Tuesday, 9 August 2016

10:00 – Barbara is down in Winston today for a follow-up appointment with her doctor and to run some errands. Colin and I are working on administrative stuff. Kit sales continue strong for early August, but we’re in pretty good shape on finished-goods inventory for now.

Jen and Brittany started CC’ing me on a private email discussion they’ve been having. I think they’ve been reading too many post-apocalyptic novels. In those, there’s often a trigger event that causes cities to empty out as urban residents seek the perceived safety of the surrounding rural areas. Those areas are overwhelmed by this “Golden Horde”, and gun battles between rural residents and these urban refugees ensue. I don’t think this is likely to happen, for several reasons.

First, people are likely to leave their urban and suburban homes only as an absolutely last resort. In a catastrophic emergency, government aid will focus on large population concentrations. Food and other critical supplies will go to large urban concentrations, and to rural areas last, if at all. The same is true of things like restoring electric power, water and sewer services, and medical and emergency services. Most residents of high population-density areas will (correctly) think that they’re better off where they are.

Second, even if a mass exodus from cities occurred, the mess would be awesome. Look what a simple snow storm did in Atlanta a couple years ago, and there was only an inch or so accumulation. Interstates became parking lots, literally. Not even emergency vehicles could move. In a SHTF scenario, it would be orders of magnitude worse. I mentioned some time ago the concept of tenth-value distances, the number of miles that would cut the number of people getting that far to 10% of the number who’d originally set out. That TV distance varies depending on a lot of factors. For us in Sparta, I estimate it at 10 miles. That is, if 100,000 people set out from Winston-Salem heading northwest, by the time you get 10 miles outside the city limits that number would be down to 10,000 people because of wrecks, disabled cars, road blockages, fights with local residents at roadblocks, and so on. By the time you get 20 miles outside Winston, the number would be down to 10% of that, or 1,000. At 30 miles, it’d be down to 100, at 40 miles down to 10, and at 50 miles down to 1. By the time you extend the ring to 60 miles, which is Sparta’s distance from Winston, you’re down to a tenth of a person. Call it an arm wiggling in the middle of the road.

Obviously, this is a SWAG on my part. The true tenth-value distance may be more than 10 miles, but it also could be much less. The point is, it’s non-trivial to get to Sparta even under normal circumstances. Lots of curvy two-lane mountain roads. In a catastrophic emergency, the difficulty would increase by orders of magnitude. Just a few big trees dropped across the roads at strategic points would suffice to stymie most refugees. So, although I don’t expect the cities to empty out and Golden Hordes go looting and pillaging through the countryside, if that did happen I don’t think Sparta is likely to see many invaders. And there are more than enough well-armed local Good Old Boys to mop up any that did make it this far. I told Jen and Brittany that they’re both far enough from major populations centers that I don’t think they need to worry, either.