Whatever happens, whatever the future, relocalisation can be a part of it, and most likely will be a part of it, at least in many parts of the world. (For more, see The Evidence). Localised economies and cultures can ensure the protection of the web of Nature on Earth that we all depend upon to survive. Localised economies and cultures promote and protect biocultural diversity.
The web of Nature is currently severely endangered by our global capitalist industrial civilisation (i.e. capitalist oil-based civilisation). For just one clear instance, consider the rapid ongoing decline of pollinator species which we rely upon for the vast majority of our food crops, globally.
The ‘Relocal’ option, is for me, an epic tomorrow of immense opportunity. An opportunity to create intensely vibrant land and Nature-based communities that provide for most of their own needs, and acquire the rest by bartering or trading with regional neighbours, or perhaps occasionally with travellers from afar. But this is just my personal vision, and does not correspond to the diversity of possible and probable relocalised civilisational hubs, of varying levels of technological advancement and various social makeups, that could or will most likely occur.
It is the role of Epic Tomorrows to construct as many different futures as possible, all with some basis in narratives and trends that we can observe around us today. These futures are not to be considered as enclosed scenarios, but as models of reality which deliberately focus on certain trends at the expense of others, projected forward, so that appropriate responses or necessary conditions to points within those unfolding trends can be explored. Thus, until Epic Tomorrows develops finer tools, (and gets to know some software programmers) this will be a rough science, by its very nature. Nevertheless, this exercise may help us in dealing with whatever hybrid futures do actually occur. Also, this exercise is about encouraging us to take ownership of our collective future. This is an aspiration to a deep kind of scenario planning, although it is still fairly approximate.
Epic Tomorrows Future 5 is “‘Relocal’: diverse localised post-capitalist, hybrid-capitalist, socialist and anarchist futures”. Within that general projection we can further divide into at least three futures. The timeframe for all futures is ‘within the 21st century’:
The 3rd Industrial Revolution: “Relocal” within a global infrastructure that has remained industrial, but has managed the precarious transition from fossil fuel infrastructure to renewables-plus-hydrogen infrastructure, co-ordinated by governments and citizens. This is the scenario optimistically imagined by the economist Jeremy Rifkin. Energy and food production are local and community-owned. Energy is also drawn from and fed back into a national or international grid, having a balancing effect to make sure no-one goes without. This is not ‘full relocalisation’ in the sense that there is still heavy dependence on a global infrastructure. Criticisms of the likelihood of this scenario, or at least its sustainability, will be explored, including its dependence on an unprecedented level of global co-operation between governments.
A locality-and-internet led smooth global Transition and Powerdown to post-capitalist, hybrid-capitalist, socialist and anarchist communities, with little or no remaining global industrial infrastructure. This is not just a low carbon but a low energy future, where per capita energy use is hugely reduced, with potentially great benefits for communities and the health of a biodiverse Earth as the basis of human health and prosperity. A global recovery of wilderness cover is implied. The co-operation of national governments is implied, but may not be essential. The role and continued existence of nation states, and national / international political structures is highly questionable in this future.
What Richard Heinberg termed a ‘Last Man Standing’ scenario amongst industrial nation states fighting over the remaining fossil fuel resources and other global resources, but a version of Last Man Standing where the disintegration of nation states is undercut by communities taking political organisation and local culture into their own hands. There could be elements of smooth Transition (see 5.2) but against a general global backdrop of nation state conflict, hopefully without the use of nuclear weapons.
Various hybrid futures combining different elements / degrees of of 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 could occur.