Samuel Alexander

Resilience Through Simplification: Revisiting Tainter’s Theory of Collapse

Below, Samuel Alexander summarises his new Simplicity Institute Report, which discusses ‘voluntary simplification’ in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory of collapse. The full report, ‘Resilience through Simplification,’ is available here (360kb PDF). A society or other institution can be destroyed by the cost of sustaining itself. — Joseph Tainter Joseph Tainter In 1988 Joseph Tainter published his seminal work, The Collapse of Complex Societies, in which he presented an […]

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What Will Rio+20 Bring?

In a few days the international community will be meeting in Rio de Janeiro, to hold the most significant environmental conference since the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. As the planet’s ecosystems tremble under the weight of overconsumption, this conference surely provides one of few remaining opportunities for governments to take environmental issues seriously. Will the world’s leaders dare to think beyond the growth paradigm that lies at the root […]

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Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way

Editor’s Note: To follow, I think, is a very important look at Ted Trainer’s work — one that broaches an oft-avoided but critically essential conversation. I must confess to only having read a single article from Ted Trainer previously, which I posted here, but from that article, and the document below, I sense that similar thought processes in my own experience, and Ted’s, have led to the similar conclusions. Some […]

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Peak Oil Can Fuel a Change for the Better

The advent of peak oil means we should prepare for a downscaling of our highly energy and resource-intensive lifestyles. What is peak oil and why does it matter? And what effect will it have on the Western lifestyles we take for granted? These are not questions that many people are asking themselves yet, but this decade is going to change everything. Peak oil is upon us. Peak oil does not […]

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Peak Oil, Energy Descent, and the Fate of Consumerism

Western-style consumer lifestyles are highly resource and energy intensive. This paper examines the energy intensity of these consumer lifestyles and considers whether such lifestyles could be sustained in a future with declining energy supplies and much higher energy prices. The rise of consumer societies since the industrial revolution has only been possible due to the abundant supply of cheap fossil fuels – most notably, oil – and the persistence of […]

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