How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

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Ego
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How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by Ego » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:24 pm

Looks interesting. Has anyone read it?

http://blog.longnow.org/02015/03/21/lew ... -24-02015/

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jennypenny
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by jennypenny » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:28 pm

I haven't bought the book, but here's a long discussion of the book and his website, which says he did a TED talk that will be posted soon. Interesting.

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Kriegsspiel
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:34 pm

I just read it this year, and I thought it was super interesting. I re-read a few parts, but I'll probably check it out again and take some notes. I thought a lot of the stuff sounded like fun projects if you had the space to do it, like building a kiln, making glass, etc.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by walker » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:42 pm

Read it and recommend it highly. One of the few books I would buy (used) and add to my collection for repeated reference.

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jennypenny
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by jennypenny » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:17 pm

The discussion during the last 30 minutes of the video I posted is pretty good. They discuss bigger issues like what's worth preserving and whether we should even try and rebuild.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by unno2002 » Mon Mar 23, 2015 8:20 am

Borrowed the book from the local county library. While it is not a “blueprint” for post collapse restoration, it does provide ideas for more primitive technologies that can serve as a foundation to reestablish higher levels.

Mr. Dartnell does seem to present one disaster aspect clearly, that in the event of a disaster which shuts down some significant portion of the global energy & industrial system, the present population is not sustainable. He discusses what he sees as a need for a “grace period”, where in a collapse the survivors have ready access to food, shelter, clothing, etc., without the need to immediately have the means of further production up and running. This “grace period” allows the survivors to put in place a new system based on technology and other aspects that they understand and can sustain.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by J_ » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:45 am

Learning to sharp a saw, to wet a chisle and even to make you own tools are things Jacob pointed at earlier. Now this book, to sharpen your mind further and practise to learn skills to become even more a renaissance man.
I am glad that last year I began with horseback riding and connected skills :)
Thanks Ego, but let's have also fun with it when we are doiing and thinking.

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cmonkey
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by cmonkey » Thu Mar 26, 2015 8:27 am

I found the part about woodgas burning cars to be enlightening, I had never heard of this before.

I can see a project like coming this in my post-retirement future - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw7rJMNqk4o

And if you are looking for a post-apocalyptic profession that will keep you busy (and wealthy), look no further - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YieLQOmbR0

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by enigmaT120 » Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:06 pm

What is the prequel book, How to Bring it All down?

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jennypenny
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:06 pm

Survivor Library is a good resource. It's geared towards rebuilding after an EMP (which is admittedly funny since it's all online in PDF form), but it's mostly general information.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by jacob » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:10 am

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfIqCz ... ssCoHq327g

This guy has a lot of videos and collaborates with the author of the OP book.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:20 pm

The How to Make Everything videos are instantly addictive. I also started reading "The Knowledge" and his description of what will likely happen to an urban environment post-apocalypse is exactly what is already happening in my neck of the woods. Nature is relentless absent constant maintenance of human structures such as drains, buildings and roads.

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BRUTE
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by BRUTE » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:09 pm

yea, fuck nature. what has nature ever done for humans?

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:57 am

@BRUTE: Methinks you jest, but, obviously, any one of us would have some concept of ideal balance between the benefits of civilization vs. the benefits of raw wilderness in our systems design. Like many people, my ideal is something like the small, beautiful city or town, typified by many of the areas found around University centers.
Immediately after the termination of routine maintenance, nature will seize its opportunity to reclaim our urban spaces. Trash and detritus will collect on the streets and pavements, blocking drains and causing the pooling of water and accumulation of debris rotting into mulch. Pioneering weeds will first begin proliferating in pockets like this. Even in the complete absence of pounding car tires, cracks in the asphalt will steadily expand into crevices. With every frost, water pooled in these depressions will freeze and expand...Other plants are more aggressive, their penetrating roots pushing right through the bricks and mortar to find purchase and tap into sources of moisture. Vines will snake their way up traffic lights and street signs, treating them like metallic tree trunks, and lush coatings of creepers will grow up the cliff-like faces of buildings and spread down from their rooftops...Away from the asphalt streets and paved squares, the cities' grassy parks and the surrounding countryside will rapidly return to woodland.
Every day I visit my garden, the first thing I have to do is pick up all the litter that has been dropped or blown. One of the city planners told me that anything I can plant that would help with storm water management would be helpful. There is an abandoned house, rotting to the ground, on the lot next to one of mine. I was able to gather logs for my hugel-bed from a nearby formerly razed neighborhood, that looks like scrub-rural Georgia, until you turn around and see tall buildings within a few stone-throws towards the river. I am witnessing what de-industrialization and de-population looks like all around me, simultaneous with smaller areas of very upscale gentrification popping up out of the rubble due to laser-precision inputs of capital. It's really a very interesting place to be.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:06 am

Finished the book. Highly recommend.

One of the interesting things about the video series is his calculation of how expensive it was to create from scratch many things we take for granted as inexpensive. He includes his time spent multiplied by minimum wage. Of course, the main reason why it costs him $1500 to make a sandwich from scratch is that he strictly defines it as a replica of one available on the current market. I think it would be interesting to repeat the experiment, but instead of "sandwich consisting of bread, chicken, tomato, pickle, mayo..etc." , attempt to create from scratch anything that would fulfill the same basic purposes by some measure such as Maslow's hierarchy. So, maybe something more like "What would be the minimum time and money required to make a tasty meal that would be inclusive of a variety of nutritional elements, provide approximately 750 kcalories, and require no use of utensils for consumption?"

Three other reasons why it ended up costing $1500 to make the sandwich would be that it took him much more time as a raw beginner to learn and execute many of the necessary skills, the overhead of initial tool acquisition/creation was included in the accounting, and I don't believe he subtracted credit for extra production, such as all the jars of pickles he ended up making, but not using on his one final sandwich. So, it's pretty clear that even given such specific output requirements, if he continued on as a scratch sandwich maker, he would likely be down to something much more closely approximating market price by the time he produced his 1000th chicken sandwich, especially if his raw excess production was otherwise marketed.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:18 am

Prototypes are always much slower and more expensive than even the second product.

It's better to think of the listed costs as "tuition money" maybe. I watched the telescope vid and they take advantage of a full shop with machine tools. If you also had to build those ... or even if you to work with handtools, this would also add time. It's cool because it shows that many of these "technological wonders" can actually be made by one person. Seems to me that the tech-level to and including precision machining and electricity is within the reach of an individual.

As for "from scratch", it would not be possible to replicate history. For example, fossil fuels are now much harder to find and require more greater levels of technology to extract---something that would be impossible to bootstrap. E.g. try building an offshore oil rig from scratch while not using oil. Metals are also almost impossible. In pre-/early historic times, meteorites could be picked up from the ground and remade. That's no longer possible. Now one has to "sift" through a tonne of ore to get around a pound of material. So that's not happening either. The combination of those two leads to some interesting results: Aluminum is only cheap because electricity is cheap. Before modern times, it used to be more precious than silver.

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:25 am

@jacob: I think "tuition" is the most appropriate category for most of his expenses. He didn't make most of the necessary tools in the sandwich video either, but he did make another series of videos on how to make a hammer starting with nothing but materials available in nature. I was rather pleasantly surprised by the success of his attempt to grow and process wheat into flour for the sandwich bread. Vicki Robin also did some threshing and grinding in her book on locavore eating. May have to give it a whirl myself sometime.

The book repeatedly makes the point that there are some materials, such as iron, glass and water, that have "magic" properties that will almost always make them the most suitable choice for a variety of applications. However, it also repeatedly makes your point about the inability and inefficiency of trying to replicate history. I found myself coming up with a few alternative solutions to their suggestions when reading the sections about realms in which I do already possess some knowledge, but barely able to digest other sections as I read them due to my lack of even the basics. For instance, it seems to me that the Norfolk four-course rotation system for agriculture could be skipped over as a step, because once you comprehend why it works a multitude of other system designs that would serve the same purpose in a greater variety of environments quickly become apparent. OTOH, in the scratch-sandwich video, skipping the relatively simple step of leavening the bread for the bun, and then choosing to bake it in round form in the oven, was a pretty rookie baking error, and was likely main reason why most of the people who tried the sandwich judged it to be pretty nasty.

So, I would assume that other people with more knowledge in other realms would have similar suggestions for alternate or better solutions to the various problems or projects suggested by the videos or in the book.

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fiby41
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by fiby41 » Tue May 23, 2017 2:38 am

Why this obsession with reinventing the wheel?
In case of any large-scale event,
after which I might need to make all these things,
I'd count myself among the dead already.

To make a pie from scratch,
You must first invent the universe.
~Carl Sagan.

It takes incredible pessimism about the world or other people to believe any of the above mentioned might happen,
And at the same time incredible optimism about yourself to think you will survive it in case it did happen,
To be preparing for this stuff.

It's like you want to be the lead character in the novel you're writing or people who star in the movies they're directing.

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vexed87
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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by vexed87 » Tue May 23, 2017 5:29 am

I read it too, fantastic read! 8-)
fiby41 wrote:
Tue May 23, 2017 2:38 am
Why this obsession with reinventing the wheel?

It takes incredible pessimism about the world or other people to believe any of the above mentioned might happen,
And at the same time incredible optimism about yourself to think you will survive it in case it did happen,
To be preparing for this stuff.

It's like you want to be the lead character in the novel you're writing or people who star in the movies they're directing.
@fiby41, sounds like you have missed the point of the book. An alternative perspective is it's an exercise in understanding how interconnected, and totally dependant we are on an increasingly fragile system of human organisation with dependence on unsustainable energy inputs, if that system takes a fatal blow, the prevailing view is, it is game over. There is an alternative to game over though, and it's surprisingly low tech, and easy for anyone with a little confidence in DIY to implement.

The order we live under is a system that actively depends and promotes continuing ignorance in the means of production. It ensures those who benefit most from monetary economy continue to do so at the expense of resilience of the many (those without this knowledge capital). This isn't an insidious conspiracy, it's just the way we currently prefer to organise ourselves. Yes, in the meantime it's easier and more efficient to depend on others to meet your basic material needs, but if efficiency is the opposite of resilience, we really need to get a lot less efficient. Yes, no one individual has the time or resource to fully implement the technology in this book to completely reboot society, nor would we want to reboot it to it's fragile former self, the complex reasons jacob nodded toward. Rebooting civilisation is just interesting hook, but the book itself is a useful reminder how much might be achieved by own community of 'survivors' who no longer have industrial civilisation to meet local needs.

As we continue to experience these fragile systems breaking down (yes, it's happening right now, as 7WB points out), the poorest of society will be increasingly subject to greater extremes of material poverty, that is unless they can learn about these otherwise nearly lost forms of knowledge capital and organise in an alternative way. Surely the real pessimist's view is that we have to rely on fragile system to meet our basic needs, and once it's no longer working for us, we are as good as dead. To suggest that we should roll over and die, and do nothing to learn to be more self sufficient is ridiculous. Why do bother getting up in the morning, and working to improve your lot if you know that you too will be dead one day?

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Re: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch

Post by George the original one » Thu May 25, 2017 1:07 pm

fiby41 wrote:
Tue May 23, 2017 2:38 am
Why this obsession with reinventing the wheel?
It's hard to fundamentally improve something if you don't have an understanding of why the current thing is the way it is. Understanding also leads to insights on other seemingly unrelated things (e.g. carburetors & fuel injection are direct descendants of perfume atomizers).

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