The modern world is built upon human psychology. The ability of humans to solve problems, or to work around them. The willingness of humans to endure difficulties and hard times, hoping for something better to come along.
The modern world can easily recover from most disasters and catastrophes that are likely to occur. Most setbacks do not lead to the end of the world. But catastrophes can occur in escalating chain reaction. In such situations, an “end-of-the-world scenario” is not impossible.
Being prepared for a TEOTWAWKI scenario is just one of the many forms of training which Dangerous Children receive in the normal course of growing up. But most of us were not so lucky to be brought up in the Dangerous Child tradition. We will need to do some reading, and a great deal of experimentation.
Let’s assume you want to do more than simply survive. Not only do you want to climb your way back into a civilised lifestyle, you want to feel more in control of your life than ever.
To move beyond basic survival, the mastery of rudimentary chemistry provides one of the most important early steps toward re-building civilisation, and giving yourself a deeper control of your life.
Half a million years ago our ancestors learned to make fire from scratch. They crafted intricate tools from stone and brewed mind-altering elixirs from honey. Their descendants transformed clay into pottery, wool into clothing, and ashes into cleansers. In ceramic crucibles they won metal from rock, the metals lead to colored glazes and glass. Buildings of brick and mortar enshrined books of parchment and paper. Kings and queens demanded ever more colorful clothing and accessories in order to out-class clod-hoppers and call-girls. Kingdoms rose and fell by the power of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. And the demands of everyday folk for glass and paper and soap stimulated the first round of chemical industrialization. From sulfuric acid to sodium carbonate. From aniline dyes to analgesic drugs. From blasting powder to fertilizers and plastics.
Beyond a mastery of useful chemistry, re-building civilisation will require machines: lots of machines. According to one person, you could start re-building civilisation after all the stuffings have been kicked out of it, with just a few dozen easy-to-build machines.
The table below comes from the Global Village Construction Set open source ecology project, meant to assist ordinary people in building 50 industrial machines that would be helpful in building “a small sustainable civilization with modern comforts.”
Background on the “Global Village Construction Set.” Remember: Dangerous Children who build their own machines will have no trouble keeping them in operating condition.
More: This free e-book download addresses both survival and post-disaster re-building, with a no nonsense, hard-nosed approach:
Beyond Collapse: Surviving and Rebuilding Civilization from Scratch
Unlike most survival/preparation resources, we’re going to assume that civilization will break down completely, and will likely take at least a century or more to return to the level it is now. In such a situation, that electrical generator which too many experts recommend will end up being a glorified lawn ornament (unless of course you feel like making/storing an ocean of fuel and storing a mountain of spare parts…) The idea of having a small backyard garden is a good start, but it’s not going to feed you and your family all by itself. Expensive water filters are a good convenience while things are all chaotic, but eventually the filter elements are going to wear out, and you’re stuck with having to make your own clean water from then on. Solar panels can work for up to and beyond three decades, but the inverter, batteries, and electronics you plug into it probably won’t. Anything that relies on batteries (even rechargeable ones) are guaranteed to be worthless once the battery chemicals wear out, and there are no more to be had. Guns? A good idea for the more chaotic times, but eventually the bullets will run out, leaving you (and everyone else) with, at best, a bunch of clumsy clubs made from steel and wood. Any advice that relies on buying and storing something should only be counted as either temporary, or the (sometimes literal) seeds of renewable items, be it tools, weapons, or wheat. Some items will be vital in spite of their being temporary, but some will help you make a permanent means of living long-term after it all settles down. __ Beyond Collapse (free download)
One of the best available books on the market for learning about the rebuilding of civilisation after a global catastrophe, is The Knowledge, by Lewis Dartnell:
http://the-knowledge.org/en-gb/further-reading-by-chapter/ — supplementary links and information to accompany the book The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch
The starting point for The Knowledge is a global catastrophe that destroys our technological civilisation and forces survivors to start again from scratch. Such a possible eventuality offers a superb scenario for exploring the behind-the-scenes fundamentals of how our modern world actually works, and how it progressed and developed over centuries and millennia of history.
More resources for skills-building with the aim of rebuilding civilisation after a disaster:
https://projectchesapeake.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/fifty-tools-and-technologies-to-rebuild-civilization/ — Another list of 50 tools for re-building civ from a prepper blog
http://blog.longnow.org/02010/04/06/manual-for-civilization/ — Ongoing project by the group at Longnow.org to build an online “Manual for Civilization.”
http://www.rebuildingcivilization.com — website that looks at tools and techniques that might help someone get through TEOTWAWKI to reach the other side.
Another short list of essential books for re-building with links to more
First survive. Then rebuild on a firmer foundation. Recruit as many competent and clear-headed persons as you can. Network with other similar resilient and competent groups for purposes of trade, information exchange, and other types of mutual benefit which groups of competent and resilient people can offer each other.
It goes without saying that chance favours the prepared R & D community.
Many useful books can be downloaded free online from these sites: