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Musings about the State of the World during a Zombie & Nuclear Apocalypse

November 17, 2011

Like many authors, my world in which the zombie apocalypse occurs is very much like ours with familiar landmarks, and culture.

For those people like me that watched the now discontinued TV show Jericho about a group of survivors after 23 American cities are wiped out by nuclear bombs, you might have some idea of what living in world that suffered numerous surface nuclear explosions.

If like me, you grew up in the shadow of the nuclear mushroom cloud (thanks to Queen for the sentence idea) your young impressionable mind was filled with all kinds of BS from the government about how to survive a nuclear attack.

Like climbing under a shoddy public school desk and clasping your hands behind your head over your neck is really going to protect you from a nuclear bomb!

The show Jericho did a good job to some degree of what a slight nuclear winter would be like. In my zombie novel I describe unusually long and severe winters caused by the wide spread use of nuclear weapons to halt the zombie pandemic.

When Nagasaki and Hiroshima were destroyed during WW2, the amount of ash and debris tossed into the atmosphere was pretty small compared to what would be ejected into the atmosphere if even a small-sized nuclear bomb (like was used in WW2) should detonate in a modern city. I think the writers of Jericho were a little conservative on how cold it would get in a nuclear winter. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were filled with lightly constructed buildings, a nuclear bomb detonating in a modern city filled with large industrial buildings would produce a lot more material, some of it tossed as high as 30,000 feet.

Jericho featured 23 nuclear devices going off in large modern cities with an incredible amount of flammable material. In my world that the zombies over ran, later within the first six months of the outbreak while the large national governments still exist, several nuclear-armed nations attempt to slow the tide of the zombie pandemic using nuclear weapons.

A pandemic with such a ridiculous R0 factor (basic reproduction number sometimes called basic reproductive rate, basic reproductive ratio and denoted R0, r naught) a zombie plague would quickly overcome all services and means of control. Within days we would see the collapse of most civilizations. A few Canadian math professors at the Ottawa University as an exercise have shed some light on what kind of disaster we are discussing.

Much like Saint Louis experienced with hurricane Katrina, the police and fire brigades would quickly get overwhelmed in a true zombie pandemic. Many of the police and firemen would desert their posts, because they are more concerned with their own family’s survival, which is understandable. Smaller areas like Wales in the United Kingdom are estimated to be completely over ran in as little as three days.

So this fictional world over ran with zombies would have very few survivors. The Canadian math professor at Ottawa surmised from the exercise that only isolation and violence would prevail against the zombie pandemic.

Survivors are going to have to scrounge for food and survive as best they can. Most urban dwellers lack the space to even begin to supply their immediate family with food. I am fortunate that I have a large backyard, so I could probably plant enough crops that I could supplement my family’s food. However, where am I going to get the seeds?

The TV show Jericho did a good job of showing how survivors are going to have to scrounge and scavenge to find food to survive. My house lacks any kind of heat not supplied by the grid, so my family will freeze unless I find some way to heat the house in total grid failure.

During the Bosnian conflict, Sarajevo was stripped of every tree within the city to be used as fire wood for heating and cooking. Empty and abandoned homes were tore apart from the inside and any wooden furniture was used for fire wood. Priceless heirloom wooden furniture is worthless when you are freezing and hungry. While Sarajevo has replanted over a million and half new trees, the city will never be the same since it lost all the old trees.

Feeding your family is going to be a challenge in a zombie pandemic. While I could plant a larger garden in the back yard, I lack seeds and I could use a few more fruit trees. Some of the folks that are preparing for any kind of disaster stock up on MREs, the military Meals Ready to Eat. Ask any service member that has had to live on MREs for any length of time how excited they are at the prospect of living on MREs not for a few week field exercise, but for months possibly years!

Most people do not think how bland and unappetizing meals are going to be in this zombie infested world. Fresh fruit will be a rarity, and once most of the supermarkets and convenience stores are looted, any kind of candy, sweets or alcohol will be a rarity too. How long are you willing to live on MRE crackers and reconstituted peanut butter?

One good thing about living on MREs is that they all come (at least the newer versions) with some form of candy or sweet as well as a small roll of toilet paper. I’ll discuss personal hygiene and the toilet in the next installment.

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