Here’s What Movies Forget to Mention About What Happens After Society Collapses

urban ruinsPost-apocalyptic movies are popular for a reason. We live in a world that is brimming with long lines, bills, traffic jams, bureaucracy, and stressful jobs. So even though we intuitively understand that living in an apocalyptic hellscape would be an absolute horror show, in the back of our minds we kinda wish that we had an excuse to blow off all of our modern responsibilities.

In that sense, post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows provide the perfect fantasy for us. They give us loner protagonists wandering through the quiet, windswept ruins of our cities, scavenging for food and fighting off zombies instead of working day jobs. These films try to convince us that post-apocalyptic living is an arduous but simple feat, in much the same way that Old Western movies romanticized the pre-modern world.

In short, these films depict the death of everything we hate about modern society, while downplaying the consequences of that state of affairs. They portray the leftovers of our society as a playground for charismatic misfits, but neglect to inform you of a very important detail. If the modern world falls apart, never to return, it’s going to leave behind an abundance of ticking time bombs in its wake.

They don’t show you what will happen to millions of our abandoned pets, who will revert to their wild instincts after we stop feeding them, and begin competing with their former owners for food. These films don’t show you what it’s like to walk through an abandoned suburban city, where ten thousand swimming pools have turned into breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes.

They rarely mention the dozens of nuclear power plants that litter the United States. If no one is there to operate them, how long before they melt down and bury millions of survivors under a radioactive cloud?

Then there are the 12,000 facilities around the country that store large quantities of toxic or flammable chemicals, and reside close to residential areas. 2,500 of these sites contain chemicals in quantities that, if a catastrophic accident were to occur, could affect 10,000 to 1 million people each. And let’s not forget the 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines that can be found in every state. They suffer hundreds of leaks and ruptures every year, and are much more likely to explode when they aren’t maintained. That detail seems to be conveniently forgotten by post-apocalyptic films.

And finally, most post-apocalyptic movies will forget to mention what happens when there aren’t any functional fire departments. Aside from the obvious consequences, like whole neighborhoods routinely burning to the ground, who’s going to put out landfill fires that are occasionally radioactive?

Another product of the modern world is the poor management of our national parks and forests, which has laid the groundwork for some of the largest and fastest burning forest fires in history. Even with the help of firefighters, these conflagrations routinely burn more than a 100,000 acres at a time. How many rural Americans are going to have to flee their homes from the veritable tidal wave of wildfires that would scorch the landscape?

Frankly, this is just a short list of some of the unexpected disasters that will be waiting for us if society collapses. There are probably plenty of others that we haven’t even considered yet. So the next time you’re enjoying a post-apocalyptic feature of some kind, try not to get too wrapped up in the fantasy it provides. If the world falls apart, traveling through the ruins of our dead civilization will be less like a whimsical action packed adventure, and more like traversing a mine field without a metal detector.

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published August 24th, 2016
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  • Michael Powers

    The forest fire issue is one of the weakness for those going to the “American Redoubt” that most aren’t able to deal with.

  • Axel Mattson

    Excellent article. More reason I’m glad I don’t live in the city.

    A few thoughts: For us country bumpkins, the abandoned pets would be a blessing, not a curse. Edible game will disappear rather quickly and dogs and cats in the stew pot would help. Dog taste pretty good, I haven’t tried cat. Forest fires could be dealt with ahead of time by thinning out the burnables around your homestead (you’ll need it for firewood anyway), but how many people would think of that ahead of time? On gas lines, wouldn’t it take just a few breaks here and there to depressurize the system since no new gas is being pumped in?

  • GRAMPA

    Quite a list of future problems and most are accurate. When we have our nations power interrupted the process of collapse will start slowly and pick up speed exponentially. The primary problems of food and water will be only the beginning. When the power goes down it can only come back on if ever incrementally. Each new area must be phased in. This was done automatically but with computers down and destroyed it is harder to do manually. Now even the pumps that provide life support of water will have problems. returning pressure to pipes will rupture many. They need pressure returned gradually. The oil lines will have the same problem. Its called hydraulic hammer. Recovery will not be as if we turn on a light switch. Just power that is provided our gas and oil for trucks and trains is gone. Our supply is finite and who will determine who gets power restored first. People will be real shortsighted when it comes to personal comfort. We will have riots if power is provided to the homes of the rich. Even if we had a leader our communication to let our citizens know what is done to return ourselves to a normal state will be important. I have thought long and hard about the order of the recovery and find I do not have the skill or understanding of the total problem. In a nation with 300 million plus residents we will have as many different opinions to what should be done first. I have seen the many articles on what is needed to survive. In short I think we need to train like McGiver to deal with the infinite possibilities and probabilities of problems. So I end with my unintentional tongue twister.
    Grampa

    • Winston Buie

      I don’t think we will ever put the power grid back up…we’ll have solar/wind for power in the homes…and waterwells for water…

      • GRAMPA

        Who will install this solar and wind? few understand what it takes. Even if the existing wires are intact the risk of Independent sources online at the same time can be dangerous. If one is out of phase with another we have voltage that cancels others out and others that double causing failure of equipment. Independent systems are not adequate and must rely on storage devices such as batteries. These are also dangerous if not maintained correctly. some of the newer types will explode with quite some force if connected wrong. I agree we shouldn’t be as centralized for sources as we are. We have government to thank for that for they allowed the companies to merge and allowed the regulation to come under people who haven’t a clue on what they are looking at. I am a master/ contractor and strive to inform as many as I can on the advantages and dangers of systems that can cause fires and kill people. We do have many instructions that will direct the average homeowner what is needed. Sites that don’t advertise as miracle power sources and have on site calculators with sections that offer an answer section are best. the more local the better. I see the future as independent but it isnt cheap. a little knowledge is dangerous. I am not a big fan of government but in areas like this it has its place. We should have switched to underground and EMP hardened systems years ago. the power companies lobby to keep this from happening to maximize profits. This is why we are exposed by both attack from weather or terrorists. Too many problems too little time.
        Grampa

      • Winston Buie

        Gasoline had its detractors too…I’ll install mine…and my family will learn to get by on the power my system produces…battery’s are used extensively today…once we get out from under the soul killin power grid why would we go back

      • GRAMPA

        I agree. It is never a good Idea to be held under the thumb of the corporation. Now have your start how will you solve the food problem and water and sewage source and disposal We have become so intertwined that we loose a nail and loose the war.
        Grampa

      • Winston Buie

        E-bay Mountain House, Wise.. goats chickens Garden…water well…septic tank…check out my pinterest “a country boy can survive”

      • GRAMPA

        what do you do when the city you live in wont let you raise a garden large enough to feed you or have a chicken? not everyone can move to the country.
        Grampa

  • Hugh Farnham

    If Fukushima caused the average counts per minute to rise 5 CPM in the Northern Hemisphere, 400 nuclear plants worldwide would cause a 2,000 CPM rise for ,many years.

    1,000 CPM is a threshold for danger.

    In other words, if everything went sideways, you would need to bunker down for years. Could anything be grown for generations that would be edible? What about wildlife? Could those be eaten?

    Perhaps things would be better south of the Equator.

    • Jason Bjornsson

      The Road.

  • ZanneB

    There is also another problem in large urban areas, zoos. If the caretakers, or crackpots, of these facilities let all the animals out, you are going to have to become a big game hunter to save your life. A pack of feral dogs can be dangerous, but lions, tigers and bears are deadly.

  • Jason Bjornsson

    It will be more like the world depicted in The Road.

  • T.j. Thomas

    Also, modern society is filled with a thousand invisible benefits. That is, the things you enjoy and take for granted and never notice, but would painfully miss as soon as they were taken from you. Think of it like your health – most people take it for granted until it starts to fail.

  • Ex Tempore

    …an interesting movie from some years ago depict those scenarios…”Omega Man” (Charlton Heston), “Mad Max..East of Thunder Dome” (Mel Gibson and Tina Turner), and a forgotten one, called “Silent Running” from 1971!

  • Fifth_Disciple

    The greatest loss will be the brain trust. Those who have the knowledge and experience to remedy many of these problems are urban residents themselves and most likely to perish in the first wave.

  • Al Terego

    Nah! Just grab your “bug-out bag” and drive to your retreat where you have a few weeks worth of food stored, and all will be well! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Sadly, those abandoned pets aren’t going to “revert to their wild instincts”- well, not for very long anyway. As someone who has rescued many stray dogs and cats, both when I lived in the NY metro area, and now here in a very rural area with abundant wildlife and habitat, I can tell you that former house pets are not very good at living in the wild. Animals show up at my farm all of the time emaciated- half starved to death- if not rescued, they would quickly die. ๐Ÿ™

    Generations of domestic life, and not having had their parents teach them how to hunt, have rendered them largely helpless- Same deal as when you see the “Do not feed the bears” signs in national parks, because if they become used to being given food, they forget how to scavenge.

    As long as I’m alive, my dogs and cats will be with me and fed!

  • David Stanley

    The war mongers and fat cats have sealed the fate of America
    1) during the great Depression 8 million + Americans starved to death which was roughly 5-10% of the population at the time.
    Even though most Americans lived on farms and could feed themselves
    2) Today the rate of starvation would exceed 25% as few live on farms and so
    many live off Govt aid. 25% of 300 million = 75 million would starve to death in short order.
    3) Violence in USA is already at a staggeringly high level it will get worse and will explode when the system goes down.
    4) clean unadulterated water is hard to find in US today it will further add to the carnage.
    5) much of the electric power in USA comes from Canada or from dilapidated Nuclear power plants or coal and oil all of which would be too expensive for Americans;
    During a systemic financial failure .heat stroke ,bitter cold will test the hardiest among Americans
    6)The inner cities would become death traps for many millions in the first week alone.
    The cost of greed by the few, will be borne by the many.
    As the clock ticks away the time the inevitability of systemic failure looms in the shadows

  • Jakob

    I could welcome a change in pace

  • steven

    Panic in the year zero, was a very realistic post apocalypse movie from the late 50s early 60s.
    For those of us who remember Frankie Avalon he was a star in that movie.

  • joseph keeney

    Just buy a lot of Vicks don’t you smell that smell the smell of death around you. Take your colloidal silver everyday. Out here we got Buzzards & Crows Coyotes Hogs for clean up.Green acres its the place for me.If you make it out the Welcome Wagon won’t be here for you.

  • Jeff Pearce Sr.

    The movie “The Book of Eli” is likely the closest post apocalyptic narrative Hollyweird has made.

  • Sheri

    My mom grew-up without plumbing and electricity and she lived in Topanga Canyon, California outside of Los Angeles. The chicken coop was a constant irritation of chicken lice. My grandparents lived through the depression and both my grannies were abandoned with needy children, one little girl did not survive, she would have been my Aunt. I listened to those stories and spent weekends at the dump searching for mayonnaise jars so my grandma could can-up her garden surplus to eat through the winter. We would get all covered with trash and stink and spend the rest of the day at the man-made farm pond swimming and having a picnic lunch. Grandma met “grandpa” and he became my grandpa and he loved us kids so much, Lord, Praise God, he blessed our family. Thank You Jesus! Our family was poor but rich in family bonds, love, ethics, and morals. A person was true to their word. You were nothing if you couldn’t live up to your word. Remember to double yoke yourself with God. Your burdens may not disappear but the load will lighten. We can all make it, we can do with less stuff when we live a more focused and simple life with God and caring for each other in love. Grow your gardens, share with your family & friends, teach your children and grand children. Be well.

  • Matt Seey

    nuke plants would shut down on their own like they are designed to do

  • Winston Buie

    pretty typical of the OMG glass is half empty mindset…nuclear reactors scram automatically…that means they lower the rods in water…chemicals are stored in approved containers that should last a long time…and well probably need those chemicals…pipelines loose pressure if the pumping station is not pumping…sure you’ll have some spills…people have been dealing with forrest fire for hundreds of years…prevention is the key in that situation…I understand the author is trying to deromanticize the end of the world scenario…but its not going to be as bad as the author makes it out to be

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