Resurgence of Earth's civilization after its destruction:
Reason predicts a civilization-ending catastrophe

Commenced 8-14-06 by Ken Wear and unlikely to be completed4 To view footnote click here

Mankind is flirting with nuclear catastrophe but Nature may provide her own extinction event. Anticipating destruction or collapse of civilization, with preparation the remnants may repopulate Earth and carry civilization to new heights. Without preparation civilization will be subject to the caprice of Nature or the avarice of our kind. It is already late to begin preparation; but, if we don't begin, we will most assuredly never be prepared.

Should some maniac unleash life-destroying weapons, or a natural catastrophe obliterate most of mankind and his efforts, survial communitiesy such as Mountain Meadows seem our best hope for continuing our kind and restoring civilization . It is a monumental task and will require massive planning and cooperation to make adequate provision. The United Nations has presented a sorry spectacle of corruption and cooperation, so private foundations must lead the way. Whether a single Meadow will suffice I can only speculate although I feel three is likely a maximum number. Because of urgency, I am suggesting a contingent of 1000 for the first community, but a second or third may expand the number to 10-20 times as many. More or larger communities may become a burden for the host countries or sponsoring organizations.

Options beyond Earth are likely centuries away, until science brings that within our capacility. There is controversy whether we should rely on communities in space, on Earth's moon or at more distant locations. I suspect that only with a space wheel, so personnel can travel rapidly between the wheel and Earth's surface, can we successfully colonize either Mars or Venus. Consider our near neighbors, Earth's Moon, Mars and Venus as possible sites for colonial development. Note that the pull of gravity on our Moon is some 12% of Earth's gravity, or Mars 38%, or Venus 88%. The human body adjusts itself to local conditions so, after 2-3 years in a lunar colony, a person could not survive on Earth because of weakened bodily structures due to adaptation of his body to lunar gravity. Likewise, an extended stay on Mars would preclude return to Earth. Because of the slow lunar rotation on its axis, with temperature extremes of day and night, the polar mountains, where temperature may be controlled by taking advantage of mountain shadows, is the only likely location for a colony. On Mars, with its average surface temperature of -23oC, heat can be provided for comfort, but agriculture will require greenhouse structures. Venus, with its average surface temperature of 450oC, will require reduction of greenhouse gases, as well as possisbly an orbital thermal shield to limit admission of sunlight, while its surface atmospheric pressure (some 90 times that of Earth) will require protection of personnel. It has been suggested that introducing an appropriate alga into Venus' atmosphere may reduce the CO2 content and thus reduce both surface temperature and atmospheric pressure; but I have not read a suggestion to deal with the H2SO4. Evidently there must be significant scientific progress before colonization on either of these globes will become practicable. A lunar outpost with frequent rotation of personnel, yes, colonization there or on Venus or Mars in the much more distant future. Even the space wheel will require artificial gravity by means of centrifugal forces of rotation although I suspect the suggested 33% of Earth gravity may fall short of that required for sustained occupancy.

For the next few centuries, reliance must likely be placed on Earth-bound communities, such as I am encouraging here, because, prior to collapse of civilization, there will be a continuing need for personnel rotation and resupply. Moreover, once effort is begun it will require time and effort to build a self-sufficient infrastructure not dependent on continued contact with Earth outside the community for its viability.

The Process

Immediate need: A person or organization having vast resources to select a supervisory commission to define specific areas of concern and recruit members to detail requirements in each area of concern. I visualize, as one of the most pressing geographical concerns, availability of massive quantities of energy, likely realizable by tapping underground sources such as volcanic magma.

While I urge, in addition to these Mountain Meadows, construction of colonies on Earth's moon, these are merely learning experiences and way stations for Mars and Venus3 To view footnote, click here. explorations since no human may return to Earth's gravity after a few years on the moon. (Other bodies in our solar system seem, temperature-wise, unavailable to us. And planets orbiting other suns will require decades -- possibly generations -- of travel time.) Over the centuries there will likely be constructed space wheels, initially as tourist destinations for the curious, that hold the possibility of being similarly self-contained and free to move through space as seems prudent to its inhabitants.

I visualize self-contained communities with a population of a few hundred to many hundred individuals selected on the basis of their contribution to the community within the constraint that they will be the source of repopulation. "Self-contained" means, of course, the ability to provide all their needs, including especially food, water and energy, for a period of at least many years and perhaps centuries or longer. Should each community be specialized to deal with a specific catastrophe such as nuclear winter, or a massive meteorite strike, or loss of Earth's magnetic field and thus its Van Allen belts, or out-of-control self-replicating nanoproducts, or excessive accumulation of mankind's offal, or engineered virus, or . . .? All share needs in common no matter the cause of destruction.

It is self-evident that such thoughts embrace the long view, perhaps centuries or millennia, since we have no idea from what direction destruction of civilization may come, or the probability of such occurrences. Construction must be built with a view toward permanence, perhaps exceeding that of the Egyptian pyramids. There must be rotation of personnel as the young seek to become educated and as those beyond child-bearing years retire to other venues. And as science advances the complement of equipment and supplies for their operation must be replaced. We can hope that such facilities will never be needed, but we must realistically expect that, at some presently unpredictable time, one or more civilization-ending catastrophes will overtake mankind.

LOCATION: Within Earth-bound constraints I would favor, first, meadows in the Rocky Mountains of the United States (where heat energy may be mined from a volcanic substrate) although Mexican or Central American locations may be more desirable due to closeness to the ocean. Next choice would be highlands of coastal New Zealand, a Russian location on either the Caspian or Black Sea, Russia's eastern coast, African western coast, or a European location perhaps on the Balkan coast or in Turkey. Selection of preferred areas must allow usable ground for the community and its supporting agriculture and other activities plus a staging area some miles distant (perhaps no more than 50 miles). As a practical measure, selected areas should be 30 feet or more above sea level (in case of rising sea level) or presently sparsely populated (in order to avoid interfering with present inhabitants). I am in no position to pinpoint candidate geographies but, during that period of detailed planning of the requirements for a self-supporting community, a commission should evaluate proposed sites and arrange the necessary treaties to allow both free access and political control by the community itself with no interference whatever from the hosting government.

How much space must be dedicated to a single community? Agriculture and animal husbandry will dictate how much ground must be devoted to food. I expect that much of agriculture will be in hot-house-like structures to capture and retain solar energy. Quantity of energy received, efficiency of conversion of crops, and nourishment requirements of inhabitants must be in balance. The selection of plants and animals must receive as much attention as the human contingent. I am in no position to tabulate the nutritional needs of the community and select crops and animals to be incorporated into the program.2 For footnote, click here. Once number of inhabitants and requirements for food, activities and support are determined, suitable locations may be sought.

(I predict that, because of the relative security of selected areas, surrounding areas will become magnets for prime residential development. Thus I would expect competition by governments to offer the necessary real estate. But, once boundaries are established, encroachment cannot be permitted. Moreover, I predict that there will be no shortage of extremely qualified applicants once the nature of the community is defined and widely known.)

Operational Requirements for a survival community

Selection of residents: While this is not a vacation retreat and the intent is quite serious, life must be enjoyable and fulfilling. Obviously residents must wish to live there, whether for monetary advantage, dedication to the ideal of preserving civilization, or the seduction of participation in forward-looking efforts while immersed in a community of outstanding personalities. All residents must contribute on an essentially equal basis to maintenance of community; no one, except for temporary health concerns, can be allowed to avoid his share of drudgery: no kings, no vassals. I am not in a position to tabulate the assortment of specialties in such a community,1 For footnote, click here although requirements would be similar to self-sustaining space communities orbiting Earth or inhabiting Earth's moon. Evidently each resident must be free of communicable disease and be of outstanding physical and mental ability as well as possessing specialties needed to round out a self-sustaining community. And few will wish to make a semi-permanent residence there, so there must be continuing efforts to recruit, to screen, to reassess, to perfect.

In the ordinary course of the progression from birth to old age, consideration must be given to family life. Whole families, so long as each member individually qualifies for admission, may enter; families may be formed in the community; family members may choose to remain while other members of the family depart; qualifying tourists may elect to remain. And some individuals, imbued with the ideals and motive for forming the community, may elect to forego other of life's pleasures and rewards in order to make their contributions to the continuation of our kind. Hopefully there will always be a reasonable balance between men and women for the purpose of repopulation. It may, indeed, be wise to maintain a cadre of young people, ages 15-30, more women than men, who have not yet selected specialties in support of the community -- perhaps 20-30% of the community -- for the purpose of repopulation; they must, of course, be encouraged to complete their education upon leaving.

There is a dual requirement of the Meadow: 1) It must at all times be self-sufficient and prepared to sever connections with the outside world. 2) Yet it must cater to the prevailing interests of residents, who will expect, barring the catastrophe for which the Meadow was founded, to return to the outside world without suffering loss for their time committed to the Meadow.

While there must be continuity in activities in the Meadow, so personnel would be rotated on a regular but staggered basis, time committed to residency should likely be at least five years but limited to twenty years. I base the twenty on the need for education, which may be concluded by age 20-25 (if initial selection includes mental faculty, or less in the case of prodigies or focused education), and the duration of a woman's best child-bearing years (remembering that the purpose for the Meadow is survival of our species). Some personnel, such as perhaps top managers and foundation representatives, may be asked to remain for longer assignments.

Activities of residents: With a community of such outstanding individuals there must evidently be activities that intrigue and challenge. A researcher must be provided with the tools necessary for continuation of his research (while respecting space limitations for scientific apparati), agronomists . . ., historians . . ., and on and on. Of course, a period in the community affords a scientist an opportunity for a sabbatical during which he can ponder recent and needed research in his field as well as consolidate the results of work in his field.

Education is the foundation upon which mankind's progress has been pursued, and education to the individual's innate capacity would be expected of every resident. Likely at least through the baccalaureate degree and perhaps more (depending??), must be available to and required of each resident although further education at the world's premier universities will be necessary if the community is to possess the pinnacle of available knowledge. Our Mountain Meadow may, indeed, become the world's most sought center of education although the small size of the community would preclude traditional college organization.

There seems little reason electromagnetic communication links with the outside world should be in any manner restricted so they may be used to further education and allow continued contact with colleagues, families and other associates.

Rotation of residents: Anyone entering, except under the most dire circumstances, must undergo quarantine adequate to detect and render intransmissible any disease that could compromise the sustainability of the community. Even crews involved in rotation and resupply must live and operate under circumstances that protect the community. Those born in the community must be exposed to infectious agents in order to provide immunities needed before venturing into the outside world. I would suppose that a catalog of infectious agents rampant in the outside world would be maintained and immunities of each member of the community would be known (and for the most part common to all).

Structure: Residences, machine shops, laboratories, storage of supplies, etc., must be in a single structure perhaps three stories above ground and at least as much below ground. The larger part of a meadow must, of course, be dedicated to agriculture and livestock. While it would be desirable for housing and machine industries to be on level ground, education, as well as agriculture and animal husbandry may be separated so long as connecting links are provided. I would suppose that at least 100 acres of essentially level ground would be needed for housing, industries and a runway for medium-sized aircraft, plus a few hundred acres for fauna and flora. (And there must be additional acreage since births for repopulation must commence as soon as it becomes obvious there will be a need. Perhaps 30-40% of initially fallow ground must be available so the community may grow while outside conditions become stable enough for resettlement.)

Politically, each community must be independent (including political independence from the government within which the real estate falls), even though subordinate to the wishes of the directors of the sponsoring foundation. There must, of course, be free passage between the community and the outside world. A democracy, with each individual 14 years of age or older entitled to vote, seems the wisest structure. Absolute openness, with no secrets, would be mandatory. Information on all religions should be available to all and there should be freedom of expression of religious inclinations, but efforts to organize and impose a single religion or complex of religions should be strictly prohibited and proselytizing would be grounds for banishment from the community. Beyond sound ethics there can be no philosophical or religious grounds for ineligibility to live and work in the community. Certainly there should be no ethnic, racial, etc., barriers or preferences.

It is my fervent hope, whatever religious inclinations become dominant, that they are guided by the maxim to believe first what the fingers touch and what the eyes behold, that the product of rational thought will prove supreme. Should that include workings within the mind that are tantamount to recognition of and prayer to a deity, then that should be the prerogative of the individual and within his right to believe as he wishes. But the right to believe and discuss freely his belief and his reasons to support that belief should not include a right to pressure others beyond the power of his tongue to express. No priests. No religious teachers. No proselytes. Everyone with equal rights to believe or not believe, to search for satisfaction of his own soul.

Libraries must be as complete as resources permit. And production tools and supplies must be adequate to fabricate anything that may be needed for maintenance of the community as well as devices required for on-going research activities of resident scientists. Evidently there must be some stock-piling of metals and chemicals for whatever industry is required for an isolated community. So long as the outside world is viable, there must be continuing efforts to maintain cultural ties with that outside world.

Medical emergencies there will be, other than pregnancy-related, despite selection criteria of personnel to minimize opportunities for disease or accident. Evidently medical and surgical specialties must be included in the roster of personnel, and a small, well-rounded multi-purpose clinic must be among the facilities. Possibly the clinic may be combined with facilities for isolation of individuals entering or leaving the community.

Unquestionably the Meadow must include provision for recycling since it may become crucial to survival: bodily wastes, water, air, agricultural residue, . . . It cannot be presupposed that materials may be exported (without depleting needed chemistry) or imported (because there is no guarantee there will be a source). The extent to which the community must be totally enclosed depends, I suppose, on the catastrophe anticipated: For a nuclear winter radioactive fall-out must be precluded until the atmosphere clears; for collapse of civilization due to accumulation of mankind's offal little shelter would be needed, etc.

Evidently every particle or person entering the Mountain Meadow must be subjected to protocols to protect the community. There must be a staging area, some distance from the community, where people and supplies may be accumulated for transer to or from the community. Quarantine conditions would be considerably relaxed in the staging area although the needs of our Mountain Meadow must be the ultimate consideration in imposing conditions on any goods or people in the staging area.

And: Who? What foundation(s) might be moved to undertake such a long-term project with such an uncertain outcome?

And: When? Hopefully effort can be undertaken immediately to locate a suitable Meadow and efforts commenced to propose composition of an adequate contingent. We should proceed with deliberate haste, commencing construction as soon as a location can be selected and political arrangements completed. Early housing may be temporary with a view that it will be replaced with permanent structures. It will take time to build an organization to select and screen potential inhabitants, but at no time should requirements be sacrificed to expedience. The community must be built incrementally with a long view toward permanence.

Unhappily, deaths of members of the community must be anticipated. I suggest the following:
1) Within the limits next described, individual preferences, if known, should be respected.
2) The body of anyone wishing to adhere to a particular religion should be transported to his home community for whatever rites are prescribed by his religion.
3) Anyone wishing his body remain within the community must expect handling of his remains to be consistent with reasonable rapidity of returning nutrients in his body to the soil without preservatives; if he wishes burial of his body alone it may be horizontal; if he wishes there to be a (readily-decomposable) casket burial should be vertical; placements should conserve valuable ground.

It seems unrealistic to suppose there can be maintained a representative collection of all animal and plant species inhabiting Earth; priority must be to survival of a community adequate to commence repopulation with an adequate selection of foods and tools.

Should a civilization-ending catastrophe be reasonably forecast, such as a strike by a massive meteorite, there would be pressure to expand the community. However, carrying capacity must be respected since over-taxing facilities and agricultural yield would compromise the purpose for their existence.

Can our Mountain Meadow become a tourist destination? Persons willing to undergo the rigors imposed on the staging area should be allowed a visit. Cultural continuity with the outside world is, after all, overwhelmingly desirable as long as there is a viable outside world.

Designing the survival community

In initial construction of the community I would suppose people and goods may be freely transported in and out. But, at a point in time when the community is approaching readiness for its initial complement of personnel, all must arrive through the staging area with its conditions for sanitary, medical, etc., needs.

I hope to enlist the coopration of other minds in detailing the requirements necessary to creation and maintenance of a Mountain Meadow. Whether for a space wheel, a colony on another astronomical body, or a self-sustaining community on Earth, the requirements are very similar. (Especially if the colony is isolated by physical barriers to keep out dust and other pollutants, the requirements are nearly identical.) Evidently, all resources and all by-products of the various conversions (such as waste processing) must be critically balanced, not only for humans but also for agriculture and animals.

There cannot be, of course, any guarantee that the remnants of mankind can outlast the effect of the catastrophe for which they were organized. But we know of a certainty that, if we don't think about it and prepare for it, our species won't survive the catastrophe. We do the best we can.

I would be grateful for assistance in developing this page. For suggestions or comment or specific information to reach me, the e-mail form appears if you click here. It would be immensely valuable if we could suggest a compliment of personnel as well as animals, plants and trees.

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1 Personnel:
I have sought a list of specialties recognized as mandatory for a self-contained community such as a self-contained orbiting city or moon colony; thus far the search has been frustrated. There are of course requirements for brawn and there are menial tasks. And everyone entering the community must be indoctrinated into the practices of the community such as each being responsible for his own sanitary and other upkeep needs. The beginnings of a list appears in the table below:

Tabulation of personnel contingent:
? management 2 record keepers 3 arbitrator 1 foundation rep
medical: General ob/gyn pediatrics nurses
agriculture: 6 horticulture 6 animal husbandry
food: 4 preservation 6 preparation
engineers: 3 water supply 2 sanitation
seismologist astronomer*1 2 atmosphere control
educators: ? teachers 6 librarian
upkeep technicians 6 machinists 3 woodworkers
mfg chemists:
3 architects
Total 51 where numbers are presented, or 57 adding singlets -- lots of room leading to 1000. Duties:
Architect: maintain structural integrity of facilities and, after resettlement, design of structures
Seismologist: maintain magma energy mining
I suspect most adult inhabitants will be involved in education of the younger members.
*1While space within the compound likely precludes a large telescope, it would be advantageous for the community to be within a reasonable distance from an existing installation, perhaps no more than a few hundred miles.

Undoubtedly there must be minimum standards for overall health, intelligence, bodily vigor, etc. Because the world is filled with people of high ideals and a willingness to sacrifice for goals they consider worthy, I don't foresee a dearth of applicants once a community is established. And, during development (unless that extends for decades), practical needs of construction and development must override the selection criteria for qualified residents of the completed community although development personnel may be required to submit to quarantine restrictions once the community commences to be populated as its complement of personnel is assembled. (I do anticipate there will be some overlap of construction and occupancy although a portion of the initial complement may well be construction and development personnel with their families.)

I would be grateful for help in completing this list, including specifics of specialty and numbers of personnel, based on a total population of 1000.
Beyond that, there is need for lists of animal and plant life, notably for food, aesthetics and leisure.
(Extensive green houses -- sharing their atmosphere with the community -- should be pre-supposed since the crops and animals must also be protected from the same hostile environment.)
And there must be equipments for the various needs such as food service, sanitation, agriculture, computers, machine shops, production of mandatory supplies such as sanitary napkins, detergents, clothing and products for personal cleanliness and grooming, . . .
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2Crops and animals for the future:
Earth-based experimental agriculture (in the Philippines -- International Rice Institute) has yielded, per acre, 2 tons of rice, 10 tons of sweet potatoes, 4 tons of soybeans and 18000 ears of corn -- enough to feed 30 humans and yield 10 tons of forage for livestock. The technique is 'interplanting,' where sweet potatoes were planted before rice was harvested, soybeans before potatoes were harvested, corn before soy was harvested, and soybeans again. It is estimated this could be doubled with better control of growing conditions. With rice alone yield has been 16 tons or more per acre. By converting yield to pounds per acre per day, the above gives some 125 lb/day/acre (including meat resulting from forage consumption). Experiments in Connecticut (Connecticut Agricultrural Experiment Station) have succeeded in producing 500 (corn, sugar cane, sorghum and millet) lb/day/acre; in England 1000 lb/day/acre by optimizing atmospheric content of carbon dioxide; in Arizona hydroponic gardening, with 24-hour lighting, high ventilation and controlled temperatures, has produced forage of 15,400 lb/day/acre. As a first estimate, because of present uncertainties, some 300 acres for farming seems adequate for a sustained population of 1000, including provision for animals. Hopefully this would provide a margin for safety should the calamity come about and the human population from our Meadow be needed to repopulate the land so population may grow during their period of confinement.

Multi-story farming has been proposed for future cities and may become necessary for our colony due to space restrictions. Recycling of waste as well as conservation of water would benefit from this arrangement. Aeroponic, hydroponic and drip irrigation are practiced today and, with adequate energy to simulate the solar contribution, there is little reason to limit the number of levels; in fact, fish culture above vegetable crops is an obvious means of adding dietary variety as well as multiplying the effecttive use of water. I offer one caveat in that taste has been sacrificed in hydroponic agriculture, which I suspect results from inadequate minerals in the water; foods without taste reduce diet to monotony and bare sustenance.

Bees must be maintained for pollination of crops, else pollination must be done by the residents by hand.

To provide meat, rabbits and chickens can produce five times their initial weight in edible meat per year. For rabbits a little salt plus alfalfa is a complete food, and rabbits would require 12 square yards for food per female and litter, and would produce 145 lb/acre/day. Cattle limit harvest to 20% of weight per year; hogs eat less feed than cattle but need a diet suitable for humans, which produces waste similar to that of humans and is deemed undesirable. For milk, goats produce more than twice the amount of milk, compared with cows, for a given amount of feed. If fish are added to the mix of meats, elevated ponds could allow 'rain' onto crops below.

Trees for fruit and nuts will undoubtedly be wanted for aesthetics and their food but also for regeneration of oxygen; I have no data on yields. Oxygen from animals and humans and carbon dioxide from agriculture, if properly balanced, should provide an acceptable enclosed atmosphere and it is not anticipated that artificial recycling will be necessary although pollutants may accumulate and methods developed by the Navy for submarine application may prove valuable.

It appears likely, if mere survival is the purpose, that algae will be a major food source. Apart from today's need for energy from algae, research must be devoted to algae as a food source (where a by-product of one may be a source for the other).

It may be necessary to store chemicals that can be added to fertilizers to assure that crops provide all the vitamin and mineral nutritional needs of residents in the event the soil is lacking or depleted.

I note that Norway has stocked a seed bank that reportedly can protect five million varieties of seeds for 1000 years.

According to archaeological information the Mayan civilization cultivated manioc (cassava), a root crop, because it has six times the calories of corn. Perhaps it could be grown alongside (or underneath ) other crops. Advances in Space Research, Dec. 24, 2008: scientists published the conclusion that silk worms may be a good source of food in deep space.

I think it self-evident that in a closed ecology such as this nothing -- including waste water from the kitchen, laundry, toilets -- can be exempt from recycling. However, water will be lost from agriculture by soaking through the soil (with limited prospect of recycling), and some 80% of water consumption by a traditional farming community must be used for agriculture, so water must be collected from rainfall. And storage capacity must be adequate to provide for periods when rainfall is lacking or during seasonal drought. Your BACK button will return you to the text.

Do not discount Venus as a site for human exploration and settlement. Once the sulfur in its atmosphere is reacted or condensed or otherwise reduced, thus reducing the greenhouse effect of the Venusian atmosphere, it may well be that surface temperatures will be reduced to levels where our then-technology can produce conditions in which humans can prosper. If necessary, a massive solar shield may be placed in orbit above the planet to selectively filter components of solar energy to further reduce surface temperatures. I have no doubt all the minerals and other chemicals needed for a self-supporting industry will be found there in approximate ratios as on Earth and Mars. If we can maintain our scientific progress without destroying ourselves, Venus will follow Earth's moon and Mars in human habitation.
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4Immediate benefit from this effort
Beyond survival of mankind's civilization there is a more immediate benefit in preparing for an extinction event. Development of the International Space Station has brought nations together for a common purpose and, at least at the governmental level, is encouraging international cooperation and foregoing of long-held political and social barriers in the interest of progress. Whatever national ambitions exist that produce competition between nations or cultures, the ISS has shown that we can work together for a common purpose.
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