James Robertson’s Newsletter No. 46 – April 2014

A theme of my Newsletter No 43 was that the business-as-usual world of today shows symptoms of “madness”. The theme of this newsletter is similar, but for a change we can think of them as “short-sightedness”.

The background is that a reliable new study has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution . See www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists.

Another report, from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says that the effects of global warming are now being felt everywhere, fuelling potential food shortages, natural disasters and raising the risk of wars – see www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/31/us-climate-ipcc-idUSBREA2U00E20140331. This must be taken very seriously too, but without concentrating so narrowly on the problems of climate change that other threats to the future of civilisation, such as increasing economic and political inequality and injustice within and between nations, are ignored.

A third recent warning is that that non-renewable resources essential to our present ways of life are running out, and will lead by mid-century to stressful and far-reaching adjustments to our present unsustainable “industrial paradigm.” See www.npg.org/library/press-releases/new-npg-paper-foresees-rising-scarcity-costs-non-renewable-natural-resources.html.

How is our short-sighted business-as-usual world facing up to these devastatingly serious threats?

And how can we turn it around?


In the mid-1980s Robertson was a co-founder with his wife, Alison Pritchard, of The Other Economic Summit (TOES) and the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

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