The End of the World Island to Restart Civilization

September 2022- after a six-month military buildup, the People's Liberation Army launches an invasion of Taiwan. The United States, which has long warned that it would defend the fellow democracy, makes good on its promise and declares war on the People's Republic of China. As the United States and China become embroiled in a bitter South Pacific war, Russia seizes the opportunity to test NATO resolve and launches a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with troops also pressing into Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. NATO responds in force, led by US European Command. World War III has officially begun, and it will be the most destructive conflict ever waged by man. Luckily though, you're prepared. China's six-month-long buildup for an invasion of Taiwan has given the entire world enough time to prepare for the inevitable showdown between the US and itself, and because you're a smart Infographics viewer you know that Russia could use the opportunity to attempt to restore its old Soviet glory by forcibly reuniting breakaway republics. So, you've prepared for the nukes to start flying- and they almost certainly will- by pooling money together with several friends and family members to buy a boat and a whole lot of fuel. Because soon it's going to be up to you to restart civilization. The first nukes fall after the first three weeks. No one is sure who fired first- given America's edge in conventional firepower, it's likely China or Russia launched first to attempt to neutralize that edge. At first, it's just a series of small, tactical weapons used against massed military forces and American carrier groups. The US responds in kind. Soon, city busters are falling all around the globe, irradiating capitals that have stood for hundreds of years. You hear the final transmission from the President of the United States of America before the entire world goes silent for good. He's buried somewhere in a classified bunker, and he urges Americans, and the rest of the world, to remain strong. We can, and will, rebuild. Turns out though his location isn't nearly secret enough, and a Chinese deep penetrating munition collapses his bunker. By now the US has already repaid the favor to Chinese and Russian leadership. Forget this “we” nonsense, because it's now up to you to rebuild civilization. Luckily though you're prepared, and you've chosen just the place for it. You've had to carefully do your homework though, because you need a place that isn't just remote, but has all the necessary survival features you'll need to make a new life. That means food, shelter, and water. But it also means a place that is distant enough from the irradiated wastelands of North America, Asia, and Europe to keep radioactive materials from suffocating you. The latter is probably your greatest concern. Hundreds of nuclear weapons have been dropped all around the world, putting as much radioactive dust and particles into the atmosphere as a massive supervolcano eruption. At this point, avoiding irradiation altogether is simply impossible- anything living that needs to breathe is going to be ingesting some amount of radioactive material. However, by finding the right place to restart civilization you can limit how exposed you become. To that end, you've settled on a small chain of islands known as Tristan de Cunha in the South Atlantic. Here the trade winds blow almost straight east and do so with great zeal. This means radioactive dust is going to get pushed away from you as it drifts towards the southern hemisphere. Your only concern is radioactive debris from Australia, which thanks to its cooperation with the United States has taken several nuclear hits as well. However, major military targets in Australia are along the northern coast of the island continent, and there the trade winds pick up dust and debris and blow it in a northwest direction. It's not perfect, but on Tristan de Cunha, you're about as safe from radioactive debris clouds as you're going to get. You are still going to be sucking down irradiated dust though, this is a simple fact of life, and you can expect your lifespan to be shortened by two or three decades. It's going to be a long time before anyone's celebrating a hundreth birthday again. However, you can help limit the damage by consuming charcoal, which will help absorb irradiated particles in your stomach and pass them through your system. The dust that settles in your lungs is the real problem, and wearing a mask will help... somewhat. The islands aren't uninhabited, and that's both a positive and a negative. The positive is that the island chain's only permanent settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, is a small fishing and farming community. While they import a lot of things, they're perfectly capable of sustaining themselves and have done so for two hundred years. The negative is that because the island is inhabited, you're going to have to be dealing with other people who may not be so keen on sharing what they have- specially with the world having officially ended. Luckily though sea life is abundant in the island chain, so you better get used to sushi because you're going to be eating quite a lot of it. The influx of two dozen more people may make some of the locals grumble and complain, but they're easily able to absorb the numbers given the islands' abundance of fishing resources. Thankfully the locals are actually very friendly, and can't turn a boat full of people in need away. The additional mouths to feed can be offset by available fish and other seafood, and the volcanic soil of the island makes for great farming. While normally about half the island is a dedicated wildlife preserve, given the circumstances those rules are lifted- bad news for many of the native bird species, but human life takes precedent. The normal rules allowing only two cows per household are lifted, though the limit can't be increased much more even with the addition of more grazing lands- so each household is now allowed a maximum of three cows. This will make meat rare, something you'll get to enjoy maybe once or twice a month, but you'll have plenty of farm-grown crops to enjoy- and fish. Did we mention fish yet? What's even better is that the farming is done by hand or with the assistance of animals, and you realize there's actually very few gasoline-powered vehicles on the island. The lack of modern farming equipment is something the locals had to make do out of necessity before- fuel would have had to be imported all the way from mainland Africa, making it extremely expensive. Now though that lack of modern farming equipment is a lifesaver, as it means the locals have learned and preserved more ancient methods of farming that don't require a resource you'll never see again. This does, unfortunately, mean that the local power plant won't be putting out electricity much longer, but you'll have to learn to make do. Despite being so close to the Antarctic, the weather rarely ever dips below 50 degrees (10 C), which is good news because there's very little plant life on the island and few trees. That means no firewood, which means no roaring fires to keep warm at. You'll just have to learn to bundle up when it gets cold. The place does get lashed by rain pretty frequently though, which is actually a good thing. While there's a fresh water source on the island, rains will give you a chance to replenish cisterns. You'll be taking in a few rads by drinking rainwater, but at this point, everything you do is exposing you to radiation. You'll need to earn your keep, so as soon as you arrive you and your group are put to work. There's plenty of crayfish fishing to do, in fact before the world ended it was the island's primary export. There's also farming to be done and animals to be tended to. Given the desperate state the world is in, the local government council opens up the other islands- natural preserves and UNESCO world heritage sites before the world ended- for exploitation. You and a group of men take a boat over and harvest some of the bird nests there to help supplement your diets. You're careful to leave enough untouched that the bird population will hardly notice the loss. There's enough birds to live in equilibrium as long as your island doesn't explode in population. The fact that there is a government is also a good thing because order means stability. The local government is democratically elected, and has an election every three years. The Island Council as it's known consists of 14 members, and they meet about six times a year. Back before Great Britain was bathed in nuclear hellfire the town was English territory, with the queen being radioactive dust now though that matters little. Along with the Island Council is the Chief Islander, who's sort of the island's president. He too is democratically elected every few years. The best part about the island though is its remoteness- it's over 1700 miles from the nearest continent: Africa. That means any other desperate refugees are unlikely to make the journey, or even know about the island in the first place. All that binging Infographics Show really paid off in the end. But there are problems with this little slice of would-be paradise. The first is the fact that the island is a still-active volcano. The volcano rarely ever has a major eruption, the last one being in the early 1960s, but back then the entire community had to be evacuated to mainland Britain by the government. When they returned many of their homes had been destroyed. You will have to live under the shadow of imminent destruction for the rest of your unnaturally short life, and a large enough volcanic eruption could not only wipe out the small community but bury the critical farming and grazing land under volcanic ash and lava flows. The death of the livestock would be a huge blow to your survival chances, but the loss of farming land might be the death knell for humanity. Luckily, this is unlikely to happen- but it's something you must worry about every day. The second problem is that medical resources are extremely limited. There is a single doctor on the island, but for anything requiring even moderate levels of care, including surgery, the locals have to ask for help from the mainland all the way in South Africa. This was always going to be a concern in an end of the world scenario, but with no hospitals to raid for supplies, you can expect life expectancy to drop significantly for the survivors of the end of the world. The other major problem however is the fact that most of the island's residents are older, leaving few available women for repopulation. This is unsurprising as most of the island's younger residents often choose to leave for Britain or South Africa, leaving behind an island of mostly pensioners. The island is believed to have originally inhabited by four or five families though, and most living residents can trace their lineage back to these original settlers- so as long as you brought a few women not related to you, you might have a chance of making a future for humanity that doesn't look like another Hills Have Eyes sequel. Those pensioners are going to die soon though, in fact, they'll be dying much sooner than normal thanks to the sudden lack of mainland medical care, medicines, and the airborne radiation everyone's ingesting. That means you have limited time to learn the traditional survival techniques of the people, but there's an even bigger problem- you'll soon be left without most of your workforce. These numbers will have to be replenished, and soon, or the entire settlement could simply collapse. For the women who have come along, this means only one thing- babies. And you can't afford to be picky about your partner because to ensure healthy genetic diversity, women are going to have to be making babies with most available men. The traditional values of monogamy and marriage are going to have to be temporarily suspended until humanity isn't living on the brink of extinction. All in all, though, you've really chosen the best place to try and bounce humanity back from nuclear extinction. While the temperature will drop a few degrees, you're glad to hear that old nuclear winter studies were overly pessimistic in their estimates. You should be able to survive long enough to pull humanity back from the edge. Of course, getting humanity back to the mainland is another problem altogether- the journey is six days by motorboat to South Africa, and gasoline will have run out long before your descendants are ready to leave the island. You can't store gasoline either, as it'll eventually go bad. However, humanity has made incredible voyages lasting weeks before in pretty rudimentary craft- that's how South Pacific Islanders came to inhabit such far-flung locations as Hawaii. So, the odds are good.