Saturday, 23 June 2007
21st Century Survival Manual
(Illustration is taken from the HMSO leaflet Protect & Survive on how to build a nuclear shelter)
James Lovelock has a great suggestion at the end of Revenge of Gaia. We need a book in circulation, very commonly owned and widely distributed which carries simple instructions for living in emergency situations. Beyond first aid, how many people know what to do in a cholera epidemic, how to collect rainwater to drink etc? You have to bear in mind that he assumes a century when only 20% of the population will survive. Based upon a model that says climate will switch to a new higher steady state temperatute - as it did in the Eocene period - if carbon exceeds 500ppm (ie by about 2050). Scary stuff indeed. Above a 5 degree increse most of the planet (and ocean) would be desert for a start, leading to massive food and water crises.
I think the reason he included this in his book, and the reason I think it is a seriously good idea to actually execute, is that as a green propaganda project is it will force people to confront the very real possibility of catastrophe before it happens.
I remember the 'protect & survive' type information materials having exactly the same effect looking at nuclear war. The very existence of education materials telling you how to look after you and yours during a pandemic, flood, major terrorist strike, 4 week blackout, water shortage and so on (and very possibly all of the above) is sobering & should incline people to reaximine their lifestyles. If people's lifestyles and lack of political will werent one of the key factors in averting these disasters I'd say let them enjoy pampered, convenient modern life while it lasts. But we need to wake up.
Knowing the worst case scenarios is why people in power are so scared of what is to come. We as a species generally assume it will 'never happen to me' but when politicians and business leaders say this is the biggest crisis to face the human race, possibly ever, it is because by virtue of their position they have been forced to consider such scenarios in detail. Many of my corporate clients for instance have been through global pandemic preparation exercises; what to do when 60% of your workforce are sick, when international transport system is shut down by quarantine and so on.
How to produce such a book? By the Wiki approach of course. Articles could be sourced from existing sources, or contributed by experts. i reckon NGOs working in refugee camps would be one treasure trove of such info. Although a publisher (or government publications department) involved to handle the mass printing of such a book.
I think this is something well worth doing & while it wasnt my idea I probably have some of the skills & contacts to help it along. I will ask around, but i thought I'd check if anyone reading the blog would be up for this. It's worth reading the last chapter of the Revenge of Gaia (and indeeed the rest of the book) if you havent already.