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Ecotechnic Future [Paperback]

John Michael Greer
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jan 2009 0865716390 978-0865716391
"[John Michael] Greer's work is nothing short of brilliant. He has the multidisciplinary smarts to deeply understand our human dilemma as we stand on the verge of the inevitable collapse of industrialism. And he wields uncommon writing skills, making his diagnosis and prescription entertaining, illuminating, and practically informative. Not to be missed."-Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute and author of Peak Everything "There is a great deal of conventional wisdom about our collective ecological crisis out there in books. The enormous virtue of John Michael Greer's work is that his wisdom is never conventional, but profound and imaginative. There's no one who makes me think harder, and The Ecotechnic Future pushes Greer's vision, and our thought processes in important directions." -Sharon Astyk, farmer, blogger, and author of Depletion and Abundance and A Nation of Farmers "In The Ecotechnic Future, John Michael Greer dispels our fantasies of a tidy, controlled transition from industrial society to a post-industrial milieu. The process will be ragged and rugged and will not invariably constitute an evolutionary leap for the human species. It will, however, offer myriad opportunities to create a society that bolsters complex technology which at the same time maintains a sustainable interaction with the ecosystem. Greer brilliantly inspires us to integrate the two in our thinking and to construct local communities which concretely exemplify this comprehensive vision." -Carolyn Baker, author of Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse, and publisher/editor, Speaking Truth to Power In response to the coming impact of peak oil, John Michael Greer helps us envision the transition from an industrial society to a sustainable ecotechnic world-not returning to the past, but creating a society that supports relatively advanced technology on a sustainable resource base. Fusing human ecology and history, this book challenges assumptions held by mainstream and alternative thinkers about the evolution of human societies. Human societies, like ecosystems, evolve in complex and unpredictable ways, making it futile to try to impose rigid ideological forms on the patterns of evolutionary change. Instead, social change must explore many pathways over which we have no control. The troubling and exhilarating prospect of an open-ended future, he proposes, requires dissensus-a deliberate acceptance of radical diversity that widens the range of potential approaches to infinity. Written in three parts, the book places the present crisis of the industrial world in its historical and ecological context in part one; part two explores the toolkit for the Ecotechnic Age; and part three opens a door to the complexity of future visions. For anyone concerned about peak oil and the future of industrial society, this book provides a solid analysis of how we got to where we are and offers a practical toolkit to prepare for the future. John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener, and scholar of ecological history. He blogs at The Archdruid Report (, and is the author ofThe Long Descent.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers (10 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865716390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865716391
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 456,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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This is an extremely erudite book, filled with references to philosophies, and ancient works, which is also readable and an exciting addition to what might be called the 'libraries of the future', which try to make sense of our predicament and offer not just hope, but a intellectual route map to a better way of living.— ,

About the Author

John Michael Greer is a certified Master Conserver, organic gardener and scholar of ecological history. His widely-cited blog, The Archdruid Report, deals with peak oil. He is the author of The Long Descent and lives in Ashland, Oregon.

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "deindustrial dark ages" to come 7 Mar 2010
By Dennis Littrell TOP 500 REVIEWER
The underlying assumption of this book is that fossil fuels cannot be effectively replaced, neither cost-effectively nor in the gross amount of available energy. And once the fossil fuels are gone, they are gone forever, meaning that industrial civilization as we know it will collapse--or more to be hoped, industrial society will experience a slow decline into what Greer calls "The Ecotechnic Future." Along the way there will be "scarcity industrialism" and a "salvage society." Some bad times will be had by almost everybody, and for some it will be horrific.

The idea that renewable energy sources won't measure up to what we are wantonly consuming today is not new, but it is sobering. (And we do need to sober up.) Robert U. Ayres and Edward H. Ayres make a more modest point in their book, Crossing the Energy Divide: Moving from Fossil Fuel Dependence to a Clean-Energy Future (2010). They argue persuasively that regardless of how much money the government and private enterprise put into the development of green alternatives, those sources of energy will not be developed fast enough. Their prescription is more efficient use of fossils fuels until the green revolution catches up.

Greer doesn't see any catching up. He writes that the world's annual energy consumption equals about one-fourth of the total solar energy absorbed by green plants annually with 86% of that coming from fossil fuels. (p. 247) Instead of energy conservation helping us to a sustainable future, he sees four "sweeping impacts on human life" to come. They are

(1) Depopulation. Quite simply, "the population bubble of the last few centuries is just as much a product of the exploitation of fossil fuels as the industrial age itself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Planning for Long Slow Decline 23 Feb 2010
Excellent book, with some useful ideas for his preferred scenario of long slow decline. But he frequently derides alternative possibility of rapid collapse. Although Roman city of London went from thriving 60,000 in AD 410 to around 60 in AD 480, whilst Roman Britain went from perhaps 6 million to less than 1 million during same period. And Roman Britain is far from unique example. If anything, our modern world is much more fragile with greater role specialisation and far longer supply chains for food, energy, manufactured goods & spare parts. However, it is difficult to see how one could make realistic plans for similar circumstances. And his suggestions regarding skills and resources would still have great deal of value for those few "lucky" people who survive time of transition.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecotechnic future 25 Feb 2010
I found it a very easy to understand read, well constructed and jargon free. It was strangely reassuring after having read some other books about the near and medium future on the subject of peak oil and climate change. It draws on the lessons of history in the rise and fall of civilizations. It puts forward a analysis based on ecology, with humans a part of an ecosystem with limits to resources. It doesn't down play the major challenges and difficulties ahead but its does make me feel its not the end of the world for humans in one short disaster, from consumerist industrialism to medievalist survivalist barbarism.

Too many other books scare you silly or try to convince you to smile and pretend its all going to be OK just so long you do your bit in a stick and carrot approach.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The peak oil trilogy, part 2 29 Jan 2013
"The Ecotechnic Future" is a book by John Michael Greer, an independent scholar, organic farmer and Druid (sic) who has become something of a household word within the so-called peak oil community. Greer's book is part of a de facto trilogy, and should be read together with "The Long Descent" and "The Wealth of Nature". Of course, these books do overlap to a great extent. "The Long Descent" is probably the most well-known of the author's peak oil books.

"The Ecotechnic Future" was a joy to read, but is very difficult to review. It covers a *lot* of ground: comparisons between the fate of human civilizations and ecological succession, speculations about the shape of our post-affluent future, practical tips on organic farming and composting, comments on Spengler and Toynbee, criticism of apocalyptic religion and rare glimpses into the author's personal life. His religious faith (Revival Druidry) is mentioned mostly in passing. It seems Greer is at pains to sound as "rational" as possible in his books on our more secular predicaments...

While Greer doesn't believe our civilization is sustainable, he lacks the fiercely apocalyptic perspective of the contemporary doomer scene. In Greer's scenario, the modern world will decline and fall gradually. It won't be pretty, but it won't spell the end of humanity or Nature either. He calls the three stages of the long descent "scarcity industrialism", "salvage economy" and "ecotechnic future". The first phase is marked by the breakdown of neo-liberal globalism and the resurgence of strong, centralized nation-states commandeering the rapidly shrinking resources, but still within a context which is largely industrial.
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