Make no mistake: the need for sustainable solutions has never been greater. After seemingly endless attention, is it possible that everyone who’s going to be moved to action by arguments about recycling, pollution, water quality, deforestation, soil and fishery decline, and climate change has already activated?
If that sustainability message is no longer useful, then new information that people haven’t already heard is essential.
Consider the following set of interacting challenges:
ï¯ POPULATION: Global population is growing every year at the rate of eight additional New York Cities – 76,000,000 additional people. No matter how well this is handled, there will be big resource availability challenges. Poorly handled population growth is a recipe for global unrest, starvation, migration, and terrorism.
ï¯ NATURAL CAPITAL: When half of a total resource has been used up (it’s always the easy half that is withdrawn first), the costs of extraction rapidly escalate and the risks associated with extraction also rapidly increase. The halfway point is called “peak” because extraction always follows a bell-shaped curve. Oil, coal, uranium, natural gas, copper and many other natural resources are near or past “Peak,” while the demand for these resources continues to grow each year.
ï¯ ENERGY DEPENDENCE: ALL prosperity is entirely dependent on cheap, abundant, high efficiency energy. Virtually every activity we engage in requires readily available cheap energy supplies. We are soon going to be at a major challenge point in terms of energy availability. Peak energy extraction follows peak energy discovery by about 40 years. Global peak discovery of oil was 1964. There are no viable alternatives scaled for adoption at the global level.
ï¯ ECONOMY: ALL money is loaned into existence. Since ALL money creation establishes debt that must be paid back with interest, economies MUST grow perpetually (debt levels by definition also grow perpetually). At any moment, there is more debt than there is money to repay it. Debt levels everywhere in the world are reaching extreme levels.
These issues – population growth, resource depletion, the economy, and energy dependency – are at least as urgent as the need to address climate change, and may reach a part of the population that has been unmoved by calls to “save the environment.” These elements are all interacting in a complex system. The economy MUST GROW, cheap energy CAN’T GROW, essential resources are rapidly DEPLETING. Something will have to give in this three cornered system!
The above, plus rising probabilities of pandemics, fires, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, etc., make significant short or long-term disruptions to “life-as-we-know-it” increasingly likely. Few people are prepared for such disruptions. We are convinced that the next 20 years are not going to be anything like the last 20 years!
In addition to promoting the greening of organizations, I believe it is imperative that we also prepare individuals, families and communities to establish the following “securities”: Food, Energy, Water, Shelter, Physical, Financial, Health, and Social Support. Is it better to be prepared for disruption and have nothing happen or to do nothing and have all hell break loose?
In our local area, we are following the “airline announcement” of “first put on your own oxygen mask and then help others.” So we are offering many seminars on personal preparation for any possible disruption of services. As we develop a cadre of people who are prepared in their homes, we move to focus on community preparation – skill building, emergency Red Cross trainings, resource sharing, building trust, and more…
In our area, local OD practitioners are taking the initiative in preparations for an uncertain future. May I humbly suggest that all readers look into these areas and determine ways to use their OD knowledge and skills locally, in order to have prepared families and communities when the eventual disruptions of services, fuel, food, water, and so on occur. There are many excellent resources that are easily accessible today for preparing for an uncertain future. Do we have the will to be prepared?
AWARENESS & PREPARATION ORIENTED PODCASTS AVAILABLE AT iTUNES AND ELSEWHERE
Two Beers with Steve (Steve Patterson)
The Survival Podcast (Jack Spirko’s style of delivery and political bias may take some getting used to but the practical information is awesome)
NPR’s “Planet Money”
Australian Broadcasting Company’s “The Science Show”
Commonwealth Club climate One
Financial Sense Newshour (Jim Puplava)
CONTINUING EDUCATION AND FURTHER AWARENESS WEBSITES
www.chrismartenson.com (take the full 20 chapter Crash Course / read a variety of blog entries)
www.yesmagazine.org (Yes! Magazine on-line)
PREPARATION SUPPLIERS – ONLY A FEW OF THE MANY
www.chrismartenson.com -- “What should I do?” Section for Martenson’s recommendations
www.amazon.com -- Carry pretty much everything nowadays – compare with others for price
Mother Earth News Magazine
Ellen Brown – The Web of Debt
Jared Diamond – Collapse: How Societies choose to Fail or Succeed
John Michael Greer – The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered
Richard Heinberg – The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality
Thomas Homer-Dixon – The Upside of Down
Rob Hopkins – The Transition Handbook
Simon Johnson and James Kwak – 13 Bankers
James Howard Kunstler – The Long Emergency
David Korten – Agenda for a New Economy
Cam Mather – Thriving During Challenging Times
Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers & Dennis Meadows – The Limits to Growth: 30 Year Update
Charles Hugh Smith – Survival +: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation
Joseph Tainter – The Collapse of Complex Societies
Graeme Taylor – Evolution’s Edge