Our predicament

Given these facts:

  • We have crossed 6 out of 9 planetary boundaries, and crossing one of them is enough.
  • The climate system has tipping points, which, once tipped, create positive feedback loops that reinforce climate change.
  • There are biophysical constraints to the metabolism of our civilization: We extract resources faster than the earth can renew them, and we produce more waste than earth can proces, and we degrade our habitat (see fssd sustainability principles).
  • Our ecological footprint is larger than one earth (Earth day), therefore, we are in ecological overshoot and collapse.
  • History: All earlier civilizations have followed a boom and bust cycle.

We must conclude the following:

  1. Technology will not save us (because Jevons paradox, Maximum Power Principle, energy requirements, material usage and the brittleness of our global supply chain)
  2. Clean energy is unfeasible with our current energy demand (also because wind and solar still require fossil fuels for construction and transportation, and too much rare earth metals such as Lithium).
  3. Decoupling of energy usage and economic activity is only possible when energy costs are externalized to another place.
  4. Therefore, globally, economy (GDP) and energy usage are tightly coupled.
  5. Therefore, green growth is not an option.

If we take it a step further, we can also conclude:

  1. We’re already 30-50 years into collapse of our biosphere - unstoppable runaway climate change.
  2. Our current institutions and systems will not change, they will break down either by force or by perhaps more gracefully by our own efforts.
  3. Therefore, and also by studying the history of previous civilisations, the civilisation as we know it is self-terminating.
  4. The breakdown of our civilisation, together with our global supply chains, together with the effects of climate change on food production, will cause mass migration and food insecurity. Given that we are in ecological overshoot, it will be hard to sustain our current population.
  5. Taken even further, extinction is a real possibility.

When green growth and systemic change of our current institutions are not an option, we are left with the following strategy.

  • Degrowth - we must degrow our economy and reduce our consumption consciously, or it will be forced upon us.
  • Commons - public luxury and private necessity to maximize what we can do with less resources.
  • Hospice the old - we must slow down and break down extractive institutions, organizations and economies. Some will argue this is wasted energy as the old institutions will break sooner or later anyway.
  • New institutions - we must design and build a new economy and new institutions. Joe Brewer argues they must be bioregional, instead of nation states.
  • Invest in climate adaptation, to improve our quality of life.
  • Invest in climate mitigation and regeneration, for the health of our biosphere.
  • Invest collapse readiness and resilience.