Multiple systems supporting human life on earth are threatened. We are running into a number of boundaries in the natural and social worlds. First, the financial system partially collapses. Second, energy sources like oil are depleting without yet a serious replacement, and other natural resources like fish, fresh water, minerals and a stable climate are increasingly scarce. Third, social inequality is soaring, bringing many negative consequences.
Analyses on these crises are abundant, so we will keep them concise, mainly linking to trustworthy other sources. We’ll only explore so much as is needed to understand why and how to deal with the changes these crises are evoking.
Before exploring ways of dealing with these phenomenal challenges, in this chapter the converging crises are explored. Both their individual impacts and combined risks are evaluated.
Both the natural and the social systems have equilibria that can be seriously disturbed. Changes that used to come gradually then speed up and the results become utterly unpredictable. What will happen when we cross systemic boundaries? We do not know. But the outcomes for ourselves may depend on the wisdom of the quick decisions we make in the process.
Change holds opportunities. Possibilities range from mass suffering and death to new values, juster societies, secure well-being and unexpectedly rewarding social bonds. This book is dedicated to enabling the latter. And, if everything fails, you’ll still know where best to store your rubber boat.