Growth Shock Launch: “I Have a Confession to Make … We are in Trouble”

Some of you may have noted my absence. I’ve been nose-deep in completing the launch of a book that has been about 10 years in the making: Growth Shock. It developed both from my experience as an emerging threats expert for Jane’s Information Group and related consulting efforts, later from my connection to thousands of wonderful young people, many of them disadvantaged, through a 6 six year schools campaign, and finally through participation in the direct actions that were Occupy Wall Street and the 2012 Stop the Pipeline demonstration sponsored by in Washington, DC.

At some point, in the support of these direct actions for positive change, I developed the notion of channeling my energies and talents into works as actions. Growth Shock is the first of these. (Learn more in Growth Shock, Going on Offense and Setting an Example for Kindness Economics.)

Growth Shock Cover Art

(Growth Shock now available)

In support of these efforts, at least 60% of the book’s proceeds will go to (40%) and to direct funding for freedom from fossil fuels (FEFF) for individuals, localities and communities (20%). But I’m not stopping with these actions. An upcoming third speculative fiction novel in the Luthiel’s Song series will be re-named The Death of Winter and I will be organizing a campaign to raise energy transition funds for public schools around the sales campaign for this book (more on this later). Another publication effort examining the loss of glacial and sea ice and its consequences will direct funds to scientific research through the Dark Snow Project and to help support  James Hansen’s continued work at Columbia University. A fourth and still unnamed publication will also be directed toward reinvigorating policy efforts to rationally and benevolently restrain human population with an ultimate goal to bringing it, along with consumption, back into balance with Earth Systems and to back out of our current and dangerous overshoot. These efforts will likely take years to complete. But they are now on the table.

The Death of Winter

Luthiel’s Song Book III to be re-named: The Death of Winter

This is not at all to denigrate the need for direct action, campaigning, and demonstration. When possible, I will continue to participate in these efforts. But my goal will be to organize my life and my means of life support to also support systems that re-invigorate, restore, renew, and enlighten. This is the basis for the kindness economics proposed in Growth Shock — that our life works re-weave humankind back into the web of life, that we stop breaking it, and that we develop human technologies and thought systems that support life, rather than harm it.

But we’re a long, long way from any of that. And, at this very late hour, some of us are only just beginning to respond as others still languish or remain trapped, captives to systems of harmful consumption and harmful action. Meanwhile, climate change, overpopulation, resource depletion and the institutionalized and greed re-inforced systems that lock the technologies, policies, cultures and thought-systems that cause such harm in place are now in a critical phase of crisis, a phase where harm from these four forces is ramping ever higher, causing great fractures through the structures of modern civilization. Like the metaphorical lemmings, we still run headlong toward the precipice. Sooner or later, we will go over.

Unless we stop. Unless we back away.

We haven’t done this yet. We haven’t even slowed down. And, for this reason, we are in deep, deep trouble.

What follows is an opener to the book Growth Shock. But for you, I’ll provide a bit of qualification. The situation is a shade or two worse than even what I describe in the intro. Though I still believe it is possible for us to stop, to turn around and to make the needed changes, the effort required will be so great that the difference between the death-fed and destruction-creating human world of now and the vital, healthy, sustainable, and reinvigorating the heartbeat of nature human world of our best future is a vast chasm. A great rift that may well be impossible to cross for individuals, communities, and nations. This does not diminish our need to try, to at least make a grand attempt before being overwhelmed by the darkness. To level all our intellect, creativity and tool making abilities toward effecting a positive change, toward reversing the terrible disaster we’ve now set in motion that has already been, for many of the innocent creatures of our world, a horrible apocalypse…


Excerpted from Growth Shock:

I have a confession to make. One that is not easy to vocalize. One that is equally difficult to listen to. My confession is not one of a personal nature. I am not revealing my own, petty, individual sins. Instead, I’m making a confession for us all. A revelation of the ongoing and maturing tragedy of our race. One we will each need to be made aware of soon if we are to effectively act. For the age of excess is rapidly coming to a close and we are now entering a difficult and hard to manage age of consequences.

My confession is simply this: we are in trouble. A kind of trouble that is both typical to all living creatures and beyond the scope of anything we humans have yet witnessed. A kind of trouble that is both born of the natural world and directly caused by us.

Our trouble is that over the course of the next century we will run head-long into a number of very difficult to manage shocks that are the result of our unsustainable growth. How we confront these shocks will determine whether or not human civilization survives to reach the 22nd, 23rd, or 24th centuries or whether we, at the very least, encounter a coming age of darkness and decline.

That we will encounter some trouble is now unavoidable. At this point, all we can do is seek to reduce the scale of that trouble and lessen the harm that is its inevitable result. A decade or two ago, if we had acted sooner and with due urgency, we might have prevented harm. But harm is already upon us, growing worse with each passing year. And though our trouble has already become apparent to many, we still languish, squandering the time and effort needed to manage the emerging shocks even as they grow more deadly and dangerous.

If we decide to confront these troubles, what lies before us are many decades or more of sustained effort to reduce the damage we have inflicted upon ourselves efforts from which may arise a new golden age should we overcome these troubles. For pushing beyond our current limits through renewable energy systems, providing direct supports to heal the living world we depend on, establishing more kind and inclusive economic systems, and undergoing the general transition to sustainability necessary to deal with our current crisis results in an ever-expanding justice and prosperity. The potential for a true world without end.

If we do not act, a massive and rapid decline of human civilizations, a mass extinction in the oceans and on land, and a radical re-shaping of the Earth’s environment to a state far more hostile to humankind are all in the offing.

This is my confession. For it is the truth or our age. It is our dire tragedy, and our great hope. For we are living in the age of Growth Shock.

Leave a comment


  1. islandraider

     /  August 28, 2013

    The link above is an Amazon link to a Kindle version. Two questions… Can I get a paperback copy of Growth Shock (no kindle)? Can I buy it directly from you (I understand Amazon keeps large portions of profit & would rather see more go to you/

    Thanks for this website Robert. You have created a wonderful resources. I check it daily.


    • Unfortunately, the book is only available in Kindle format at the moment. I’m working on setting up an epub version by the end of this week, if you prefer that. As for hard copies, we’re probably months away at least.

      Warmest regards to you!



  2. Can’t wait to read it!


  3. Congratulations, Robert! The book looks great and I hope you sell heaps of copies.


  4. Cost of Russian Far East floods to top record $900mn

    Another threat for the region are starving bears turning aggressive bears because their natural food sources have been destroyed by the floods, RIA Novosti quotes local police. Hunger is driving wild animals closer to villages as they cannot find their traditional food of berries and salmon.


  5. Ecologists Link Far East Floods to Global Warming

    Record amounts of rain fell in the Amur region during July and August, surpassing the annual average and creating the worst flood situation in more than a century. Water levels in the Amur River near Khabarovsk rose a further 15 centimeters Thursday and reached 7.56 meters, according to statistics from the state-run weather center. The highest levels previously recorded were just more than 6 meters.

    The current situation is expected to get worse as heavy rains continue to pummel the region at least until the start of next week, according to a forecast that the weather center released Wednesday. Local meteorologists predict that floodwaters could reach 9 meters before the levels start to fall — not earlier than the middle of September.

    Read more:
    The Moscow Times


  6. Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon has been discovered below Greenland’s ice sheet. Using radar data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, scientists found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier

    This is a real head turner , given where the discharge is located. All that melt water being diverted to the North end of the island .


    • There’s a huge amount of melt coming from that region. I guess we know why now. Amazing stuff.


      • I poked around , we no zero about the outlet under the Peterman from Wiki –
        Rough mass balance estimates using these scales suggest that about 80% of its mass is lost as basal meltwater, yet little oceanographic data are available to connect Petermann Glacier to its fjord and adjacent Nares Strait. Even the sill depth and location is largely unknown as modern soundings of the fjord are still lacking.[2]


  7. Nancy

     /  August 30, 2013

    Hi Robert,

    I just bought the book. For those of you (like me) who do not have a Kindle, but have an Ipad, there is a free app for reading Kindle books. I am very excited to start reading it. My children are arriving this after to spend the long weekend, so unfortunately, I will have to wait until next week to start reading.

    Thank you, Robert. You are such an inspiration!



  8. Andrew Creekmore

     /  January 28, 2014

    When is the third book of Luthiel’s song expected to come out?


    • Working on it!!


      • Tricia Gartin

         /  March 10, 2014

        Glad to see that you’re working on many things that will make you happy. I wanted to say that when you visited my elementary school when Luthiel’s Song first came out I had no idea that it would end up being among my favorites. I wish you all the best in your works along with completing the third book. Thank you for you amazing writing 🙂


  1. Radio Ecoshock Interview: Record Floods, ENSO, Methane Release, and Slope Collapse | robertscribbler

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