What do you/will you miss?


Flag of JMG’s Lakeland Republic, from Retrotopia; own work

Last week, the issue of lead and its analogues were brought forward.  The list of reasons why a civilization can collapse can be long (see Tainter and Diamond, naturally).  When they go, its members lose some pretty nifty comforts, but also miss some of civilization’s problems.

On one side of ledger, we might lose antibiotics, birth control, cheap energy, domesticated animals/pet, electronic communications, fire brigades, geosynchronous satellite communication and GPS, houses that are heated in winter and cool in summer, icemakers and indoor plumbing,  jaunts to far away destinations, cheap candy,  laundry, money that is easily transferred and held safe, cheap optics and eyeglasses, search engines, tooth care (dentistry), zoos; the list is long (trying for a bit of an alphabetical list, but not all of these things will go at the same time, or degrade in any sort of uniform manner).

Likewise, we’ll lose some pollution (but gain in others), onerous regulations and taxes from far flung locales, reality television and celebrity news, food made with corn syrup, and commutes to jobs where you sit in a box and look at screens all day.

What will you miss, on both sides of the ledger?  If it was possible to throttle back on “civilization” just a wee bit, what sort of tradeoffs would you make?  Would you dial back life to a 1960s level of technology?   Or want to go earlier?   JMG made a world where these elements could live side by side in Retrotopia.   Where would you be inclined to live?



1 thought on “What do you/will you miss?

  1. Cassandra (@Cererean)

    We’d be in a far better position if we just lost cars and modern urban planning. We’d save a very large amount of energy, free up lots of space for other purposes, and breathe much cleaner air. Lose the cars, take the train. Keep computers – and hey, if your job just involves staring at a screen all day, there’s not really any need to commute at all. In fact, I’d say there’s a good chance ditching the automobile now would enable us to get ahead of the curve and stop collapse in it’s tracks.

    In a full scale collapse, I’d miss modern healthcare (I like being alive), the internet (so much information! So much to learn! Such conversations!), and the potential for space colonisation (I have my eye on Ceres…).

    But if we lost domesticated animals, then the collapse would be a lot worse than (almost) anyone is predicting, sending us back to the Paleolithic. It’s a well worn trope that Post Apocalypse Man has his trustworthy dog with him (and the cat roasting on a spit).


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