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Dark Optimism


Shaun Chamberlin has written a book that, in my view, absolutely needs to be read by anyone who follows this blog.

The Transtition Timeline: For a Local, Resilient Future combines a scenario-based look at how we as a global society can respond to the combination of global warming and peak oil, with a practical manual for building the kind of world that can successfully manage such a crisis.

I saw a late draft of the work, and Shaun asked me for my reaction. Here's what I wrote, and I'm happy to see that it's included in the book's lengthy list of endorsements:

It's been said that pessimism is a luxury of good times; in bad times, pessimism is a death sentence. But optimism is hard to maintain when facing the very real possibility of planetary catastrophe. What's needed is a kind of hopeful realism -- or, as Shaun Chamberlin puts it, a dark optimism.

In The Transition Timeline, Chamberlin offers his dark optimism in the form of a complex vision of what's to come. He imagines not just a single future, or a binary "good tomorrow/bad tomorrow" pairing, but four scenarios set in the late 2020s, each emerging from the tension between two critical questions: can we recognize what's happening to us, and can we escape the choices and designs that have led us to this state? Chamberlin demonstrates that only an affirmative answer to both questions will allow us to avoid disaster -- and that's where the story he tells starts to get good. The Transition Timeline isn't another climate jeremiad, but a map of the course we'll need to take over the coming decade if we are to save our planet, and ourselves.

The Transition Timeline is a book of hopeful realism, making clear that the future we want remains in our grasp -- but only for a short while longer.

Buy this book.


What a delicious paradox.

I think scenarios with multiple lenses is the only way to look at the issues around how we need to transition. A multivalent view is something I'm pushing with some degree of success in the capital markets. And there are a lot of other fellow travelers pushing the same way, some of whom have been doing it longer and with a lot of success.

Not available for the Kindle. Blast.

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All comments go through moderation, so if it doesn't show up immediately, I'm not available to click the "okiedoke" button. Comments telling me that global warming isn't real, that evolution isn't real, that I really need to follow [insert religion here], that the world is flat, or similar bits of inanity are more likely to be deleted than approved. Yes, it's unfair. Deal. It's my blog, I make the rules, and I really don't have time to hand-hold people unwilling to face reality.


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