Crash on Demand

6 01 2014

As 2014 opens the window to our uncertain future, David Holmgren, with whom I had the great pleasure of having dinner in Richard Heinberg’s company in 2006 when they toured Australia together, has published a new essay (a 24 page pdf download), which is an update of his Future Scenarios, and which continues to build on “Money Vs. Fossil Fuels”, and expands on money and the economy.  This essay titled “Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future” is a must read piece……..


Holmgren is seeing the Brown Tech scenario as the one currently in play from the four outlined in Future Scenarios, where the decline of fossil fuels unfolds slowly; “but the severity of global warming symptoms is at the extreme end of current mainstream scientific predictions” says David….  The political system is Corporatist, and emphasis is placed on replacing declining conventional fossil fuels with lower grade fossil fuels, which are both more expensive and also release more GGE (Greenhouse Gas Emissions), exacerbating Climate Change even further.  David’s argument is essentially that radical, but achievable, behaviour change from dependent consumers to responsible self-reliant producers (by some relatively small minority of the global middle class) has a chance of stopping the juggernaut of consumer capitalism from driving the world over the climate change cliff.  It maybe a slim chance, but a better bet than current herculean efforts to get the elites to pull the right policy levers; whether by sweet promises of green tech profits or alternatively threats from mass movements shouting for less consumption.


In the extensive discussions about money and economy, the influence of systems analyst Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh -The Automatic Earth) and economist Steve Keen (Debt Deflation) are strong and freely acknowledged.  David believes that deflationary economics is the most powerful factor shaping our immediate future.

The basic recommendation (as noted in the quote above) is not much different from what David Holmgren and I have been recommending for 20 years or more…: to engage in a shift away from the Matrix, and toward being a responsible self-reliant producer for your household and community, to shift a significant portion of assets out of the Matrix economy, and move them into building household and community resilience. Such actions not only put you in a more secure position, they also, if engaged by perhaps 10% of the population of affluent countries, might be just what’s needed to shift our economies away from the perpetual growth paradigm we’ve been suffering since at least the end of WWII , and is now only hanging on via an unsustainable debt bubble…….  The collapse of the current bubble economy will be ugly.  However, given that current growth is no longer fuelled by oil but only being made possible by rising debt, we are not doing ourselves (or anybody else) any favours by perpetuating it.  As David has previously pointed out in Future Scenarios:

…without radical behavioural and organizational change that would threaten the foundations of our growth economy, greenhouse gas emissions along with other environmental impacts will not decline. Economic recession is the only proven mechanism for a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and may now be the only real hope for maintaining the earth in a habitable state.

David makes the case that even though it might be too late for the Green Tech scenario to materialise, it may, just

David Holmgren

David Holmgren

may, still be possible to avoid the worst effects of the Brown Tech scenario (a 4 to 6 degree “Climate Cooker” Lifeboats scenario).

A severe global economic collapse might switch off enough GGE to begin reversing climate change, so that the Earth Steward scenario of bioregional economies based on frugal rural agrarian living, assisted by resources salvaged from the collapsed global economy and the defunct national governments, could possibly emerge in the long term future……..

It’s not a rose coloured future, I grant you…..  The last 10 pages or so, however, I found to be quite invigorating (even in the current heat wave), and opened up some possibilities for positive engagement….  Topics discussed are ‘Nested Scenarios’ (different scenarios co-existing at different scales); Investment and Divestment; Formal and Informal Economies; Alternative and Non-monetary Economies; Labour and Skill Vs Fossil Fuel and Technology; Brown Tech Possibilities; Actors at the Fringe; and Not Financial Terrorists (but Terra-ists with hands in the soil).  There are also tons of great footnotes/links worth following up on……

David is one of the few people around with his head screwed on properly, and like much of the rest of his writings, this is essential reading for those of us trying to make sense of whatever long term future we may have to face, or how we can best make a positive difference.

Today though, I learned a new word….:  exhaustipated.  Too tired to give a shit!  Maybe tomorrow when it’s supposed to cool down and rain……  Enjoy the read, I did….



4 responses

9 01 2014
Eclipse Now

Sadly, it means we are heading for White Skies. (The Sulphur Shield). It’s the cheapest option to solve global warming, which is all these people seem to care about! (Do we really think America cares about India’s Monsoon? White Skies could potentially shut down the strength of the Monsoon!)

11 01 2014

A controversial proposal to cool the planet artificially by injecting tiny reflective particles into the upper atmosphere which block out sunlight would cause droughts and climate chaos in the poorest countries of the world, a study has found.

One of the more serious plans to “geoengineer” the global climate would in effect create another climate catastrophe that would result in misery for millions of people, according to a computer model of the plan.

12 01 2014
Eclipse Now

Pronutria: algae food could provide all the world’s *protein* needs in an area about the size of Rhode Island or Sydney.

If that fails, insect protein is far more efficient than eating cows.

11 01 2014
Eclipse Now

Wow, that’s a sobering find Mike. It depends on the computer model (below) and it will be interesting to see what the peer-review process settles on regarding the stratospheric warming. What if that’s actually such a new theory other’s haven’t had a chance to review the idea?
““As well as reflecting some of the incoming energy from the sun and cooling surface temperature, the aerosol also absorbs some of the heat energy coming from the surface which warms the stratosphere. We have shown for the first time that warming the stratosphere makes the troposphere below more stable, weakening upward motion and reducing the amount of rainfall at the surface,” he said.”

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