Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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The Grunge (GR#63) and Other Apocalyptic Pressures

These notes relate to the series The Daughters of the Apocalypse and its introductory poem "Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work."

WARNING: This whole section of notes is graphic and horrifying due to weapons of mass destruction and extreme population loss. Please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether this is something you want to read.


The Grunge (GR#63) and Other Apocalyptic Pressures

The apocalypse began with natural disasters, hordes of refugees, and then wars over what was left. These are known as global catastropic risks or existential risks, which could greatly curtail or even wipe out civilization or humanity itself. There are also S-risks that concern astronomical suffering. That buildup ended with chemical warfare which wiped out most of the adults 15 years ago, since "the Grunge" (officially named GR#63) was designed to attack healthy bodies in their prime -- people who were or could be soldiers. The poem "Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work" starts in 15 A.E. (After the End).

Chemical weapons work in various ways. Among the possible methods of delivery, the Grunge relies primarily on inhalation and dermal contact. Poisons can be classified based on which body part(s) they attack -- most often nerves, blood, or muscles. The Grunge primarily attacks muscles, but it can have other effects, especially at high doses in victims close to ground zero. Dosage of chemical weapons typically relies on toxin density, duration of exposure, and respiration rate. Because the Grunge relies on muscle density and sex hormones, those factors influence how fast athletic adults tend to die from it, but people with little of those (e.g. children) may walk through the stuff and take only nonlethal damage. This created one of the signature injuries of the Grunge: PTSD from watching friends or family die in agony while the survivor looked on, unable to help them.

This chemical weapon was designed to cripple military capacity. It focused primarily on combat-capable targets or those who could easily become threats. So that's who it was tested on: young fit men, mostly white and heterosexual. As in drug development, that means it doesn't always work the same on groups that weren't tested, like women and people of color. For once, that's a survival advantage instead of a disadvantage: the most powerful group took the hardest hit by far, leaving the least powerful groups in the majority. While aimed at humans, the Grunge could also affect larger mammals; it had only incidental impact on non-mammalian wildlife, just because chemical weapons tend to be generally bad for living organisms. Of those, urban birds were the hardest hit due to the sensitivity of avian respiration.

The Grunge targeted two biological features, muscle mass and sex hormones. These two features attracted more of the poison into the body and activated its primary attacks. The symptoms match those typical of chemical weapons. Lethal effects included coughing blood, shortness of breath, and respiratory failure as the muscles and tissues of the lungs failed; cyanosis, exhaustion, and cardiac arrest as the heart failed; increasing muscle cramps and seizures as the main muscle masses began to malfunction, but this more often ended with filter organ failure as rhabdomyolysis on top of the chemical weapon itself overwhelmed the kidneys and liver with toxins. These effects appeared in order of exposure: highest dose killed within a few minutes through the lungs, followed by the heart in less than an hour, whereas some moderate doses caused lingering death through muscle collapse taking days. Lower doses often caused skin problems and other tissue damage, which sometimes led to death from secondary infections, but these were among the more survivable effects. Continued exposure over time, even at lower doses, allowed the toxins to build up in the muscles where they could poison the body; this typically manifested with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis: muscle pains, weakness, vomiting, confusion, dark urine, and/or irregular heartbeat. So people continued to die even months after the initial deployment. Long-term impacts on survivors of chemical weapons are widely varied, but can shorten life and lower survival potential. The details of this regarding the Grunge are unknown as yet because it hasn't been around long enough and no rigorous studies are possible in the Aftermath, but observations indicate similar patterns in the range typical of chemical weapons.

During the End, little could be done for victims of the Grunge, which is often an issue with chemical weapon attacks. Most successful treatment requires advanced medical care. Those showing respiratory or cardiac symptoms were simply doomed; even a single victim in a working hospital wouldn't have had a good chance of survival, and en masse there was no way to treat any of them. Those not killed immediately often tried to wash off any residue, which minimized further exposure. Some people who only had minor muscle or skin problems did survive the effects.

Another factor is the lifespan of a chemical weapon. The Grunge was primarily distributed by bombing and spraying over cities, possibly indicating two or more different forms of the weapon. This left large areas contaminated. Also, any bombing attack leaves behind some small percentage of unexploded ordnance -- more if this is planned as a post-battle terrorism tactic. Chemical weapons are typically designed to last 20 years in storage, which means the unexploded samples will be dangerous at least that long, possibly more. Lifespan after deployment depends on many factors including the chemical structure and format of the weapon itself along with environmental factors (e.g. sun, wind, water) in the field. Volatile compounds disperse and/or break down very fast, within minutes or hours; whereas more stable ones may last for days or weeks, occasionally longer under certain conditions. Very persistent chemicals can last for months or years, some of them being highly resistant to factors like sunlight which degrade other materials.

The Grunge was most lethal immediately after deployment, but the residue can remain hazardous much longer. Two main things are known about it:
1) Exposure to sunlight and fresh air seems to break down the active ingredients. What's left may still have minor toxicity, but no longer behaves like the Grunge. Photocatalytic oxidation breaks down many things, including some chemical weapons.
2) The cities remain dangerous, especially to the prime targets. This is likely a combination of toxic materials clinging to protected spaces, and unexploded ordnance occasionally going off. The stuff got on everything, rendering urban goods risky to loot or use. Going into a city is an ugly game of Russian roulette.

As a result, the cities are almost completely abandoned. The few scavengers who dare take the risk are almost all children or seniors. There's a huge tension between the desperate need of equipment and the terror of its lingering contamination. Scavengers and traders have taken to using the term "sun-cured" for goods that have been left outdoors in sunlight, usually with a timespan attached (e.g. "three days" or "two weeks") and with the longer curing times having a higher price. Since there's no way to know if things were really cured by the person who said they were, goods passing through reputable traders tend to get re-cured every time they change hands, and many people do the same with newly acquired items for their own use. Not everything can be treated this way and still survive; even for things that survive the treatment, it often degrages quality and lifespan. This contributes to the increasing difficulty in obtaining usable equipment in the Aftermath. But nobody with any sense wants to risk the Grunge, so most people continue to take precautions.

So the Grunge killed almost all adult men and most adult women. Some elders survived, mostly postmenopausal women and a few old men. Most children survived. So did some teens, more younger than older. Some survivors, especially teens, had lingering disabilities. The most common fell into several clusters: withered or amputated limbs from muscle and other tissue loss, skin scars from close contact burns and/or tissue loss, and lung damage from inhalation. Afterwards, lingering impacts ran up the rate of miscarriage and stillbirth, chiefly due to failures in muscle or lung development. The leading survivable birth defects are limb abnormalities and facial clefts. This is typical of reproductive problems caused by chemical weapons or other environmental toxins.

A milder but still statistically significant effect is that the Grunge hit Caucasian people harder than other races, for the simple reason that it was designed and tested against that target, making it slightly less effective against others. Different weapons were deployed in other places around the world by various parties, typically targeted to those areas. Add in the fact that some ethnic populations, such as Indian reservations, clustered away from the cities. As a result, the surviving population of former North America is much more racially diverse than Before.

Similarly, people with sex/gender variations had a considerably higher rate of survival due to differing from the target sample. They remain a larger proportion of the population after the End. Rates remain elevated among births in the Aftermath, likely due to a combination of factors including baseline numbers, aftereffects of the Grunge, and overall pollution of the environment with hormone-mimicking substances. Estimates before the End range from less than 1% to about 3% of the Before population, trending upward. They probably make up 2-5% of the After population, with some variations based on age and location.

After the weapon's deployment, few adults and not many older teens remained to pick up the pieces. Many children died because they couldn't take care of themselves and there weren't enough older caregivers available. Some elders died due to the harsh conditions and scarce resources. Almost everyone dependent on drugs or medical equipment died, most of them quickly, although a few survivors may eke out an existence if their supplies are relatively stable or can be cobbled up from After technology. Most teens survived because they had enough skills and little competition. The fact that some older survivors didn't take on any child survivors put even more weight on those who did. The most common social units were bands of teens, a teen and younger siblings, a grandparent and grandchildren, and either a teen or an elder picking up as many younger survivors as they could support. Less common, sometimes elders gathered in "schools." The worst impact happened in urban and suburban areas, with small towns and rural areas remaining more intact both physically and socially.

Because so many adults died, as has happened before in war and genocide, the subsequent society grew largely out of teen and child cultures, and its language evolved rapidly. Some place names carried over, but many of those lost syllables and/or changed spelling. Some words have shifted meaning, a little or a lot. Much of the English language simplified into After English ("Afta"), and in some areas took on large portions from Spanish or from indigenous languages. Only the few surviving elders carried over the full knowledge of Before English ("Fora"). Those who were teens when the Grunge hit tend to be mostly literate, but many of the child survivors have only partial literacy. Few of those born after the Grunge have learned to read, for lack of resources, although those raised by elders have more of a chance. The younger someone is, the less likely they are to be literate.


The Math (such as it is)

I spent over an hour systematically killing off most of the people in North America. The rest of the world is in similar shape, perhaps somewhat varied in causes and population impacts. Below is my attempt at estimating likely reductions in population based on the Grunge and subsequent hardships. The particulars of this setting have created a very different postapocalyptic world than is usually described. I have done my best with math; there may be errors, which may or may not be possible to pin down and fix, but I think I have a pretty reasonable projection of the surviving population. Numbers are broken down by age and by urban/rural distribution, as these are key factors in survivability within this scenario.


Children (lowest impact from Grunge)
Ages 0-4 = 19,576,683 (2,740,736 rural and 16,835,947 urban)
.................. 27% of original population
.................. 1% loss, 99% survival (urban Grunge)
.................. 168,360 urban loss to Grunge and 16,667,587 survival
.................. 25% urban loss to neglect and 75% survival
.................. 4,166,897 urban loss to neglect and 12,500,690 survival
Ages 5-11 = 28,446,096 (3,982,453 rural and 24,463,643 urban)
.................. 39% of original population
.................. 5% loss, 95% survival (urban Grunge)
.................. 1,223,182 urban loss to Grunge and 23,240,461 survival
.................. 5% urban loss to neglect and 95% survival
.................. 1,162,023 urban loss to neglect and 22,078,438 survival
Subtotal = 48,022,779 (6,723,189 rural and 41,299,590 urban)
.................. 1,391,542 urban loss to Grunge and 39,908,048 survival
.................. 1% loss, 99% survival (rural Grunge)
.................. 67,232 rural loss to Grunge and 6,655,957 survival
.................. 5,328,920 urban loss to neglect and 34,579,128 survival
.................. 10% of urban child loss in first year, 90% survival
.................. 3,457,913 urban child loss in first year, 31,121,215 survival
.................. 5% loss of rural children in first year, 95% survival
.................. 332,798 rural child loss in first year and 6,323,159 survival
.................. 37,444,374 children at the end of the first year

Teens (moderate impact from Grunge)
Ages 12-14 = 12,548,067 (1,756,729 rural and 10,791,338 urban)
..................... 17% of original population
..................... 60% loss, 40% survival (urban Grunge)
..................... 6,474,803 urban loss to Grunge and 4,316,535 survival
Ages 15-17 = 12,468,304 (1,745,563 rural and 10,722,741 urban)
..................... 17% of original population
..................... 80% loss, 20% survival (urban Grunge)
..................... 8,578,193 urban loss to Grunge and 2,144,548 survival
Subtotal = 25,016,371 (3,502,292 rural and 21,514,079 urban)
..................... 15,052,996 urban loss to Grunge and 6,461,083 survival
..................... 5% loss, 95% survival (rural Grunge)
..................... 323,054 rural loss to Grunge and 3,179,238 survival
..................... 25% loss of urban teens in first year, 75% survival
..................... 1,615,271 urban teen loss in first year and 4,845,812 survival
..................... 10% loss of rural teens in first year, 90% survival
..................... 317,924 rural teen loss in first year and 2,861,314 survival
..................... 7,707,126 teens at the end of the first year

Total <18 = 73,039,150 (10,225,481 rural and 62,813,669 urban)
................. 16,444,538 urban loss to Grunge and 46,369,131 survival
................. 5,073,184 urban youth loss in first year, 35,967,027 survival
................. 390,286 rural loss to Grunge and 9,835,195 survival
................. 650,722 rural youth loss in first year and 9,184,473 survival
................. 45,151,500 youth at the end of the first year

Adults (highest impact from Grunge)
Ages 18-24 = 30,219,206 (4,230,689 rural and 25,988,517 urban)
...................... 12% of original population
...................... 99% loss, 1% survival (urban Grunge)
...................... 25,728,632 urban loss to Grunge and 259,885 survival
...................... 25% loss, 75% survival (rural Grunge)
...................... 1,057,672 rural loss to Grunge and 3,173,017 survival
Ages 25-64 = 170,922,904 (23,929,207 rural and 146,993,697 urban)
...................... 67% of original population
...................... 95% loss, 5% survival (urban Grunge)
...................... 139,644,013 urban loss to Grunge and 7,349,684 survival
...................... 15% loss, 85% survival (rural Grunge)
...................... 3,589,381 rural loss to Grunge and 29,339,826 survival
Ages 65+ = 54,058,263 (7,568,157 rural and 46,490,106 urban)
...................... 21% of original population
...................... 75% loss, 25% survival (urban Grunge)
...................... 34,867,579 urban loss to Grunge and 11,622,527 survival
...................... 10% loss, 90% survival (rural Grunge)
...................... 756,816 rural loss to Grunge and 6,841,341 survival

Total 18+ = 255,200,373 (35,728,052 rural and 219,472,321 urban)
100%
.................. 200,240,224 urban loss to Grunge and 19,232,096 survival
.................. 50% loss of urban adults in first year, 50% survival
.................. 9,616,048 urban adult loss in first year, 9,616,048 survival
.................. 5,403,869 rural loss to Grunge and 39,354,184 survival
.................. 20% loss of rural adults in first year, 80% survival
.................. 7,870,837 rural adult loss in first year, 31,483,347 survival
.................. 41,099,395 adults at the end of the first year

Grand total = 328,239,523 (45,953,533 rural and 282,285,990 urban)
..................... 216,684,762 urban loss to Grunge and survival 65,601,227
..................... 5,794,155 rural loss to Grunge and 49,189,379 survival
..................... 222,478,917 total loss to Grunge and 114,790,606 survival
..................... 5,328,920 urban loss to neglect and 34,579,128 survival (children)
..................... 109,461,686 survival after neglect
..................... 5,073,184 urban youth loss in first year, 35,967,027 survival
..................... 9,616,048 urban adult loss in first year, 9,616,048 survival
..................... 45,583,075 urban survivors at the end of the first year
..................... 94,772,454 after first year urban losses
..................... 650,722 rural youth loss in first year and 9,184,473 survival
..................... 7,870,837 rural adult loss in first year, 31,483,347 survival
..................... 8,521,559 rural losses in first year, 40,667,820 survival
..................... 86,250,895 after first year rural losses

The rural population (14%) of America suffered little or no impact from the Grunge, although they did lose people to other issues. They started with 13,798,286 people. Rural deaths from the Grunge were much lighter than urban deaths, primarily caused by people traveling into cities or receiving contaminated goods. 1% of rural children died of the Grunge, and 5% of hardships in the first year. 5% of rural teens died of the Grunge, and 10% of hardships in the first year. Rural adults 18-24 lost 25% to the Grunge, 25-64 lost 15%, and 65+ lost 10%. The most susceptible ages were also the most likely to travel and handle goods. Another 20% of rural adults died of hardships in the first year. Because rural communities lost fewer people, and were much closer to being self-sufficient, they survived the aftermath better than people fleeing from the cities. Of roughly 170 communes predating the End, 153 of them (90%) have lasted to 15 A.E. Of the 326 Indian reservations and similar entities from Before, 310 of them (95%) have survived to 15 A.E. Some even had no casualties due to their isolation and self-sufficiency. At the end of the first year, the rural population was 40,667,820.

The urban population (72%) suffered losses from the Grunge based on age, and then lost more people due to subsequent issues. They started with 84,769,901 people. The Grunge killed 1% of urban children ages 0-4 and 5% ages 5-11, 60% of urban teens ages 12-14 and 80% ages 15-17, 99% of urban adults ages 18-24, 95% ages 25-64, and 75% ages 65+. Another 25% of urban children 0-4 and 5% 4-11 died of neglect fairly soon after the Grunge, for lack of adult caregivers; most of those were unweaned infants. 50% of urban adults died in the first year, variously due to lack of survival skills, giving more resources to children, violence, injury, and illness. 25% of urban teens died of similar hardships. 10% of urban children died, somewhat buffered by the efforts of older people to take care of them. Because people in the cities had fewer resources and less knowledge, and they had to leave their homes, they suffered much worse losses than rural people. At the end of the first year, the formerly urban population was 45,583,075.

By the end of the first year, the total surviving population was 86,250,895. Of those, 40,667,820 were rural and 45,583,075 were formerly urban. 37,444,374 were children, 7,707,126 were teens, and 41,099,395 were adults.


Continuing Losses

(These numbers are rough estimates as they don't account for births yet.)

The losses continued beyond the first year After, especially since the surviving birth rate almost bottomed out in the early years. While there are no solid numbers for causes of death beyond "apocalyptic hardships," about 25% (21,562,724) of the survivors who were alive at the beginning of 1 A.E. (86,250,895) died in the next 4 years, leaving 64,688,171 survivors at the beginning of 5 A.E. Of remaining survivors (64,688,171), 25% of them (16,172,043) died in the next 10 years, leaving 48,516,128 survivors at the beginning of 15 A.E.

By the end of the first year, the total surviving population was 86,250,895. Of those, 40,667,820 were rural and 45,583,075 were formerly urban. 37,444,374 were children, 7,707,126 were teens, and 41,099,395 were adults.

25% of 86,250,895 = 21562723.75
21,562,724 deaths during 1-4 A.E.
64,688,171 survivors at the beginning of 5 A.E.

25% of 64,688,171 = 16172042.75
16,172,043 deaths during 5-14 A.E.
48,516,128 survivors at the beginning of 15 A.E.


From a starting population of 328,239,523 people they lost 241,988,628 (74%) in the first year After, leaving 86,250,895 survivors (26%). By 5 A.E. there were 64,688,171 (20% of the original population) survivors and by 15 A.E. there were 48,516,128 (15% of the original population) survivors. Losses at this time had mounted to 279,723,395 (85% of the original population) total.

86250895 is 26.276815848285278% of 328239523
86,250,895 is 26% of 328,239,523
328239523 - 86250895 = 241,988,628
241,988,628 is 74% 241,988,628

25% of 86,250,895 = 21562723.75
21,562,724 deaths during 1-4 A.E.
64,688,171 survivors at the beginning of 5 A.E.

25% of 64,688,171 = 16172042.75
16,172,043 deaths during 5-14 A.E.
48,516,128 survivors at the beginning of 15 A.E.

64688171 is 19.707611810050064% of 328239523
64,688,171 is 20% of 328,239,523

48516128 is 14.780708781373656% of 328239523
48,516,128 is 15% of 328,239,523

241,988,628 losses in the first year After
21,562,724 losses in A.E. 1-4
16,172,043 losses in A.E. 5-14
279,723,395 losses total


These later losses spread out differently than the early losses. At the End, losses were defined primarily by who was or was not in an area hit by the Grunge (urban vs. rural), and by age (adults and older teens hit hardest, children having better chances of survival). By 1 A.E. the patterns were shifting:

1) The sharp differences between rural and formerly urban were starting to smooth out, although a substantial number of continuing losses were from people with sublethal exposure to the Grunge that left them with lingering damage as chemical weapons often do. Losses among adults and older teens remained somewhat higher than losses among children, but less dramatically than in the first year After.

2) There were bigger differences between individuals and communities based on their resources, skills, and knowledge. Some had few or no losses, others were greatly reduced or even wiped out. A lot of places were abandoned because there weren't enough people to hold them, or nobody wanted to live there without Before supports, while a few places took in refugees from elsewhere.


Births After the End

Births in 0 A.E.
During the first year after the End, most people focused on survival, so there were few births and even fewer babies that lived. The birth rate was about 1/10 of the 1 A.E. rate, making it 1 per 1000. There were 35,967 surviving births in 0 A.E. consisting of 3,525 boys to 31,723 girls and 719 sex/gender variant.

Population in 1 A.E.
41,099,395 adult survivors (1 in 20 men/women, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 41,099,395 = 821,988 sex/gender variant
..... 40,277,407 men and women left
..... 2,013,870 men to 38,263,537 women
45,151,500 youth survivors (1 in 10 boys/girls, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 45,151,500 = 903,030 sex/gender variant
..... 44,248,470 boys and girls left
..... 4,424,847 boys to 39,823,623 girls
37,444,374 children
..... 2% of 37,444,374 = 748,887 sex/gender variant
..... 36,695,487 boys and girls left
..... 3,669,549 boys to 33,025,938 girls
7,707,126 teens
..... 2% of 7,707,126 = 154,143 sex/gender variant
..... 7,552,983 boys and girls left
..... 755,298 boys to 6,797,685 girls
There were 35,967 surviving births in 0 A.E. consisting of 3,525 boys to 31,723 girls and 719 sex/gender variant.

Ages 0-4 = 12,500,690 (1 in 10 boys/girls, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 12,500,690 = 250,014 sex/gender variant
..... 12,250,676 boys and girls left
..... 1,225,068 boys to 11,025,608 girls
Ages 5-11 = 22,078,438 (1 in 10 boys/girls, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 22,078,438 = 441,568 sex/gender variant
..... 21,636,870 boys and girls left
..... 2,163,687 boys and 19,473,183 girls
Ages 12-14 = 4,316,535 (1 in 10 boys/girls, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 4,316,535 = 86,331 sex/gender variant
..... 4,230,204 boys and girls left
..... 423,020 boys and 3,807,184 girls
Ages 15-17 = 2,144,548 (1 in 10 boys/girls, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 2,144,548 = 42,891 sex/gender variant
..... 2,101,657 boys and girls left
..... 210,166 boys and 1,891,491 girls
Ages 18-24 = 3,173,017 (1 in 20 men/women, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 3,173,017 = 63,460 sex/gender variant
..... 3,109,557 men and women left
..... 155,478 men and 2,954,079 women
Ages 25-64 = 29,339,826 (1 in 20 men/women, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 29,339,826 = 586,797 sex/gender variant
..... 28,753,029 men and women left
..... 1,437,651 men and 27,315,378 women
Ages 65+ = 6,841,341 (1 in 20 men/women, 1 in 50 sex/gender variant)
..... 2% of 6,841,341 = 136,826 sex/gender variant
..... 6,704,515 men and women left
..... 335,226 men and 6,369,289 women

Births in 1 A.E.
Ages 12-14, 15-17, 18-24, and 25-64 have fertile adults. Younger and older ages have negligible fertility. Surviving birth rate in 1 A.E. ~ 10 per 1,000 (very low). Ratio of surviving infants was 1 in 10 boys/girls and 1 in 50 sex/gender variant. There were 359,670 surviving births in 1 A.E. consisting of 35,248 boys to 317,229 girls and 7,193 sex/gender variant

Births in 1 A.E.
Ages 12-14 = 3,807,184 girls
..... 3,807,184 ÷ 1,000 = 3,807
..... 3,807 x 10 = 38,070 surviving births
..... 761 sex/gender variant
..... 37,309 boys and girls left
..... 3,731 boys to 33,578 girls
Ages 15-17 = 1,891,491 girls
..... 1,891,491 ÷ 1,000 = 1,891
..... 1,891 x 10 = 18,910 surviving births
..... 378 sex/gender variant
..... 18,532 boys and girls left
..... 1,853 boys to 16,679 girls
Ages 18-24 = 2,954,079 women
..... 2,954,079 ÷ 1,000 = 2,954
..... 2,954 x 10 = 29,540 surviving births
..... 591 sex/gender variant
..... 28,949 boys and girls left
..... 2,895 boys and 26,054 girls
Ages 25-64 = 27,315,378 women
..... 27,315,378 ÷ 1,000 = 27,315
..... 27,315 x 10 = 273,150 surviving births
..... 5,463 sex/gender variant
..... 267,687 boys and girls left
..... 26,769 boys to 240,918
359,670 surviving births in 1 A.E.
..... 7,193 sex/gender variant
..... 352,477 boys and girls left
..... 35,248 boys to 317,229 girls
There were 35,967 surviving births in 0 A.E. consisting of 3,525 boys to 31,723 girls and 719 sex/gender variant.


Population Impacts

The apocalypse has caused a population bottleneck for humans in former North America. Scientists debate the "minimum viable population" for species, and the estimates for humans are especially diverse: from around 98 to 500, to 5,000 for a buffer against disaster, and 10,000-40,000 for optimum colonization. It would take at least 10,000 to restart a Victorian level of civilization, and probably around 100 million to 1 billion to sustain a modern level. However, the population of 86,250,895 as of 1 A.E. was far above even the most conservative estimate for MVP. That said, the population has been widely scattered in small groups, which makes survival for any one group much more precarious. Many are below even the most optimistic MVP of 98, and almost all are below the more realistic 500. Some After societies are bigger, but those people aren't all living together in the same place, although they may be available to each other for reproductive purposes. Travel and exchange of mates will be absolutely essential for long-term survival. The smaller the group, the more it will rely on those interactions.

By the year 1 A.E. the proportion of male to female among teen and younger survivors (45,151,500) was about 1 in 10, or 4,515,150 boys to 40,636,350 girls. The proportion in adult survivors (41,099,395) was about 1 in 20, or 2,054,970 men and 39,044,425 women. The surviving birth rate was about 10 per 1,000 (very low). By 15 A.E. the proportion of male to female infants one year after birth is up around 1 in 5, and improvement has slowed to a crawl, likely due to the fragility of the Y chromosome. That means any male death has a disproportionate impact, and the ratio can easily drop back down to 1 in 10. The balance is slow to recover, and it may never get back to the 49 in 51 ratio of men to women that it used to be. The surviving birth rate is up to 20 per 1,000 (still low) and continuing to creep upward. As the death rate is higher After than Before, while the birth rate is lower, the population is probably still dwindling slowly. It should stabilize in the next several years, and then begin to climb as people stake out more of a civilization in the Aftermath. Society is still scrambling to catch up with what all of that may mean for interpersonal relationships and social responsibilities.

Factors that tend to lower the surviving birth rate:
* The Grunge and other environmental contaminants undermine fertility and viability.
* Depression, PTSD, and other mental issues often suppress libido and also the energy needed to raise infants effectively.
* Teen mothers and mature mothers have a lower chance of successful reproduction. Peak success is 20s-30s.
* There just aren't many males to go around, and not everyone wants to share. They also suffer from lower fertility at extremes of the age spectrum, and lower survivability in general. That Y-chromosome fragility is a serious problem.
* Low and poor food supply undermines fertility and survival.
* Lack of medical care risks death of mother and/or child from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

Factors that tend to raise the surviving birth rate:
* Almost dying makes most humans want to fuck.
* Lots of survival sex happens during and after an apocalypse.
* A significant amount of rape also occurs, but a lot less than the apocalyptic average due to a severe shortage of testosterone.
* Little birth control remains. What's left (expired synthetic condoms or pills, animal gut condoms, herbal preparations, rhythm method, early withdrawal, etc.) are unreliable with the exceptions of abstinence and nonprocreative sexual acts (oral sex, anal sex, etc.).
* Many people actively seek to boost the diminished population.
* Pregnant women and infants (especially the rare males) tend to be particularly coddled, protected, and given the best remaining supplies available.

About 2-5% of the population is sex/gender variant. They may have male, female, mixed, or neuter physical traits and any combination of gender identity and social role. However, they are less often fertile and reproductive compared to the conventional male-female population. Their most common contributions to repopulation are helping with childcare and adopting orphan or abandoned children. Society is still trying to figure out how to fit this into a rapidly shifting sex/gender dynamic.

These factors have combined to wipe out a lot of the Before culture, with the After culture developing into something quite different. It also diverges from most postapocalyptic settings dominated by hypermuscular, hypersexual heroic men with a few women on the side. Those types almost all died out in the Grunge. Instead this setting is dominated by women, mostly young, of diverse races; plus a few men and other genders.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, family skills, fishbowl, poetry, reading, safety, science fiction, weblit, writing
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