Plotting future scenarios

This article by Albert Bates attempts to chart the different camps of thinking about collapse. Since publication there have been several responses, mentioned here in this response by Rob Hopkins.

He plots various thinkers/activists on a matrix with two axes: Peaceful transformation to Violent Revolution; Ecotopia and Collapse. I think I’m pretty close to Bates in his positioning of himself on the line between Ecotopia and Collapse (them being a paired couple – ecotopia won’t arise without collapse) and very focused on peaceful transformation.

I was interested in this because I hadn’t seen this matrix when I came up with my own, which I wrote about in this article envisaging culture in 2060.

The differences are that one axis was from Continuity (doing nothing) to Discontinuity. My other axis was from Nature led to Technology-led. It’s time I revisited these scenarios to test their validity. Here they are again for your thoughts.

These four scenarios in each quartile of my matrix are written from the perspective of looking back from 2060.

The red global scenario: tackle it but as now

In this scenario, there will have been serious efforts to address the environmental and resource crisis globally, but they will have been dominated by technology and the marketplace, without sufficient attention paid to regulating the ensuing damage to the biosphere, coupled with insufficient efforts to restore ecosystems. Inequality and conflict over resources persist.

The black global scenario: accept decline

This is the darkest scenario in my model, as efforts to address the environmental and resource crises would have been ineffective and too late, lacking both purpose and enthusiasm. The results will be varied, with some communities accepting the decline, some choosing crime and conflict, and still other communities becoming nomadic.  “Others might form protective spiritual clans that ‘live for now’ while aspiring to morality.” 

The silver global scenario: techno-utopia

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, there was a redoubled effort, supported by all the biggest corporations and countries, to replace fossil fuels with alternative energy sources and to engineer new sources of food and water. The effects of climate change increased, however, and the oceans continued to acidify and deserts spread. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions enabled some cities to persevere and bring back climate stability over the next 1000 years. There were some remarkable technological advances.

The green global scenario: ecotopia

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, the inherent value of the biosphere was finally recognized and efforts to restore and ‘rewild’ the forests and oceans intensified. Urban gardens became commonplace. All of these efforts failed to prevent the tipping point of climate change feedbacks, however, but there is hope that wilderness will be restored in some places to allow for biodiversity to recover. In some areas humans and nature are thriving, but not globally.


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