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Could a zombie pandemic destroy civilization as we know it?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,911 times Debate No: 8702
Debate Rounds (3)
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As I am an amateur debater, don't expect an amazingly thrilling debate, just a heads up.

In this debate I'd like to see the points made that a zombie[1] pandemic[2] could destroy[3] civilization[4] as we know it.
though it's not necessarily defined in the way I wish to debate, so to clarify, the zombie's in question are the zombie's portrayed in "Dawn of the Dead", "28 Days Later" and "Quarantine", and other movie's of the sort.

[1] a person whose behavior or responses are wooden, listless, or seemingly rote; automaton.
[2]prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area.
[3]to reduce (an object) to useless fragments, a useless form, or remains, as by rending, burning, or dissolving; injure beyond repair or renewal; demolish; ruin; annihilate.
[4]an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.

I look forward to a response.


"It's close to midnight and something evils lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,
You're paralysed"

========================================================= keep this debate in some semblance of order I will be arguing for a specific type of zombie - the virus infection sort. Necromancy seems to have gone out of fashion. ;(

1. Virus origin

Origin of the virus is typically unknown - it is always after the fact i.e. people are dying messily, that concern is raised. By then too many people are busy with the whole trying to not die aspect to really bother with finding out the answer.

2. Unknown Incubation/Unknown mutations

Incubation of the virus is not known - generally there is a bite then turn episode - however that details direct transmission of human host zombie to human (which varies in time itself - near instant berserk rage ala 28 Days/Weeks or longer development ala Dawn of the Dead) - not incubation from point of origin (see point 1). Different expressions can be treated as mutations of the source virus. The aggressive expression may well be a mutation of original point of origin infection. That it mutates does not bode well for humanity.

Unknown point of origin equates essentially to widespread infection prior to violent expression - see recent H1N1 virus for global transmission. The possibility of widespread global infection means when the dying starts, it will not be isolated; it will not be relatively instantly contained.

3. Low natural immunity

Viruses such as HIV show we, as humans, may have a very low natural immunity to a new virus. That's not good come zombie-apocalypse.

4. Infighting

The dying has started. People have weapons, some countries will have fewer armed citizens than others due to various legislation - poor them. People will be afraid, distrustful, hoarding. Those that seek help running from a mob of zombies may well be turned away. Those who have weapons may well make raids on others - especially centres where needed resources are available. It will essentially create pockets of survival of the fittest. Too many people and the resources drain too quickly. Death by starvation is still death. It's survivability - it's certainly not advanced, and it's definitely time limited.

5. Government against the people, people against the government

The army rolls out. They are there to kill, no question. They are however killing their own citizens. Dead? Non-dead? The military wouldn't be sure at time of rollout - the average grunt certainly wouldn't know. What information is valid? Who presents as a valid target? There are also the probable pockets of holed up citizens requesting aid, help, and rescue. Does the soldier aid or roll by? Destroy and move on hoping all zombies are gone? It can't be done at urban level without ground level intervention - severely risking those engaged troops, compromising base security - troops that are by necessity spread thin due the sheer number of probable infected areas. Were the government to go for mass destruction containment - those survivors would rapidly know they are not going to be rescued (or be dead), supported, aided or saved. It is very much - every person for themself - including anti-government - it doesn't bode well either way.

6. Kim can see you are distracted..

Opportunistic countries may well seize on the outbreak chaos. N. Korea border policies amusingly make it at the outset quite safe - and Kim Jong Il may well use the opportunity to launch incursions into S.Korea, China, even a daring strike into more westernised nations. It is also a possibility that he (or other similarly inclined) leaders launch various missile capabilities to destroy infected areas either bordering or not. That means nukes. Does the advent of possible long ranged missile wars sound good for long term civilisation? I do not think so.

7. Cross specie

Viruses cross species. I am Legend, 28 days - shows us that zombieness is not caring about what it can infect. That means over time, the bird chirping at your window isn't caring it's morning - it wants your brains.

8. Rise of the animals

Less competition for urbanised areas means animals will return - increasing the avenue of infectious risk (point 7). The sheer amount of decaying food from the outbreak will make urban areas even more rat heavens. We know what happens when rats, fleas, humans and disease mix.

9. Sympathisers

Individuals can be stupid. Really, really stupid. Groups will have their supporters. No doubt zombie diplomacy will be tried, and messily concluded. No doubt there will be those willing to fight for the survival of their infected relatives/friends/lovers in the hope of later reversal. People killing people over whether the guy bashing at your door wanting to eat you should die..isn't really that conducive to stability nor compound safety.

10. Food

Resources are limited. Once the chaos starts replenishment starts to end. The current volume of stored food is needed to support individuals at current population or starvation is imminent. Food perceivably becomes currency (see point 4). No one is going to operate factories when those skilled are dead/infected - those supplying are dead/infected, those who grow the required produce are dead/infected.

11. Power

Power maintenance is not secure come zombie-apocalypse. Depending on power source, blackouts will occur within 3-4 hours of disruption. Nuclear may last a year before needing replacement - that requires the necessary fuel and expertise however - not guaranteed. Hydro power is the most stable; meaning populations will most likely migrate to these areas where it is provided - all but ensuring a siege type scenario.

12. Religion

Those of certain religious persuasions will view the zombie apocalypse as a sign of end-times. They will provide mass easy fodder to the growing zombie incursion. "Fighting against God's will is clearly futile - this is predestined - I will ascend..right about now...IT'S EATING MY ARM."

13. Siege - per generation depreciation of knowledge

The longer the infected survive, the greater the risk of depreciation of knowledge. A population under siege is stagnant - it survives - it rarely changes due to the risks involved. A skill set not practiced - conceivably disappears - saving text books is not a conceivable priority. It is analogous to the general knowledge loss of smelting from ore, or how to make charcoal.

14. No retreat, no surrender

Zombies don't care if you have guns. Or loud noises. Or flashy lights. Or things that go boom followed by messy parts flying. They will run. Keep running and chase you down. If they can't..they will just wait.

15. Fleet of foot - overrun the defence

See above. Zombies now have speed. Have a gun? Doesn't really matter since it can take serious injury. Best raid the shoe store along with the food.

16. Sense of fresh flesh

Zombies have uncanny knack to know where live humans are. Hiding isn't good enough. It needs to be secure.

17. Without end

They don't give up. They don't go away. They don't get bored. Numbers attract numbers.

Character Limits are approaching - basically come infection time the chaos will be bad - surviving isn't good enough - the resolution demands humanity must thrive.
Debate Round No. 1


Yellow_Magpie forfeited this round.


It appears Yellow_Magpie's position has been overrun. Treat all further transmission as suspect.
Debate Round No. 2


Woops, it appears as though I was little too long in writing a response... damn. Well, here goes nothing.

For this debate to be valid we have to say that humans ultimately survive, the question is whether or not civilization is that lucky. This renders the term "apocalypse" invalid. Hate to nitpick, but it's true.

1. Using H1N1 as an example, it is not (yet) quite a pandemic, it has many a country to reach. But it does kick up quite a fuss. Something as obscene as a zombie virus would be quickly brought to the attention of the media and government, living in the communication age that we do.

2. Again, using H1N1 as an example, it was quickly brought to the attention of the world. Containment has restricted it so much. Something with as 'full on' symptoms as a zombie virus would likely be much quicker to be apprehended.

3. Our low immunity to disease is obvious, however vaccines would be quick to be investigated. This would allow for a much lower infection rate. Though it mightn't be available to more isolated community's, it would considerably lower the infected number, thus reducing the threat. Deaths accounted for, but better than infection.

4. Given the virus is not airborne or waterborne, which in most cases it is not (e.g. 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead etc.), then it would first have to reach the countries in question.

5. In most cases it is a valid method of containment for the preservation of non-infected individuals. Though in some cases there are rescue procedures that could be taken. Long-term observation of chosen populations can determine infection risks. Ground level intervention would not always be required, in times like these, airlifts etc. would become a favorable method of rescues and transportation.

6. This suggestion, particularly that regarding Kim Jong, though possibly realistic, is also stereotypical. But in terms of maintaining civilization, perhaps the expansions of N. Korea's Borders could be beneficial to some extent.
Though missile related procedures are not entirely desirable, they can be key tools in containment of the outbreak of the zombie virus, and maintaining civilization.

7. Granted this would be a problem and a possible weak point in destructive virus containment methods. However it is not an insurmountable problem. Defenses can be raised to counter weaker and less complex/strong infected.

8. Essentially this is point 7 again. And still, defenses can be raised easily. Past scenarios have shown rats and disease to be an issue, but no reason to fret for civilization as a whole.

9. Such methods of seemingly 'inhumane' anti-infection decision making (those that are pro for killing the infected mother of 3) is viable in the maintenance in the majority of civilization. Granted it may destroy a few small empires established in the decaying ruins a New York townhouse basement.

10. Small and even somewhat extensive amounts of food can be grown or created using such resources as sun lamps. This can provide constant replenishment of some of the most basic nutrients. Even properly secured gardens or rooftops can be used to grow food.

11. Power is not entirely a necessity, as shown by thousands of years of civilizations before us living and thriving without it. Even today, in this day and age, it is not impossible, and in fact, rather easy to survive without electricity.
Though a siege type scenario is not out of the question, a simple, tired and pressed migration is more likely to occur, in such a situation, once the adrenaline fueled panic wears off, people are in a depressive state of shock. Not sure of what to do if rejected from a town or village, few may attempt sieges (a scenario the town or village may very well have predicted and prepared for), however most are likely to argue and/or walk on.

12. There is little doubt that a religion will form that hails the zombie virus, though it's followers will likely be few in numbers and the religion itself to be short-lived.

13. Survival is top priority, a population that retains or gains knowledge vital to survival is more likely to survive, from there, there is nothing that can be forgotten that can be learnt again.

14. Regardless of whether or not they care, the guns, the lights and the things that go boom are all necessary in preventing infection and maintaining civilization.

15. Though if a zombie sustains enough injury (without the head/kill shot), they can be rendered slow moving, low threat, easy targets.

16. Few scenario's support the statement: "Hiding isn't good enough."
E.g. I am Legend: Will Smith has maintained a comfortable homestead for some time before his location is discovered by directly leading them there.
28 Days Later: People maintain shelter in undefended houses for multiple consecutive nights.
28 Weeks Later: The country house at the beginning is unharmed by zombies until the boy brings them there.
Dawn of the Dead: It is stated the only reason zombie's gathered at the shopping mall was because of hidden memories that the zombie's retained that led them there.

17. Depending on the zombie type, some are shown to starve (e.g. 28 days/weeks later). There gathering (e.g. The Hive in Resident Evil 3) can make them easy targets for firebombing or bombings of similar massive area effect, with some collateral damage perhaps, provided there isn't a massive, multi-billion dollar fortress that houses what is suggestively humanity's only hope of survival.

The resolution, to be specific, does not demand that humanity thrive, but simply that civilization survive.

I would also like to apologize for missing the second round, I see now the time limit is 3 days. I began posting this not 20 minutes after it timed out.


"For this debate to be valid.."

No, to fulfil your burden, sure. Not mine though. All humans are dead is only a concern when you are arguing on their side. :D

"1. Using H1N1"

That ignores the way viruses mutate, change. H1N1 was highly publicised, far more than avian flu. Infections and deaths related to it are still occurring. Widespread infection is highly possible - and that's all the resolution asks.

"2. Again, using H1N1.."

Containment? I see no quarantine zones in effect. Again you ignore the highly mutable nature of some viruses. It may be more docile till a new strain emerges in current infected populations.

"3. Our low immunity to disease is obvious.."

Just like HIV right? There is nothing inherent in a virus that makes it easy to 1. Identify 2. Develop a vaccine. Not to mention the use of labs is compromised - you bomb the cities after all. Those with the necessary expertise are not inherently alive, well, contactable, have access to necessary equipment.

"4. Given the virus is not airborne or waterborne.."

See R1, points 1,2 about unknown origin - and the difference between virus origin and related infection and a mutated strain human to human bite transmission. In Shaun of the Dead the origin was most probably airborne (after the meteors) which then translated to bite to bite. This point 4 does not address my point 4 though. O.o

"In most cases it is a valid method.."

How can you observe populations that by nature must be secretive and hidden to survive - unless there is ground contact? It is risky at best, compromising at worst. The majority of locations would not have inherent access to the roof. Not to mention there is a very small deadline before starvation would be a factor - meaning those rescue inclined need to move rapidly - that means less planning - thus higher risk and chance of attack.

"6. This suggestion, particularly that regarding Kim Jong.."

It merely recognises intent already there, currently held at check. Think the US in crisis won't require troops abroad to be shipped home?

"But in terms of maintaining civilization.."

Expansion by nature requires mobility, gaps, thinner line of defence - and China has quite the population of potential mass zombie charge.

"Though missile related procedures.."

Problem being the largest gathering of zombies is always in urban areas - meaning you are advocating the direct destruction of infrastructure at a mass scale. That doesn't bode well for a civilization that has to thrive at an advanced level.

"7. Granted this would be a problem.."

Think you can keep all animals out? Quite a few animal species specialise in living in urban environments. Again unrealistic, especially since you seem so keen on roof tops. :D

"8. Essentially this is point 7 again.."

Rats are in Antarctica - they are that virile and pervasive. Think rats - drawn to food, human waste (you still need a system to dispose of that sanitarily) won't ever be a problem in populations that must hoard together for safety?

"9. Such methods of seemingly 'inhumane' anti-infection decision making.."

Or it may be the assigned guard at post seeing his mother coming towards him - hesitating just long enough for a compound to be compromised. We are talking about possibilities - admitting it can occur at any level - which you do - inherently means it could occur at any larger institution.

"10. Small and even somewhat extensive amounts of food can be grown or created using such resources as sun lamps.."

Who has the sun lamps? Where are they stored? Where are they being manufactured? Where are the seeds? Where is the needed land to cultivate at a production level that allows survival? What happens when you leach the land you have? It's unrealistic. The more basic the means of survival - the more land you need to maintain survival. Hunter/gatherers need the most land per person, agriculture based society slightly less - and you advocate for a basically powerless, agriculture based survival - that can somehow maintain security from hungry zombies.

"11. Power is not entirely a necessity.."

For thousands of years they also didn't have a zombie pandemic to contend with, nor were they at constant siege. The two are not analogous. No power? You have a severely decreased defence grid; you have limited heat - no safe foraging for fuel - especially not anything viable at a compound level. You have no refrigeration, and the labs for your vaccine just got shut down. Your lack of care for power just ended Humanity. ;(

"Though a siege type scenario is not out of the question.."

Depressive shocked individuals can outrun the hyper fast zombies? You just killed them all come first sighting. ;( Not to mention you most definitely have no sun lamps now - you are very much at danger from cross specie attack as well - and you will likely starve if you don't first get eaten.

"12. There is little doubt that a religion will form.."

Not really the point I made - which was the mass population of so inclined religious folks, will present a very large very easy supply of zombie fodder to add to the ranks. That they will be short lived is the point. :D

"13. Survival is top priority.."

I would hazard had I not raised the point, knowledge would never have been a priority of yours. Regaining knowledge depends upon being free to experiment at a level where it can occur; even then it's not guaranteed - not to mention resources are tapped for many valuable skills. Where are you going to find the iron ore to practice smelting? Where's the tannery when animals are not safe? You can't till fields for clothing you need land for food..

"14. Regardless of whether or not they care.."

How? Just saying so doesn't mean much. :P

"15. Though if a zombie sustains enough injury.."

A shot doesn't slow them down short of one where the physics of impact demand it - but that's not the average handgun or rifle. Add that mob rushes are not uncommon - it's still an issue.

"E.g. I am Legend"

The zombies there are also light phobic and unable to roam freely.

"28 Days Later"

Unstable nights - brought to an end quickly. It doesn't need to occur instantaenously.

"28 Weeks Later"
Rural areas will take the longest to be coherently overrun by virtue of being spaced. Given the number of zombies that rushed the house - they were coming anyway.

"Dawn of the Dead"

Almost - they state memories *or they smell fresh blood.* Memory argument fails anyway - as homes, work places would have equal memory claim for zombies to return to making any infrastructure where humans were, potential zombie magnets.

"17. Depending on the zombie type, some are shown to starve"

As noted in R1 point 2, different expressions of zombies can be treated as variants of the one virus and you never challenged that. Meaning "they *all* starve" or similar isn't going to work as it is not a consistent theme across all.

"There gathering.."

Sure they make easy bombing runs - again you destroy valuable infrastructure, use available fuel, and just activated the people against the government. :D

"The resolution, to be specific, does not demand that humanity thrive, but simply that civilization survive."

You have a civilization without humans? It contradicts your definition: "an advanced state of *human* society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached."


The resolution is worded so that possibilities need only be explored - that the possibility it may occur fulfils my burden ("could"). That a virus can become pandemic is not really questionable - that the scenarios I described are possible - well that's for the voters. Maintaining an advanced society as defined.. sorry, no.

Debate Round No. 3
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Posted by Yellow_Magpie 8 years ago
So do i...
Posted by Xer 8 years ago
Pretty good Puck... I hope Yellow responds.
Posted by Puck 8 years ago

*coughs* ahem
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