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Toward the end of The Revenge of Gaia, climate-change oracle James Lovelock suggests that, if the worst should happen and climate change wreaks true havoc upon civilization, those left in the aftermath need a guidebook for survivors:

“What we need is a book of knowledge written so well as to constitute literature in its own right,” Lovelock writes. “Something for anyone interested in the state of the Earth and of us — a manual for living well and for survival. The quality of its writing must be such that it would serve for pleasure, for devotional reading, as a source of facts and even as a primary school text.”

One problem, he acknowledges: “No such book exists.”

Oh sure, there’s Wikipedia and Google and a wealth of resources online. But if the grid goes down and the lights go out, that virtual knowledge will be all but inaccessible.

So here’s what I’m going to do: over the next several weeks and months, I’m going to assemble the basic information we can all use in a survival situation, whether it’s a weekend without power during a snowstorm, or a generation without advanced technology after a global climate disaster. Yes, right now, it is still virtual, electronic text, but I’m encouraging you all to print out each entry as you can and assemble it, over time, into your own “Guidebook for Survivors.”

I’ll start tomorrow with the most life-essential topic of all: water.