I was born to an educated middle class American family in the 20th century. This gave me opportunities well beyond what most of past and present humanity could even imagine. Many people in past generations made contributions to build the rich environment I inherited as a legacy. I believe this legacy from the past is a debt that should be repaid to the future.
The native American belief that "a leaders highest priority in decision should be the welfare of the seventh unborn generation" is an elegant way of thinking about responsibility (see seventh generation). I very much share this view. Unfortunately most of our current leadership doesn't seem to even consider it.
Having reached an age where considering my legacy has increasing priority I have given it considerable thought. The postcollapse.org effort is intended as part of my legacy gift to the future. Hopefully, it will also provide a vehicle for others to do the same.
It is increasingly obvious that the American society with its consumption patterns is not sustainable. Much is being squandered for short term greed and to little thought given to the future. It is based on the availability of limited remote resources and products. Some of these resources are becoming rapidly depleted. Obtaining and using these resources in the quantities consumed causes significant ecological damage and social disruption. Getting resources to where they are needed, when they are needed in the form they are needed requires a very complex infrastructure.
The infrastructure to support this society has become very large and extremely complex. It is rapidly increasing in both size and complexity. This growth in size and complexity is being driven by short term economic considerations with little thought to potential problems or unanticipated events. It is much the same for most other industrial nations. This has been a concern for a number of years.
If we are not already there, we are rapidly approaching the point where a variety of things could lead to a collapse in major parts of this infrastructure. As the complexity increases additional items are added to the list of things which could trigger a significant collapse and some of those things are becoming more probable. I am convinced that a collapse or collapses of major parts of the infrastructure are likely in the years ahead and that they are becoming more probable as an already fragile infrastructure becomes more complex and susceptible to unplanned events. Most other industrial societies have similar problems and their infrastructures are coupled to ours.
Since a major portion of our population is dependent on the infrastructure for the necessities of life, significant infrastructure disruptions are likely to lead to collapses in the fabric of society. It does not take long for people who are frightened, angry and hungry to ignore the rules of society. This in turn can lead to the further destruction of the physical infrastructure.
Additional material on decreasing infrastructure stability and the implications of a collapse or collapses are found on the collapse web-page.
Since I can find no practical way to significantly change this course, I have begun to consider how one might help make a social/economic/infrastructure collapse less severe. Any mitigation of a collapse or collapses would also make it more likely that a better post collapse society emerges.
These concerns led to asking the questions:
What would be the most useful skills, knowledge, relationships and capabilities in the aftermath of a significant infrastructure/social collapse?
What can be done now to make these more available when they are likely to be needed?
The post collapse web sites are an attempt to provide some answers to both questions. Much of the information could also be useful in less dire circumstances.
It is also my hope that this effort can contribute in a small way to building a healthier sustainable society in the future. Thoughts on this are found in the sustainable web page.
The task to identify, collect, and document all relevant information is well beyond any single persons capabilitie. Contributions by many other people will be needed and is solicited.
- - - - Updated 7 Aug 08