Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, a book exploring the reasons for the collapses of past societies, is cautiously optimistic that we won’t face a world-wide collapse* (first world societies). One reason for his hope is that the risks we face are not out of our control because they are ones we are generating ourselves and we can choose to stop causing them and start solving them. His second reason is the “increasing diffusion of environmental thinking” occurring around the world. The third reason he gave for his hope is that we have the opportunity to learn from past societies to a degree not available to any of the past societies that had collapsed.
He outlines within each “hope” the barriers or obstacles standing in the way (political will, consumption footprint, lack of long term thinking and willingness to reconsider core values). I’ll admit to often being skeptical that these barriers can be overcome, but I choose to keep the same hope because I’ve met so many people actively and passionately pursuing the restoration of broken policies, people, and places.
*A collapse could be anything from a decline in the standard of living to widespread starvation. The causes for collapse are complex. The natural environment is deeply connected to stability or fragility. Check out Diamond’s book for the scoop.