Mother Pelican
A Journal of Sustainable Human Development

Vol. 7, No. 10, October 2011
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
Home Page


Strategies for the Transition to Clean Energy


This entire page is being reworked and is work in progress. The plan is to build a "one page synthesis" of strategies for the transition to clean energy.

1. Primacy of Integral Human Development
2. Joint Integrity of Humanity and the Human Habitat
3. Mitigation Strategies for Sustainable Human Development
4. Adaptation Strategies for Sustainable Human Development
5. Solidarity, Subsidiarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence
6. Non-Renewable & Renewable Energy Resources
7. An Integrated Transition Strategy (2015-2055+)
8. Variations of the Integrated Transition Strategy
9. Strategic Data Sources & Global Transition Megatrends

Methods for analysis of long-term transition strategies include system dynamics and agent-based simulation. Software is readily available to do the number crunching. For example, see these simulations derived from this causal-loop diagram of processes that generate economic growth and collapse.

At the strategic level, simulations provide a way to build scenarios for analysis and discussion pursuant to policy recommendations. It should be stressed that this kind of exercise has nothing to do with prediction of specific events. Models are usually built on soft data in order to include the decision functions that really matter. But these are not "problem-solving" models that produce "solutions" ready to be implemented. They are, however, instrumental for analysis and synthesis of policy issues when frequently revised as conditions change.


Due to the rapid succession of events related to sustainable development worldwide, the entire SDSIM simulation project is under review. It has been determined that the basic structure of the Version 1 series must be reworked to focus on the two sets of feedback loops that matter the most: human development (including gender equality) and the replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy. This will take time, and therefore there will be a hiatus between SDSIM 1.5 and the next series of simulations to start with SDSIM 2.0.

During the SDSIM model reformulation, this supplement will serve to keep track of significant social, economic, and technical developments related to clean energy. The latest SDSIM 1.5 documentation is available here, and the web-based version of the simulation model is available in the FORIO server.

The basic architecture for SDSIM 2.0 is shaping as follows:

Bounded Population-Economic-Ecological System for Sustainable Human Development
Adapted from Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson, 2011, Figure 12.1, Page 195
For more in the context of the 2050 Transition Strategy, click here

To track knowledge evolution, the links within each section are listed in chronological order. Most of the links to online sources will be moved to the Directory of Sustainable Development Resources in the November 2011 issue. Please send comments and suggestions to the Editor.

1. Primacy of Integral Human Development

As a matter of principle, any strategy for the transition to clean energy must recognize integral human development as the most fundamental requirement to guide both public and private initiatives. Integral human development builds on respect for human rights and diligence on human duties, both individually and institutionally. A fundamental document is The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the United Nations General Assembly 10 December 1948.



What is the root cause of human underdevelopment? Is it economic inequality or other forms of social inequality? Or is it the more fundamental phenomenon of gender inequality? Recent advances in anthropology, biology, and psychology lead to an improved understanding of human relations as influenced by gender and how they should evolve for the common good:

  • Each human person is unique, but all human beings share one and the same human nature.
  • "Genesis 1:27 observes that this essential truth about man refers both to the male and the female: "God created man in his own image ... male and female he created them. [...] The first human being the Bible calls "Man" ('adam), but from the moment of the creation of the first woman, it begins to call him "man" (ish) in relation to ishshah ("woman") because she was taken from the man = ish." John Paul II, exegesis of Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Original Unity of Man and Woman, 1981, pp. 23, 29.

  • Indeed, there are significant (and not only genital) differences between men and women.
  • "The "definitive" creation of man consists in the creation of the unity of two beings. Their unity denotes above all the identity of human nature: the duality, on the other hand, manifests what, on the basis of the identity, constitutes the masculinity and femininity of created man. This ontological dimension of unity and duality has, at the same time, an axiological meaning. [...] the "woman" is for the man, and vice versa, the "man" is for the woman [...] man became the "image and likeness" of God not only through his own humanity, but also through the communion of persons which man and woman form right from the beginning. [...] essentially, an image of an inescrutable communion of Persons." John Paul II, exegesis of Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Original Unity of Man and Woman, 1981, pp. 70, 73-74.

  • But gender differences do not cancel the fundamental "unity in diversity" across the gender continuum.
  • "Patriarchy is an 'equal opportunity' destroyer of both women and men. As we recommend below, an inclusive gender perspective that takes into account patriarchy’s disadvantages to both men and women offers a unique opportunity to engage in transformational learning toward a peaceful, just and gender equal global order. We believe that a transformation process would require the extension of human rights standards intended to achieve gender justice to include all men and women of all sexualities, gender orientations and identities." Tony Jenkins and Betty A. Reardon, Gender and peace: towards a gender inclusive, holistic perspective, Metta Center for Nonviolence, November 2010.

  • Biologically, in terms of statistically significant propensities, men are generally "wired" to invade and conquer, while women are generally "wired" to nurture and stabilize.
  • " ... while human males may have evolved under an imperative to invade and conquer, a basic reproductive imperative for females has been to do whatever they can to foster social stability. Also that a female inclination to facilitate social stability is as deeply evolved in humans as the well-known and frequently discussed male inclination for group aggression.

    "This is why a world with fully empowered women sharing with men in decisions regarding war would be more socially stable: because of a female's unavoidable and costly commitment to her offspring, the future of the species, basic human female biological priorities are different from those of males.

    "These differences are not cultural. Their origins are deeply rooted in our evolutionary past. We inherit them from our pre-human primate ancestors. Given free rein and uncurbed by social or ecological forces, these opposed tendencies—with males ready to bond together in acts of aggression and females more inclined to seek social stability—will play themselves out in our group behavior." Judith L. Hand, Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, 2003, pp.28-29.

  • Psychologically, there is woman in man ("anima") and there is man in woman ("animus").
  • "The most important contribution Jung makes in his concepts of the anima and the animus is to give us an idea of the polarity that exists within each of us. We are not homogeneous units of psychic life, but contain an inevitable opposition within the totality that makes up our being. There are opposites within us, call them what we like -- masculine and feminine, anima and animus, Yin and Yang -- and these are eternally in tension and are eternally trying to unite. The human soul is a great arena in which the Active and the Receptive, the Light and the Dark, the Yang and the Yin, seek to come together and forge within us an indescribable unity of personality. To achieve this union of the opposites within ourselves may very well be the task of life, requiring the utmost in perseverance and assiduous awareness. Usually men need women for this to come about, and women need men. And yet, ultimately the union of the opposites does not occur between a man who plays out the masculine and a woman who plays out the feminine, but within the being of each man and each woman in whom the opposites are finally conjoined." John Sanford, The Invisible Partners: How the Male and Female in each of Us Affects our Relationships, Paulist Press, 1980, page 112.

  • Healthy masculinity and femininity are mutually complementary, but roles of responsibility and authority need not be (and should not be) mutually exclusive.
  • "Corporality and sexuality are not completely identified. Although the human body, in its normal constitution, bears within it the sign of sex and is, by its nature, male or female, the fact, however, that man is a "body" belongs to the structure of the personal subject more deeply than the fact that he is in his somatic constitution also male or female." John Paul II, exegesis of Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 in Original Unity of Man and Woman, 1981, p. 62.

  • Human development leads men to become more nurturing and women to become more aggressive.
  • "Christ embodies the ideal of human perfection: in Him all bias and defects are removed, and the masculine and feminine virtues are united and their weaknesses redeemed; therefore, His true followers will be progressively exalted over their natural limitations. That is why we see in holy men a tenderness and a truly maternal solicitude for the souls entrusted to them while in holy women there is manly boldness, proficiency, and determination." Edith Stein, Collected Works of Edith Stein - Essays On Woman, ICS Publications, 1987.

  • However, for the vast majority of men and women, biology prevails over psychology in driving behavior. Therefore, gender balance is required to attain a synthesis of masculine and feminine modes of behavior in governance for integral - and sustainable - human development.
  • " ... a tendency for males to band together and be easily roused to an aggressive group effort is innate. [...] This is overwhelmingly a male inclination. [...] But it is much harder to rouse great numbers of women to this state of aggression and harder still to keep them there because, on average, women find greater reinforcement in an environment that is not in turmoil. Because of genetic inclinations that are as deeply rooted as the bonding-for-aggression inclinations of men, mots women prefer to make or keep the peace, the sooner the better."

    "So long as men and women are estranged from each other, so long as they are unequal and one is considered subservient, so long as men continue to be estranged from satisfying, joy-giving, connections to their children, so long as humans are alienated from the natural world and instead consider themselves its masters and dominators, the need for deep connectedness will remain unmet."

    "If the collective wisdom comes to believe that it ought to be considered right and possible that women are equal to men in social and civic affairs, religion must, and will, eventually affirm that women are considered equal by whatever power they consider divine. If religion doesn’t evolve to match a public commitment to equality for the sexes, we would be teaching children a message contrary to public practice. While such a conflict between practice and belief can persist for a time, it is unlikely to be permanent."

    "The long history of wars of every form fought for every conceivable reason led by men from social structures of every imaginable kind demonstrates that it is impossible for men to help themselves. They cannot free themselves from the call to war. What is needed—the only thing likely to work and be stable—is to counter the inherited male inclination for group aggression with an equally unstoppable, equally deeply rooted female inclination for social stability."

    "When both male and female inclinations are encouraged simultaneously, male aggression will be bound by limits. Liberal democracies in which both sexes exercise the vote are the forums through which balance can be expressed. If we make changes with men and women in full democratic partnership, we can benefit from the best of what we think of as "male" and "female" traits to arrive at a balanced harmony. We can stop the regular sacrifice of lives and resources to the horseman, War. We can turn our attention and focused energies to the great challenge and rewards of Waging Peace." Judith L. Hand, Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, 2003, p. 44-45, 129, 141, 153.

  • Thus the criticality of gender balance in roles of responsibility and authority in both society and religion.
  • This is ancient wisdom: "Nothing can be more absurd than the practice which prevails in our own country, of men and women not following the same pursuits with all their strength and with one mind, for thus the state, instead of being a whole, is reduced to a half." Plato, Laws, 360 BCE. Since the inception of recorded history, flashes of this insight show up here and there in the sacred texts of religious founders, the work of learned philosophers, and the common sense of people worldwide over the centuries.

    More recently, the criticality of gender balance in social institutions has received extensive attention in response to the first and second waves of feminism. Not so the even more critical issue of gender balance in religious institutions, which are notorius for a high degree of resistance to change. But the history of Christianity (see, for example, Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, Viking, 2010), and the history of all patriarchal religions, provide ample evidence that the lack of gender balance in roles of religious responsibility and authority inevitably leads to violence, physical and otherwise.

    At a time when the old misconceptions about the superiority of men (and inferiority of women) have become utterly discredited by science and the collective unconscious, it is criminal for religious institutions to perpetuate such practices as excluding women from ordained ministry under the pretense of fidelity to literalist interpretations of patriarchal texts and traditions; an exclusion which is theologically baseless, does harm to the integral development of both men and women, and is in fact tantamount to vocational gendercide. Perpetuation of this nefarious practice cannot possibly be God's will.

The bottom line is that gender equality, and gender balance in roles of responsibility and authority, are essential for

  • A civilized transition from fossil fuels to clean energy
  • A civilized transition from consumerism to sustainability
  • Sustainable improvement in integral human development

EDITOR'S NOTE: A synthesis of this material as it pertains to the energy-economic-ecological crisis is taking shape and is reported in Section 7 of this page.

2. Joint Integrity of Humanity and the Human Habitat

Human development cannot happen in a vacuum. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of the human habitat is essential for sustainable human development. A fundamental document is The Earth Charter, approved by the Earth Charter Commission 29 June 2000 after 5 years of preparation and worldwide consultations.


There are two broad sets of strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the human habitat: mitigation and adaptation. As currently formulated in a patriarchal context, neither one assures a civilized transition from consumerism to sustainability. Such a transition becomes feasible if, and only if, there is a confluence of energy balance and gender balance. Energy balance, and a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, is indispensable. The other indispensable catalyst is the transition from patriarchal domination to cross-gender solidarity.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A synthesis of this material as it pertains to the energy-economic-ecological crisis is taking shape and is reported in Section 7 of this page.

3. Mitigation Strategies for Sustainable Human Development

Mitigation strategies attempt to reduce the rate of natural resource depletion and other negative impacts of economic activity on the human habitat.


The goal is not to exceed sustainable material and energy flows. The effectiveness of mitigation strategies should be evaluated against this absolute goal. Clearly, if resource productivities increase (or resource intensities decrease) but total resource consumption rates increase even more due to population growth, economic growth, or any other reason, mitigation alone will not do. Most probably, attaining global energy balance will require significant adaptation of human behavior in conjunction with radical economic reforms. Such behavioral adaptation and structural reforms are contingent on integral human development.

4. Adaptation Strategies for Sustainable Human Development

Adaptation strategies attempt to reverse environmental degradation by changing patterns of human behavior regarding production and consumption of goods and services.


Assuring the effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation strategies will require a radical upgrade in the quality of human relations.

5. Solidarity, Subsidiarity, Sustainability, and Nonviolence

Transitioning from consumerism to sustainability will require shifting gears in many significant ways. The following principles will be instrumental in attaining the transition to clean energy.


6. Non-Renewable & Renewable Energy Resources

Continued use and abuse of non-renewable energy sources is unsustainable. In the long-term, renewable energy sources will be indispensable. Technologies are available (or can become available with appropriate incentives) that would make it possible to meet most human energy needs with clean energy by 2050. However, to make it happen is mainly a social issue, not a technical one. Consider the following data and projections from the International Energy Outlook (IEO) 2011, Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, September 2011:

Source: IEO 2011 Figure 1, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 2, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 3, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 6, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 10, US DOE/EIA, 2011
Source: IEO 2011 Figure 31, US DOE/EIA, 2011

For a more comprehensive set of charts, see Energy Perspectives

The projections to 2035 in Figures 1 and 2 suggest that, while energy demand will continue to grow, no significant shift from fossil fuels to renewables is to be expected. Figures 3 and 6 partition the projections to show the same thing by human activity (note the huge energy demand for transportation!) for the generation of electricity (note the persistent trend for coal burning!). Figure 10 shows the anticipated CO2 emissions by fuel, and Figure 31 shows the expectation that oil prices will continue to rise but not too much (reference case). Since the demand for fossil fuels is very inelastic (what other choice do people have as long as there are no clean energy alternatives?) this composite set of projections does not bode well for either the future health of the planet or the wellbeing of humanity; for humans are bound to be affected by continued environmental deterioration and climate change. Thus is the nature of an economic system in which short-term profits are the sole arbiter of production and consumption decisions.

Source: Charles A. S. Hall, 2010, reprinted in Wikipedia
Lurking under these rosy projections of global energy production and consumption (and many other similar projections by other notable think tanks worldwide) is the implicit assumption that economic growth - in terms of production and consumption of material commodities - will continue to grow even if population stabilizes. Any other assumption would be "politically incorrect" and therefore ruled out. However, the energy return on energy investment (EROEI, or EROI), and therefore the financial return on investment, is much higher for non-renewables than for renewables, as shown in the chart inserted to the right. As long as this is the case, the worldwide carbon-based economic and financial systems - driven as they are to minimize "time to market" and maximize short-term profits "one quarter at a time" - are utterly unable to shift priorities from carbon-based growth to sustainable stability. As economist Milton Friedman has pointed out, "only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When the crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend upon the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable." A compilation of such alternatives, by no means exhaustive or definitively integrated, is presented in Section 7.


Human willingness and technical innovation can make it possible to integrate the behavioral and technical sides of the transition puzzle. However, technological innovation alone is not likely to be sufficient. Strong economic incentivation, and significant human adaptation, will probably be required.

7. An Integrated Transition Strategy (2015-2055+)

This section presents the emerging synthesis of all the information in sections 1 to 7. The synthesis is presented in the form of a concept that integrates the social, economic, and energy issues that must be resolved to attain a civilized (i.e., humane) transition during the first half of the 21st century. Energy balance for entropy control is a non-negotiable requirement, and gender balance for violence mitigation is an indispensable catalyst for the transition.

There is a propensity to violence in patriarchal cultures that is a natural consequence of male human biology and the macho propensity to domination and control. Since violence is the greatest obstacle to human development, let alone sustainable human development, it follows that patriarchal cultures must be reformed if we are to attain sustainability. The patriarchal behavior of domination and control also leads to psychological stress, which reinforces the propensity to use violent means to pursue human goals as well as the propensity to attempt reaching such goals sooner rather than later. Thus short-term goals are pursued with minimal or no consideration for long-term priorities such as safaguarding the wellbeing of future generations.

Thus it is that the transition from patriarchy to gender balance is a prerequisite for the transition from consumerism to sustainability. Furthermore, the reformation of patriachy is not just a matter of pursuing superficial improvement in terms of gender equity (e.g., closing the pay gap), gender equality (fully sharing human nature and human dignity), and gender balance (fully sharing responsibilities and roles of authority). Full gender equality, and authentic gender balance, will require transcending deeply ingrained masculinist prejudices that scholarly research in human sexuality and gender construction is barely starting to expose. This is not to imply that "perfect" gender balance must be achieved before the transition to sustainability starts. On the contrary, the hypothesis proposed below is that the process toward gender balance in human affairs, and the process toward energy balance and ecological sustainability, will reinforce each other in many significant ways.

The transition concept is presented next from the process dynamics and time-phasing perspectives:


Bounded Population-Economic-Ecological System for Sustainable Human Development
Adapted from Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson, 2011, Figure 12.1, Page 195

There are three sets of feedback loops: human development, human adaptation, and industrial mitigation.

  • Human Development Loops (yellow arrows)
  • The human development loops improve gender equality and other human capabilities, and guide the allocation of income/commodities generated by the economic system. Gender equality is the most crucial factor to reinforce the human development loops. Gender balance for responsible human reproduction and economic policy-making is indispensable to transition from a profit-driven economy with technological innovation at the service of financial capital accumulation to an economy where meeting human development needs is the top priority.

  • Human Adaptation Loops (red arrows)
  • The human adaptation loops drive ecological investment so as to enhance the sustainability of ecosystem services. Gender equality is the most crucial factor to reinforce the human adaptation loops. Gender balance in environmental protection and the management of ecosystem services is essential to transition from an economy that attempts to dominate nature to an economy that strives for survivability by investing in ecological capital to ensure symbiotic balance between humanity and the human habitat. It cannot be overemphasized that these adaptation loops will remain dormant as long as the patriarchal (masculinist) mindset governs economic decisions and seeks short-term expedience and short-term profits without regard for the long-term common good.

  • Industrial Mitigation Loops (green arrows)
  • The industrial mitigation loops improve the productivity of energy and other resources by using "industrial engineering" methods. These loops strive to minimize the energy/resource intensity of goods and services and minimize GHG emissions and other forms of waste - toxic waste in particular. Methods of industrial engineeering and operations research (under various names encompassing the full spectrum of science and engineering) are to be applied within the framework of a total population-economy-environment system. Mitigation loops are helpful as long as their operation is subservient to, and do not interfere with, the human development and human adaptation loops.


The convergence of gender balance, energy balance, and sustainability emerges from gender imbalance and energy imbalance jointly driving human civilization toward unsustainability. Many other factors are involved, but gender and energy imbalances are the most pervasive, and balancing them would have a neutralizing effect on all the other factors that conspire against a sustainable human society. If the transition from consumerism to sustainability is to be attained in a timely and civilized manner, i.e., before it is too late and minimizing violence as much as possible, balancing gender relations and energy flows would be the best (perhaps the only?) way to go.

Balancing gender relations is more than just gender equity, even though attaining gender equity is a good start. It also goes beyond gender equality as a merely theoretical recognition of human dignity regardless of gender, but one that fails to exorcise patriarchal modes of thinking and behaving. Gender balancing for sustainability would require wide open access to all roles of authority and responsibility without any artificial gender-based limitation. Sanitizing hearts and minds from patriarchy is needed in all dimensions of human life, both secular and religious. Then, and only then, can human behavior - and policy decisions - exhibit the mix of masculine and feminine traits that will be required to reconcile humanity with the human habitat.

With regard to balancing energy flows, it is a matter of facing two realities and acting accordingly. One reality is that balancing energy flows through the global system is an unavoidable requirement of the physical laws of thermodynamics. There is no way around that. Another reality is that extracting energy from carbon-intensive fossil fuels always entails a net energy flow imbalance (i.e., energy input > energy output). Therefore, using fossil fuels as a source of energy must give way to using clean (renewable) energy sources, and the sooner the better. Since energy is needed for all human activities, the transition to clean energy is bound to mitigate carbon-induced climate change and drive adaptation in all industrial sectors of the global economy.

It must be noted that "gender balance" entails more than just "gender equity" (equal pay) and more than "gender equality" (equal dignity); it requires exorcising patriarchal modes of thinking and behaving, and open access to all roles of responsibility and commensurate authority -- regardless of artificial gender-based exclusions -- in order to have a healthy mix of masculine aggressiveness and feminine nurturing in human behavior and policy formulation. It is the confluence of gender balancing and energy balancing, acting together with rippling effects throughout the global human system, that can become a catalyst for a relatively benign transition from consumerism to sustainability. Else, the inevitable transition will come to pass but probably at the price of much violence and human suffering.


There are four recursive time phases: concientization, incentivation, redistribution, and democratization.

The following acronyms, and terminology are used in this transition concept and subsequent discussion:
Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
Energy return on Energy Investment (EROEI)
Financial Transaction Tax (FTT)
Global Citizens Movement (GCM)
Human Development (HD)
Human Development Index (HDI)
Human Development Report (HDR)
Integral Human Development (IHD)
International Standards Organization (ISO)
Land Value Tax (LVT) or Resource Value Tax (RVT)
Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs (MASLOW)
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Principle of Solidarity (SOLIDARITY)
Principle of Subsidiarity (SUBSIDIARITY)
Principle of Sustainability (SUSTAINABILITY)
Sustainable Development (SD)
Sustainable Human Development (SHD)
Triple Bottom Line (TBL)
The formula I=PxAxT, known as "Ehrlich's Equation," is generally recognized as a good model for the ecological impact of economic activity. The impact is a nonlinear function of human population (P, # of persons), affluence (A) measured as consumption per capita ($/person), and a technology factor (T) that quantifies the impact (in physical units) per dollar of consumption. Note that for impact (I) to decrease, the technology factor (T) must go down faster than the product of population (P) and lifestyle (A) grows.
Several formulations are possible for IHD. The best known is the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI) which includes three components: life expectancy, years of schooling, and GNP per capita. The are many variations of the HDI to include, for example, the gender equality dimension. Other indices attempt to replace GNP with other measures of human wellbeing, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), the GINI Cofficient of Inequality, and the Happy Planet Index (HPI).

The transition entails maximizing human development and wellbeing as much as possible, and minimizing ecological impacts as much as possible, in a manner that leads to economic and ecological stability. Clearly, maximizing human wellbeing and minimizing ecological impact are mutually contradictory goals as long as human wellbeing is measured in terms of material consumption per capita. Since there are resource limits, and there are limits to efficiency improvements via technological innovation, something must give: humans must adapt by shifting expectations of wellbeing from economic affluence to other human development goals. It is impossible to predict how this adaptation process will unfold, but the following synopsis of the transition phases is proposed as a point of reference:

  • The first phase (2015+) is concientization to enable incentivation
  • The objective is to create widespread popular support for the required revisions of tax codes and energy subsidies. In other words, the first phase is about creating a collective mindset of global citizenship and social responsibility, strong enough to translate into political will to face the inevitable transition and implement required reforms. Gender equity is key.

  • The second phase (2025+) is incentivation to enable redistribution
  • The objective is to reform tax codes and energy subsidies to expedite the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Applicable reforms include shifting taxes from earned income to the usage (extraction) of unearned resources and the release of pollution, as well as taxing financial transactions of dubious social value. Gender equality is key.

  • The third phase (2035+) is redistribution to enable democratization
  • The objective is to institutionalize democracy with gender balance and distributive justice. This may entail adopting a Universally Guaranteed Personal Income (i.e., a basic minimum income rather than a minimum wage) and a Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (i.e., an upper limit on financial wealth accumulation) that can be democratically adjusted periodically.

  • The fourth phase (2045+) is worldwide democratization
  • The objective is democratization of global, national, and local governance with deeply ingrained gender balance and widely institutionalized implementation of the solidarity, subsidiarity, and sustainability principles. Decisions are to be made at the lowest possible level consistent with governance capabilities and the common good of humanity.


  • The four phases are not envisioned to be strictly sequential. They most probably will overlap, with recursions and convulsions along the way.
  • The term "gender equality" is not to be understood as "gender uniformity." By gender equality is meant equality of dignity and personal development opportunities across the entire gender continuum. In other words, full equality in all dimensions of human life: physical, intellectual, psychological, vocational, spiritual.
  • A menu of possible actions to foster gender equality is still TBD, but fostering gender equality (100% participation) will be crucial in all four phases and beyond. It is anticipated that action items pursuant to overcoming patriarchy would include:
    • National movements such as the Equal Rights Ammendment in the USA.
    • Regional programs such as the European Institute for Gender Equality.
    • International programs such as the UN MDGs, ESD, CEDAW, and UNWOMEN.
    • Support initiatives in secular institutions (pay gap, gender quotas, etc).
    • Support initiatives in religious institutions (women in roles of religious authority).
    • Research on issues of human sexuality and gender equality.
    • Research on patriarchy, linguistics, human languages, and gender equality.
  • The term "clean energy" is to be understood as "clean renewable energy" that is naturally replenished and does not produce GHG emissions when used. It does not include absurdities such as "clean coal."
  • The menu of possible actions offered to foster clean energy is not presumed to be complete or definitive. Various mixes of monetary and fiscal policies are possible top down, and an incalculable number of bottom up initiatives are bound to emerge. However, the following fiscal and monetary policies are strongly recommended:
    • Definition and implementation of appropriate financial speculation taxes as soon as possible (catastrophe prevention).
    • Bailouts of any kind of institution via money supply mechanisms are to be made illegal as soon as possible (catastrophe prevention).
    • A radical shift of tax burdens from the middle class to the very rich (distributive justice).
    • A radical shift from taxing income to taxing resource usage and unabated pollution (ecological justice).
    • A radical shift from social welfare programs to basic income and help-yourself programs (distributive justice).
    • A gradual shift from "international development assistance" to global equity practices (restorative justice).
    • A gradual evolution toward the minimal required form of environmental/resource global governance (sustainability assurance).
  • It is understood that other factors or combinations of factors may be necessary and/or sufficient for the transition:
    • Education on nonviolence, solidarity, subsidiarity, sustainability, and other best practices to foster a civilized transition.
    • Zero tolerance of war, genocide, and other forms of institutionalized violence at any level of governance.
    • Protection of human rights and sustainable human development to become top priorities at all levels of governance.
    • Technology and industrial production are to be at the service of human development, not the other way around.
    • Inter-industry collaboration pursuant to maximum pollution mitigation during the transition.
    • Inter-industry adaptation of products and technologies in transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.
    • Consumption mitigation and adaptation to pollution-free and climate-friendly goods and services.
  • However, the combination of gender balance and energy balance is hereby proposed as the necessary and sufficient driver for a civilized (i.e., humane) transition, and are expected to have a multiplying effect throughout the global human system.

The following synthesis is a "working hypothesis" that attempts to encapsulate our current understanding of the issues and suggests an agenda for researchers and activists:


Human willingness and technical innovation can make it possible to integrate the behavioral and technical sides of the transition from consumerism to sustainability. However, it is reasonable to anticipate that technological innovation alone will not be sufficient. Strong economic incentives, and significant human adaptation, will be required. By "significant" is meant a radical departure from extreme capitalist and socialist mindsets, both of which are rooted in a patriarchal culture hardened by the masculinist propensity to violence traceable to primitive religious violence.

This urge to attain control and domination - of people and of nature - is deeply ingrained in human culture, with roots traceable to human evolution, human biology, and human psychology. It induces stress on individuals and communities to the point of seeking aggressive (and often even violent) short-term "solutions" to real or imaginary threats with almost complete disregard for the long-term wellbeing of humanity and the human habitat. Furthermore, the energy return on energy investment, and therefore the financial return on capital investment, is much higher for non-renewables than for renewables. As long as this is the case, the worldwide carbon-based economic and financial systems - conditioned as they are to minimize "time to market" and maximize short-term profits "one quarter at a time" - are utterly unable to shift priorities from unsustainable growth to sustainable stability.

Men are not the problem.
Women are not the problem.
Business is not the problem.
Government is not the problem.
Patriarchy is the problem.
Indeed, patriarchy is the problem. Patriarchal civilizations beget dysfunctional societies - and communities, and families - because their concept of civility is corrupted by power. Violence goes around, and comes around, in many different forms and flavors; sometimes presumptiously disguised as "the hand of God," very often viewed by both victims and victimizers as the "natural order of things." Needless to say, victimizers eventually become victims, and the vicious cycle continues ... ad nauseam.

A testosterone-driven culture is bound to be a violent culture, and experience confirms that this applies to both the secular and religious dimensions of human affairs. As long as patriarchy remains normative, a civilized (i.e., humane, sensible) transition from consumerism to sustainability is humanly impossible; for such a transition would entail a radical renunciation of violence that will remain biologically and psychologically impossible as long as patriarchy is not superseded by gender balance in all social (and religious) roles of responsibility and authority.

Then, and only then, can a sensible transition unfold by overcoming the masculinist culture of violence and pave the way for individuals and nations to take into account both legitimate self-interest and the common good; transferring tax burdens from earned income to financial speculation (e.g., derivatives trading), resource depletion (at the point of extraction), and environmental degradation ("polluter pays" principle); declaring some form of debt jubilee and/or creating debt-free money by central and regional banks; seeking distributive justice via a democratically set universal guaranteed personal income; balancing globalization with financial localization via local currencies and/or exchange trading systems; adopting business practices such as the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit); working out the economic and technological issues that must be resolved in order to migrate from fossil fuels to clean energy; consolidating democracy at all levels by firm adherence to the wise principles of solidarity, subsidiarity, and sustainability; and giving top priority to sustainable human development rather than unsustainable resource exploitation and wealth accumulation.

This is not to imply that a complete exorcism of masculinist demons, and perfect gender balance, must be achieved before the transition to sustainability can start. On the contrary, the hypothesis is that the process toward sustainability has already started, even though it remains invisible for many. But attaining gender balance in human affairs, and the process toward energy balance and ecological sustainability, will reinforce each other in many significant and mutually beneficial ways. Pursuing gender balance is the catalyst that will brake the current impasse and get the process going. Since the "patriarchs" will seldom (if ever!) pour the catalyst down from the top, it must gently percolate upwards from the grassroots: individual citizens, families, groups, and local communities.

This synthesis attempts to integrate several dimensions of knowledge and experience, including science and engineering, technology management, ecology, economics, finance, psychology, human sexuality and gender, religion, philosophy, and ethics. A list of selected references is provided below, with items listed in chronological order within each knowledge group.


Nothing is totally unrelated to sustainable human development. An invaluable online resource for transdisciplinary research is The Ten Pillars of Knowledge by Chaim Zis (Knowledge Mapping Research, Jerusalem, Israel). There can be many variations of any conceivable transition scenario. Some of the variations to be investigated are identified in the following section.

8. Variations of the Integrated Transition Strategy

In terms of the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, there seems to be a convergence of outlook that is shared by business, agencies, and NGOs. For example, the following table juxtaposes the latest transition projections by British Petroleum (BP), the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The time windows are not the same, and the energy units are defined differently, but the patterns of energy substitution are similar albeit with the BP outlook being most pessimistic, and the WWF outlook being most optimistic, about replacing fossil fuels by clean energy. The objective of the strategy proposed in Section 7 is to enable the WWF scenario.

Energy in Billion TOE
BP Outlook 1990-2030
For larger image, see BP page 16
Energy in Quadrillion BTU
EIA Outlook 1980-2035
For larger image, see EIA page 63
Energy in EJ/a
WWF Outlook 2000-2050
For larger image, see WWF page 92

The following variations are being considered for the 2015-2055 time window:

  • Variations on fossil fuel reserves and the timing of "peak oil"
  • Variations on the timing and intensity of climate changes
  • Variations on the performance, schedule, and cost of clean energy
  • Variations on the human propensity to consume
  • Variations on the human propensity to adapt
  • Variations on the world financial system (speculation, regulation)
  • Variations on the pace of progress in secular gender equity, equality, and balance
  • Variations on the pace of progress in religious gender equity, equality, and balance

EDITOR'S NOTE: These variations are to be formulated and explored with SDSIM 2.0 (to view SDSIM 1.5, click here).

9. Strategic Data Sources & Global Transition Megatrends

Listed below are links to the best data and knowledge sources in two categories: strategic data sources and global transition megatrends.


The precision and accuracy of the data sources listed above span the entire spectrum from "very soft" to "somewhat credible." The visible megatrends are highly aggregated and therefore less sensitive to data collection inadequacies. Still invisible is the most critical megatrend toward gender equality/gender balance in roles of responsibility and authority.

|Back to the SUMMARY|

|Back to SECTION 1|     |Back to SECTION 2|     |Back to SECTION 3|
|Back to SECTION 4|     |Back to SECTION 5|     |Back to SECTION 6|
|Back to SECTION 7|     |Back to SECTION 8|     |Back to SECTION 9|

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