Anxiety of an impending apocalypse has gripped humanity through the ages with curious consistency. Whether spiritual or religious, the musings of a madman or the tendency for humans to overestimate risk of unlikely but potentially catastrophic events; history is beset with apocalyptic prophecies and expectations.
Cancel the Apocalypse, the latest book by author and campaigner Andrew Simms is a powerful critique of the world we live in. Simms argues that while the threat of catastrophic climate change is yet another apocalyptic prediction and unlike the countless predictions before, is based on terrifying empirical evidence; we are ‘still in a situation where we can choose to take a different path.’ We are, in effect, in a position to influence our own fate.
Simms is one of a growing number of scholars, policy experts and activists arguing that economies are both out of control and the source of systemic problems such as climate change and rising socio-economic inequalities. In fact, as Simms argues, even the overarching philosophy of economics is defunct. Growth of our economies, measured as GDP, has become the end in itself rather than a means to an end. Any vision of what society should be aiming for has been lost to the sole aim of turning a profit, recruiting conspicuous consumers of 'stuff' and promoting selfish individualism. As a result, the environment and society as a whole has lost out.
But rather than taking the approach, as many have done before, of spending 90 per cent or more of a book outlining a problem, terrifying the reader to a shivering heap then providing little if any thoughtful reflection of what can actually be done, refreshingly, the opposite is true.
Systemic change requires systemic analysis and systemic solutions. Cancel the Apocalypse does not disappoint, providing actual mechanisms, policies and activities that could transform the existing economic model to one, ‘in which we optimise how we live, rather than maximise what we consume.’
Simms provides a much needed whistle-stop tour of ‘new economics’, an economics based on people and the planet. Aimed at a popular audience, he brings the potential of a new economy to life, by packing his latest work full of vignettes, historical analogies, empirical analysis and current examples of new economic solutions in practice. ‘With eyes to see it,’ writes Simms, ‘a great transition has already begun, and there are opportunities everywhere for virtuous cycles of change.’
Cancel The Apocalypse: The New Path To Prosperity by Andrew Simms (Little Brown) £13.99