Thursday, 30 March 2017

Nature Returns

Just north from here, there are narrow winding country roads with long grass, bushes and tree trunks on each side and branches meeting overhead. Driving there, I wonder how long it would take for nature to cover the roads if human beings withdrew from this island. This question applies to many post-catastrophe scenarios although not to all. A nuclear winter would kill every blade of grass.

I wonder if anyone still lives on Earth after Poul Anderson's Terran Empire has fallen and, if so, what shape they are in. Their urbanized planet would not have retained country roads in Cumbria - unless Britian was a noble's estate.

SM Stirling tells us what happens to a road after the Change:

a decade of neglect;
rushing water;
blocked culverts;
overflowing ditches;
saplings sprouting in potholes and cracks;
roots working at the road's foundations;
in a few human lifetimes (that long?), water and trees would make the road "...a memory and a faint trace through forest..." (A Meeting At Corvallis, Chapter Nine, p. 237)

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have read, however, that first class Roman roads were so well and solidly made that they could last for generatiions, even after the Western Empire fell. A big problem however, was that many roads were wrecked from them being QUARRIED for the cut stone used for making them.

We get a hint of what Terra might have turned out after the Empire fell from the description of Old Tranor in Chapter 22 of Asimov's FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE. Billions, alas, would die on Terra once society collapsed (whether or not there was a Great Sack of Archopolis). Later, people from other planets might come to mine the ruins of Archopolis for useful metals.

While I agree Terra, during both the Solar Commonwealth and the Empire, was heavily urbanized, this should not be exaggerated. From the example of Zolotoy in "The High Ones," from 20 to 25 percent of Terra might have been built over. And I've argued that besides the estates of wealthy nobles, it might have been required by law for large parts of Terra to remain suitable for agricultural purposes.

So, yes, I would expect the Mayor Palatine of Britain and other Imperial aristocrats to have "rural" estates. And other parts of Britain would be used for farming.