simple realization how dependent we are on technology is scary in itself, but I have honestly no idea how to balance that dependency. Do you?
“The Children of Men” by P. D. James was published for the first time in 1992. The book is an attempt to look at all of us, the whole human species, under premonition that no babies are born all over the world. There are at least two intellectually interesting questions this book opens: first, some of the issues mentioned in it are valid also today, without global infertility. Number of older or elderly people grows (especially in the Western civilization) and number of births is lower year by year. How do we deal with that? How do we care of our elderly? Do we allow them mass suicide to lessen our burden, as the book suggests? Ethically repugnant question, but realistically one has to ask how long diminishing tax returns would be able to support ever-growing people being cared for by the society. Second issue is more scientific in its nature – in the year 2007 (more about it here) for the first time human cells were created using parthenogenesis. I presume – I hope – that human race confronted with a fact of mass infertility would fight to find a way of prolonging life of all species, meaning that this particular discovery could be made earlier, in the late nineties (especially that the principle was known at the time the book was published). Parthenogenesis would work, unless of course that infertility would also cause women not to produce eggs… One way or the other, we should ask ourselves how our civilization should fight growing median age. We are getting older and we are productive longer – but all has its end. What then? Shall we consider bringing babies artificially to this world and caring for them as a society, not as a family? Is this where we, as humanity, are going? After all, most of the family values are disappearing as well. Maybe a surrogate family, in form of state supported homes, is an answer, where chosen professional mothers would be artificially impregnated and paid for birth and upbringing by all of us, making “mother” also an official profession.
Just as a reminder, complete list of books I read can be found under “Books I read” link. I changed it a little bit, sorting everything by year.