Aftermath (TV series)

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Created by Rob Minkoff
Written by Warren Davis II
Michael Tupy
Narrated by Mike McCurlie
Country of origin Canada
No. of episodes 5
Original network National Geographic
Original release 2010
External links

Aftermath is a four-part 2010 documentary television series created by History Television Canadian station, airing in the United States on the National Geographic Channel, and produced by Cream Productions.

Aftermath consists of a series of "experiments" looking at what would happen if planetary conditions changed drastically, within our lifetime. The series is a follow-up to the TV special Aftermath: Population Zero.

In 2010, the series was nominated for a 2010 Gemini award for best documentary.[1]


The World After Humans[edit]

Population Zero[2][3]

The special that started it all documents what happens if all humans suddenly disappeared from the planet. The History Television title for this show is "The World After Humans" and the National Geographic Channel title for it is "Population Zero".

World Without Oil[edit]

Our world is seriously dependent on oil, but humans are using it up so quickly to the point that it may eventually run out one day, and the Earth will not have enough time to replenish it. Is will happen within a timescale between twenty years to a century, but what if all the oil ran out today?

In the first few minutes, approximately 100,000 billion barrels (1.6×1016 L) of under-ground oil vanishes. Alarms in oil rigs sound as pipe pressure plummets. One day after oil, asphalt, diesel, petrol, and tar supplies become limited. This causes $US2 trillion of stock to become worthless. Oil-workers are sacked.

Consumers rush to petrol stations to fill their cars up for the last time. Oil tankers are called back to their countries of origin to save national reserves of oil. Every mode of international transport is now grounded. However, steel, food, medical supplies, and trash are not being moved.

Power-stations start running out of diesel. Power cuts start spreading across the world. 5 days after oil, martial law is declared to stop rioting and looting. Unemployment rises to 30%. Farm animals die due to lack of food. Coal power stations face shortages of coal. 30 days after oil, passenger trains are running on oil rations and the roads are empty of cars. Governments decide to start a program of biofuel planting.

5 months after oil, Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford are taken over by the American government. Famine and drug-resistant infections threatens death and migration as food shipments come every second day. Emergency vehicles are still getting oil rations. This inspires citizens to work with chemicals to get biofuel. Governments start to wonder if they should plant crops for food or fuel. They later abandon biofuel planting altogether.

1 year after oil, emergency vehicles start to be run either by lithium battery or biofuel. The price of lithium then shoots up. Populations of wild animals bounce quickly back. People resort to growing their own food and keeping livestock.

10 years after oil, artificial satellites burn up in the atmosphere as parts are not being replaced. Electronic equipment is scavenged for precious metals as people start recycling on a huge scale. Algae is used as a bio-fuel. Trucks deliver supplies to hospitals.

40 years after oil, skies are much clearer and cleaner as pollutants are washed out. Aeroplanes, trains, and ships now run on biofuel. Lithium battery cars are expensive. People only grow what they need. New towns grow along railway points. A world trade based on biofuel and lithium is now growing.[4][5]

Population Overload[edit]

There are currently 7 billion people living on Earth, and this number is rapidly increasing. As the world population grows, the planet is literally pushed to its limits as more and more people reap the Earth of its resources, placing it under pressure. What if the global population doubled again instantly?

Overnight, the population of the earth doubles, from about 7 billion to nearly 14 billion.[6][7]

The governments of the world attempt to cope at first by ordering the construction of gigantic highrise apartment complexes. However, the often outdated public works systems cannot handle this vastly increased load, and bridges break and sewers fail, leading to contamination of the water supply. Much of the remaining woodlands of the earth are cleared to form new farms and housing. In the meantime, emergency rationing becomes commonplace. Rationing of water and food becomes common, and countries who formerly exported grain stop the exports, leading to a drastic shortage. Even in wealthy countries, food and water resources are becoming strained as countries struggle to support the doubled population. Electrical power grids have difficulty keeping up with the increased demand. New coal plants are built to relieve the pressure, but they result in worldwide air pollution.

Water shortage becomes the primary problem, with not enough water available for drinking or farming. Looting becomes a problem, and martial law is declared in many places. Desalination plants are built to deal with the water shortage. People in countries that lack water and food begin leaving the country in search of resources, prompting an unprecedented human migration. Many people head to the Great Lakes, forming massive tent cities.

Over the years, a population crash occurs. The population stabilizes at 4 billion.

When the Earth Stops Spinning[edit]

This scenario is unique because it doesn't happen overnight, but rather over a given period of time: The Earth revolves at 1,000 miles an hour, but is gradually slowing down, yet this slowing is too slow to be noticed on human timescales. But what if it significantly slowed and eventually stopped?

The spin of the Earth starts slowing down dramatically. It is estimated Earth would stop spinning in as little as 5 years. The first effect is the isolation between the Global Positioning System satellites and ground-based atomic clocks. Then stock markets crash because of uncertainty about humanity's future. As times goes on the oceanic bulge of water at the equator moves northward and southward. The water floods Russia, Canada, Antarctica and northern Europe. The atmosphere, once shaking solar heat out over the world and shifting air, stops and whirls to the poles. The air starts to thin at the equator and people have to migrate to more northerly and southerly cities in order to keep up with denser air. There is a higher risk of solar radiation as the magnetosphere weakens because of the slowing inner core. As the Earth slows, the crust, mantle and the molten core slows down at a different speeds, causing massive friction. This creates tremendous earthquakes where the have never been earthquakes before.[8][9]

Humans and other animals start suffering from sleep fatigue as their bodies cannot properly work in a day longer than 60 hours.

The new oceans at the poles start flooding most of North America and inundating Mediterranean Europe around this time. As the oceans have moved to the poles, the sea-bed dries out, revealing new land. Canada, Russia, Antarctica and most of Europe are underwater.

Eventually, the Earth stops spinning altogether. The scorching light of day lasts for six months, while the remaining six months of the year are ice-bound darkness. The planetary landscape now consists of one ocean approximately 10 miles deep in the north, one in the south and a girdle of land around the equator. Most of the new continent is uninhabitable due to thin air, but the former ocean floor has a sufficient air pressure for human life.

Survivors living in places such as Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are safe from flooding and have sufficient air pressure to sustain human habitability, but in the new stable climate of the still Earth it will either receive very little or will never rain in these places again— even worse, because the electricity supply is destroyed due to the flooding, the survivors would be unable to desalinate the oceans for water for several years. Survivors living in Hawaii, now part of the new equatorial megacontinent would be better off than survivors living in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma because the colony is about 1000 miles north from the edge of the Sun's path— survivors living there would be able to get sufficient amounts of water from rain to last the year, and would be able to fish without having to break through the ice and put their lives at risk.

Red Giant[edit]

Swallowed by the Sun[10][11]

Life on Earth is dependent on the Sun's light and heat in order to survive, but our Sun won't live forever and eventually it will die one day. However, the Sun's death will not happen for billions of years. What if the Sun started aging rapidly at an accelerated rate?

The sun expands to its red giant phase. If the sun aged billions of years overnight, the average global temperature would go up by 36 °F (20 °C). In Greenland and Antarctica, snow and ice would begin to melt. Sea levels around the world would rise by more than 200 feet (61 m), submerging coastal cities. Regular temperatures this hot, around 130 °F (54 °C), are hard for us to handle. If our body temperature increases by 6 °F to 7 °F (3-4 °C) for an extended period of time, we can suffer permanent injury or death.

At 212 °F (100 °C), we can't survive. The heat, hot enough to boil water, would blind and suffocate us. The magnetosphere, an invisible field circling our planet that protects us from blasts of solar radiation, would begin to weaken. The only place humans could survive is underground, and to explore the Earth's surface, humans have to wear spacesuits.

At 300 °F (149 °C), water would begin to evaporate much faster than it does today. The sun would literally boil water off our Earth. Animals that breathe, including hardy creatures like cockroaches, (which lack lungs), couldn't survive. The oxygen levels are so low that fires don't start and the clouds don't rain.

At 700 °F (371 °C), all human life on Earth would be finished. We couldn't even survive underground or in spacesuits. Every last drop of water evaporates, turning the oceans into deserts. The air pressure resulting from the vaporized oceans would increase to 4000 psi, destroying any pressurized containers. Anything made of plastic or other synthetic material melts away. Concrete deteriorates as the water inside it evaporates explosively, resulting in collapsing buildings.

At 2,400 °F (1,320 °C), what is left burns, because oxygen levels shoot back up. Stone structures such as Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids melt down, erasing the last of what humans have made. The planet would start turning red as the iron in Earth's crust begins to rust.

As the sun expands on its way to becoming a Red Giant, its massive outer edges would begin to slow the Earth’s orbit. Our planet, now a fireball, burning up like a meteorite, would be swallowed by the sun.

History Television title for this show is "Red Giant", the National Geographic Channel title for it is "Swallowed by the Sun".

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