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Local Resilience in a Time of Crisis by Jay Tompt.

Local Resilience in a Time of Crisis by Jay Tompt.

To state the obvious, political and economic change happens in all kinds of ways including through crisis and calamity.

For those of us working for change at local, municipal and regional scales, this is the moment when many of the solutions we’ve been promoting are needed and the conditions for building the foundations for longer term change are favourable.

There’s much to explore on this topic, obviously, but let’s just focus on a few points which might inspire immediate action and kick off a continuing conversation in our wider community of changemakers, and especially here in the South West, UK.

My friend and fellow Devon-based organiser, Ben, provides the perfect jumping off point with his recent question:

“Are there economic moves we can make locally that might start addressing our needs outside of the main economic system to maintain incomes, access to the essentials, exchange our labour, distribute goods etc?”

The first move to make is one of attention. Let’s learn the lessons this crisis is teaching about the importance of economic inclusion, decentralisation and bioregionalism, as well as about the divisive patterns of rivalry, blame and authoritarianism.

And let’s be especially observant, noticing the practical opportunities to facilitate more diversity, local ownership and provisioning, positive influence on local government actors, and citizen participation.

Second, organise and work online using collaborative tools of all sorts. The work of organising is, above all, about education and information sharing, spreading knowhow, building relationships and working collectively, and ultimately, developing political and economic power.

Until now, the barriers that have limited participation for many citizens have been time scarcity and physical distance. Now, these barriers have shifted, creating new opportunities to spread knowhow, build coalitions and collaboration.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Resilience and Collective Psychology – fast collapse or slow disintegration

Resilience and Collective Psychology – fast collapse or slow disintegration

Will a failure in hub interdependencies lead to economic and social disintegration? The connection between the energy and finance institutions, as well as the state of public health are explored to examine whether there might be a “cross contagion” of cascading collapse between some combination of a public health crisis, difficulties in the financial economy, the energy sector and supply networks which run into and reinforce each other.

A repeated theme of this book has been that, in concentrating on the improvement of production (i.e. the increase of production), economics has systematically neglected issues of safety, vulnerability and resilience. We saw in an earlier chapter that the research of Kahneman and Tversky suggests that people are risk averse. However, economic decision-making is driven by powerful companies and governments who are frequently able to impose risks and costs on others while taking gains for themselves. There are however other risks which occur, not at local or company level, but in the system as a whole. There is a need to explore what might happen after the limits to economic growth are reached, and whether humanity will face a manageable contraction or a variety of catastrophic collapses. In this chapter, I want to look at some of the conceptual thinking about these issues as they relate to the beginning of the 21st century.

The decline in resilience

As explained by the late David Fleming:

The resilience of a system is its ability to survive without loss of diversity and complexity despite shocks. The diversity and complexity are essential: resilience is an empty concept except when they are implicit in it. The surface of Mars, or a dead coral reef, are resilient in a trivial sense – resilient, since they do not change under assault.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Building resilience into our food systems

Building resilience into our food systems

Over the next few months and years, significant thought will be given to the lessons we need to learn from the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the global economy, the rapid way in which it spread across the global population and the impact it is having on our daily lives. One aspect to consider will surely be how to build greater resilience into our food systems, so they have the ability to better endure a crisis in the future.

Many countries, the UK amongst them, have come to depend heavily on imported food and therefore on the resilience of food systems in other countries as well as our own. Food chains have become extremely long, with consumers and producers kept far apart. This creates an inherent vulnerability in the system. One break in the chain and the whole thing falls apart. SFT chief executive, Patrick Holden, wrote about this in his recent blog on the coronavirus outbreak.

Resilience is the cornerstone of a sustainable food system. The FAO defines resilience as: ‘The ability to prevent disasters and crises as well as to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from them in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner. This includes protecting, restoring and improving livelihood systems in the face of threats that impact agriculture, nutrition, food security and food safety.’

Concern about the food system has been growing for a number of years now, as the impact of climate change has become unavoidably apparent. As instances of extreme weather events and global temperatures have risen, farmers have been increasingly focused on how to adapt food systems to improve resilience and help address those challenges. For many, agroecology has proven itself to be the answer. Agroecological systems are more resilient since they have a greater capacity to recover from drought, floods or hurricanes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog, 03.26.2020

The Pandemic Armchair Philosophy Blog, 03.26.2020

It may sound paradoxical, but philosophers have proved useful in times of collapse and rebuilding. Some of the greatest works in philosophy–at least in terms of their longevity and influence–were written in and during such times.1 (More on this below.) Alfred North Whitehead, one of those philosophers writing in the early 20th century, put it this way:

Systems, scientific and philosophic, come and go. Each method of understanding is at length exhausted. In its prime each system is success: in its decay it is an obstructive nuisance. The transitions to new fruitfulness of understanding are achieved by recurrence to the utmost depths of intuition for the refreshment of imagination. In the end–though there is no end–what is being achieved, is width of view, issuing in greater opportunities. (Adventures in Ideas, 1933, pg. 159)

The creation of this “width of view”–thanks to our Homo sapiens hardware–is open to most of us. The paragraphs below were written in response to a colleague’s question about how the COVID-19 pandemic helps us better understand climate change and the many other ongoing, cascading, planet-sized crises. I offer them, in part, because I don’t know what else to do in this Moment (as opposed to this moment), and because I wrote them while sitting in a chair. More importantly, they issue mostly from my experiences and observations, not from a particular method of analysis or formal system of logic. And it is my hope that they will inspire others with Whitehead’s optimism that the work of the imagination can issue-in greater opportunities.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Importance Of A Resilient Life

The Importance Of A Resilient Life

In the end, it will mean all the difference

My business partner Adam and I recently met with a successful business owner whose career began on Wall Street. The kind of guy who should be rooting for the system, because it has treated him well.

Instead, he was quite nervous about the sustainability of the status quo. “Starting in August,” he said, “Maybe it was the Amazon catching fire, maybe it was the negative interest rates – I don’t know for certain what the trigger was – but something has snapped.”

I agree. Because I feel it, too.

As do so many others. And not just those who regularly read PeakProsperity.com. Increasingly, even ‘mainstream’ voices are stating to report a profound sense that something really isn’t right. That — from the economy to geopolitics to the natural world — things are swiftly worsening.

Public perception is beginning to shift from complacency to fear. Countries are fast rejecting globalization in favor of nationalization. The holes in our ecosystem — vanishing birds, insects, amphibians and fish stocks — are becoming frighteningly obvious. The threats to life as we’re accustomed to it are becoming more visible while accelerating in both magnitude and frequency.

I expounded on the danger of this in my recent report It’s the Pace of Change That Kills You. Negative developments can spark their own vicious cycle. The more components of a system that fail, the more at risk the remaining components become.

That report was published just two weeks ago. Since then the world’s largest oil refinery was attacked by hostile forces and knocked out of commission, throwing the future integrity of the global oil market into question. Scientists just announced that North America has lost 29% of its total bird population (a drop of -3 billion) in the past half century.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Is Earth For?

What Is Earth For?

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry

Author Wallace Stegner once said every book should try to answer an anguished question, an instruction that I took to heart at a tender age. For over thirty years, I’ve tried to answer a number of anguished questions in my writing, photography, and activism, ranging over the fields of archaeology, history, conservation, the radical center, regenerative agriculture, resilience, and climate change. Although the questions were often daunting and suffused with urgency, in my answers I tried to be creative, hopeful and, above all, a good storyteller. It’s my nature to see the glass as half-full, even if the glass is large and intimidating! 

Slowly, a general anguished question began to reveal itself over the years, linking my various concerns and creative efforts: what is land for? Why do we do what we do to land, including its plants and animals? Why do we treat it so poorly at times and yet magnificently at others? Why are we so obsessed with its beauty and bounty and yet so harmful and destructive to its health? We are possessive of land and possessed by it, but we are also deeply conflicted about what land is for – Food? Wilderness? Mining? Inspiration? Recreation? This anguished question lies at the heart of The Sun. In my story, a young doctor inherits a large, beautiful property and must decide: what is the ranch for? Oil-and-gas? Houses? Cattle? Fish? Wolves? A casino? A spiritual retreat? Complicating things, there’s a dead body and a mystery to solve as well!

Hurricane Katrina

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pulling the plug on fossil fuel production subsidies

Pulling the plug on fossil fuel production subsidies

How long would the fossil fuel economy last if we took it off life support?

Or to state the question more narrowly and less provocatively, what would happen if we removed existing subsidies to fossil fuel production?

Some fossil fuel producers are still highly profitable even without subsidies, of course. But a growing body of research shows that many new petroleum-extraction projects are economically marginal at best.

Since the global economy is addicted to energy-fueled growth, even a modest drop in fossil fuel supply – for example, the impact on global oil supplies if the US fracking industry were to crash – would have major consequences for the current economic order.

On the other hand, climate justice demands a rapid overall reduction to fossil fuel consumption, and from that standpoint subsidies aimed at maintaining current fossil fuel supply levels are counterproductive, to say the least.

As a 2015 review of subsidies put it:

“G20 country governments are providing $444 billion a year in subsidies for the production of fossil fuels. Their continued support for fossil fuel production marries bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate.” 1

This essay will consider the issue of fossil-fuel production subsidies from several angles:

  • Subsidies are becoming more important to fossil fuel producers as producers shift to unconventional oil production.
  • Many countries, including G20 countries, have paid lip service to the need to cut fossil fuel subsidies – but action has not followed.
  • Until recently most climate change mitigation policy has been focused on reducing demand, but a strong focus on reducing supply could be an important strategy for Green New Deal campaigners.

Ending subsidies to producers can play a key role in taking the fossil fuel economy off life support – or we can wait for the planet to take our civilization off life support.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Resilience, the Global Challenge, and the Human Predicament

Resilience, the Global Challenge, and the Human Predicament

We face a perfect storm of environmental, social, technological, economic, geopolitical and other global stressors. These global stressors interact in unpredictable ways. The pace of future shocks is increasing. The prospect for civilizational collapse is real. We need to build meaningful resilience.

There are four questions about how to build resilience:     

1.  How do we prepare ourselves and those we love?
2. How do we prepare our communities, networks, tribes, and organizations?
3. How do we prepare our states, countries, and international communities?
4. How do we prepare at a global level?

This human predicament goes by many names. The global challenge. The global problematique. Limits to growth. The end of the world as we know it. The prospect for civilizational collapse. All refer to the perfect storm of global biosphere and societal stressors interacting in complex and unpredictable ways.

Environmental stressors include:

– Climate change, sea-level rise, and changing weather
– Biodiversity loss at 10,000 times the normal level
– Toxification of all life, insect armageddon
– Ocean acidification, dead zones, plastics, and fish and plankton depletion
– Declining and polluted fresh water sources
– Depleted top soils
– Vanishing forests and many more

Social stressors include:
– Poverty, racism, and injustice
– Unsustainable economic growth and global debt
– Vulnerable financial systems, supply chains, and power grids
– Population overshoot, refugee migrations, and resource competition
– Uncontrolled technologies, including AI, biotech, nanotech, robotics, cyber threats
– Dysfunctional geopolitics, failing states, and outdated institutions
– War, terrorism, and nuclear threats—defense resources needed elsewhere, and more

Climate change is the greatest global stressor. But a single focus on climate change means other global stressors are underestimated. These stressors interact as force multipliers, increasing unpredictable future shocks and even potential civilizational collapse.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

View From The Brextanic

View From The Brextanic

Marcel Duchamp Sad young man on a train – Nude study 1911-12

Longtime Automatic Earth friend Alexander Aston talks about finding himself at Oxford at a point in time when the British themselves appear overcome by a combo of utter confusion and deadly lethargy, and one can only imagine what it must be like for ‘foreigners’ residing in Albion, who face large potential changes to their lives and know there’s not a thing they can do about it, not even vote. 

I like the observation that the entire British political system, the place where decisions are made, is the size of a small village. That’s a visual we can all relate to. It’s a physical limit as well as a mental one. I’m all for sovereignty and self-determination, but how’s that going to work if you can’t even see the boundaries of your own territory? 

Guys, it’s 4 weeks to D-Day today. How about we call off the landing, get a few pints instead, and talk? First round’s on me. 

Here’s Alexander: 

Alexander Aston: I arrived in the UK in 2015 to undertake interdisciplinary research at the University of Oxford. I am a child of the Empire, a cultural product of Britannia’s oldest colonies in the British Isles, her most important colony now turned empire as well as one of her youngest, Zimbabwe. The UK is both an intimately familiar society and yet one that is also strangely alien for me, like a wealthy, often charming and deeply abusive parent that sparks both self-recognition and rejection. 

The ‘leave’ referendum occurred close to a year after I arrived in the UK and is one of the few political events over the past few years that surprised me.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Insights From The Wilderness – Human Civilization Will Not Survive Climate Intensification

I recognize that the title of this StonyHill Nugget is alarming and that I will be accused of holding extremist views on global warming and climate intensification. But I am concerned that the media and our government are not telling us the truth. Stated simply, the 1% that control the media, and the reigns of political power in Washington and other nations around the globe, have absolutely no desire or motivation to talk about the real threats embedded in global warming.

They know that the global economy is extremely fragile…..and talking about the deeper truths embedded in global warming and climate intensification would quickly kill the golden goose that is laying eggs of pure petroleum gold for them.

The realities of global warming embedded in the Governmental Global Warming Crisis Report released by governmental scientists on the Friday following Thanksgiving were clear. Global warming is not only going to change life as we know it by the end of the century, but also the impacts of global warming are already changing life as we know it ….and the rate of change is going to continue to accelerate.

Unfortunately, the report which was mandated by Congress tended to gloss over the climate impacts that are coming in the near future or already happening. It focused primarily on climate impacts that will not be experienced by humanity for fifty to eighty years in the future!

Here Is What Concerns Me…And Should Concern You

Global warming has been metaphorically described as a cliff we are about to walk off. Unfortunately, it’s more like a minefield. The further we walk out onto that minefield, the more we are likely to set off explosions and tipping points that can’t be reversed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Prepared Are You? Let’s Find Out.

How Prepared Are You? Let’s Find Out.

Planning without practice is essentially worthless

We’re pleased to announce the first-ever Peak Prosperity Resilience Challenge.

Over an upcoming weekend in January 2019 (specifc dates to be announced soon) participating individuals will turn off their electricity from Friday at 7:00pm to 7:00pm Sunday and subsist entirely off of their existing preparations.

Are you in?

We’ll be seeking community input over the next month as we refine the particulars of this challenge; but the intention is to stress-test everyone’s current in-place emergency plans. So when the weekend arrives, no going out to the store to get new batteries, more firestarter, or a hot coffee.

A number of Peak Prosperity members proposed this idea to us in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Florence. During those storms, a lot of folks learned their emergency preps were much less robust than they had initially anticipated.

We agree this challenge is a great idea. Working out kinks and shortcomings during a practice-run like this will increase our odds of persevering through a future emergency.

Which is why we’re picking a cold winter month (for those of you in the northern hemisphere) to really push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

What will you eat? How will you stay sufficiently warm? Will you have to take steps to keep the pipes in your house from freezing? How will you communicate with the outside world? Do you have sufficient nighttime lighting? How will you occupy your time?

The goal here is to identify each of our weak areas while having some fun knowing that we’re all going through the experience together. We’ll all regroup here online once we turn the electricity back on Sunday night and compare learnings. Trust me, there will be many to share.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Think You’re Prepared For The Next Crisis? Think Again.

BLOG

Think You’re Prepared For The Next Crisis? Think Again.

Even the best-laid preparations have failure points

No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.

~ Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

~ Mike Tyson

Scottish poet Robert Burns aptly penned the famous phrase: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley.” (commonly adapted as “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”)

How right he was.

History has shown time and time again that the only 100% predictable outcome to any given strategy is that, when implemented, things will not go 100% according to plan.

The Titanic’s maiden voyage. Napolean’s invasion of Russia. The Soviet’s 1980 Olympic hockey dream team. The list of unexpected outcomes is legion.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during WW2, went as far as to say: “In preparing for battle, I’ve always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

This wisdom very much applies to anyone seeking safety from disaster. Whether preparing for a natural calamity, a financial market crash, an unexpected job loss, or the “long emergency” of resource depletion — you need to take prudent planful steps now, in advance of crisis; BUT you also need to be mentally prepared for some elements of your preparation to unexpectedly fail when you need them most.

Here are two recent events that drive that point home.

Lessons From Hurricane Florence

A family member of mine lives in Wilmington, NC, which received a direct hit last month from Hurricane Florence.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bad Money

Dreamstime

Bad Money

Our debt-based fiat money system poses an existential threat

We’re all going to have to be a lot more resilient in the future.

The “long emergency“, as James Howard Kunstler puts it, is now upon us.

If ever there was a wake-up call from Mother Nature, it’s been the weather events over the past 12 months.

Last year, the triplet Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma resulted in thousands of deaths (mainly in Puerto Rico) and tens of $billions in destruction.

This year has seen a rash of 120° F (50° C) summer days, droughts, current monster storms like Typhoon Mangkhut and Hurricane Florence — as well as numerous 100/500/1,000-year floods spread across the globe.

And that’s just so far.

It remains nearly impossible to connect climate change directly to any particular weather event. But taken together, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the scientific claim that the quantity of heat trapped in the earth’s weather systems impacts the amount of water that now falls (or refuses to fall) from the sky and the high-temperature heat waves that now shatter records with such regularity that once-rare extreme conditions are now becoming routine.

Our “new normal” is quickly diverging from the natural conditions most of us have grown up with. Permafrost isn’t “permanent ” anymore — it melts. The Arctic now can be ice-free. In a growing number of regions in the US, you can leave a screenless window open on an August evening (with the lights on!), and remain unmolested by the swarms of insects that used to prowl the night.

All of these symptoms are connected by a root cause: our society’s relentless addiction to growth. And while we do our best here at PeakProsperity.com to continually raise awareness of this existential threat, the rest of the media completely ignores it.

meltdown? That’s splashed everwhere…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Wayfinder: A resilience guide for navigating towards sustainable futures

What is Wayfinder?

Wayfinder is a process guide for resilience assessment, planning and action in social-ecological systems. It represents the frontier in resilience and sustainability science, synthesized into a clear, coherent and hands-on approach. Encouraging a new generation of resilience practice, Wayfinder will help development practitioners, project teams, policymakers and other changemakers navigate towards sustainable, safe and just futures.

Through the Wayfinder process, participants work together to strengthen and refine their understanding about the system in focus, the sustainability challenges they face, and to develop strategies for creating adaptive and transformative change. At the same time, they build their own capacity for creating the change they want to see. At the core of this process is the recognition that sustainable development in the 21st century requires that we, as humans, find a way to reconnect to ecosystems around us, that we become active stewards of Planet Earth and that we foster a sense of connection and reciprocity between people near and far.

Why is it needed?

We live in a new era, the Anthropocene, where humans have become the dominant force of change on our planet. While many parts of the world have seen rapid social, economic and technological development, there are still severe problems of poverty and inequity. At the same time, and linked to this, we face challenges of accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss and growing pressures on natural resources, to the extent that we are approaching critical planetary boundaries. Many places and systems around the planet, in developed and developing contexts require deep, transformative change if we are to achieve a sustainable, safe and just future for all.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Systemic Thinking: The Primary Skill That Humanity Will Need as We Prepare for A Future That Will Not Be What It Used to Be Stonyhill Nugget #300

It’s hard to believe that this is my 300th blog post. It amazes me how fast the years seem to fly by when you’re doing something you enjoy doing; when that something feels important and meaningful!  Awakening our collective adult human consciousness and preparing for the changes that are coming, and the disruptive challenges those changes will create for all of us feels very important to me if our goal is the successful creation of a more just and sustainable world.

In this article, we will take a look at systemic thinking and the dangerous unconscious childhood illusion that each of us is a unique being independent and separate from the rest of reality.

We’re not.

But that unconscious childhood belief and the behaviors and actions that this unconscious childhood belief allows us to manifest in the world is clearly threatening the collapse of our planet’s life support system, the foundations of human civilization, and the very survival of humanity.

What we “do” matters. How we “think” matters.

Human Civilization Is at A “Fork” In the Road

Humanity is at a crossroads. We can continue “business as usual” and continue human civilization toward the precipice of collapse, or we can begin to prepare for the life-altering changes I will list below…the changes that are coming.

  • Without preparation, those changes will threaten human civilization and life as we know it.
  • Without preparation, the critically needed resilience that preparation creates will not happen.
  • Without preparation, the changes that are coming will threaten human civilization and life as we know it.
  • Without preparation, the resilience that will be needed for our survival will be seriously compromised.
  • Without preparation and resilience, the level of courage and sacrifice that will be required for humanity to survive will be seriously compromised.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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