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Revolutions that made the Earth$
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Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587049.001.0001

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(p.393) 21 Where next?
Revolutions that made the Earth

Tim Lenton

Andrew Watson

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks ahead, equipped with the knowledge of what makes a successful revolution of the Earth, and what can cause it to fail. Rather than offering a single vision of the future, three are explored here. The first is the worst possible future – that we tip the planet into an uninhabitable state, eliminating ourselves in the process, and worse still, destroying the jewel of an Earth system which has developed over the past four billion years. A popular answer to apocalyptic visions of the future is retreat, into a lower-energy, lower-material-consumption, and ultimately lower-population world. The alternative vision of the future, on the other hand, is of a revolution, into a high-energy, high-recycling world that can support billions of people as part of a thriving and sustainable biosphere.

Keywords:   successful revolution, uninhabitable state, apocalyptic visions, retreat, revolution, sustainable biosphere

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