Below is The Evidence for the collapse and / or radical transformation (depending on whether we choose to act wisely and co-operatively as a species) of global society before 2080. The Evidence is based on The Four Ecological Drivers. The Evidence is one of the bases for the Epic Tomorrows Core Story. The Evidence and the Core Story tell of relocalised culture and infrastructures, all across the world, as being both the most likely and the most desirable future for humankind. This can happen in a creative way or will happen in a more destructive way, if we don’t get a handle on it. Due to the ecological crises, a global economic and energy-use Descent (Fleming), Powerdown (Heinberg) or Transition (Hopkins) in some form is inevitable this century.
The Core Story, with the relocalisation emphasis, is the calling which is responded to by the Heroine Quest. The Heroine Quest is the mission statement and the vision of Epic Tomorrows. It is an extraordinary path through these chaotic contemporary times, towards local, resilient communities and cultures. It is a path that urges you to tread it.
The Four Ecological Drivers of the coming civilisational collapse and / or transformation can be summarised as follows:
1) The global loss of habitats, ecosystems, ecosystems services and biodiversity
2) The global depletion of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, and the end of the global fossil-fuel infrastructure
3) Global population pressure
4) Global climate change
These four human-led drivers together are signs of a civilisation that has reached its natural and ideological limits.
It is important to understand the historical context of where we find ourselves today. Throughout human history there have been civilisations that have risen and then collapsed over time, due to natural resource depletion and population pressures. The collapse may be accompanied by a profound civilisational shift, the evolution to a new phase of society. In the times between the dominance of different civilisational types, there may be significant upheaval, way beyond the types and quantity of suffering experienced when the civilisations are at their peaks.
In other words, over the coming decades we are in for a rough ride!
Examples from history of civilisational collapse and / or change due to environmental factors:
There is every indication that the great Mayan civilisation of Central America collapsed significantly during the 8th and 9th centuries as a result of resource depletion, population pressures and natural climate change. See this link. There is also a growing consensus that the decline of the Roman Empire was largely underpinned by climactic and environmental factors that were exacerbated by population pressures. See here. In Europe the Roman Empire was superseded by the feudal system, combined with the Holy Roman Empire, not an ’empire’ as such, but a confederation. Between the old Roman Empire and the new there was the time of turmoil known as the Dark Ages.
What makes our modern situation so unique is that for the first time, over the past few centuries (a blip of time in global history) we have a globally interconnected industrial civilisation, where no country is self-sufficient in resources, and where the economically most powerful countries have the biggest influence on global culture as a whole. This includes dominating culture with the story that capitalism is the best way, if not the only way to organise resources and solve problems globally.
Whatever the successes of the current system, modern capitalist economics depends on ‘perpetual growth’ which is impossible on an Earth of finite resources. Additionally, modern global civilisation is based on a fossil-fuel infrastructure. This infrastructure cannot last. There is plenty of evidence to suggest its severe collapse within decades, unless we purposefully transition to an alternative in good time. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that a renewables-and-hydrogen global infrastructure is not capable of replacing the current fossil-fuel infrastructure in time to allow the current version of worldwide industrial civilisation to continue. Something radically different is implied for our collective future. Further, any energy-intensive industrial global infrastructure may not be possible beyond the next few decades. Look at what Owl sees (under ‘Fossil Fuels’, ‘Renewables’ and ‘Hydrogen’)
The Evidence suggests that if we prepare for a new kind of decentralised civilisation, we’ll be okay, but there is ample evidence that our so-called leaders are not preparing for this. It is the view of Epic Tomorrows that this new, decentralised version of global civilisation will fare better where it is not capitalist, or at least where capitalism has evolved to such a point that it is ‘something else’. If you do not agree with this view, then you may be one of many who will attempt to continue industrial capitalism in localised pockets. Good luck!
To reiterate, the intersection of the fossil fuel collapse, combined with the biodiversity loss of the Anthropocene which we are currently living through, along with population pressures and climate change (whether human-caused or not, it’s happening) mean that the total collapse or radical transformation of civilisation in its current form, is inevitable, probably within decades and certainly within a couple of centuries. The only thing that is open to debate, is when it will be, how long it will take and the ratio of destruction to creative adaption that occurs. Please see the suggested resource list at the bottom of this page. This will be expanded as Epic Tomorrows absorbs more influences.
It is political suicide for our ‘leaders’ to admit the truths detailed above, where they are even aware of them, which is why they rarely make the news. Many of our leaders (not all) didn’t get where they are due to truth telling and compassion for the masses. Moreover, the mainstream global media system is allowed by the fossil fuel infrastructure and so is bound to support it, even in the face of its demise.
The Science of Prediction (Why 2080?):
I have chosen 2080 arbitrarily and optimistically, based on the evidence available to me, and my intuition. I am sure I will be educated and persuaded to adjust this date continually. It is only a rough orientation point, useful for focusing the mind on events that are determined to unfold at some point, and with all likelihood this century. Whatsmore it is an ‘average date’, as the collapse and / or transformation of civilisation cannot be bound by a single date.
However, it is vital that it is understood that future events and trends can be predicted with some certainty in specific contexts. A failure to admit that elements of the future can be predicted, and have been successfully predicted in the past, is a tactic of denial of where we are likely to be heading and what we can do about it.
One of the most famous modern day prophets, in the economic sphere, is Robert Shiller, who predicted the dot.com bust of 2000 and the US housing crash of 2007.
From Wikipedia, here are some more examples of events / realities that have been successfully predicted in the past.
It is my intention to expand on these later, as I am aware that there is a lot I’m not aware of. It seems that predictions in the fields of science and economics have been the most successful. However it is the view of Epic Tomorrows that the depletion of natural resources and biodiversity, changes in the climate and population levels can all be recorded accurately enough to extrapolate some future effects, even allowing for unexpected new technologies and errors in calculation.
Here is an example of a computer-based global climate model made in the 1980’s which has proved very accurate in its predictions of unfolding global warming:
Social science and hard science disciplines, as well as Future Studies are important in understanding the patterns of past human civilisations as well as the patterns of our present global one, and how we can temper, smooth and transform its inevitable Transition to relocalised economies and cultures. We are lucky that our sciences are more advanced that the Romans’ were. Here is one significant answer, proposed by an economic advisor to the EU and China, Jeremy Rifkin. Note that Rifkin says that we have one generation in which to act. Rifkin’s version of the future is relocalised, simultaneous to a global renewables infrastructure, driven by community-started and community-owned renewable energy initiatives. It would appear that this would have to happen in a miraculously short timeframe, considering that in 2017 only 7% of energy globally was supplied by renewables, (https://developmenteducation.ie/feature/the-energy-debate-renewable-energy-cannot-replace-fossil-fuels/) and considering that the global population is still rising, and considering projections of global fossil fuel infrastructure collapse within decades (http://richardheinberg.com/museletter-296-the-peak-oil-president), and considering the political inertia of our leaders, and the increasing energy demands from the rising middle classes in China and India and other nations.
The Psychology of Transition:
Many of us are aware that we live in the declining days of fossil-fuel civilisation, even if we have to dig a little deep to admit it. Understandably, without access to clear knowledge and solutions, our common psychological responses are apathy, fear (and ‘neuroses’), depression, overwhelm (including ‘psychoses’), denial and perhaps worst of all, a desperate trust in our corrupt governments to ‘save us’. All these responses can be specifically addressed and transformed into positive, constructive actions.
In fact, we can see the contemporary modern period as the period of the greatest opportunity yet given to humankind. The opportunity to turn the most profound collapse into the most profound rebirth of civilisation. This is the psychology of planetary liberation, with many positive aspects.
Maybe you dispute what I say. Maybe you believe in the story of Perpetual Economic Growth through Technological Progress, in Heinberg’s words. There are other unlikely stories too…
Resource List for The Evidence
Gwynne Dyer ‘Climate Wars’
James Lovelock: ‘Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth’
James Lovelock: ‘Gaia: A Final Warning’
Rob Hopkins: ‘The Transition Handbook’
Shaun Chamberlin: ‘The Transition Timeline’
Lester Brown: ‘Plan B 4.0’
Richard Heinberg: ‘Powerdown’
David Fleming: ‘Surviving The Future’
Jeremy Rifkin: ‘The 3rd Industrial Revolution’ https://www.foet.org/about/jeremy-rifkin/