This article by Richard Heinberg gets to the core of the problem facing civilised life in the 21st century, as he puts it – “the cascading complex of crises that will hammer civilisation to bits during the remainder of this century”. He argues that the reductionist mode of thinking that separates aspects of these crises from the entire interconnected cascade and feeds a belief in technofix solutions needs to be replaced by holistic thinking that sees how these crises are interrelated. Three main ‘solutions’ would be:
- reverse the growth of human population
- shrink and relocalise economies
- abandon fossil fuel use and switch to renewable energy sources
Unfortunately such solutions are not politically viable and contradict the vested interests of powerful elites. In addition the scale of change required in the time available to avoid disaster and systems’ collapse seems far too great.
Dmitry Orlov’s (2012) The Five Stages of Collapse suggests that the sequence of a cascade of collapsing systems would be:
This is not a cheering prospect but Orlov’s research of how previous collapses have progressed is very persuasive despite the social inertia that binds most of us to business-as-usual and reductionist thinking.