She had just read about the new report issued by the Club of Rome which indeed does sound rather scary. But the makers of Limits to Growth are not the only ones who believe that the world is going down if we don’t act.
The Tellus Institute is asking similar questions. The Boston based research institute is driven by the idea of a different world. According to the project called Great Transition Initiative there are three main perspective for the future of our planet, it is up to us to see that it heads into the right direction. Do we want to go on as we did so far? Do we want to risk even more loss of control or do we want to head into a better future?
The first option, what the Tellus institute calls the Conventional Worlds are “futures that evolve gradually from today’s dominant forces of globalization as economic interdependence deepens, dominant values spread and developing regions gradually converge toward rich-country patterns of production and consumption.” Basically, what we have today but worse. There is two alternatives, one is the “Market Forces variant” in which “powerful global actors advance the priority of free markets and economic expansion, relying heavily on technological innovation to reconcile growth with ecological limits.” In alternative to that there is the “Policy Reform variant” where governments finally take the lead and bring about certain changes to make the economy more sustainable. Key in this option is that “Fundamental change is absent.”
As a bad alternative to this there is the Barbarization. It is basically the option of things going bad. It’s what happens if the changes in the “conventional worlds” is not big enough. What they image could happen is that “social stress and problems spiral out of control, leading to a general crisis and the erosion of civilized norms.” Again we have two scenarios: In the “Fortress Worlds variants“, we head into a global system of those inside and those outside – “an authoritarian system of global apartheid with elites in protected enclaves and an impoverished majority outside.” As alternative we have the “Breakdown variants”, where there is no one on the inside – all institutions collapse – and everyone is living in chaos. Both very happy prospects, aren’t they?
Finally, and here comes the solution to it all: the Great Transitions. It follows the idea of a world where human kind has managed to actually do something about the problems it is facing, embracing new values. Also here we have two different paths: “Eco-communalism encompasses the small-is-beautiful visions favored by some environmental and anarchist subcultures.” How we downsize to that level is, however, the point where they do not have an answer. The “New Sustainability Paradigm”, is therefore easier to focus on. It “sees globalization not only as a threat but also an opportunity to construct new categories of consciousness – global citizenship, humanity-as-whole, the wider web of life, and the well-being of future generations – alongside a governance architecture that balances the twin goals of global unity and regional pluralism.”
What do you think, is it time for the great transition?