I believe our global civilization is heading into a period of unprecedented challenge. This conviction is based on my reading of the story of human life on the planet and books, movies, parables and myths that provide maps for a sustainable future.
* Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future (1992) by Donella Meadows et. al.;
* Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005) by Jared Diamond; and
Try to envision a future world that’s already gone through a decline or collapse of our global industrial civilization. Some novels I’ve read that explore such future worlds include: A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) by Walter M, Miller; Always Coming Home (1985) by Ursula LeGuin; The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) by Starhawk; and World Made by Hand (2008) by James Howard Kunstler.
Stories from myth and religious traditions also inform my beliefs about our right relationship to the natural world and how to approach existential challenges. Some examples are: Icarus’s plunge from the heights, Noah building an ark in obedience to God’s command, and Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream about the seven fat cows being devoured by the seven skinny cows. The metaphoric depths of stories like these are like archives preserving the wisdom of those who came before us.
Films, with their powerful visual images and affecting music, have brought home to me how vulnerable we humans can be and the consequences of ignoring signs of danger. Films that struck me include: The Day After (1983); The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream (2004); Children of Men (2006); and What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire (2007).
Although it’s important to admit how we have gone astray and the dangers we’re facing, I am grateful when authors suggest ways forward. Such directions may help us plot a route to collective safety and survival. In this category, I include:
* Sacred Land, Sacred Sex, Rapture of the Deep: Concerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life (1988) by Dolores LaChapelle;
* The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (2005) by James Howard Kunstler;
* The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies (2005) by Richard Heinberg;
* Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet (2010) by Bill McKibben;
* The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality (2011) by Richard Heinberg;
* This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014) by Naomi Klein; and
* The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience (2008) by Rob Hopkins.
* The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in our Capsized Culture (2013) by Mary Pipher;
* Navigating the Coming Chaos: A Handbook for Inner Transition (2011) by Carolyn Baker.
Web resources that I find interesting include: The Archdruid Report, the Post Carbon Institute, Joanna Macy‘s work, Rob Hopkins’ Transition Culture blog, which includes some guest posts by Amherst’s own Tina Clarke; Carolyn Baker’s Speaking Truth to Power site and Peak Prosperity, especially the Resilient Life material.
For new readers of this blog, a handy index/reference guide provides links to over 100 posts in 12 categories, including frugality, simple living, climate change and gardening.