Philosophy is good and important, but much easier to carry verbally (out re-invent) than the thousands of years of trial and error of "what's this red stuff in the dirt and what can I do with it?"
Then again, assuming that we'll lose civilization but terrain the ability to read written English is somewhat hard to justify, too...
But civilization would need to bootstrap to "current levels" quickly, and I assume a lot of knowledge about that is currently only in people's heads
Crops + Animal Raising -> food. Then construction and metallurgy (helps with the first items), then thermal machines, then industry building all over again. Then to electronics, semiconductors up to computers again. Don't forget all the medicine, chemistry, plastics, oil processing there as well
If I needed to rebuild civilization, that'd be the last thing on my mind.
Wind, solar, and hydro are your easiest routes to electrical energy. From there lots of things become easier.
I have heard of the idea of "Peak Wood" corresponding to "Peak Oil", being the time when wood to make charcoal for metal smelting became scarce due to the scale of production and the inefficiency of the process.
It's a long way from the blacksmithy to the oil derrick.
Furthermore, our civilization is unrebuildable.
In the mid-1800s, oil was so shallow that it bubbled out of the ground. It was possible to pump it with mid-1800s technology. Call that "level A".
Soon though, that oil was gone, people wanted more. It took "level B" technology to drill for that... but we were at level B by then, thanks to the level A oil.
Today, we drill for oil through 3 miles of water, and a mile of rock below that. That's "level Z" oil.
If they need oil to get from level A to level B technology, but all the oil requires level Z to drill for it, then you don't get to rebuild civilization. It's not just oil, this is true for every resource we use.
If our civilization stumbles, it dies.
In America, with 10 times more grams/ton they don't exploit it, because "it is so expensive, not worth it".
In America over half of the mineral(you can analyze the terrain in the laboratory and compare what is has with what you extract with industrial processes) goes away with the drain because it is in a different physical shape that what the industrial machines are designed for. They just couldn't care less.
This is what prosperity could make to you. Like bears eating the livers of salmons and leaving the rest. We used to open a coal or oil well and BURN(without using it) THE NATURAL GAS first. A 1 meter of diameter burning pipe could burn for years!! In fact, in lots of places in America, where there is no gas pipeline they continue burning the gas, because it is so cheap, not worth it.
Old American cars use to be machines for wasting oil. This is what happens in Venezuela today, when with the money it takes to fill the tank you could fill 1500 tanks in Venezuela. People have problems eating in Venezuela, but they could use the biggest 4x4, or speedboat you could dream of.
The 'natural resources' that enable /easy/ development of civilization aren't anywhere near as common, if they even exist.
What's necessary is a more adaptive approach and possibly some caches of resources that would be necessary to bootstrap once again; also a form of storage which won't degrade in just a few hundred years.
We deforested entire continents getting our industrial revolution going. There aren't enough left to do it a second time. And if what I read is correct, it will take between 750,000 and 2 million years for reforestation to occur naturally.
> but there's definitely enough to get a pocket of civilization back on its feet.
What's "back on its feet"? You've watched too many movies.
The only metal such a people would ever use would be salvaged... no new iron works. No electricity, no internal combustion engines.
If civilization stumbles, it dies.
> There aren't enough left to do it a second time.
Why do you think it would take an amount of resources comparable to the first time? We know what we're doing now so there will be much less fumbling around AND we would have an abundance of high-grade feedstock left over from the pre-fall civilization.
> What's "back on its feet"?
"Back on its feet" = a level of sophistication in resource extraction capable of facilitating resource use beyond recycling, i.e. the ability to avoid the exact scenario you described.
To make things more concrete, let's call it the level of sophistication required to build and fuel primitive fission reactors. I think that even you will agree that by that point fears of energy scarcity would be bunk.
> You've watched too many movies.
If you can't imagine "shortcuts" to take on the path to re-industrialization I would hazard a bet that you don't have training in the relevant industrial chemistry. Here's a fizz-buzz level self assessment to check if you're going all Dunning-Kruger: name one or more plausible post-apocalyptic alternatives that would be used in place of the WSGR and Haber processes.
> The only metal such a people would ever use would be salvaged... no new iron works.
Why do you think that salvaged metal could not suffice for bootstrap purposes?
Hell, you don't even need to make your own mining / refining / manufacturing equipment, you just need to patch up the stuff that got broken in the commotion.
Yeh. We. Now.
Post-collapse? No, they won't. If everything was intact (including unwritten, institutional knowledge), then there won't have been a collapse in the first place.
There's also coal -> oil, if you've got some hydrogen handy.
As for "every resource we use", you've got to separate the ones we "use up" like fuel, and ones that are still available after use, like most metals. E.g. access to iron/steel and copper will be trivial, just mine ruined cities, land fills, etc. etc.
I can't say with 100% confidence this would work out, but I know the sort of people our betters despise will roll up their sleeves and give it a try.
Which only works if you already have a technological civilization. The Germans were able to do this because they already had a large industrial base.
The South Africans were able to do this because they had an industrial base, and could find expertise internationally if needed.
If you're living with 19th century technology (16th century?) you don't get to do coal-to-oil.
These problems simply aren't solvable in the situation we're talking about, and you seem to mistake the fact that you can think of solutions for them with 21st century technology means they are universally solvable. That's not even close to true.
Anyway, there's nothing stopping you from believing it's impossible, and ... what will you and yours do after a sufficiently big disaster? All I know is me and mine won't lie down and die.
While it sounds high tech, it covers the basics of manufacturing lab equipment, from iron casting, to making your own glassware, lenses, photographic plates, Geiger counters and so on.
Another excellent book in the same vein is, "Building Scientific Apparatus" - http://www.amazon.com/Building-Scientific-Apparatus-John-Moo... the second edition can be had for a song.
Civilisation is not a working air-con and LTE. Saudi Arabia has those, and it is not a 'civilisation'.
Civilisation is primarily a political order built on liberal tolerance of multiple sources of value, and the rule of law. Roman civilisation, at least up till Constantine 1, was a civilisation.
The key point of the Magna Carta is that it codified the principle of the rule of law, even if it was a limited to aristocrats. The side-effect is that it implied that a different source of value - human reason in the shape of laws - was legitimate, and not the absolute rule of the king.
Likewise with Magna Carta - its an important historical document which laid down the principle.
They were used by the 1970s commune movement as instruction manuals for self-sufficiency/"back to the land" living so they have a track record of usability.
They're a great history lesson, and contain the building blocks that any civilization needs to solve (shelter, heat, food) before it can worry about higher order things (philosophy, politics, smartphone reception).
Everything else probably can be lost.
Any rebuilt civilisation would not be technological. The "best" we could "hope" for would be agrarian based, with 0% unemployment, people living in cohesive communities, with active fulfilling lives....
wait a minute.........
Gigatonnes of metals even the completely rusted out remains would be far easier to refine.
Not to mention all the other stuff.
Hardest problem would be energy as we have consumed easily available fossil fuels but that's not intractable, we in the west of built our way of life on profligate fossil fuel consumption, there are other ways.
So dramatic. For most of humanity people have worried about tomorrow's food. For the most part fanciful imagination was nurtured by the enlightenment and the scientific method, but before that, I think, we just thought about food and how to better defeat threats --enemies, wild animals, nature.
PS. Wikipedia, is probably a good start.
It's just an offhand remark by you, but I think it's a very good idea. Wikipedia is quite hit-or-miss, but right now it's at least the equal of any traditional encyclopedia we had in the old days.
But if there's no power and no technology, how do you view your offline copy? At least books have the potential of surviving for hundreds of years w/o too much degradation.
Add some decent solar power to that, and scavenge for spare parts to keep it going, and I plan to be running a First Foundation / Oracle of Delphi pretty shortly after civilization collapse.
I was surprised by the vividness..
Like, hmm, if you can’t refine oil anymore, how would you set up large-scale ethanol production so that you can run engines? How would you modify the engines to run on 100% ethanol? Where do you find ore and how do you smelt it? If you want to make gunpowder, where in the world do you get saltpeter and sulfur? How do you make gunpowder, or even just charcoal, without blowing yourself up? Can you make hormonal birth control, or even condoms? How about antibiotics? I’ve had some very good wikiwalks starting from questions like these.
A Reverence for Wood - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0486433943/
and maybe something by Ray Mears, but I don't think any of his books really capture what his TV shows do - aboriginal cultures and their skills that are about to vanish.
Instructions for tinkerers "for making bronze from metal ores; glass from sand, ashes, and limestone; paper from grass or straw; soap from fat; alcohol from honey; photographs from egg whites; chlorine from salt water and celluloid from cotton." among other things.
I think people are focusing too much on the luxuries of complex civilization. If you're at the point where you have to rebuild civilization it would be more necessary to focus on building a good foundation i.e focusing on improving your food, water, shelter, medicine, and social systems. I think the book Mathematics from the Birth of Numbers would be a good enough foundation to get started on physics, mechanics, and math.
I got one for christmas. Whatever that books says, sharks CANNOT be scared away by splashing.
The version I got was probably a little dated.
No doubt this will be downvoted, but I would go with some basic legal texts. The law has been part of civilization from the beginning (Hammurabi). Something like Blacks Law Dictionary would be vitally important in setting up a reliable system post-zombie.
I tend to agree that if there's a civilization, there are laws, but your example is bizarre. A quick check of wikipedia informs us that Hammurabi was born circa 1810 BC. Compare Sargon, who took his throne about 500 years prior, or Narmer, who unified Egypt over a thousand years before Hammurabi was born. And we only know about them because they left records. The Egyptians also left records of various near-eastern peoples who clearly had flourishing civilizations at the time, but left no records of themselves. These great conquerors come from a backdrop of states that are already old.
Seven thousand years ago, pre-Egyptian nomads left religious art in what is now the Sahara desert (though at the time they used it to pasture their animals). Nomads aren't traditionally considered civilized; we like to use agriculture as the threshold. But those nomads surely had laws, even if you'd find them primitive, and they were organized enough to leave monuments behind and, eventually, conquer the farmers who lived along the Nile and set themselves up as the ruling class.
There other, older, legal traditions but they rarely are relevant to modern jurisprudence.
And I responded to you saying that Hammurabi was the beginning of civilization, which is even more ludicrous.
That is basically how the common law functions today. Harm people and you are personally punished. Harm property and you must pay for that property. Criminal law and civil law, crimes and torts.
*Of course the "property" in the original were actually slaves, but the principal holds.
200. If a man knock out the teeth of his equal,
his teeth shall be knocked out.
201. If he knock out the teeth of a freed man,
he shall pay one-third of a gold mina.
202. If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he,
he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.
203. If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal rank,
he shall pay one gold mina.
204. If a freed man strike the body of another freed man,
he shall pay ten shekels in money.
Here are a couple more interesting clauses:
108. If a tavern-keeper (feminine) does not accept corn according to gross weight
in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less
than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water.
114. If a man have no claim on another for corn and money, and try to
demand it by force, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver in every case.
And, again, there is no cultural continuity from mesopotamia to modern europe or america. Similarity between Hammurabi's Code and the English common law does not represent influence of one on the other, it represents parallel evolution. It is therefore no more and no less relevant to understanding the common law than, say, early Indian law, or 1700s Japanese law.
Other civilizations have got by just fine without them, and maybe without tainting influences, the survivors will do better next time.
E.g. too many of these things require fixed assets and a framework where nomadic raiders are kept from totally despoiling those and the people working on them, the classic example being agriculture and farmers. Sans that, you might have something called "civilization", but it won't support very many people, and it won't be pretty. Or you might collapse all the way down to small, hostile to each other bands of hunter-gatherers. I seem to remember reading in Guns, Germs and Steel that the Australian aborigines came from a civilization that farmed....
The paints 'civilized law' as authoritarian, vengance based, and using primitive means to try to alter behavior.
Probably one of the better collections.
That book alone would give any civilization a running start into the 21st century.
Here's the table of contents: http://www.springer.com/cda/content/document/cda_downloaddoc...
- Advanced Mathematics and Statistics
- Materials and Materials Processing
- Measurement Theory
- Control Theory
- Design and Development in Engineering
The same for other fields and also for a language.
Not every book about programming needs to begin with detailed description and examples of what the conditional statement or for loop is. You can arrange books in series with prerequisites and this is how people learn new subjects.
Your idea seems comparable to demanding that all C/C++ programs expand all their includes inline or that all Java programs that need a HashMap implement one rather than importing java.util.HashMap.
Perhaps a better solution is for books to suggest prerequisites to read or at least enumerate their assumptions about reader's prior knowledge. Some books actually do that.
The data is replicated online in various places but if the networks are destroyed it could be useful to have the constants.
I believe electricity is the greatest discovery of all.
What needs to be preserved are the fundamentals. The world has order and obeys rules even if you don't understand them right now. The world is made up of very small things that give the world it's order. Noise that comes out of your mouth can be copied to rock/clay/papyrus and given to other people over long distances. The nature of a hypothesis and a test is vitally important for moving forward instead of in circles.
Mankind's greatest goal and challenge is building a society. Building space rockets might help that, but they might not. One might argue that ancient Greece and Rome had better societies or at least equal to what we have today.
In both Greece and Rome, slavery was legal and women had next to no rights.
Any society in the West today, with all its imperfections, is way better than anything in ancient Greece or Rome
On average, are people becoming better people over time?
I don't think that's a given and that's what society is.
Whatever system is in place it's human nature to game it. While we can have all sorts of inclusivity built in to the rules, people will always find ways to sidestep them.
I'd say, as a society we're no better or worse than the Romans on average, we just have more stuff.
The proof of the pudding is that people in the most primitive of societies are just as happy if not happier than middle class westerners
Below a certain threshold, easier life doesn't mean better. Some rich folks don't let their children inherit for this reason.
The folks who assembled the computer you're using to write this are very likely to disagree. Any society in the West today, even if better than anything in ancient Greece or Rome, is closer to them than you think.
Aristotle I've only read a little of; he gets to survive, I guess, though I would go for at least a partial trade in his case too.