For virtually all of the last 10,000 years, our ancestors lived in in a geological age called the Holocene in which climatic conditions were remarkably stable and natural resources were plentiful, renewable and seemingly inexhaustible. But during the last few hundred years, exponential increases in human population growth and in the scope and scale of what eventually became a fossil fuel based global market system resulted in a new geological age known as the age of the Anthropocene. In this geological age, global human activities are in the process of undermining the capacity of the biosphere to sustain our growing numbers and our species has become a geological force that will determine the future of life on Earth.
At the dawn of the new millennium, we face multiple interconnected crises: the deterioration of Earth’s life support systems, chronic unemployment even in the developed economies, persistent and crushing poverty, an unstable and overreaching financial system, government institutions ill- equipped to deal with the scope and scale of these challenges, and ongoing rapid population growth in many parts of the world. Yet we lack an accurate intellectual map of where we are and where we should be going. The thought systems that serve as the intellectual foundation for many of the most influential institutions that manage society are in critical need of an update in order for us to effectively respond to these interconnected crises.
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