New research warns that oil-based industrial civilization will not survive the 21st century, and calls for a 'post-carbon industrial revolution'.
In the first peer-reviewed study of its kind, a new report by the Institute for Policy Research & Development (IPRD) in London warns that abrupt climate change, energy shortages, food scarcities and economic turmoil could plunge industrial societies into chaos after 2020. The study, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (Pluto Press/Macmillan, 2010), predicts that converging crises may trigger resource short-falls leading to political and economic failure in the West, while accelerating international conflict including "intercommunal' warfare in less developed countries.
Authored by international security analyst Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed Executive Director of the IPRD and Associate Tutor at the University of Sussex School of Global Studies the study is the first systematic review of data, evidence and theory across physical and social sciences, including academic research and industry reports, assessing the connections between different global crises including the danger of violent conflict.
Former US Department of Interior Counterterrorism Analyst Jeff Vail, J.D., described the study as "the clearest synthesis to date of the systemic problems facing human civilization... this work is the first to effectively integrate these diverse issues into a compelling and unified system one that is both accessible to a broad audience yet grounded in rigorous academic research." Former UK Environment Minister (1997-2003) Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP called it "the first book to systematically explore their interconnections... within a single comprehensive narrative... a very worthwhile read for policymakers everywhere."
The study predicts the "terminal depletion' of the world's traditional mineral energy reserves oil, gas, coal, and uranium within the first quarter of the 21st century, and warns of "catastrophic convergence' between energy, food and water shortages due to abrupt global warming as early as 2018. Developed economies could consequently experience a "collapse' in public services, while large states such as the US, Russia and China would struggle to maintain territorial integrity, potentially becoming embroiled in geopolitical conflict for land and resources.
The study also shows that public anxieties about global crises are already fuelling the break-down of community cohesion. Author Dr. Ahmed, an expert on the systemic causes of mass violence who predicted the global banking crisis in August 2006, said: "Crisis convergence will magnify the probability of civil wars and cross-border conflicts. The chaos would be ideal breeding ground for Islamist, far-right, and other forms of extremism. We could even see a resurgence of conflict between major powers, including the spectre of genocidal violence'.
The report warns that without drastic change akin to "a post-carbon industrial revolution' industrial civilization cannot survive by the end of this century. But it also demonstrates the viability of such a transition based on cutting-edge social structures and technologies including new ways of organizing production in "green growth' economies; exciting models of participatory politics; proven models of distributed renewable energy networks; and high productivity of organic, low-pesticide, small-scale forms of farming. "The real question is, what will the post-carbon world look like?' said Dr. Ahmed. "It could be extremely negative and regressive, but equally, it could be far more equitable, just and ecologically-sound than any social form we've had in the past. This century is a pivotal one for the human race, and indeed the planet. It's up to us whether we take this opportunity to re-organize our societies for the better, or lose it.'
As stated by Richard Levins, John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at Harvard School of Public Health, "Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed confronts the whole." Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute Richard Heinberg said, "If you want to understand why the world is coming apart at the seams and what we can do to lay the foundations for a sane, peaceful, and sustainable society, read this book."
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed's new study, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: and How to Save it, is published by Pluto Press (ISBN: 9780745330532. UK release: 4th October 2010. Worldwide: 26th October 2010). For more information or to request advance review copies, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)7824 441 044
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed M.A. D.Phil (Sussex) is a bestselling author and international security analyst specialising in the study of mass violence. He is Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development (www.iprd.org.uk) in London, and has taught international relations, contemporary history, globalization, and empire at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex and Brunel University's Politics & History Unit.