The Scenarios project aims to engage audiences with four possible futures. We are asking designers and artists to respond to the following four scenarios, described by Pat Murphy in his book Plan C and also David Holmgren in his work on scenarios.
Note that the scenarios below are gross simplifications of complex forces and the future will likely involve a little bit of each of the following scenarios. Examining possible futures is considered to be a good way of informing decision making, on a person level and a policy level. The following ideas can be examined in more details in the two sources listed above.
Plan A: Business as Usual.
Brown Tech: Top Down Constriction
Slow energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms
- Growth orient paradigm & faith in technological solutions.
- Based on idea of ‘substitution’: the world the never un out of resources because the free market will always create an alternative. i.e. technology always find a solution to every problem.
- The free market is successful because it has can dump toxins and refuse into air, water & land.
- Proponents of Plan A advocate using anything that will burn to generate electricity, regardless of what science is now saying regarding climate change.
Plan B: Green Technological Revolution
Green Tech: Distributed Powerdown
Slow energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms.
- Plan B advocates are content with the status quo, particularly the lifestyle, and hope to simply replace non-renewable energy products with renewable ones.
- Plan B recognizes that the economy is dependent on natural support systems, so they see centralized government efforts, international efforts, like a war-time response.
- Advocates corrections in the market to ‘externalities’; the indirect costs of goods, the value of nature, in order to create accounting systems that take ecological deficits into account.
- Attempts to restructure taxes and reorder fiscal priorities (at wartime speed).
Plan C: Community RebuildEarth Steward: Bottom Up Rebuild
Rapid energy decline rates, mild climate change symptoms
- Assumes that the relatively recent availability of fossil fuel energy, has caused a temporary detour in the evolution of humankind. We have become addicted to oil-based machinery and excessive consumption & this has lead to massive global inequity and potentially catastrophic climate change.
- Our first priority is to dramatically reduce consumption of fossil fuel energy & products derived from fossil fuels. This means buying less, using less, wanting less, and wasting less.
- Implies permanent societal change to reduce consumption of dwindling natural resources.
- Calls for a resurgence of small local communities.
Plan D: Collapse
Lifeboats: Civilization Triage - Assumes it is too late to avoid catastrophe. There is no viable solution to peak oil and climate change.
Rapid energy decline rates, severe climate change symptoms.
- Economic growth, population, and consumption will continue unabated until economic collapse, chaos, mass starvation, wars and other forms of violence thin out the population.
- Proponents tend to focus on individual and family survival and the needs to defend whatever sustainable communities can be formed.
- Major population die off is not out of the question (and has happened in the past, and is even happening now in some failing states around the globe – i.e. Rwanda, Somalia, etc.)
- Wars over fossil fuels, the effect of climate change on agriculture, & the Plan A approach will make Plan D a more likely scenario.