Here is a list of suggested key concepts that relate to the predicament facing Spaceship Earth. They are arranged alphabetically and can contribute to the discourse so much needed among policy-makers and educators concerned for a sustainable future:

Anthropocene Age – the  age in which humans have become the main geological force for shaping the planet.

Ego-centrism – selfish concerns that lead to greed vs. Eco-centrism – an ethical concern for other people, species and their planetary home

The “Great Acceleration” – the unprecedented ‘take off’ of exponential growth of human impact on the planet that occurred following World War II fueled by cheap oil, cheap credit and remarkable advances in technology.

Hockey Stick’/‘J’ Curve acceleration – Proper understanding of % rates of exponential growth (e.g. 4% annual growth is calculated as follows: 70 years divided by 4 = doubling every 17.5 years; 8% = 2x every 8.75 years)

Human Impact Formula (I = P x A x T) –  unprecedented scale & acceleration of exponential growth in Population, Affluence & Technology

Infinite planet thinking – a term used by steady-state economy proponents to parody the universal belief that underlies ‘business-as-usual’ thinking that exponential economic growth can continue indefinitely. This link elaborates.

Inter-disciplinary ‘big picture’ focus vs. Fragmented subjects study & research

Linear exponential growth (‘J’ Curve; infinite trajectory) human-made but maladaptive (to the a sustained existence on the planet in the long-term) systems vs. Non-linear cyclical natural systems (self-regulating, ‘S’ Curve; adaptive)

“Machine World” created largely in the last 300 years (debt-fuelled, growth-addicted) vs. the “Natural World” – evolved over 3.5 billion years (cyclical, adaptive, self-renewing)

Planetary boundaries (Stockholm Resilience Centre) – Limits to growth – “Full Earth” reached in 1970 according to the Global Footprint Network –  “Peak Everything” & overshoot (ecological footprint)

Planetary ‘Spheres’ – NATURAL –  geo-, litho-, atmo-, hydro-, cryo-, bio-spheres (the web of life and its support systems); ARTIFICIAL (HUMAN-MADE) – techno-, cyber-, memo-spheres (the products of civilisation)

Resilient design systems –  (anti-fragility) based on nature (biomimicry) that enables systems to adapt their inner to their outer environments.

 “Riddle of the Lily Pond”; “Riddle of the Chess Board” – ways of illustrating the rapid acceleration that results from exponential growth 

Short-termism (temporal discounting) – lack of concern for the distant future.

“Spaceship Earth” – a metaphor to bring home the fact that the earth is our only life support system and that it has finite capacity.

‘Stealth Denial’ or ‘Disavowal’  – when understanding what ought to be done e.g. about global warming, is contradicted by one’s behaviour.

‘Wicked problems’ –  non-linear, complex, multi-variable,  liable to unpredictable ‘Black Swan’ events vs. ‘tame problems’ can be complex but are solvable. There are no environmental problems – only problems of human behaviour and belief that are now maladaptive at the global scale


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