Dr. Andrew Wallace PhD BEng(hons) EurIng
Collapse is highly probable out come given our current socioeconomic system. If we want to avoid a collapse, or failing that, be able to rebuild after a collapse we need to be proactive in building an alternative, sustainable, socioeconomic system.
The Collapse is Coming
It looks like we are heading for a collapse. Millions of species could go extinct [1, 2, 3] as global warming reeks havoc of our environment. Scientist have been warning of this for decades , yet we haven’t actually done anything about the problem [5, 6, 7]. Yes, we have made some token efforts but what we have done so far is like painting the facade of a rotting building green. Looks good but doesn't actually do anything about the problem.
This heading to collapse should make a lot of people who want an alternative, sustainable, moneyless, socioeconomic system happy. Shouldn’t it? After all, the argument goes that we will be unable to build such a sustainable, socioeconomic, system without a collapse as the current system will act in such a way as to prevent any other system from emerging. Jacque Fresco used to be quite fond of this argument .
But this all could depend on what we mean with “collapse”. A collapse could just be an economic phenomena like the Great Depression in the 1930s. But it could also be more severe than that such as Easter Island, Mayan, or the collapse of Anasazin (Ancestral Puebloans) society . These latter collapses are more of interest than a financial collapse like the Great Depression. The Great Depression resulted from one part of the system collapsing where as the collapse of the Mayan civilization, Easter Island, and the Anasazin society all involved environmental factors; the inhabitants overexploited the environment. “Over-exploiting” the environment is more like what we are doing today. So, any potential collapse will most likely be similar to the collapse of these societies.
That brings up a problem; the societies that collapsed with the environment as a contributing factor did not recover. Not in themselves. People from outside the areas moved into those areas, like Easter Island, or they remained abandoned, such as the towns of the Anasazi. And we, on our planet, do not have an “outside”, that can move in. So, if we actually achieve a collapse then we could be looking at the end. That is to say, a situation that we can not recover from. That would mean that in looking to build a moneyless, sustainable, society post-collapse we run the risk of ending up in a situation where we do not have the ability to build such a society. That means that we need to be a bit more proactive.
Building for the Future
Proactive in two ways; first in preventing a collapse as it does not really serve ours or anyone's best interest to wait for a collapse. Second, on failing the first, we need to sow seeds from which we can start building a better society.
What we can do is form groups to preserve what we can and build up communities that are sustainable as much as possible. I like to think of this as the “Alien Planet” idea. Imagine living on an alien planet, like Mars, where the environment is hostile. The type of community we would need is one that can manage its own resources within the bounds of the community; grow its own food, manage its own waist, for example. Like a space colony. As much as possible. This could be done on a small scale like grown your own food in your garden or having a small hydroponics set up. It could be also done on a larger scale, like building a community with its own land. Next we would have to network these groups together. The more we have, the more people, the more land, the more we can do and the more we could support each other. The idea is laid out in The Design  and is called stepping-stones.
Stepping-stones would set seeds if a collapse was to happen but, ideally, it will allow for the evolution towards a new sustainable, moneyless, society. It would allow us to test ideas out and to experiment. However, it still doesn’t deal with the problem that we could face of a system that would work against moving to a sustainable socioeconomic system. For that, I think, we need to be proactive in another way; politically.
We do not advocate a “revolution”, nor the over throw of any government but doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the political processes of a democracy. There are opportunities to form pressure groups and even political parties or just to be members of political parties to influence the debate and movement toward a sustainable society. In other words, take part in society. We could even participate more in social media with more videos, articles, or fund raisers but I think this is only worth while if it leads to action on the ground (all talk and no action!).
We are heading for disaster and if that was to occur we would find it difficult if not impossible to recover and to build a sustainable, moneyless, society. If we are to build such a society then we need to be proactive. At the end of the day, if we fail to achieve a sustainable society, we only have ourselves to blame.
About the Author
Andrew Wallace is a former director of EOS. He has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. He is a former University lecturer and currently works as a consultant.
 “Collapse”. Jared Diamond. Penguin Group. 2005.
Dr. Andrew Wallace BEng(hons) PhD EurIng
A hi-tech society utilises energy, materials and information. Such a society utilises automation as much as possible to reduce work thus in such a society in becomes useful to use a measure of energy for resource monitoring and allocation. The article looks at the exergy concept as a way to measure energy utilised, materials and information for a hi-tech resourced based economy such as one that uses an energy accounting system.
As our current socioeconomic system does not have a sustainable nature thus, it will collapse. This paper presents an alternative to today's system that utilises exergy as a common accountancy unit for a sustainable resource base socioeconomic system. An item's cost, in terms of exergy, reflects the physical cost of the item. The system utilises management techniques such as optimisation, Life Cycle Analysis and Cost Based Analysis to produce items efficiently and minimise their exergy and environmental cost.