If you survived the apocalypse would you know what to do next? How would you rebuild civilisation? This book aims to put in the hands of the survivors crucial knowledge that will kick-start technological advancement, but also keep them fed and healthy.
I read The Knowledge over the holidays and have told so many people facts from it since, I’d almost forgotten that I hadn’t blogged about. The introduction does speculate a little about different types of apocalypse, but settles on a viral pandemic as our final foe. This would leave survivors the advantage of a fairly intact infrastructure whilst they find their feet as well as little competition for resources.
The book is split into sections dealing with aspects such as agriculture, medicine, power, construction and more advance scientific methods. It’s not just a survival guide but a reminder of how much we take for granted. Josh had recently shown me the TED Talk for the guy who tried to build a toaster from scratch. Just knowing how it works is not enough but you need to know how to mine and extract the base materials required first. This book is very much on that premise, how even simple things will be much more difficult.
The earlier chapters do deal with scavenging and making the most of what’s been left behind. It also points out these things won’t last forever and why the country is a better bet than urban areas in the long term. With easy access to forests and the sea, where I live right now isn’t too bad a location if the worst happens!
Speaking of forests, trees are amazing. Their potential for fuel is not simply just by burning, you can even rig up a car to run on wood gas. Then there’s charcoal, crucial for filtering water and making compounds essential for further technological advancement. There’s creosote (the thing that makes smoked food taste so good as well as being a fine ting to paint your fence with), sticky pitch, acetic acid (think vinegar) and acetone (think nail varnish remover). Plus you can build shelter with it.
I found the agricultural, medical and chemistry bits the most fascinating and accessible, based on my previous knowledge. We’ve already got some sourdough starter and homemade cider in the corner of the room, so we’re ahead in our preparations, at least when it comes to yeast. Some of the engineering bits went a bit over my head. In practical terms, it gives only a brief overview of what you’d need to know, if you have no prior knowledge you would struggle to do all the things in the book.
However it is thought-provoking and full of facts if you like stuffing your head with facts. There are some things that seem easier than I would have expected once they’ve been explained, which can only give us all hope for the apocalypse.
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