Table of Contents

By Choire Sicha

Illustration by Tim Enthoven

I don’t know which will last longer, the paper or the ink. Eventually the paper will burn or the ink will fade, so read this all as fast as you can.

But of Wikipedia’s five-million articles, these 40,000 seemed to be the most super-important.

They’re crammed in these eight plastic-bagged boxes. because I printed it all single-side. That way you can make notes on the back! For instance, definitely keep track of who has babies with whom. (See the page for Incest, then check Consanguinity.) I put in some Bics, they should last a few… years? No idea.

After that, you can look up the Pen page.

I also put in Pen (Enclosure) in case you domesticate animals later.

In any event, please do not leave the entirety of portable human knowledge out in the rain.

Most of Wikipedia was about famous people (and who cares now!) or historical events (ditto). I realize, and apologize in advance, if I missed, like, the second half of Internal Combustion Engine, or something key about Fluid Dynamics, or forgot the List of Dairy Cattle Breeds page. The horror of forgetting the one unpredictable but singularly important page — well, it could be anything. Cheese. Childbirth (although I know I printed the Unassisted Childbirth pages at least twice). Chili. China. Chipmunks. Chiropody. Chisel.

I definitely did not include Chivalry.

I got you both Emergency Shelter and Dugout (Shelter) though.

Then you’ll head towards sustainable foods. Let’s say… Flour: This one is pretty crucial, as I recall basically you take the wheat… kernel and then… mash it up or something? There’s a diagram on the Whole Grain page. I was going to print the Wikihow page too but it says use a blender, so…. Anyway, I think when they call wheat “stone-ground” that’s a literalism, so I guess get some stones?

Also pesticides.

Make sure it’s wheat not some other plant that looks like wheat! That would be a bad surprise.

I realize paper isn’t going to be at the top of your priorities but when these pages run out it would be a real shame to transition in one generation from a society that recorded every fucking tweet to a society that had literally no history and no way to communicate. Paper is just… mashed up wet fibers? Don’t even think about growing papyrus, it’s actually a really fussy plant. Once again however the Wikihow on how to make paper… is about making paper from other paper, which really doesn’t help much? I found this weird recycling indoctrination thing for kids too, which is about as helpful as praying for aliens to come help.

Oh yeah, don’t bother recycling anymore. That garbage barge has sailed.

On the downside, if you do re-invent paper, someone’s gonna write a cheery post-apocalyptic version of The Martian where some lone man becomes the king of permaculture by iffy miracles of chemistry. So maybe don’t.

Speaking of books… Sorry, but I put the Wikipedia pages in for Novels, as well as Fiction, and also Literary Criticism, Literary Theory and also Literary Modernism, just because it seems like it would be really agonizing if everyone had to go through all that again.

I hid Poetry and French New Wave inside the entry for Anarchy, which obviously is right after Alcoholics Anonymous and Ambivalence but before Aorta abdominalis. I was getting kind of weird and emotionally jumbled at the end, please don’t make a big deal out of this!!!

You should turn to the pages on Glasses while you can still read this. If you can figure out what an Abbe number is, you’ll be… fine. I think your best bet is to go to the new shoreline and wait for the ocean to barf up some well-worn glass.

The dentistry pages will be upsetting but mostly just hope that life expectancy shrinks significantly. You’ll probably have bigger fish to fry (literally) than cavities for a few thousand years. Drink lots of milk, if you can catch any cows.

Reinvent fluoride mining?

Gargle with ocean water meanwhile.

Eat tea leaves.

Plant tea plants.

Identify tea plants if you can.

If all your plants die then please turn to the entry for Nomad. Also this kills me to say but you should read the entry for Paleolithic Lifestyle.

Eeesh, in like 10 years you won’t even know why that’s funny.

Also I Googled “how to set a broken bone” and just printed out the first 20 results willy-nilly, and so you should read up on historical Bone Setting and Mrs. Mapp, which I appended to Bone Fracture. I also slipped in Fracture (Geology), just because.

What else? Don’t pull any weeds! Remember there are five more ways to eat dandelions (and many other members of the List of Beneficial Weeds) than you might expect, although unfortunately most of the good ways involve olive oil or Parmesan, which will take you a few decades to get together, as olive trees will take three or eight years to bear fruit. And will need to be grafted.

And pollinated.

Make bees.

Deer love olive trees.

Make fences.

Gophers: what are they, and are they edible?

How do you peel the skin off.

Invent witchcraft if you can.

Maybe magic will come back.

Don’t forget about scurvy! Is there any way to get vitamin C besides citrus fruit? Wait, even I know this one, and the answer is onions. We’re going to be okay.

Magic wasn’t a real thing ever by the way, that was a joke. I just don’t want people running around 300 years from now pining for the good old days when there was magic. It was all just Electricity, Integrated Circuits, and Programming Languages (I kept those three entries together).

You should probably reinvent penicillin ASAP. Apparently this is the least hard thing you’ll have to do.

And that takes you back around to Flour. The circle is unbroken.

I guess the good news for you is the oceans got closer and so you can eat a lot of kelp.

What else? Don’t go looking for entries on Money, Property, Banking, Finance, or Value, I didn’t include any of them. It’s for the best. Just… do not under any circumstances reinvent currency.

What does our climate future look like to you? Write your own story below.

Like what you read? Give Choire Sicha a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.