Electrical and Computer Engineering Publications

Feeding everyone if the sun is obscured and industry is disabled

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International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction

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A number of catastrophes could block the sun, including asteroid/comet impact, super volcanic eruption, and nuclear war with the burning of cities (nuclear winter). The problem of feeding 7 billion people would arise (the food problem is more severe than other problems associated with these catastrophes). Previous work has shown this is possible converting stored biomass to food if industry is present. A number of risks could destroy electricity globally, including a series of high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMPs) caused by nuclear weapons, an extreme solar storm, and a super computer virus. Since industry depends on electricity, it is likely there would be a collapse of the functioning of industry and machines. Additional previous work has shown that it is technically feasible to feed everyone given the loss of industry without the loss of the sun. It is possible that one of these sun-blocking scenarios could occur near in time to one of these industry-disabling scenarios. This study analyzes food sources in these combined catastrophe scenarios. Food sources include extracting edible calories from killed leaves, growing mushrooms on leaves and dead trees, and feeding the residue to cellulose-digesting animals such as cattle and rabbits. Since the sun is unlikely to be completely blocked, fishing and growing ultraviolet (UV) and cold-tolerant crops in the tropics could be possible. The results of this study show these solutions could enable the feeding of everyone given minimal preparation, and this preparation should be a high priority now.

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