Writing A Guidebook For An Ecological Transition

December 15, 2023

Since late last year, I’ve been writing a book series that’s meant to help lay the groundwork for a full-scale response to our ecological crises by deepening our democracy. To transition towards sustainable and democratic societies, we’ll need to restructure our lives around the reality of ecological limits, and that requires us to navigate the limits of our technologies, economy, political system, and culture. This is a project I started preparing for over a decade ago, when I first got involved with climate activism as a student in the fossil fuel divestment movement. In 2013, I set out to learn as much as I could about how our world works and why our societies face several existential issues. My analysis became more holistic, and I spent a few years exploring pieces of it in essays. The ultimate goal was to put together a guidebook that could accomplish a number of things:

1) Empower everyday people with a nuanced and actionable understanding of the existential issues we face.

2) Support educators in preparing students to navigate the complex societal transition we need.

3) Encourage activists to scale up this collective “revolution of the mind.”

I’m mentioning this because I’ve decided to try an experiment: sharing parts of the process along the way. It’s the opposite of my preferred approach, which is to only post fully developed thoughts and to leave myself and my process completely in the background. I’m trying out “writing in public” because I’d like to reach people who are thinking about these issues long before the writing is done, raise awareness about this project, and also solicit feedback on my drafts to ensure the final versions are as effective as possible in supporting the transition.

The plan is to publish two or three books as part of a transition guidebook series. To learn to embrace ecological limits, we must become more intellectually active and knowledgeable, ethically aware, and emotionally self-regulating. These traits together help establish the kind of “transition culture” that I wrote about in my essay on the need for a new Enlightenment. Book one explores how to achieve this inner transformation, and I’m aiming to publish it late next year. Book two will provide a systems analysis of our society that we’ll need to plan the transition. It will be a fleshed-out version of my climate activism curriculum model. Book three will dive deeper into various complex and challenging topics we’ll face on the journey towards new societies.

For this experiment, I’ll offer larger monthly updates and more frequent posts in between about my inspiration for this work, my research methods, insights I discover, writing progress, excerpts from the book, and more.

If you’re interested in reading a draft of this book sometime next year and providing feedback, please subscribe here at freedomsurvival.org.

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is an activist writing a book about why our ecological crises demand economic and cultural transformation, not just an energy transition, and how the climate movement can lay the groundwork for these changes. He writes at freedomsurvival.org and tweets @LimitsLiberate