Some theory on the state of the world, and the needs of transition
So, we're in a very unique and consequential time. Human population exploded since the industrial revolution, as did technology, and the complexity and scale of our global systems.
Our current understanding tells us that we need to transition our energy systems completely and hit net-zero carbon emissions globally by around 2050, or else lock in some truly dangerous levels of climate change.
This is a very challenging prospect, especially when you look at world energy consumption, and see just how dependent upon fossil fuels we still are, and how little of the mix renewables currently make up.
We face several converging crises in this century. As the population begins to approach its peak, likely sometime around mid century, we realize that this is also the same time that climate change will be beginning to hit in earnest. The state of the environment as a whole is in a critical period in this same timeframe.
Heat and population density, combined with potentially disastrous water variability (drought and flooding), effects on food supply, combining with other potential resource scarcities…. This is all part of a pattern that we know empirically leads to conflict, violence, and social breakdown, across many different case studies.
Meanwhile, despite some (pretty amazing) gains at eliminating global poverty in the past decades, we still find that most people in the world (71%), are only just out of extreme poverty, and still live on less than $10 a day, which is considered "low income" and below most developed nations poverty lines:
Can the people living on these meagre amounts adapt and future-proof their systems in a wise way? Or does the economic situation constrain them from doing so? Coincidentally these are also the same places which can expect hard hits from climate change (although the ability for climate change to effect everyone everywhere should not be underestimated).
Combine the above scenario with the increasing capability of small groups or lone individuals to inflict increasing levels of damage upon innocent people. We know economic and resource scarcity leads to conflict, conflict begets more conflict, and the feedback loop creates individuals who have no reason not to lash out at the world.
It is for this increasing danger that the renowned Astronomer Martin Rees writes in his book Our Final Hour that he estimates humanity only has a 50/50 shot at making it through the century recognizably intact.
So between the environmental crisis, the energy crisis, the economic failures, and adding into the mix political scenarios which often just preclude the ability to get anything serious done… you have a reasonably scary situation for the near future.
These difficulties can be expected to converge and multiply in this century. Which means over the next decades, we face the challenges. And how we act, especially in a pre-emptive transition sense, is going to be extremely important in determining the fate of our world and species.
Given all this… I actually have hope.
I've come across some thinking and practice which I believe may be able to help us transition some of our systems if we go about it correctly. More importantly, I think that in the collective mass of people out there who are concerned with this stuff, there also exists solutions which might be viable.
Something I heard in response to the threats of climate change was that Britain had developed a term called "Lifeboat Britain", a self-preservational stance towards ensuring the survival of those upon the island in the event of catastrophe.
My own personal theory of transition includes the idea that there must occur a "lifeboatification" in every single region, or as many as humanly possible.
What does lifeboatification entail?
It is a lot of different things. It is simultaneously transition in energy, economy, and environment.
Is it possible to empower those 71% of humans living in near poverty to create a wiser system in our world?
Is it possible for us to transition the monstrous calcified structures of the developed world in order to make them sustainable and resilient, as well as more equitable?
It's going to take some serious work. And very well may fail. But there are certain trends which I believe makes it a possibility. From new modes of communication and learning, to new modes of financing, to new modes of creating and producing, and finally new modes of organization which can now be global in reach.
This subreddit will be a place to explore and elaborate on these ideas.