World Transformation – Three Possible Future Scenarios

By Graeme Taylor in Evolution on November 10th, 2008 / 3 Comments

At present world affairs are being shaped by three major forces: industrialization, the reaction to industrialization and emerging post-industrial views, values, structures and technologies. Although stories about the rapid expansion of the consumer society and its battles with Islamic traditionalists have dominated the news for decades, environmental problems will increasingly shape national and global events.

This is because resource shortages and failing ecosystems will not only limit the ability of the global economy to expand, but cause it to contract. The result will be growing economic and social crises, which will in turn provoke more local, regional and international conflicts. As a consequence the industrial system will weaken while both pre- and post-industrial forces will strengthen.

These three forces will increasingly converge into a single dynamic because there are only two possible outcomes for humanity—either we will continue to destroy our environments until our economies and societies completely collapse, or we will create viable societies and survive. The third alternative, a return to a preindustrial past, is not realistic for most of the people on Earth.

The population of the world is now too large and the environment too damaged to permit most people to live in hunter-gatherer, herder-cultivator or even agrarian societies (i.e. societies dependent on traditional farming technologies). However, it is possible now and will be possible in the future for a minority of the world’s population to live in sustainable pre-industrial communities where they can maintain, restore and develop their traditional lifestyles.

This means that there are only two options available for traditional groups opposed to modernization: they can either develop sustainable solutions that are appropriate for their cultures and physical environments, or they can make futile attempts to restore environmentally and socially obsolete social systems. The latter efforts will only increase chaos and accelerate the collapse of the global system into failed states and warring tribes.

As a result we can say that all events occurring on the planet today are part of two fundamental, major trends: they either support continuing environmental degradation and unsustainable outcomes, or they support the transformation of the global system and sustainable outcomes. At present the destructive trend towards collapse is the dominant trend and the constructive trend towards transformation is the emerging trend. Our futures will be determined by how these two interrelated trends develop.

The Three Possible Future Scenarios
Over the coming decades, the two major trends can produce three possible scenarios: rapid collapse, delayed collapse and (if major irreversible ecological damage has not yet occurred) transformation.

Rapid Collapse
The majority of the world’s political and business leaders resist making major changes and continue with business as usual. As a consequence the pace of environmental destruction will increase and resource shortages will rapidly worsen.

The response to shortages will be to increase the rate of exploitation of the planet’s remaining natural capital, a process that will accelerate the destruction of major ecosystems. At some point in the near future cascading environmental, economic and political crises will become uncontrollable. This will cause irreversible damage to social and biophysical systems and bring about the catastrophic collapse of industrial civilization.

Delayed Collapse
The majority of political and business leaders proactively introduce environmentally friendly technologies and provide emergency economic support to prevent unrest and conflict. These efforts will temporarily stabilize the industrial system and slow the pace of global warming and environmental destruction. However, attempts to improve the system without making fundamental changes to its unsustainable culture and economy will fail.

The environment will continue to degrade, and efforts to manage crises will consume more and more scarce resources. Although system failure will be delayed, the eventual result will be the same as in the first scenario: the inevitable collapse of major ecosystems and human societies.

As regional and global crises grow and the world economy begins to fail, it becomes increasingly clear to people all over the world that the current global system is unsustainable and heading for catastrophic collapse.

More and more people will then question the destructive values and institutions of the industrial system and begin to look for constructive alternatives — pathways to survival. Large numbers of people will be attracted to the developing systems-based vision of a sustainable future. The emergence of this new paradigm will enable the rapid constructive transformation of global views, values, technologies and social structures.

Excerpt from Graeme Taylor’s Evolution’s Edge: the Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our World. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC, September 2008. (320 pages, 64 color illustrations, 584 references).

Available at amazon: Evolution’s Edge: The Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our World

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3 Responses to “World Transformation – Three Possible Future Scenarios”

  1. D.Bheemeswar Says:

    Dear Graeme Taylor,
    World tranfermation can occur only by committed people for a specific reasons and conditionalities. they way the ecological degradation occured and the ever increasing environment pollution have to be checked with some firm commitment. Here below we are giving few methods for our country.

    Linking of Rivers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari

    This project is aimed to bring a common base for most of the problems that India is facing today. This is also aimed at improving economy at the village levels across the country and also to bringing together the cultures which are inherent in different areas and geographical conditions in the following manner:

    1. To provide water for drinking and agricultural purposes by linking the rivers from north to south and east to west. For this purpose we can utilize the water flow conditions and also geographical conditions that are prevailing at different places for the advantage of building up sufficient and effective water logging units etc.
    2. This also provides an opportunity for the development of hydro-electric generation which is cheaper and consistent than other methods or techniques. This also may full fill the requirements of reaching the power to each and every village in our country.
    3. For this to achieve various state governments are also have to be involved for the success of the such a huge development, which in turn provides a base to bring together different cultures hence it becomes a national project for uniting together, it also makes it possible to make to settle if there are any disputes for sharing the water and power.
    4. By making appropriate crops as per seasonal requirements makes the soil also more fertile and also gives an opportunity for more people to be employed directly or indirectly, which in turn improves the living conditions of the people living in urban as well as rural areas of India. In other words such a mass employment opportunities also reduce the unrest which is prevailing in the country.
    5. This programme also helps to maintain the ecology by improving the flora & fauna and in turn gives suitable conditions that the entire life supporting system is improved slowly and gradually to natural and normal conditions.
    6. This project also makes the ground water levels increasing which is potable, by combining with other cottage industry development entire countries economy can be improved; this in turn reduces the green house effect to bare minimum.
    7. Thus developed canals can also be used for transportation where ever it is possible.
    8. By implementing this type of typical project entire India’s status can be improved towards self-sufficient, self-reliant and self-resilient for coming generations.

    By implementing such a programme this country shall become first one to take lead into the coming generation for making environmental friendly programmes by reducing the environmental pollutions to bare minimum and making the basic economy sound and healthy.
    Proposed by

    Syed Mohd. Ali Naqvi DLMMSharma D.Bheemeswar
    09391636857 040 24056610 09388136414
    email: Syed Mohd Ali Naqvi [email protected],
    jai1gurudev <[email protected]

  2. Dirk A. van Mulligen Says:

    Would have been nice if mr. Taylor had mentioned that his article is just a sloppy rendition of the work of mr. Ervin Laszlo (eg. The Chaos Point). Using other people’s ideas without naming them, is certainly not part of the ‘transformation’ he writes about…

  3. D.Bheemeswar Says:

    The article on world transfermation and three possibilities is good to read. it mentions only the way it may collapse or transform, First two deal with collapse and the third one about transformation. Since all the possibilities do belong to some sort of transformation. The first comment on this was to how to transform and improve the conditions of ecology and environment by committed work.
    The entire work should become eye opener for others.

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