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Future Scenarios

‘Future Scenarios’ by David Holmgren

How communities can adapt to peak oil and climate change
The new book by the co-originator of the permaculture concept is a short and accessible introduction to the impact of a change to the way we consume energy will have on our society.

In this slim handbag sized volume, the co-founder of permaculture David Holmgren reviews the evidence about the future in four scenarios in the face of Climate Change and Peak Oil. The four scenarios of techno-explosion, techno-stability, energy descent and collapse are examined in an easily readable way that is intended to empower the reader to take adaptive and postive action.

With his thirty years of permaculture thinking behind him, he presents the case that if society can adopt energy descent, it is likely to give birth to a new culture, one more different from our current globalised culture was from the industrial culture before it.

Although the debate about what would happen after the exhaustion of fossil resources began quite early in their exploitation, Holmgren notes that this has remained mostly academic until now. Instead, from nuclear to solar, much of the twentieth century has persued the always just out of reach dream of access to ‘free’ energy. The whole idea of a transition to a lower energy future he says is such an anathema to the power elites of modern society that it is constantly misinterprted, ignored or derided.

While one could conclude that a society collapse scenario is inevitable, Holmgren warns against jumping to such a conclusion as this can lead to fatalistic acceptance. Without underplaying the possibility of fast and global collapse of complex society, he sees in the collapse of the Roman Empire a model of a more gradual and less complex decline process - in other words, an energy descent. According to Holmgren the energy descent scenario is in desperate need to be recast as a positive process that can free people from the strictures and dysfunctions of growth economics and consumer culture. He naturally sees Permaculture as being highly relevant in all of the examined scenarios.

In our attempts to imagine the implications of different future senarios as we respond to Climate Change and Peak Oil, ‘Future Scenarios’ by David Holmgren is a calm and considered evaluations of the options and is a vaulable and accessible read.

Website related to the book:

David’s website can be found at