The Biggest Wake Up Call in History moves the climate change and the end of the lifestyle we are used to debates into new territory. Slaughter does not continue to debate as to whether climate change is happening and if the present historically rapid warming is largely man induced. He starts from the assumption that humanity is facing a world that is slipping deeper and deeper into a crisis and that many resources that had been considered infinite are actually finite and are approaching exhaustion.
Slaughter focuses on how we might be able to harness and use our human ability to understand changing situations. To enable decisions about which everyday practices will affect our collective situation for better or worse, to more effectively provide hope for the future.
For although he agrees the outlook is bleak, he asserts that that outlook is still not a given and that our main hope lies not only in new technologies that fascinate most, but as well in our human capacity to imagine possible futures that will enhance our well being in the long-term. His reading and analysis of a range of climate change literature found this human focused perspective missing in much of the often-quoted literature published to date.
Having set the scene, Slaughter then demonstrates that using some of the tools of the Integral Method of futuring can provide a new way of examining the global crisis to find new drivers and ideas that might speed up human initiated actions that will really make a difference.
Life without oil, and fewer material things tend to be perceived as an inferior option for the future and as a failure for society, but that is only when defined by the present myths. It will not be going back to old ways but going forward differently with the
new knowledge we now have that allows the creation of new myths. Part of being able to do this, is to clearly identify the current myths and why we are trapped by these myths.
Quite simply, it's time to wake up and take collective responsibility for what happens next.
The Biggest Wake Up Call in History is the latest in Richard Slaughters line of foundational writing in future studies. I read and use Richards earlier scholarly compilations regularly. They have served me well as signposts and cornerstones in my understanding of futures studies, and the value of different techniques for constructively thinking about the future, that provide a sound base for action. Over the years he has consistently expanded the boundaries of the current future studies theories and methods to produce material that, I think, help more accurately identify likely nasty surprises in the future that, with the insight gained, can be better managed.
The challenge is to be able to get the messages in the book to as wide an audience as possible. Just as he identified reasons why earlier texts have not had the impact they should this publication is also limited in the audience it is likely to appeal too.
I consider The Biggest Wake Up Call in History a must read for all who are interested in future studies and those in academia. It is the foundation for them to then write the different stories needed to reach people where we are, to help us move from our present passive paradigm, to actively build our new future.
Yvonne Curtis October 2010