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This is by far the predominant scenario in the minds of most of our greener leaders and environmentalist friends. The third scenario is really at the heart of the Transition movement and is called the energy descent scenario. It involves the reduction of economic activity, complexity and population in some way as fossil fuels are depleted.

Rather, the timescale of the energy descent could be over decades or indeed centuries, so it could include naturally decreasing birth rates much like we find in Japan, Russia, Italy and many other countries today. The fourth scenario is the headline grabber and the one, it appears, that gets the attention of Alex Steffen.


It is the collapse scenario also known as the Mad Max scenario and it implies that our existing societal and industrial systems breakdown. The collapse is rapid and continuous, there is no time for society to stabilize, an inevitable major die-off of human population occurs, as does the loss of our modern knowledge. No one in the Transition movement, or anywhere else, wants this scenario to visit our future. It should remain in our imaginations, not our reality.

The question here is why Steffen does not give a more measured discussion of the Transition movement and does not discuss the merits of energy descent, the preferred scenario of many in the movement?

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The answer may be because this scenario is largely ignored. Most of us are in denial and actively seeking to be further disconnected from this reality.

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In response, I would say that a global energy transition — a global energy descent — is exactly that and it starts wherever people are aware and active. Of course, it would be ideal if global energy transition starts with binding international agreements, national energy and climate plans and local action, but why wait for the snail-paced global climate negotiations to deliver?

Now is the time to act. In many respects Jeff Rubin, former chief economist and chief strategist at CIBC World Markets, seems to have captured the spirit of the transition we are all involved in. In his book Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller , he suggests that the market will make a lot of decisions about how the transition will occur. As oil prices rise again to triple digits, it will be the market driving social changes, not the environmentalists.

For as long as possible, we will continue to exploit the available and expensive-to-extract remaining oil. We will employ as much alternative, renewable energy as we can, as quickly as we can. Then our priorities will shift to using what energy we have in the most cost effective and efficient ways.

This will be followed by greater efforts to do more with less energy and so on.

The longer term could see a kind of reverse globalisation as everything is grown and manufactured closer to home, which in turn would help reduce our carbon emissions. This might not be a smooth transition and could be characterised by recessions like the current one, followed by recoveries, and if we still have not figured out the mess we are in, followed by new recessions mainly triggered by rising energy costs.

The earlier we wake up to this new reality and the quicker we start pulling in the same direction, the sooner and easier we may be able to ensure a soft-landing in a low carbon, post-fossil fuel world. Hopefully, it will still be a world where we have oil, but treat it carefully and do not use it in the wasteful, mindless way we do today.

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This is a matter of evolutionary change that we are talking about. Brendan F. His professional career includes work in the private sector, academia and with international organizations.

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He uses the web and information technologies as a means to communicate, teach and undertake research on issues of environment and human security. Evolution is indeed worth striving for, and your article does a compelling job laying out an inspiring scenario. Click OK to close the Options popup.

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The Collapse of Evolution by Scott M. Prices and offers may vary in store. One of the most successful books on the flaws in evolutionary theory. The third edition includes two new chapters on astronomy and archaeology. Customer Reviews of The Collapse of Evolution. Select Parent Grandparent Teacher Kid at heart.

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