If the internet suffers an extended outage, there would be massive numbers of deaths. During the first few days, there would be thousands of deaths. During the first few weeks there would be millions of deaths. During the first few months, there would be billions of deaths.
So... two-three months without the Internet and billions will die. The hyperbole is strong in this one. ---SNIP--- I think we'd lose the modern tech that requires a civilization-level effort like computers and such, but I think Amish-level societies would be reasonably self-sufficient enough to survive.
So, to summarize, we agree that if we lose the internet, we are screwed. You feel that we can somehow return to 18th century farming practices and still sustain current population levels.
I pray that we will avoid this situation. The only thing that might take down the internet is a sustained, determined effort by a large group of crazy people. Unfortunately, it sounds like Congressman Sensenbrenner might be an example of such a group.
I don't think it is hyperbole to say the billions will die in an extended (months long) internet outage. Here are a few more depressing facts:
- * Almost all of the world's money is virtual. It exists as trust and electronic records. It's potential is only the potential to create certain types of communication. All these communications depend on the internet. Without the internet, the computers in the banks are simply odd shaped piles of toxic waste. An internet-less credit card only has value as a book mark. There are no financial transactions without the internet. There is only barter.
- * Most of the US cultivated farmland is degraded from 200 years ago. The soils have increased levels of minerals and salts. The soils have decreased levels of organic material. The aquifers are depleted. Most US farmland requires high-tech intervention to maintain productivity.
- Almost all the cultivated farmland west of the Mississippi requires high-tech irrigation to produce crops.
- * There are no meaningful stocks of "heritage" seeds. The US lives off of hybrid seed that is produced in a small number of high-tech farms. Even if the current crops could be used for seed stock, most farmers no longer have the means or knowledge to preserve and treat seed.
- * Farming is HARD, specialized work. It takes decades to get good at it. 18th century farming is even harder and more specialized. It requires knowledge, skills, and culture that only exists in the Amish. The Amish are good, but they aren't going to feed more than a few thousand people.
- There are almost no available animals to support a large return to 18th century farming. Virtually no oxen. very limited stocks of chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, and sheep. There are only a few thousand work-horses.
- 18th century farming requires a lot of specialized support skills that no longer exist. I would be surprised if there are 100 blacksmiths in the US that could support a farming community. I expect I could count the number of coopers that can work at that level of technology on my fingers. And that is only 2 of a couple dozen specialists that would be needed to create a viable farming community.
- Even if somebody could figure out what people need to know to survive, there is no way to communication that information to people without the internet. We don't have the old, low-tech printing presses anymore. If the old printing presses still existed, you couldn't get supplies for them. Even if you could somehow print the information, you couldn't distribute it before most of the people died.
- The population of the world back in 1800 was about 1 billion people. There is a considerable state transition between our current state and that state. It may not be reversible.
So, to summarize, if we lose the internet, first the money disappears, then the food disappears, then the people disappear.