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Author Topic: Earth during a 'Fimbulvinter'..
Rake
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I have an idea about a story that revolves largely about an acopalypse as described in the nordic mythology, i.e. Ragnarök. While this being a not-very-original concept, I hope to make something out of it.
Anyway. Before Ragnarök actually starts there is a period over three years, called Fimbulvinter, where there is winter all year. On a global scale, I choose to make it so that all regions have what they would call a harsh winter, as opposed to covering everything in snow and ice.
Here I try to figure out what would happen if the whole world got stuck in winter, in the modern age. Let's say that spring never comes 2009. And winter keeps on for three years. What would happen? Me and my brother discussed this a little and come up with some ideas, including famine, mass-migration towards the equator and a meteorology conference, but I would be very grateful for any ideas or thoughts you can come up with.
Thank you

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maria102182
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Well one thing that strikes me is in our society the govt would convene a committee of "experts" to study the issue and decide what to do, and they would try to keep it out of the press as long as possible. Meanwhile people are panicing, and food banks would have a run, meanwhile even places that are still warm enough to grow food can't keep up, and when people aren't fed they don't just starve, they get sick so the health care system is overtaxed. and so forth. Great Idea!!! how do nordic gods fit in today's world? I mean how when apocolypse is going on do they make their presence felt?
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Rake
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Thanks for the response
I admit I have a hard time seeing that governments would try to keep this out of the press. They don't have a clue whats going on and I don't intend to give them any indication off how long its going to continue either.
My first thought was to follow the myth as closely as possible (removing some parts, for example when the sun and the moon are devoured by wolves) and have the gods appear in physical shape. But your question got me thinking. Thor for example is often described as creating a thunderstorm when he travels in his chariot..maybe..hm. Thanks for the idea^^

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steffenwolf
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Sounds interesting. I like the Norse gods. I'm particularly interested in Odin.
People who first guess at the long winter would stockpile food, batteries, bottled water, perhaps stock bomb shelters and whatnot. Grocery stores would deplete their supplies and any place that stored non-perishable food would probably be looted. As well as just general looting (TVs and stuff) that tend to happen when there's a mass panic.

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sjsampson
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quote:
and a meteorology conference,

Those happen quite often, but I suppose you mean a special one for your case.

My suggestion is to google or look up "Snowball Earth". Shutting down ocean circulations is one way to cool the earth. But if you stop them completely, to my knowledge, no one knows of a mechanism in which they would restart. I think the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" did some weird scientifically incorrect version of this. I forget.


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extrinsic
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One thing right off the top of my head. The food supply is barely keeping up with population needs. A year-round winter would set off hording and global food riots in advance of actual shortages.

The most recent event that illustrates what happens when there's no summer occurred in 1816 as a result of a volcanic eruption. The Year Without a Summer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_without_a_summer

Similarly, military action would oppose mass migrations, or conversely be supported by military action. Global border wars would be a consequence.

Burning of anything combustible would be commonplace.

Infectious disease flareups wouldn't be as common in cold temperatures as in warm, but frostbite and colds and flus would. Plus, aggravated epidedmeological conditions would be fatal to many, heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary stress, diabetes complications, etc., health problems from consuming nonpotable water, brackish, contaminated, polluted.

Maritime disasters from inexperienced fishermen would be likely. Protected habitats would be overrun by people hunting and foraging from the land.

The "Survival Rules of Four" might show how people who won't wait on government assistance will seek to fulfill their needs, four minutes to find warmth, four hours to find shelter, four days to find water, four weeks to find food, before irreparable damage to health occurs. The ones who do wait for government assistance . . .

Survivors will be people who know how to live off the land with low impact and who are far removed from population centers. Peculiarly, roots of many of the ornamental cultivars in home flower gardens are edible and nutritious. Same with wild plants that are abundant around wetlands. Roots survive long after much else is gone, in many cases, years or even decades.

In my studies of Native American lifeways, I ran across a recipe for what was known as hunter's bread. It's made from the roots of greenbrier, smilax bona-nox.


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steffenwolf
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Yeah the day after tomorrow did something like that, but it was done very badly, terrible terrible movie. I mean, they cited examples of flash-frozen mammoths and stuff from a previous time this had happened, which is fine, but then when it happens in the movie, the "flash-freezing" wind is moving at what would be a slow-run for a human, so they turned it into a chase scene, and I think they closed the big doors of a room in the library they were in and that stopped the wind's progress. It was really bad.
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Rake
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First, thanks for the answers.
Second..I'm getting the feeling that I'll have to abandond the timetable that is used in the myths. Three years of winter, followed by widespread war, followed by the actual battle between the gods and the giants. Apart from the fact that I doubt that there would be enough people left to make a significant war after three years, I think it works better if I mix them up a little.
Another question that I try to figure out is when people would start panicking. I mean, there's always winters that are longer then others. It would certainly seem strange as winters goes to spring with no change in weather but when does it goes from complaining about climate change to panic and hysteria?

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sjsampson
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quote:
Another question that I try to figure out is when people would start panicking. I mean, there's always winters that are longer then others. It would certainly seem strange as winters goes to spring with no change in weather but when does it goes from complaining about climate change to panic and hysteria?

The northern hemisphere experiences winter while the southern hemispheere experiences summer. In todays society, communication being what it is, I don't think you'd have to wait long to know something is up if you are doing a whole globe of winter.


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Rake
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Thats true, but couldn't that result in an early autumn/winter transition coupled with a non-existent winter/spring one..? That is of course depending on the timing. If that was the case I think it would take longer before it was clear something really weird was going on.
I guess I can pick that depending on what fits the story best^^
Thank you for interesting views

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Robert Nowall
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Sorry to throw a little cold water on the idea...but it's been done a couple of times. The one I chiefly remember is a short novel by Lester Del Rey, published forty or fifty years ago now, the title of which escapes me...I've seen it in a couple of other novels here and there, whose titles escape me...

I wouldn't put off using it if you've got a well-developed concept---probably only the superannuated fans like me would even remember the Del Rey story I mentioned---and, chances are, if you do it your way people will like it. It seens a sturdy idea that could well-survive many different versions of it.


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lehollis
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Nearly anything can be done again if done again right. If it is fresh and interesting, go for it. I agree that it has been done, so it would require some work to make it fresh and interesting.

The Day After Tomorrow was more of an ice age than a really long winter. Part of the question would depend on if it is world-wide or specific to a hemisphere. I would go for the whole globe myself.

To me, it would be most interesting to see it as a long winter with temperatures no colder than an average winter for any given location. (So it's not an ice age thing with the statue of liberty's torch sticking out of the ice.) I would also be interested if it were unexplainable. Scientists stumped. That hints at a supernatural element, which points to something like Ragnarok and all that. It also gives the food shortage idea a chance to develop. (I've read that at any one time, the earth only has enough food to feed humanity for 80 days.)

Those are my thoughts on it.


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snapper
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I would suggest that you have the sun put out a drastically less amount of radiation. That weould give a good explanation on why spring fails to happen.
I am sure a few nations (America, Russia, and most of the developed nations) already have emergency plans so a select few would be able to carry the species along and jump start civilization once the crisis subsides.
I could see a migration away from population centers to the countryside. I could see rural communities defending against roving bands of bandits.

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rstegman
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There was a movie about when Yellowstone national park blew up. They had Mexico refusing to let Americans into their country for survival. The government officials finally are convinced that government cannot help all the people, so they start a campaign to tell the people to get themselves out to safe locations. They save millions with that method. According to that movie, the northern hemisphere in general and north America in particular, would have to eventually be abandoned.

The big thing with any disaster, is that cities would be devastated, while those in the "country" would do much better. The big thing is that cities depend on regular supplies coming in. Just a few days without shipments would be enough to cause the collapse of the big cities.

One thing that could or would happen, is that the crops planted could or would be changed. One might be planting corn in the rain forest, but food could be grown. The hard part is realizing that what you normally plant is not going to grow, and then getting seeds for food that will grow, in time to help.

The way America works, is that each area has their own growing season. The planting and harvesting times of the year works its way north, Florida starting and goes up into Canada. When northern harvest ends, the southern hemisphere is already running through their growing seasons.
The food in America does not depend on food storage all that much as fresh is almost always availble.


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extrinsic
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Panic and hysteria begins when there's a breakdown in meeting expectations. The lights don't come on when the switch is thrown, the toilets don't flush, the shelves are bare, the tanks are empty, officials can't be reached and are abruptly missing from their posts.

Governments horde, too. The U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve was established to fill short-term shortfalls in domestic need in the event of a catastrophe. Given a sufficient catastrophe, the reserve could conceivably be earmarked for strictly government usage. Ostensibly, the present 33-day national supply would do little for the public if there was no more to replace it after it ran out. But it would likely support a limited strategic war effort for several years.

There are shelters around the country for government personnel. The Greenbrier in Virginia was once a top secret installation for the Congress in the event of a nuclear war. It's been replaced with a state-of-the-art facility.

I imagine a post-Fimbulvinter global war would not be entirely ruled out. Desperate people would flock to a cause merely for the promise of three hots and a cot.

I bought World War II surplus K-rations in the 1980s. They'd expired but were still edible. I expect there's a considerable stockpile of foodstuffs with shelflives as long, that have been laid by somewhere.

In short, I believe there would be sufficient stockpiles to support a global war several years after the onset of perpertual winter in the temperate lattitudes. In equitorial lattitudes is where the war would be fought. Equitorial nations would make unfulfillable promises to allies for their support in defending their territories. The allies would turn on them. Other nations would fight to take the territories, if for no other reason than to have a place for the 'elite' to survive as long as possible in as much as possible the best custom they can.


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J
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Al Gore would probably claim the extended period of cold weather was further evidence for human caused global warming.

Seriously, though, an interesting angle would be how long it would take for Americans and western Europeans even to acknowledge your permanent winter, despite the fact of it staring them in the fact. It would contradict the near-religious ideological belief in man-made global warming. The early voices of warning (the prophets, so to speak) in your story would likely be ridiculed and condemned as "global warming deniers." Even if your permanent winter had a slow onset, you could make a plausible case for the industrialized northern hemisphere refusing to believe it had to act until it was too late, leading to extrinsic's plausible suggestion of a territory and resource war.


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BoredCrow
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J - regional cooling IS expected as part of global climate change! Watch out for Al Gore!

You'd probably still get birds migrating north and plants leafing out, since such processes are partially caused by photoperiod (aka length of day) and not by temperature. So eventually, if they have no food source because of all new leaves and buds dying from frostbite, then the birds and animals would die too. They wouldn't necessarily die just of cold; many birds can survive icy temperatures IF they've had something to eat.

I think you could have a bunch of songbirds lying around dead in the middle of 'summer' as a scary thing to warn people that times were bad. Everyone loves little chirpy birds (except if they wake them up at 4am or eat their crops).

Would the winter each region experienced be typical of it's normal winter weather? Because then regions like California and the tropics would be less affected, and it would rain all the time in CA, as it only does during the winter.

Finally, as to your answer of whether or not people would notice right away, I think you'd have a bunch of scientists who were on top of this. Maybe official comment would be blocked, but you'd get a bunch of climatologists blogging about the strange patterns they saw... and probably pretty quickly.

Yeah, I think this is an interesting idea!


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Rake
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Thank you all for very interesting answers

And to answer your question, BoredCrow, the idea was to give each region what they would call a slightly harsher then normal winter. Concerning the amount of light I am considering to let the length of day stay at winter-levels all year around, which would make, for example, the northern parts very dark indeed. But the birds migrating and plants leafing only to die from the cold makes an intriguing picture. Thanks for the idea^^


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Robert Nowall
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On canned goods---anything edible, even stuff designed for long-term storage like, say, Spam, was once living material, and, as such, will deteriorate over a period of time. I think a lot of canned goods would be edible after a period of centuries, though not necessarily good in taste or in nutritional value.

I think commercial canned goods date from the early nineteenth century. I'd be leery of a lot of early canned goods---I gather they often soldered the cans shut with lead.

(My family once kept a can of Spam for thirty years. We would've kept it longer but it burst. Meanwhile, I started saving a can in 1996---still got it.)


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shimiqua
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I've got to say, that as a mom you're idea is discribing is my idea of Hell. I can't wait for spring. My four year old son needs to be able to play outside for longer than a half hour soon, or I honestly think I will go crazy.

Winters are rough. You 're stuck inside with the people you love, but sometimes...

If you want to make it worse, perhaps you could make it a modern tale, and then you should have the TV go out, so people are stuck inside without anything to do but talk to each other.

Man. Al Gore is making more and more sense.

I'm going to go read a book to my kids, and play Candy Land. Third time this morning and it's not even 10 am here.
~Sheena


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steffenwolf
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shimiqua brings up a good point. People going stir-crazy from being stuck inside with each other too long. That could be a subplot.

Whoever has the largest twinky horde would be the survivor. Cockroaches and twinkies will survive anything.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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LOL. Thanks, steffenwolf. Did you know that twinkies were created in order to keep the strawberry shortcake equipment going when strawberries were no longer in season? At least, that's what I've heard.
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Rake
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Thanks for excellent responses!
(And I'm slightly ashamed that I had to look up what a 'twinky' is, I blame being Swedish)

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SchamMan89
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Have you read Dune? In the book, the planet Arrakis is so dry that any moisture is more valuable than money. They wear suits to recycle the water within their own bodies. When somebody dies, they take the remaining liquid in the corpse and keep using it for survival purposes.

Perhaps you could use a similar concept with heat and/or food. With all of the people dying and the food shortage, I'm sure somebody would find a way to make the dead useful...


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satate
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I'm all for winter year round. It's the best time of year here in Pheonix. Summer is when we're stuck in doors all day. Ok, so maybe not really, but it would be cool if just Pheonix could be winter all year.
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Cheyne
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Rake- Don't necessarily abandon your time line. There are six billion(plus) sources of food on Earth right now. Many of them would be alive in three years. Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' deals with the collapse of almost all plant and animal life on earth. When people ran out of or couldn't find canned food they just ate each other-- sometimes keeping others alive while they consumed their limbs etc. Gory but believable. Another postapocalyptic novel with cannibal armies is Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle. Both are decent reads
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Cheyne
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PS. does your story include an explanation of the winter phenomenon? You mention midwinter day length-- does the Earth lose its tilt? Is it caused by a weakening of solar intensity?
Even if it is caused by the Gods you may need to think of how they cause it to occur. Whichever mechanism they use will have different results globally.
PPS. Leave Al Gore alone. Even the Republicans believe in global climate change now. (Probably because they have the Gods of Aesgard locked away inside the Pentagon along with Lucifer--maybe they bring about Ragnorok when Obama sets them free--just a thought)

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J
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That's just the thing. Global warming is treated by lots of people, Al Gore among them, as a matter of belief rather than a matter of science. Hence, the stage is set for an battle of opposing 'faiths' in a fictional world where Fimbulvinter occurred.
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Joseph Forrest
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I'm getting the feeling that I'll have to abandoned the timetable that is used in the myths. Three years of winter, followed by widespread war, followed by the actual battle between the gods and the giants. Apart from the fact that I doubt that there would be enough people left to make a significant war after three years, I think it works better if I mix them up a little.
------------------------------------------------------------------

In response to this Rake, I would say what is 3 years in the eyes of an Immortal? I might also assume that with the appearance of mythical gods doing extraordinary things like controlling the weather might cause some crazy things to happen with the time/space continuum. I mean, opening the Rainbow Bridge to Midgard would probably cause some amazing things to start happening.

As far as having enough people left over, in my personal opinion, when stuff like this starts happening you have a breakdown in the borders of humanity. People would start sticking together because the drive to survive would become paramount.

By the way, I really love this story idea and I'd be eager to help you out in editing it or acting as a sounding board. It really piqued my interest.

[This message has been edited by Joseph Forrest (edited January 31, 2009).]


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snapper
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Did you know that the average mean tempature during the Roman Empire was higher than it is now? It is said that Global cooling was a factor on the empires downfall.
Very recently, the glaciers retreating in the alps revealed a Roman outpost guarding a pass.

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Troy
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quote:
twinkies will survive anything.

As evidenced by the fact that myths like this keep going, no matter how many times they get disproved.

I don't know if twinkies will survive anything, but the stories about twinkies surviving anything will survive everything.

Somewhere in an irradiated future world, small bands of survivors are taking up staffs and beginning various journeys to the rumored locations of twinkie factories.


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Rake
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Thank you for the offer, Joseph Forrest Concerning editing I'm atleast for now writing in Swedish but help with ideas and background would be deeply appreciated.
As to an explanation of the winter, I re-read the myth again and found the part where a wolf devours the sun. I had previously left that out, but now I thought that that could be manifested as a more or less total eclipse of the sun, which should lower temperatures considerably and also make it rather dark. That also makes it easier to predict when people would start to panic, my guess is that it would be pretty soon in a day-long dusk where the sun is hidden.
Thank you again for all your help

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