Soon and Silenced: Populations

Reader inquisitiveraven asks a question, which prompts me to make some handy-dandy lists!

Zie writes:

So does Jenkins give us New York’s population? Is it absurdly close to recent census figures like the previous cities whose populations he gave us? One thing that’s bugging me is that he doesn’t seem to have considered that the kind of nukes that could split off a chunk of continent would create one heck of a Fimbul winter. We’re talking major die off here, and maybe not enough population left to support civilization on the planet, yet the US population in this novel seems barely changed from current levels. It’s as if the entire die off happened in those Other places.

No, I don’t think Jenkins gives the population of New York.  Which is, indeed, strange, as he gives the population for other cities.

Reasons why the populations of certain cities might not grow at normal rates:

  1. A devastating World War that actually involved the whole world, culminating in…
  2. Two nuclear bombs separating a chunk of southern China from the mainland, killing “tens of millions” in the process and also leading to…
  3. A giant tsunami that destroyed Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, and Hawaii, before hitting “Southern California and Baja California, reaching farther inland than expected and killing thousands more who believed they had fled far enough.” 

On the other hand…

  1. There are “childbirth grants to promote repopulation.”

With that in mind, here are the numbers (I’ll use pre-2003 numbers, since that’s when Soon was published):

  • San Francisco.  2000 Population: 777,000.  Atheistopian Population: “more than a million.”
  • Las Vegas.  2002 Population: 478,000.  Atheistopian Population: 500,000.

It appears I overestimated the number of cities Jenkins repopulates, so for fun, I’ll include the cities he mentions in Silenced, when Paul goes globe-trotting:

  • Bern.  2005 Population: 122,000.  Atheistopian Population: 225,000.
  • Paris (metropolitan area).  2005 Population: 11.6 million.  Atheistopian Population: 15 million. 

So, there you have it.  Sorry about overestimating the number of population overestimates!  Hope I didn’t leave out anyplace!

Gorgeous picture of Paris in Vegas.  (Ha-HA…see what I did there???)

(Awesome pic by chensiyuan at Wikipedia)

Posted on August 10, 2011, in Books, Silenced, Soon. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. has some historical population figures for San Francisco. Recently it’s been growing at somewhere around 4-5% per ten years. Taking 4.5% per ten years from 2010 to 2036, I’d expect to see somewhere around 903,000 people; bounding at 3.7% and 7.3% we see a likely range of 885,000-967,000 – compared with “more than a million”.

    OK, let’s try the same trick with Las Vegas. The historical rate has varied quite a bit lately, so the predicted range is 980,000-2,900,000. In this case we have rather fewer people than an extrapolation would predict.

    All this really says is that Jenkins’ extrapolation technique isn’t the same as mine – I’m certainly not claiming mine’s the only valid one. But it does give some startlingly different answers.

    • I don’t suppose he’s even looked at the population growth rates. I’d guess he just looked at the current population and increased it slightly.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Probably did just that. Quickie variation on the existing populations, maybe figuring everything balances out. Probably didn’t think it was all that important, but then Jenkins gives every sign of being a slapdash writer.

      • inquisitiveraven

        Or nearly doubled in the case of Bern. The only way I see that happening is if it eats a bunch of its suburbs the way the City of Philadelphia ate Philadelphia County in 1854. I don’t really see them building a whole lotta skyscrapers in the Swiss Alps.

        • I assume that he’s assuming that making Bern Teh Capital Of Teh Whole World means that it would grow exponentially in population. Though swallowing the suburbs and calling it “the city” is a good point. But I don’t know enough about Bern geography to know if that’s even possible.

  2. You’d think there should be a bit more visible population effect on San Fransisco vs Paris, considering one was flooded and the other one wasn’t. Or was Paris also nuked at some point?

    • inquisitiveraven

      Well, except the tsunami allegedly hit SoCal and Baja while completely missing NorCal (where SF is) or anything north of there. At least based on the description in chapter 1, where it mentions the coast of SoCal and Baja, but says nothing about points north. How this makes sense is beyond me.

  3. “childbirth grants to promote repopulation.”

    Wait, what? In the US, China, or the world? Because I can see China needing to repopulate, but even if all of SoCal bit the dust, I don’t see how it affects the population of the US as a whole (300 million) overly much*.

    * assuming the ONLY impact of the nuclear bombs was the geographical rearrangement of China and the tsunami.

    • I’m actually suprised Jenkins didn’t add another ABORTIONS!@#ZOMG1!! rant here. It’s atheisopia, but they’re all for getting more kids? Given how batshit insane the anti-abortion snippet in Left Behind was and yet Jenkins still roled with it, I’m sure he could come up with another piss-poor excuse to demonize the atheists again.

      Or are we still getting to a scene with a depressed doctor who’s upset about not getting any more abortions now that everyone is busy repopulating the planet?

      • inquisitiveraven

        Don’t forget those Eeevil Libruls and their ZOMG! overpopulation fears. You’d think they’d be overjoyed to see the population fall. Actually, based on Jenkins’ population numbers, it doesn’t look like there was a significant die off outside of Asia and the areas affected by the tsunami. So, surely Atheistopia would be taking the opportunity to practice population reduction by attrition by promoting birth control, in an effort to bring the population down to what they believe to be “Earth’s carrying capacity.”

  4. inquisitiveraven

    Ah, but is China even remotely inhabitable after the nukes? Also, apparently a nuke hit the Pentagon, left a nice glassy crater and didn’t even muss the Arlington Cemetery. Jenkins apparently has no idea of the capabilities and effects of nuclear weapons at either the high end or the low end of their output.

    A quick check of Wikipedia indicates that your typical tactical nuke has a higher output than Little Boy. A neutron bomb hitting the Pentagon might not do anything to Arlington, but it wouldn’t “virtually vaporize” the building either. After all entire point of a neutron bomb is to minimize property damage. Also, neutron bombs apparently aren’t deployed by subs, and that’s assuming North Korea could manage to get a hold of one in the first place which seems unlikely. Of course, we’ve already covered why it’s unlikely that NK would be nuking DC in the first place. Y’know, it just occurred to me. NK is a communist country, and communist countries are notably anti-religious (unless you count veneration of Dear Leader), so why is this happening in an allegedly religiously motivated war?

    Anyway, so that’s three nukes mentioned thus far: one on US soil that was small enough to not have a significant impact on the nearest major city, and two that were far enough away that their primary impacts are a) an implausible tsunami and b) fallout. I’ll bet that Jenkins never even thinks about the impact of the fallout, but unless the detonations were completely contained underground, it would be significant.

    Sigh. There should’ve been a bigger die off.

    • I always got the impression from what information I could gather* that people in the Cold War had the power of nukes drilled into them from a young age. Jenkins was born in 1949; how can he not know this stuff?

      *People don’t talk much about late-twentieth-century stuff because–if I understand right–the people old enough that they can talk about it find rehashing boring: after all, they already know this stuff from personal experience. What’s there to talk about?
      Good luck learning beyond basic outlines of anything after around 1965-1970 you’re not old enough to remember yourself.

      • “I always got the impression from what information I could gather* that people in the Cold War had the power of nukes drilled into them from a young age. Jenkins was born in 1949; how can he not know this stuff?”
        He probably thinks it was all an eeevil librul conspiracy to make America get rid of its nukes.

      • inquisitiveraven

        That’s the weird part. At the high end, Jenkins seriously overestimates what nukes can do at the high end despite the fact that both the US and Russia did a lot of nuclear testing, much of it underground, and never had anything like that happen. This is a big clue, y’know. Then at the low end, he overestimates the effect at ground zero and overestimates the rate at which the force of the shock wave would fall off. Or maybe he just doesn’t realize how much of the immediate damage of a nuke is due to the shockwave as compared to the release of heat. Also fallout, do we ever see any indication that Jenkins has any awareness of the effects of fallout?

        • Not at all – and not that any nukes actually went off in Edge of Apocalypse, but there seemed to be a similar tendency there to talk in military buzzwords rather than realities. (Cary Sublette’s High Energy Weapons Archive is your unclassified reference for all this stuff.)

  5. “reaching farther inland than expected and killing thousands more who believed they had fled far enough” – Apparently those were all granola-munching hippies, God-mocking homos, pointy-headed intellectuals, cocaine-snorting actors, and anyone else who basically got what they deserved.

    I couldn’t find his name, but a few years ago a teenage boy made a splash among conservatives with a book of commentary. He confessed that he sometimes wishes that California would sink into the sea. I wasn’t surprised to find that he was home-schooled by Christian fundamentalist parents.

    • California really seems to exist in a really strange place in RTC “mythology” second only perhaps to Las Vegas and New York City in terms of horrendous godlessness. That sort of view seems to have pervaded even moderate and sometimes liberal descriptions of the state, honestly, which can’t help but cast Californians as inevitably connected to the porn industry or some S&M subculture.

      Compared to the other “modern Sodoms” it doesn’t make much sense to me. Where do these people think Azusa Street is?

  6. It seems like he’s only mentioning the populations of locations that he thinks are already godless, and then inflating their current numbers as a shorthand way of saying “ZOMG LOTS MORE ATHEISTS OR OTHER PEOPLE WE DON’T LIKE!”

    (Which of course, makes me wonder – where are the neo-pagans or other non-Christian theists in all of this?)

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