As people become more aware of what is happening around them, they are more enabled to do something about it. The negative consequences of the world’s consumption patterns are becoming more widely known, and an increasing number of people are changing their lives in response.
My research suggests two possible trajectories for change given current circumstances. One trajectory is a retreat toward less knowledge and power over their lives. The other trajectory is an increase in knowledge and power.
The first trajectory is the one most feared by those of us at the high end of the consumption curve. It involves giving up technology and political freedom while becoming more vulnerable to Nature and living with more physical hardship. It could be a harsher world than history indicates, since we would also be dealing with less available energy and debilitated natural systems.
The second trajectory also leads to a reduction in consumption and freedom (caused by people having more power over each other), but carries with it the risk of a much higher death rate and steeper decline in lifestyle.