The Book

Synopsis

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It

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Are you confused about the debate over climate change? Unsure about whether or not we’re running out of oil? Anxious about economic recession? Angry about the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond? Frightened by the rise of religious and political extremisms? Concerned by the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties?

This groundbreaking book is the first of its kind that answers all your questions in one place, and looks at these issues holistically. It argues that financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages need to be considered as part of the same ailing political, economic, ideological and value system. Dr. Ahmed investigates all of these crises not as isolated events, but as interdependent trends and processes that belong to the structure of our civilization. We are therefore not dealing with a ‘clash of civilizations’, as Huntington argued. Rather, we are dealing with a fundamental Crisis of Civilization itself. It often seems that different crises are competing to devastate civilization. Most accounts of our contemporary global crises such as climate change, or the threat of terrorism, focus on one area, or another, to the exclusion of others. Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, executive director of the IPRD, argues that the unwillingness of experts to look outside their own fields explains why there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding about particular crises.

Dr. Ahmed shows that these crises are in fact symptoms of a major civilizational transition – the imminent end of industrial civilization as-we-know-it, and the exciting prospect of a new post-carbon civilization. But what form will the new civilization take?

The choice is ours. The choice is yours.

Become an information warrior. Read this book, know the system, and be prepared for the arrival of the post-carbon era.

What It Does

  • Analyzes and unifies data, evidence and argumentation across Climate Sciences (such as Solar Physics, Atmospheric & Earth Sciences, Oceanography, Geography); Geology; Human Ecology; Development, Monetary and Financial Economics; Security Studies; Systems Theory; International Relations Theory; and Social Theory, into a single unified understanding of the ‘Crisis of Civilization’
  • Exhaustively refutes climate ‘sceptics’,  including Climategate, Amazongate, Glaciergate, ‘global cooling’, and so on, based on the peer-reviewed literature, illustrating the reality of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming without urgent mitigating action
  • Critically examines the major studies on oil, gas and coal depletion so as to chart the most likely scenarios for impending resource-supply constraints, and its implications for geopolitics and the world economy
  • Demonstrates the non-viability of oil shale, tar sands, and nuclear energy in terms of filling the impending resource-supply gap, as well as the necessities and challenges of renewable energy transition
  • Unearths the structural origins of the global food crisis in the political economy of global corporate agribusiness, and how industrial techniques are systematically degrading their own productive capacity, exacerbated due to climate change and energy depletion
  • Reveals the real policies and structures behind the global financial crash (like the New Capital Accord, 2000), the nature of money, the systematization of debt, the inherent instabilities and inequalities of neoliberal capitalism, their link to carbon-based resource scarcities, and why it’s not going to get better without radical systemic transformation
  • Showcases little-known classified US documents on unconventional warfare doctrine and the use of terror by states to make societies safe for capital penetration – and explores how this doctrine played out in the sponsorship of Islamist extremist networks and counterinsurgency practices in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Dissects US and UK military and intelligence policies, particular after 9/11, in the Middle East and Central Asia, and their role in maximising state powers as strategic attempts to counter the destabilisation of world order due to anticipated global ecological, energy and economic crises
  • Highlights the indelible inter-linkages between multiple global ecological, economic and energy crises, their paths of convergence and positive-feedback loops, future warfare, the escalation of police-state practices, the rise of the far-right, and the intensification of discrimination against minorities within the West – including the spectre of genocide
  • Unfolds a comprehensive conceptual map of how the global system works, its key political, economic, ideological and ethical structural problems, and an eleven-step guideline for systemic transition to post-carbon civilization

Quotes

  • “This is a staggeringly comprehensive bird’s-eye view of the gaping cracks that are appearing in global industrial civilization. Ahmed weaves a context that makes current economic and geopolitical events comprehensible. If you want to understand why the world is coming apart at the seams and what we can do to lay the foundations for a sane, peaceful, and sustainable society, read this book.”

Richard Heinberg Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute; author, The Party’s Over, Powerdown and Peak Everything

 

  • “This important analysis exposes vital truths and challenges much conventional wisdom. It deserves to be widely read.”

Mark Curtis Honorary Research Fellow, University of Strathclyde; former Head of Policy, Action Aid and Christian Aid; former Research Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs; author, Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World and Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses

 

  • “This is an important book. There has been much discussion already about climate change, peak oil, the cost of food and overpopulation, the global financial crisis busting neoliberal capitalism, the rise of violent extremism, and the containment of the so-called war on terror.   But this is the first book to systematically explore their interconnections and place them within a single comprehensive narrative. That makes it a very worthwhile read for policy-makers everywhere.”

Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP UK Minister of State for the Environment (1997-2003); Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (1975-79); Under-Secretary of State for Industry (1974-75)

 

  • “Dr. Ahmed presents the clearest synthesis to date of the systemic problems facing human civilization. There is no shortage of popular texts on climate change, economic challenges, energy scarcity, and terrorism, but this work is the first to effectively integrate these diverse issues into a compelling and unified system – one that is both accessible to a broad audience yet grounded in rigorous academic research. As his thesis makes abundantly clear, the impact of these individual issues cannot be fully understood or effectively addressed in isolation. A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization presents the reader with a framework for developing a systemic response.”

Jeff Vail J.D. Former US Department of the Interior Counterterrorism Analyst; former US Air Force Intelligence Officer for global energy infrastructure; author,  A Theory of Power

 

  • “How can a discussion of the all too familiar crises of our time be a hopeful book? By combining a microscopic dissection of the structure of each with a telescopic view of how they weave together in a whole system. If the myriad international conferences and programs haven’t worked, it isn’t that we have to try harder but that we have to confront the whole free of conventional constraints. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed confronts the whole.”

Richard Levins John Rock Professor of Population Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University; author, Evolution in Changing Environments

 

  • “A suicidal Moloch aka ‘the military industrial fossil fuel nuclear terror complex’ and its Imperial Agenda is pushing humanity rapidly to tipping points that would plunge us into the abyss of irreversible catastrophic global warming. This is the reality this User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization analyzes with profound scholarly insight and wisdom. In this magisterial exposition of the multiple intersecting challenges facing humanity in our century Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed points to real solutions. Instead of a future even more miserable and dangerous than the world we live in now, armed with the depth of knowledge and the courage demonstrated in this work we can and will construct the other world that is possible. All of us, but especially the youth of our planet will be empowered by reading this book.”

David Schwartzman Professor of Biology, Howard University, Washington DC; author, Life, Temperature and the Earth: the self-organizing biosphere

 

  • “Nafeez Ahmed’s book confronts the reader with the stark message that life as we know it is unsustainable. It will have disappeared by the end of the 21st century, and we along with it –unless a comprehensive system change will have occurred in the meantime. Ahmed’s analysis of a necessary systemic transformation to a post-carbon political economy, although ‘a user’s guide’ is not a catalogue of easy answers. It provides a chilling enumeration of the existential challenges humanity faces, and can only by qualified as optimistic in the sense that it does not leave a single illusion in place. A must-read but not as bed-time reading.”

Kees van der Pijl Professor of International Relations, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex; Chair of Department of International Relations and Director of Centre for Global Political Economy (2000-2006); Leverhulme Major Research Fellow; author, Modes of Foreign Relations and Political Economy (3 volumes)

 

  • “Few thinkers weave as many threads into a tapestry as Nafeez Ahmed has done so superbly in this book. Those of us who seek to operate within the form of capitalism that has evolved today would do well to ask ourselves a very big question. Are we wasting our time? If it is true that only root-to-branch rewriting of the global economic operating manual can save society from an unliveable future, shouldn’t we be putting our weight behind that re-engineering process before it is too late?”

Dr. Jeremy Leggett UK Department of Trade & Industry’s Renewables Advisory Board (2002-2006); CEO, Solarcentury, member of UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security; author, Half Gone and The Carbon War

Purchase

Available from Amazon UKUSAand Canada.

  • “Forceful and well-sourced” Guardian
  • “A powerful and convincing account of how our civilization is threatened by a system of crises” The Oil Drum
  • “Dense, brilliant, and frightening. Ahmed has done the job that has needed doing: He has connected the dots” ArtVoice
  • “Educational, as well as enlightening. By carefully unveiling the core nature of our animating system, it is possible to both understand why such a system cannot be ‘fixed’ as well as to begin to grasp the outlines for the system which must replace it…  excellent, readable, well-written.” Op Ed News
Published by Pluto Press, London; Distributed exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan in North America and Australia; ISBN: 9780745330532; Extent: 300pp; Official Release Date: 4th October 2010; Fully indexed with 600+ references and 18 diagrams; Peer-reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of twelve scholars and scientists.

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