Let’s make a podcast series of realism, purpose and hope in a world of impending doom!

(PLEASE NOTE that this is not a Talk Shop initiative.)

Many of us are deeply concerned about the imminent implications of climate change, yet are unaware of the multiple disasters facing us that are driven by our financially fuelled, industrial, extractive societies. We are damaging the biosphere in so many different way, driving up inequality and creating much psycho-social distress.

I argue that population growth and the growth economy are significant drivers of this ‘wicked mess’ we’re in. They have generated enormous momentum which will be hard to stop. Because of our inaction there is a significant possibility of us being forced to live in a much more local and low-tech world using substantially less energy (ie a civilisational collapse). If so, we should not only be doing much, much more to avert this; and we should also spend some time preparing ourselves in case collapse happens.

There are stunning examples from all round the world of people who live in sustainable low-tech ecosystems with potentially sustainable economies. Perhaps they are prototypes of the way we might live, whether after collapse or as targets for managed decline:

We should learn from them and follow their lead.

I’d like to find collaborators (eg writers and filmmakers) and funders to create a 6 part podcast series of 10-15 minute episodes around the working title of “How we’re destroying the biosphere, driving up inequality and creating much psycho-social distress and Why; and What We Should be Doing About It.” This would be aimed at those aged under about 40, who have concerns about the way the world is going, are not fully aware of UK history or of the interconnected nature of the problems, and gain much of their insights through social media, podcasts and videos.

If we want to be more ambitious we could make 6 videos.

Key messages would include
  • Climate Change isn’t the only problem we face – there’s also water pollution and soil erosion, water scarcity and harmful additives in our food as a result of industrial farming; plastics pollution
  • Psycho-social distress is growing in many of our societies, leading to drug abuse, self-harm and suicide
  • The causes of these problems are common – attempting to solve them individually is fruitless
  • They must be solved in more common and fundamental ways – this is one key principle of Systems Thinking
  • We shouldn’t rely on many of the technological solutions we are offered as fixes – they are likely, in some cases, to make things worse; and in most cases to require even more resource extraction
  • We should expect to end up in a world with substantially lower energy use, a different mix of low and high technologies, and more localised societies
  • There is a serious reason for thinking that we might not avert some form of collapse – our political and economic systems show a characteristic behaviour known as lock in – as a consequence we are overshooting the carrying capacity of the biosphere, which may result in some form of collapse
  • Collapse is more likely to occur when crises in the economic, political and ecological domains are close together and magnify each other’s effects
  • We must think about and plan for how to create a more just and sustainable society both starting from now, and following a collapse. And we should think about how we might prepare for a collapse right now
  • We may well find that the solutions we would want to use after a collapse point to the solutions we should use to avert that collapse
  • We must collectively learn to adopt Systems Thinking because it offers us ways to think about the kinds of fundamental change that we want
  • The Western World has killed and cheated many peoples around the world in many ways, including through slavery, colonialism, unjust trading rules, and development lending with unfair conditions attached – we must rectify this and make reparations
  • We should prioritise support for those peoples around the world who are close to danger (eg from climate change, ecological and societal destruction by Western megacorps) in a way that lets them chose their most appropriate solutions
  • The focus on personal change (eg switching to a plant based diet, or giving up the use of cars and planes) can sometimes lead to ignoring the imperative for systemic change, and often overestimates the importance of personal change. Collective systemic behaviour change is imperative  – there are many different ways we can catalyse this.
  • There are many participatory, small scale communities and networks which are adopting a systems based approach to building ways of living that are ecologically sustainable, and have the potential to be economically sustainable too. We must learn from them!

The proposed six parts are as follows

  1. Examples of how we’re destroying the planet, driving up inequality and creating psycho-social distress
  2. How we in the West continue to benefit from many past and current layers of injustice towards the rest of the World.
  3. How the drivers of population and GDP growth have significant causal effects in all these worrying symptoms; how the concept of lock in demonstrates how trapped we are; the hidden surprise of overshoot and sudden collapse, and the idea that it might take one or more shocks (whether financial, political or climatic) before we decide to actively change our economics, politics and way of living (AKA an introduction to the premises and benefits of systems thinking)
  4. A proposal of some key principles followed by a vision of one possible post-carbon, post-crisis egalitarian world society
  5. Inspiring examples, from all around the world, of key elements of that society in practice today
  6. What we should be doing right now, including learning new more cooperative behaviours, and making decisions in new, inclusive, bottom up ways

The key elements of that society might include

  • Bottom up participatory democracy in both civic affairs and shared enterprises
  • Worldwide networks of interpersonal and small group solidarity
  • Unconditional funding to those affected by climate change
  • Reparations to those who’ve been dispossessed
  • Transformation from coercive, outsourced military interventions in conflict situations (as described in Tropic of Chaos) to needs based solutions (as offered by Rethinking Security)
  • Substantially reduced energy consumption by those living in the West
  • Transformation from industrial, energy intensive, agriculture to one that’s more labour intensive, holistic and personally fulfilling
  • Migration from cities to the land

Contributors might research the analysis and case studies and write the scripts, might contribute systems thinking rigour, might be the storyteller, might do the filming, editing and promotion. Others might fund one or more of the contributors.

All contributors would work together in designing and working in an open and transparent decision making system covering all aspects of the project.

I have many useful links for most of the topics; and have written drafts of a trailer and part 4 (key principles plus a vision of a future society), which I’ll share with you soon.

“Real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and in our economics, and in our politics” David Attenborough

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.” Buckminster Fuller

Thanks for your interest. I hope you will join me!

Bob Bollen