Preface – Eamon Ryan
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Ireland
Introduction – Richard Douthwaite
The people who began using fossil fuels to increase their productivity 300 years ago set
the world on its path to the present crisis.
About the contributors
David Korowicz – On the cusp of collapse: complexity, energy and the globalised economy
If less energy is available in future, our economic system will not contract in a gentle,
controllable manner. Instead it is likely to collapse.
Chris Vernon – Future energy availability: the importance of ‘net energy’
Although there is a lot of oil still left in the ground, its supply will contract very rapidly
indeed and the world may have run out of oil to burn for energy by 2050.
Tom Konrad – Calculating EIRR, the Energy Internal Rate of Return
If a standard assessment tool, the internal rate of return, is used to compare the net
energy yield of various projects, it shows which to prioritise for the energy transition.
Nate Hagens and Kenneth Mulder
– Energy and water: the real blue-chips
The world needs to abandon money as its measure if it is to invest its scarcest, most
limiting resources in the best possible way.
Richard Douthwaite – The supply of money in an energy-scarce world
If less energy is available in future the existing stock of money can either lose its value
gradually through inflation or suddenly because of the collapse of the banking system that
Graham Barnes – Liquidity Networks: a debt-free electronic currency system for communities
No currency will work unless people accept it from each other so this novel form of
money will be put into circulation by being given to those who are accepting and
spending it most.
Chris Cook – Equity partnerships: a better, fairer approach to developing land
A new way of organising developments promises better buildings, more affordable rents
and a stake in the outcome for everyone.
James Pike – Using equity partnerships to rescue building projects
hit by the downturn
Community land partnerships provide an alternative way of becoming a property owner
and gaining a voice in the management of the development in which one lives.
Tim Helweg-Larsen – Trying to form an equity partnership to buy a Welsh farm
Because there isn’t a market yet for shares in an equity partnership, it proved hard to
convince would-be investors that someone would pay a fair price for their holding when
they wanted to move on.
Oscar Kjellberg – The Mondragon bank: an old model for a new type of finance
A new type of institution is needed to handle non-debt finance. It should help promoters
plan their projects and then find outside investor-partners in return for a share of each
Patrick Andrews – Re-thinking business structures: how to encourage sustainability through conscious design choices
Business could be the most powerful force in the world in achieving higher levels of
sustainability and resilience but its potential is blocked and shareholders’ interests are
put before those of society and the planet.
Dan Sullivan – Why Pittsburgh real estate never crashes:
the progressive reform that stabilised an economy
Site value taxation is the reason why Pittsburgh’s foreclosure rates are low despite the
downturn, its home prices are climbing slightly and construction rates are increasing.
Dmitry Orlov – Definancialisation, deglobalisation and relocalisation
Attempts at recovery will fail. Anyone who recognises this should spend whatever money
they have engaging with their neighbours and the land.
Emer O’Siochru – Cutting transport costs and emissions though local integration
Rather than bringing similar activities closer together to reap the benefits of scale and
agglomeration, different activities should be situated beside each other to be more energy
and carbon efficient.
Bruce Darrell – The nutritional resilience approach to food security
Very few soils have a perfect balance of minerals. If the option of filling one’s plate
from all over the world disappears, human health will likely decline unless the missing
minerals are applied to the soil while it is still possible to do so.
Corinna Byrne – Refocusing the purpose of the land: from emissions source to carbon sink
Ireland needs to implement new policies in order to get its land to absorb CO2 rather
than release it. Biochar could reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions and build up
the fertility and carbon content of the soil.
Alex Evans – Future global climate institutions
Any framework for dealing with the climate crisis should distribute the global carbon
budget among the world’s nations according to a transparent, equitable formula. To
achieve this, global climate institutions will have to change.
Laurence Matthews – Cap and Share: Simple is Beautiful
Cap & Share is a fair, effective, cheap, empowering and simple way to reduce emissions
from the burning of fossil fuels. It could form the basis of a wider global climate
framework but how realistic is it to call for its introduction?
Julian Darley – Influencing high-level, strategic decision-making
towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy
Decision-making at a global level is governed by a number of non-economic factors
which need to be taken into account if the new systems required to deal effectively with
climate change are to be introduced.
Brian Davey – Danger ahead: prioritising risk avoidance
in political and economic decision-making
Now that the financial and political parts of the present system have largely discredited
themselves, a fluid situation exists that might allow more viable options to emerge.
Davie Philip – Transition thinking: The Good Life 2.0
We need to make an evolutionary leap in the way we do things if we are to make a
controlled, planned transition to a post-industrial, low-carbon society. The Transition
Towns movement provides a potential model.
Dmitry Orlov – Sailing craft for a post-collapse world
Land transport will be costly, difficult and dangerous after the industrial system has
broken down. Moving goods and people by water will be a better option even for quite
Nate Hagens – The psychological roots of resource over-consumption
Humans have an innate need for status and for novelty in their lives. Unfortunately,
the modern world has adopted very energy- and resource-intensive ways of meeting
Mark Rutledge and Brian Davey – Seven reasons for humanity’s inertia in the face of disaster
and how they can be overcome
Why have humans failed to curb their excessive resource consumption? Seven reasons are
outlined here, some of which are systemic, others the result of the way humanity evolved.
John Sharry – Cultivating hope and managing despair
Modern psychological models of motivation and change suggest strategies that can be used
to help individuals come to terms with the nature and extent of the changes facing them.
Lucy McAndrew – Collapse or no collapse: we need to respect to survive
Respect for ourselves, for others and for nature is fundamental to survival because it is
what gives us a sense of our place in the world and, when we lose that, we float free of
the network of relationships that sustains us.
Anne Ryan – Enough: a worldview for positive futures
There is a crucial need for a new, self-limiting worldview which recognises that “enough
is plenty”. Adopting such a worldview would nourish a culture in which social justice
Fleeing Vesuvius: the emergency plan
Compiled by Caroline Whyte
Contributors to this book suggest steps they think should be taken to escape disaster in
four areas – in one’s family, in one’s community, in one’s country, and in the world.