Thursday, March 15, 2018
The Northeast is getting hit with blizzard conditions. That will probably take down power for a lot of people. At the same time there's a solar storm going on that could affect power and communications in the higher latitudes.
That got me thinking. It's often a combination of things that take down a civilization. Robust societies can handle more disruptions than fragile ones. It also matters how many problems and how often they arrive that stresses a population.
Scientists try to figure out what caused ancient civilizations to collapse. For example: an area may be prone to drought, but the civilization survives any number of them with no problems. Then one day a drought comes along and everything falls apart. What's the difference? It could be a number of things.
There may be some political unrest going on at the same time. Infrastructure that normally would lessen the impact of the drought (cisterns, canals, reservoirs, etc.) are not properly maintained. Maybe a recent disease outbreak caused problems. While normally any one of those problems could be dealt with, the added effects of them working together proves to be too much.
Now I don't expect any such disaster from a simple winter storm and a somewhat more energetic sun. Any solar caused outages would mostly like be dwarfed by snow storm effects. Of course, that's just two things, and not all that uncommon at that. Add in something like Yellowstone having a massive eruption, an EMP device denotation, plague, and that might do it. It might take less than that, or it might take more. Who knows? This is not an exact science.
So what's a civilization to do? There are plenty of things that cannot be done. We don't exactly have any control over the sun. However, by staying on top of what we can fix, we are in a better state to survive the stuff we have no control over.