Future Scenarios: How communities can adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change

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David Holmgren outlines four scenarios that bring to life the likely cultural, political, agricultural, and economic implications of peak oil and climate change, and the generations-long era of “energy descent” that faces us.

Includes downloads to his follow-up essays, Money vs Fossil Energy (2009) and Crash on Demand (2014)

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“Scenario planning,” Holmgren explains, “allows us to use stories about the future as a reference point for imagining how particular strategies and structures might thrive, fail, or be transformed.”

Future Scenarios depicts four very different futures. Each is a permutation of mild or destructive climate change, combined with either slow or severe energy declines. Probable futures, explains Holmgren, range from the relatively benign Green Tech scenario to the near catastrophic Lifeboats scenario.

As Adam Grubb, founder of the influential Energy Bulletin website (now Resilience.org), says, “These aren’t two-dimensional nightmarish scenarios designed to scare people into environmental action. They are compellingly fleshed-out visions of quite plausible alternative futures, which delve into energy, politics, agriculture, social, and even spiritual trends. What they do help make clear are the best strategies for preparing for and adapting to these possible futures.”

126 pages with colour artwork and photos (127mm x 203mm)

Also available to read at the Future Scenarios website

Future Scenarios in Japanese

Future Scenarios in Japanese



Additional information

Weight .175 kg
Dimensions 203 x 127 x 7 mm

1 review for Future Scenarios: How communities can adapt to Peak Oil and Climate Change

  1. 4 out of 5

    David Holmgren, co-originator of the Permaculture concept, published Future Scenarios in 2007, originally as a website, and then published by Chelsea Green in 2008 as a small book (126 pages). He explores four possible human futures as the two great crises of Peak Oil and Climate Change converge into what he has coined our “energy descent future”. In my view, this is essential reading.

    Rather than prognosticating a singular future, he lays out a number of possible alternative futures in true ‘scenario planning style. He also points out that they could manifest in a number of forms or ways, depending on location, circumstance, and the scale being examined. He considers different scenarios in different locations, stepped energy descent pathways linking the scenarios, and nested scenarios by scale of organization, from household, neighborhood, city/state, and national.

    Holmgren concludes the book thusly: “We are faced with the mixed pieces of myriad broken traditional cultures of the world and the novel and shining bits of unraveling industrial modernity. Our task is to choose which pieces of these jigsaw puzzles will be useful in creating an energy-descent culture, the boundaries, features, and colors of which we can scarcely imagine…In committing to our task we should remember the stories of Pythagoras and the monks of Lindisfarne. It is not the project but the living process that will be the measure of our actions.”
    “Let us act as if we are part of nature’s striving for the next evolutionary way to respond creatively to the recurring cycles of energy ascent and descent that characterize human history and the more ancient history of Gaia, the living planet. Imagine that our descendants and our ancestors are watching us.”

    This book is as relevant as it was when first published in 2008, however I would also recommend readers to also check out the more recent (late 2013) essay “Crash On Demand” as a follow-up and up-date to the material presented here.

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