Rebuilding Civilisation in the Aftermath

Modern societies are facing a bifurcation point. One set of choices will lead to a general prosperity along with an amazing variety of increasingly sophisticated technological wonders and opportunities. The other set of choices will lead eventually to cascading failures, resulting in eventual shutdown of uncertain duration.

If the infrastructure of modern societies shuts down over a sufficiently long time period, the resulting chaos — and loss of expertise and infrastructure — will make it difficult to re-start the machinery of civilisation, and re-connect the networks that make it possible.

There are multiple counter-culture groups that act as repositories of invention and self-sufficiency, including the “Make culture,” the “Vintage Projects,” and “Homemade Tools,” cultures, and a number of hobby networks from machinists to gardeners to preppers to survivalists.

The article below looks at The Global Village Construction Set, an open-source attempt to build a standard set of tools for re-building civilisation. It is taken from an original Al Fin blog article.

Global Village Construction Set – TED Talk from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

Have you ever considered how you would go about re-starting civilisation if the Earth were struck by a comet, or suffered some other widescale, civilisation-ending catastrophe? The people at Open Source Ecology have, and they are in the process of building the Global Village Construction Sett.

This construction set is a platform which will allow you to build 50 industrial machines that you can use to re-build civilisation from the ground up.


The complete Global Village Construction Set will include 50 different industrial machines, from tractors and sawmills to wind turbines and steam generators and CNC mills and 3D printers and laser cutters. Apparently, with all 50 of these machines, you can create “a small civilization with modern comforts.” Yep, that’s all it takes. So far, they’ve prototyped eight of these machines, and with help from Kickstarter, they’re hoping to get to work on the other 42 to make them available to hopeful developing civilizations all over the world. _DVice

What Makes the Global Village Construction Set so special?

Open Source– we freely publish our 3d designs, schematics, instructional videos, budgets, and product manuals on our open source wiki and we harness open collaboration with contributors.
Low-Cost– The cost of making or buying our machines are, on average, 8x cheaper than buying from an Industrial Manufacturer, including an average labor cost of $15 hour for a GVCS fabricator and using mail-order parts.
Modular– Motors, parts, assemblies, and power units can interchange.
User-Serviceable – Design-for-disassembly allows the user to take apart, maintain, and fix tools readily without the need to rely on expensive repairmen.
DIY – The user gains control of designing, producing, and modifying the GVCS tool set.
Closed Loop Manufacturing – Metal is an essential component of advanced civilization, and our platform allows for recycling metal into virgin feedstock for producing further GVCS technologies – thereby allowing for cradle-to-cradle manufacturing cycles
High Performance – Performance standards must match or exceed those of industrial counterparts for the GVCS to be viable.
Flexible Fabrication – It has been demonstrated that the flexible use of generalized machinery in appropriate-scale production is a viable alternative to centralized production.
Open Business Models – We encourage the replication of enterprises that derive from the GVCS platform as a route to truly free enterprise – along the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy.
Industrial Efficiency – In order to provide a viable choice for a resilient lifestyle, the GVCS platform matches or exceeds productivity standards of industrial counterparts. _Global Village Construction Set

Cross-posted to Al Fin, the Next Level

First published: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2011/10/starting-new-civilisation-from-ground.html

If societal infrastructures shut down long enough, former centres of commerce and technology are apt to be in shambles, with most of the original physical and human infrastructure in no condition to re-start.

The idea is to facilitate and empower multiple islands of resilience and regeneration, ready to serve as re-made foundations of civilisation.

In a widespread and sustained shut-down, it will not be enough to hunker down in small retreats with the ability to grow your own food and fend off small, desperate groups of raiders. Civilisation depends upon multiple networked competent groups willing to work together over the long haul.

http://www.survivalblog.com/2005/08/retreat-location-criteria.html — Criteria for selecting a retreat location.

The best way to power your new civilisation would involve safe, reliable, scalable nuclear reactors. Highly efficient fuel cycles lasting multiple decades would minimise waste and shut-down time.

http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013/11/05/realistic-look-at-smrs-in-idaho/ — Sooner or later, isolated micro-grids will be run by small modular reactors (SMRs). Inter-connected microgrids can provide robustness, as long as each power source is reliable in itself.

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/nuscale-passes-100-patent-mark-140000925.html — Oregon’s Nuscale is working hard to invent safe, reliable, affordable SMR technology.

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12 Responses to Rebuilding Civilisation in the Aftermath

  1. Abelard Lindsey says:

    This is cool.

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  4. sid says:

    Typo in title “civilisation”
    When rebuilding let’s make spell check automatic.

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  6. Grant Davis says:

    The Queen’s subjects leave colourful remarks.

  7. JohnMc says:

    As much as I like the GVCS concept it has a fatal flaw. Look at their material lists. What is common throughout is the need for a few essentials like — bearings, high pressure hydraulic pumps and motors. Well in a true civil collapse where are you going to get those essentials??? Your local TSC, Northern Tool or online Surplus Center are no longer available.

    My point is a true rebuild society will require much lower tech. How do you build primitive machines with logs, axes, saws and rope? You won’t have a CEB Liberator to crank out blocks. You will have to find a way to operate a pit saw for planks. Then use the planks to build forms to create adobe blocks. Then build the structure.

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  9. r says:

    What about the need to keep existing systems going, such as nuclear waste storage and fuel rod cooling, hazardous chemical storage and security, bio warfare agents, etc etc. Any of these things escaping into the environment would cause more catastrophe. We need to keep contained the monsters that have been created by our current civilization in order for a new one to have a chance to flourish.

    • alfin2101 says:

      r: Yes. Procedures for safe rapid shutdown of old large nuclear reactors will be important.

      Newer generations of nuclear reactors will shut down automatically and self-contain their nuclear fuel indefinitely, until qualified maintenance happens along.

      We will particularly need smarter, more competent people who not only know how to deal with the hazards that exist, but also do not waste their time magnifying”risks” inside their own imaginations that will only serve to distract them from what needs doing.

      Up till now, more injuries, illness, and deaths have come from wind turbines and solar arrays than nuclear power plants — and that includes both people and wildlife. After newer generation reactors come into wide use, that divergence will only grow wider.

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