A Zombie Apocalypse can’t happen!
Real Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse won’t happen….
Being unbiased despite my love of Zombie films….
….is hard. So if you read yesterday’s blog about Zombies then thank you. Now a Scientific and analytical mind always gets a 2nd opinion, fair enough we shall proceed.
As per yesterday’s blog let us just pretend that Zombies are real. Question: Have you noticed how in most Zombie films they start after the apocalypse is in full-swing? By the time we join our survivors, the military and government are already wiped out, and none of the streets are safe. Obviously not the really good films. But stay with me.
There’s a reason the film starts there, and not earlier. It’s because the early part, where we go from one Zombie to millions, doesn’t really make any sense. If we go all Spock and open our minds to pure logic, you quickly realise the Zombies would all be re-dead long before you even got a chance to fire up that TopGear style double chainsaw flame throwing Landrover Defender you’ve been working on. Why?
Zombies Have Too Many Natural Predators
Do you know why Humans are at the top of the current food chain? Not because we’re hard to kill (well, with the exception of Chuck Norris). We’re not; we’re actually little more than tasty flesh bags waiting for an errant horn or claw to spill our guts like a meat pinata. No, the single reason we’re on top simply is because we are so bloody good at killing things ourselves! A good offense, as they say across the pond, is the best defen … LOOK THERE’S A DUCK! KILL IT!
We are simply too smart (some of us) and too well-armed for any wild animal to turn us into lunch.
Now consider our poor Zombie. It lacks every single advantage that has kept humanity from being eaten to extinction. It aimlessly ambles around in the open, it can’t use weapons, it can’t think or use any strategy. It doesn’t even have the sense of self preservation to run and hide when it’s in danger. And, it’s made entirely out of food. Therefore it is easy prey for any animal that wants it.
If you’re saying, “Ok I get that but it’s not like my home town is full of Lions, Tigers and Bears that can come eat all the Zombies,” then you need to think smaller. Insects are a major pain in the ass for living humans, and in some cases, being able to swat away flies and having an immune system is the only thing keeping us from having our eyes and tongues eaten out by maggots. Zombies in any part of the world with a fly problem are going to be swarming with maggots in not a long time, meaning that most of their soft tissues will be infested, and their eyes will be very quickly useless.
Now you have a new love, if not respect for maggots eh?
We’ll scale up a bit: In America alone, there are Bears, Wolves, Coyotes and Cougars, all of which can put well-armed, thinking, fast-moving humans on the menu, if the conditions are right. To most predators, the “right conditions” are when the chosen prey is weak or infirm and otherwise generally unable to defend themselves, like a walking corpse. Of course don’t forget that there are millions of stray dogs (the UK is pretty good on there love of the humble canine so think further afield) who’ll quickly learn that zombies are an easy meal.
Now imagine the Zombie hordes wandering the great continent Africa. Between Lions and Cape Buffalo (not forgetting Hippo, Rhino and Elephants), we’d finally have a disease that Africa is better suited than the rest of the world to defend itself against!
Like an Obese Nun in the desert, Zombies Can’t Take the Heat
It is generally accepted by Zombologists that Zombies will continue to rot, even as they shamble around the streets. What most films fail to convey, however, is the gruesome yet strangely hilarious effect the hot sun has on a rotting corpse.
The first concern for our Zombie friends is putrefaction. Thanks to the plethora of bacteria our colon uses for digesting plant matter, called gut flora, our bodies are ripe for decay the second our heart stops. Since heat speeds the growth of bacteria (which are plenty happy to start feasting on you once your immune system is no longer a concern) the Zombie has a expiration date the very second it turns.
Anyone who watches CSI or NCIS (that Abby is so damn hot) knows dead bodies bloat because of the gases created by the bacteria, meaning that in warmer areas the living dead are going to start getting fat in the first few days. After a few weeks of this, the nasty, bloated Zombie army is going to start doing something that is simultaneously the most awesome and disturbing thing a Zombie can do: they will start exploding (CAUTION! Pictures!). The warm, moist conditions in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world (or even just summer in the temperate parts) speeds this condition, meaning a July Zombie outbreak pretty much anywhere would be over in a few weeks just by virtue of the rampaging monsters bursting like rancid meat balloons. Hungry?
At the other end of the heat spectrum is dry heat. If you’re in Texas or the Sahara when the apocalypse hits, the Zombies might begin to mummify in the blazing sun and heat. While the normal symptoms of dehydration are not a concern for a Zombie, there is the problem of desiccation. With no reasonable means of replenishing the water in their cells, Zombies walking around in the Texas heat all day are going to suffer cell damage due to direct sun exposure to their skin, and thanks to the drying effect wind has, the South Western dead will stumble around more and more ineffectively until, at some point, they simply drop and wait for the scavengers to come pick them up for the annual harvest.
So they’d better hope the outbreak happens during the winter, right?
Like an African standing in his underpants on the Scottish Border, Zombies Can’t Handle the Cold
As already discussed, Zombies are dead meat. No arguing that; it’s their one defining characteristic. But everybody focuses on that “dead” part like it’s such a huge deal. They often forget about the “meat.” Do you know what else is dead meat? Steak, hamburger, kebab and your Christmas dinner.
When flesh is alive, it’s got all sorts of defence systems to keep it that way. When it’s dead, you have to throw it away in about a week even if you seal it up inkling-film and keep it in your fridge van that you stole on your earlier expedition for food and water. Now, your first inclination may be to think of cold as dead meat’s friend, after all, the surest way to defeat that week-long deadline is to freeze steak, keeping it fresh for months. But unregulated cold does awful shit to formerly living things. If you live far enough north, the Zombie apocalypse will probably work itself out the first time it tries to go outside. The first Zombie-killer is the simple fact that the human body is mostly water, and water freezes. Once the temperature drops to freezing (or near it with a high wind chill), Zombies will become stiffer than a virgin watching his first live pole dance.
After enough exposure, a dead body is going to be frozen solid and not chasing down any screaming victims, no matter how delicious they might be. It’s also safe to assume that Zombies wandering around in a wintry wonderland are not going to be wrapped air-tight in plastic like we do with food, so freezer burn becomes an issue. Seriously! The same thing that ruins your ice cream also ruins the Undead Onslaught. The freezing of the flesh at night, combined with partial thaw during warmer days, then refreezing again sets up the perfect conditions for the onset of freezer burn, which results in the cells dehydrating as water evaporates, even when frozen solid. Freezer burned meat isn’t just dead, it’s destroyed.
Even with vampire dentures biting is a terrible way to spread disease
Nearly all of the Zombie films agree on one thing: They reproduce like a disease, one that spreads via a bite from the infected (like they have a virus carried by zombie saliva or whatever). But this also means their spread should be subject to the same rules of a normal epidemic, and biting is a really crappy way to get an epidemic going, albeit painful.
The most successful diseases have much clever ways to invisibly spread from victim to victim. Influenza has killed tens of millions because it floats right through the air, the black plague was spread by fleas, and so on. Not a single one of them requires the infected to get within biting distance to spread their infection. Of course sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS work that way, but that’s only because the infected can pass for the uninfected. No normal person is going to be having sex with a Zombie.
But let’s say there is an outbreak, like if one Zombie was able to bite 30 people in the crowd at an Slipknot concert before they figured out it wasn’t part of the show. It’s not like mankind is just utterly confused about what to do when an infection breaks out. In America there is Center for Disease Control (CDC) who don’t tend to fuck around. Seriously, it’s on their business cards. In the UK we have the HPA. We’re doomed.
Ok hands up if you remember the SARS outbreak? Originating in China the CDC and the World Health Organization put the clamps down on international travel the second it was found to have spread to North America. Flights were grounded, travel between borders was locked tight and only 43 people on the entire continent died.
With Zombies they don’t even have to solve the mystery about how it’s transmitted. It’s that guy biting people, yes that one, shoot him in the head – NOW!
No matter how many plasters they use, Zombies can’t heal from day to day damage
One advantage to having a fully-functioning central nervous system is that it also does a jolly good job of letting you know you’ve been damaged. It does this by way of pain. Think about all the paper cuts, stubbed toes and bollock crunchers you have suffered in your life growing up. Now imagine they never healed, just sat there and rotted while you continued to rack up other paper cuts, stubbed toes and so on. Pretty much every wound you’ve ever had would end with an amputation. One thing we know about Zombies from the expertise of Romero and Fulci is that they are a clumsy lot, walking into bullets and helicopter blades without a second thought about what kind of damage they are suffering.
While complete insensitivity to pain seems like an awesome superpower in theory, you’re more likely to end up being more like Mr. Burns than a member of the X-Men Team. Congenital insensitivity to pain is a neurological condition that some people are born with, meaning they don’t feel pain. They can feel everything else, but the absence of pain means they accrue damage to their bodies but are unaware of it. Even with the ability to call for help, loved ones watching out for them and our coddling society, this can still lead to all kinds of terrible shit, like infected body parts and bitten off pieces of tongue.
All the cuts and bruises that Zombies will inevitably suffer after tripping, falling downstairs, and stumbling around on dark cloudy nights will eventually leave them limbless, toothless and with every bone in their body broken.
Seriously, in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse, just stay inside, play the C.O.D series back to back, then walk out on your lawn with your Corpse Rake and tidy up (you will have to buy a Corpse Rake, if for some reason you don’t already have one).
Your local neighbourhood is full of Zombie-Proof barriers
A Zombies’ lack of coordination, along with the inability to see in the dark is going to spell the doom of countless Zombies in any area outside of a parking lot. This is a group that doesn’t know how to find roads or bridges. They just go wandering off aimlessly. Mountains, major rivers and canyons would thus quickly be home to piles of broken zombie rags stinking up the scenic views. Absolutely no chance in the outer hebrides or the Lake District. Even if Zombies had the foresight to not walk over cliffs or into raging rapids during the day, nightfall would result in most eventually walking into rivers, over cliffs and off of bridges, rapidly diminishing their numbers.
But even in nice, flat, paved towns and cities, where it would seem like people would be extra-fucked, the landscape still works in favour of the living. History has shown that in most awful situations, people don’t always act like the panicky idiots in a horror movie. In cities, people would likely congregate in the upper levels of high-rise buildings, where the invasion can be held at bay with simple security doors. Also, the streets themselves would keep the undead corralled in straight, easy-to-aim-down lines where they could be picked off by snipers (I call dibs), or just bored office-workers waiting out the quarantine by dropping desks, printers, and monitors onto the undead from the top floors (also my first choice).
Weapons and the People who use them
As mentioned at the outset, if Homo sapiens are good at one thing it’s killing other things. We’re so good at it that we’ve made entire other species cease to exist without actually trying. Add to the mix the sheer number of armed Americans, or official gun licence holders in the UK, and Zombies don’t even stand a chance! There were over 14 million people hunting with a license in the U.S. in 2004.
Remember, the whole reason hunting licenses exist is to limit the number of animals you’re allowed to kill, because if you just declared free reign for everybody with a gun, everything in the forest would be dead by sundown. Even the trees would be mounted proudly above the late-arriving hunter’s mantles. It’s safe to assume that when the game changes from “three deer” to “all the rotting dead people trying to eat us,” there will be no shortage of volunteers.
Plus, if we look at Zombies as a species, they are pretty much designed for failure. Their main form of reproduction is also their only source of food and their top predator. If they want to eat or reproduce, they have to go toe to toe with their number one predator every single time. That’s like having to fight a Lion every time you to want to have sex or make a sandwich.
Actually, it’s worse than that: Most top predators are only armed with teeth and claws, meaning they have to put themselves in harm’s way to score a kill. Humans have guns.
The Zombies have no choice but to walk into bullets, and all this isn’t even counting all the other household hand guns in the world, nor the fact that zombies also have to contend with IEDs, Molotov cocktails, baseball bats, crowbars and cars that the general public will no doubt be using to cull their numbers (see any episode of the A-Team for inspiration).
And that’s just from the civilian population; counting the military and police, we have millions more trained and armed people, and instead of just handguns shotguns and hunting rifles, they have:
- machine guns
- combat shotguns
- sniper rifles
- assault rifles
- sub-machine guns
- grenade launchers
Don’t forget the heart patients favourite the taser, not to mention the training to use them effectively.
Really, even if Zombies existed right now, the whole concept of a Zombie Armageddon Apocalypse Real Life Shoot-em Up is just laughable. Damn shame though, oh well. Back to my comics and XBOX games I guess.Much love.