How We Could Survive After the Apocalypse

Joshua Pearce, David Denkenberger explain how survivors could eat for 5 years
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2014 1:19 PM CST
Updated Dec 27, 2014 7:33 AM CST
How We Could Survive After the Apocalypse
Gray, dead spruces are seen. Says Pearce, "All the trees would be dead, for lack of light."   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Imagine this: an apocalyptic event strikes the planet—say, a super-volcano, asteroid, or nuclear winter. While a small portion of the population would die, most of us wouldn't. But the skies would blacken, our crops would die, and the darkness would keep us from sowing new ones. (Yes, LED-light-equipped grow houses would persist, but they couldn't feed the world.) How does humanity survive? That's the question tackled by Joshua Pearce and David Denkenberger in the book Feeding Everyone No Matter What. As Pearce explains to Nautilus, his research into that question found a single answer: store a ton of food. The problem is that in the authors' view, a global catastrophe would necessitate five years' worth of supplies, and stockpiling that isn't feasible from an economic standpoint, they explain in a press release. (Gizmodo says they estimated doing so would cost a family of four $12,000.)

Pearce and Denkenberger say they have "two primary classes of solutions" that would get us to that five-year mark—and require a lot of chainsaws. "We can convert existing fossil fuels to food by growing bacteria on top of it," says Pearce. We'd then "either eat the bacterial slime or feed it to rats and bugs and then eat them." The second option, which he views as easier, is to feed rotting wood fiber to "beetles or rats and then feed them to something else higher on the food chain. Or just eat the bugs." As Pearce tells Nautilus, we'd need a lot of chainsaws to fell what would essentially be a planet of dead trees. And if temps plummeted to 20 degrees amid the darkness, all of Canada's wood would essentially be frozen. "That’s why global cooperation is so important," says Pearce. "Because we’d basically be harvesting wood supplies from the equator." (Read about the "Doomsday Vault" in Norway.)

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