Gary Marshall


Images by Sam Hendrikse



We appear to be at or near the peak of the industrial expansion that has characterised the past 200 years.  As we transition into a post growth world, a new reality is emerging and a new paradigm is being born. This emerging reality will be fundamentally different from anything we have experienced in our lifetimes; it will affect everything we do and it will set the context for the future of landscape architecture. This essay is in two parts; in the first part I will briefly explore four fundamental drivers, Peak Planet, Peak Oil, Peak Debt and Peak Complexity, which will individually and collectively underpin the inevitable transition into a post growth economy.  In the second part I will discuss five emergent themes that suggest how the future practice of landscape architecture can refocus and adapt to this emerging reality. 



“The next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years” - Chris Matheson 



Our global civilization is in ecological overshoot. According to the latest ‘Living Planet Report’ (1) we have been in ecological overshoot since approximately 1970. We are now collectively consuming more resources than the planet can regenerate and disposing of more waste than it can safely re-assimilate at a rate that amounts to 1.5 planets in order to support our current population and consumptive lifestyles. While we once lived in an empty planet with many more resources available to exploit after exhausting them in one place, we have used all of these places up and we now live in what ecological economist Herman Daly has described as a full planet (2). We are reaching limits on a number of fronts; in terms of regenerative capacity we are at or close to the limits of available arable land, fresh water, wild harvest from the sea and in a number of critical minerals (3) including phosphorus (4) (critical to our industrial food system), indium (5) (used for touch screens and solar panels) and, most importantly, oil.  In terms of waste assimilation, the planet is unable to absorb many of the waste products (environmental externalities.)6 generated by our industrial activities. The most widely known and pressing externality is our greenhouse gas emissions, which include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (7). The consequences, which include destabilized climate sea level rise and acidification of oceans (8) could render the planet unsuitable for any form of complex society (9). In our pursuit of these diminishing resources we have displaced and destroyed the habitat for much of the planet’s biodiversity and we are now well into the planet’s sixth great extinction (10). Ecological overshoot cannot be sustained and a correction that rebalances human activity with that of the earths carrying capacity will play an increasingly import role in our day-to-day life.



Global oil extracted using conventional (11) methods peaked in 2006 (12). Peak oil does not refer to the moment in which we completely deplete oil supplies – rather, it refers to the moment in which the rate of oil extraction begins declining and the cost to extract rises with respect to money and energy.  Peak oil typically occurs after approximately half of the oil in a well has been extracted.  In practice, we extract the more readily accessible oil first and leave more inaccessible oil for later. Whereas we could continue to increase the rate of extraction during the first half of the oil well’s lifecycle, during the second half, the ability to increase the rate of extraction is decreased and we enter a period of energy decent.  The process of energy descent will compound and will continue year on year for many generations to come. 

What matters most is not the total quantity of energy extracted but the energy profit ratio or net energy of our energy sources. It takes energy to extract energy and net energy is the measure of how much energy is available to society once the energy taken to extract and refine the energy is accounted for – this is typically described in terms of energy returned on energy invested or EROEI.  Fossil fuels have very high EROEI: early oil fields = 100:1; coal = 40:1; and natural gas = 20:1. Unconventional oil and most forms of ‘renewable’ (13) energy have a much lower energy profit ratio, and/or they are in limited supply: unconventional oil such as tar sands, shale oil, coal and gas conversion = 5:1; hydroelectric = 30:1; wind 20:1; geothermal = 10:1; and photovoltaic = 4:1. The issue is that we have built most of what we use today using the high energy profit ratios of fossil fuels - an irreplaceable one time energy bonanza that can never be fully replaced using unconventional and renewable energy sources. Because every human endeavor has a minimum energy profit ratio in order to function our ability to support and maintain a number of goods and services we take for granted will be increasingly difficult to maintain (14). For example, moving freight with a truck needs an EROEI of 7:1, education 9:1; modern health care 12:1; cultural expressions such as art 14:1 etc. (15). As Nicole Foss reminds us, the paradox facing energy transition strategies relying on unconventional fossil fuels and/or renewable energy supplies is that the EROEI of these energy sources are too low to sustain a society complex enough to produce them. (16) 



“Food, shelter, clothing, fuels, minerals, forests, fishers, land, buildings, art, music, and information are real wealth.  Money by itself is not.  Money is circulated among people who use it to buy real wealth” – Odum and Odum

A debt is an obligation or promise to pay for something with income not yet earned.  Today, this typically involves payment of the original sum plus interest. When we go into debt we assume that the money needed to pay the debt can and will be earned at some point in the future. This is achievable so long as our income remains equal to or higher than our repayment obligations and/or there remain enough resources available to exploit in order to continue to generate income into the future. The problem is that for the last 30 years we have grown our debt faster than we have grown our income (17) and we live on a ‘full planet’ with few resources to exploit. It is no coincidence that the expansion of global credit coincided with the time that we entered ecological overshoot. Once we no longer had the ability to grow the real wealth of the economy through the easy exploitation of resources we went into debt to ‘grow’ the economy. While we expanded the amount of money in the economy by issuing debt, we did not manage the corresponding growth in the underlying real wealth of the economy.  We are now in a situation of under-collateralization where the volume of outstanding debt is greater than the underlying real wealth of the planet (18). Said another way, if it were possible to extract, process and sell all of the resources on the planet today, it would still not generate enough income to pay our outstanding debt. As this debt can never be paid off, it needs to be ‘written off’ or forgiven. This will substantially reduce the amount and speed of money circulating through the economy – causing a sharp contraction in supply of credit (19) and money and a shift from an inflationary economy into deflationary spiral (20). Because modern capitalist economies only work in the space of expansion, the contraction of our economies will require a ‘reboot’ of our existing, growth based economy and the creation of new and alternative means of economic organization.


As societies grow and develop they tend to increase in complexity (21). There is a direct relationship between the amount of energy flowing through the system and its complexity (22). There is also a connection between cultural evolution, which tends to increase as the amount of energy harnessed per capita is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased (23). While increases in societal complexity pay dividends in the early stages of development, increasing complexity requires corresponding increases in investment back into the system to maintain the new, more complex state.  Beyond a certain point, increased investments in complexity no longer generate the same benefits they did earlier and we enter into a phase of what anthropologist Joseph Tainter terms diminishing marginal returns on investment (24). For example, the intensification of conventional farming requires increasing investment in supporting infrastructure such as farm races, fencing and milking equipment as well as increases in key inputs such as water, fertilizers and antibiotics.  This, in turn, requires increasing investment in indirect expenses such as fencing off streams, repair of roadways, investment in research to reduce methane gas emissions and more efficient irrigation systems, building corporate head quarters etc. Before too long, increasing complexity in one sector of the economy starts to impact other sectors - in this example, intensification of farming practices has resulted in substantial and dramatic loss of water quality in our streams which is resulting in increased investment in the maintenance of New Zealand’s clean green, ‘100% Pure’ brand which is critical to our tourism sector. Tainter’s thoroughly researched and very persuasive arguments suggest that diminishing marginal returns is an unavoidable reality of complex societies, and the more one is aware of this tendency, the more one tends to recognize the effects of diminishing marginal returns in all layers of society. 


The dominant cultural narrative is that we will overcome, avoid and/or solve at least one if not all of the four problems outlined above. This will be achieved through ongoing technological progress, collective action and/or sheer human genius. As a result we will continue life in much the same way we do today, only more technologically and socially advanced. The consequence that needs to be accepted is that the four issues outlined above are effectively unsolvable to any degree that will enable us to maintain our current economy and lifestyles. They are unsolvable because they are either non negotiable and/or they are wicked (25). The four interrelated themes of Peak Planet, Peak Oil, Peak Debt and Peak Complexity underpin the emerging reality and the inevitable transition into an age of limits (26) and a post growth economy. This new reality will set the context for the future practice of landscape architecture. In the words of David Fleming (27), the transition to the post growth economy “will not be an achievement: it will be an unavoidable inheritance. The response is to make a virtue of necessity: small-scale elegance will bring a greatly reduced need for the intermediate goods and services that sustain the infrastructure of life and citizenship. There will be reduction to virtual elimination, in (for instance) travel and transportation, packaging and handling, the structures of bureaucracy and regulation. This reduction is the point of entry back into the real world of resilience and consistency with the ecology on which life and all its forms completely relies” (28).


While trying to predict the future in detail can be a rather futile activity, developing a broad understanding of the pattern of probable future scenarios utilizing our best scientific knowledge (29), applying the lessons of history (30) and observing how other contemporary states and communities are realizing and responding to their own limits (31) are necessary places to start. On consideration of these sources, the emerging future that seems most likely is not the immediate collapse into a post-apocalyptic wasteland often portrayed, but a more prolonged contraction and reorganization of our economy characterized by sharp changes in circumstance followed by periods of relative stability, where energy descent and ongoing economic contraction becomes an accepted part of life. This process has all ready begun, and will continue to unfold over multiple generations. ‘Localisation’ is the most concise descriptor for this transition. Here it is useful to consider David’s Fleming localization spectrum which range between light local where most, if not all routine needs, in particular food and water are procured locally but the equipment needed to produce these goods are imported through to deep local where the ability to purchase goods and services from outside a bioregional economy is not possible and supplies of tools and materials and even metals are not available to import including telecommunications devices and the maintenance and upkeep of the infrastructure to maintain the ‘world-wide-web’(32). 

The primary enabling process of localization is import substitution – a process of systematically substituting those goods and services that are currently provided through large, centralized structures and/or imported into a city or region with ones that are produced locally. For landscape architecture this means engaging in the design, implementation and management of productive landscapes at local and regional scale to produce food, fibre, fuel, construction materials and medicine; and the creation of decentralized and distributed green infrastructure such as grey water wetlands and composting toilets. Import substitution works on many levels, the most important of which is through its ability to build resilience within the natural carrying capacity of the region.  This is achieved through the diversifying effect of systematically replacing imports with locally produced alternatives and the inbuilt logic of the approach that means development can only occur within the rates of natural replenishment of the local economy.  In the words of Robert Thayer - “By replacing imports, cities and their surrounding regions may, enlarge markets for local and nearby rural goods, increase the numbers and kinds of local jobs, increase transplants of city work into the local region, create new uses for the technology of rural production, and grow city capital” (33).



“An unpredictable future belongs to the best adapted” – Peter Del Tredici


The problems explored in the previous section frame an emerging reality that will be very different from today. As designers, we need to accept and come to terms with the enormity of these problems and consider how we might respond and engage with them. This will require landscape architects to accept the fact that many of the projects that they typically engage in, which include large-scale infrastructure projects such as motorways, green field development, retail streets, and high-end parks, are extractive and wasteful and despite the fact that many of these projects integrate ‘green infrastructure’ interventions. At best, these projects passively support, but ultimately perpetuate the unsustainable practices of the growth economy. In this section, five emerging themes, which have been gleaned from the world of design and related fields will be discussed. The five themes suggest how we can reframe and adapt the future practice of landscape architecture to better address our emerging reality.



“The term ‘regenerative’ describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature”. (34) 

Landscape architecture has a history in regenerative design (35) and is perhaps the most obvious place for landscape architects to start.  In the context of Peak Planet, we must not only stop the process of decay that will inevitably overcome our vital support systems and key infrastructure (36) we must actively rehabilitate the historic damage we have inflected on the planet by building real wealth (37) – natural, cultural, social, human, built, commercial and financial – in that order. In the words of William McDonough and Michael Braungart- “doing less bad is no longer good enough, we must do good” (38). In theory this means increasing the ecological carrying capacity of the environment and enhancing ecosystem function, by for example, growing biomass and species diversity, ensuring that water leaves the site at least as clean as it was when it entered the site, establishing habitat for wildlife, growing food and soil and re-mediating any contaminants that might be present on the site. While not technically regenerative design (39), this strategy also seeks to reduce the energy intensity of development by matching the ongoing energy requirements of the development with the renewable energy budget of the site (40), remove all waste streams to landfill and by re-establishing walking, cycling and sailing as primary means of travel.

Managed succession is the most direct and effective means landscape architects have for leveraging nature’s regenerative capacity. Through design or management, allowing the spontaneous generation of indigenous and naturalized species (41) to establish, new and novel ecosystems (42) emerge that will provide the genetic material for the ecosystems of the future. By allowing plants to establish where they germinate, all of the energy and resources necessary to establish a plant through current industrial methods are eliminated, which typically include the use of fossil fuels - roads, transport, pesticides, machinery, packaging etc.  This is not simply a matter of letting nature takes its course, as ‘conscious and active’ participants in the ecology of place, humans co-evolve with novel ecosystems with beneficial effects in moderating and repairing the environmental impact of human activity while creating the opportunity to provide new resources as plants and animals naturalise (43). 



“When the design of an economic system militates against the ecology, we need to redesign the system” (44). 

Economics typically sits outside the realm of landscape architecture and even design for that matter. However given that the financial and commercial markets are likely to emerge as the first and most pressing issue in the post growth economy we will not be able to avoid responding to this reality and we will need to either adapt or disappear. As the economy contracts from global to local, a number of themes will become more prominent. Our values will shift from the excess of wants to the sufficiency of needs and as the availability of energy contracts, the economic rationale to use a machine when a person can do the same work will dissipate, and the economy will become more labour intensive (45). Livelihood improvements will shift from growing our asset base and increasing leisure time, to placing greater value on frugality and thriftiness while seeking incremental improvements in what English philosopher Stuart Mill would call ‘the art of living’. 

A proactive response to this emerging economic reality is to recognize that many of the problems we face stem from our economic system and rather than simply waiting to see what happens, landscape architects can take up the challenge by directly engaging with and actively designing and experimenting with new economic and social innovations. These new practices will change the way we generate income and will provide different pathways to funding and maintaining landscape projects. Innovations in this space will include a dynamic mix of both new and old ways of doing things. Old systems that are likely to be useful again in the future will include small scale design and build companies, job sharing and flexible working hours, trade, barter, share and gift based on the principles of reciprocity or mutual exchange. New innovations could include complementary currencies, local savings pools, worker owned cooperatives, micro finance, companies specializing in salvaging industrial materials and in hyper local, neighborhood scale propagation of productive plants for food, fiber, fuel, construction and medicine. These economic innovations are not small reformations of the existing economic order, they are parallel structures – tactical interventions and economic tools that sit adjacent to the existing order that will either supersede existing economic models (making them redundant in the process), or they will be ready to supplant the existing order when it no longer proves useful.



Non-negotiable and wicked problems such as Peak Planet, Peak Oil, Peak Debt and Peak Complexity are complex problems.  They have no ‘solutions’ that will allow us to maintain the status quo, only responses. Here, it is useful to make a distinction between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ systems (46). A complicated system, such as an aeroplane, has constant variables like gravity and the energy density of fuel, which allow for predictable relationships between cause and effect to be determined. In this context it is possible to develop strategies for desired outcomes through analysis of available information and design responses accordingly. Complex systems such as a flock of birds on the other hand have emergent properties, which mean that they are unpredictable and the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect or not at all. As such, a complex system can never be fully understood. The best tactic in this context is to learn about the system by acting into the system through prototyping, experimentation and action research.  This process can be simplified into three steps: intervene in system; receive feedback to learn about what did and did not work; and respond and update the approach by amplifying successes and dampening failures. The more promising initiative within this field for landscape architects is tactical urbanism (47).  

In its purest form, tactical urbanism involves a number of prototypes or temporary ‘design experiments’ replicating, in a low-cost, low commitment way, the future change an urban space or landscape could take. The aim is that these experiments are measured for effectiveness; and those that work are either left in place, or implemented in a more permanent manner. Rather than assuming that the best solution for a site can be determined through audit, analysis, design, and modelling; tactical urbanism gathers feedback based on direct experience of the site, thus ensuring solutions are developed through real world trial and error.



“It is rather more difficult to recapture directness and simplicity than to advance in the direction of ever more sophistication and complexity.  Any third-rate engineer or researcher can increase complexity; but it takes a certain flair of real insight to make things simple again.” - Ernst F. Schumacher

An underlying assumption of today’s dominant narrative is that we as we continue to grow the economy we will ‘develop’ a solution to just about any problem – whether its improving our transport network; making housing and food more affordable; improving the vitality of our town centres or properly funding environmental programmes - we have relied upon and assumed an ever-increasing availability of energy, resources and money. To paraphrase Samuel Alexander– no matter how rich a society gets, the underlying issue is always assumed to be a lack of money (48). In fact, because we now live on a ‘full planet’ the majority of solutions today, which rely on on-going availability of energy, resources and money at their current levels, are not going to be available to us in the future. Our emerging reality demands solutions that are smaller, slower and simple.  

Solutions will be small scale; they will be simple to apply and maintain; they will be labour and knowledge intensive rather than energy, resource and capital intensive and they will use local materials and support local markets (49). Small, slow and simple recognizes that the efficacy of systemic change is best leveraged from the ‘bottom up’ (50). Rather than increasing influence by making something bigger or more complex; small, slow and simple solutions are easily replicable and scaled up in the same way that cells in the evolutionary process of life scales up - through replication, bifurcation and diversification. Social Innovation guru Ezio Manzini frames a contemporary manifestation of this thinking as Small, Local, Open and Connected or SLOC. As the name suggests, small and local is coupled with open and connected to ensure “The local can break its isolation by being open to the global flow of people, ideas and information... when they are open and connected, can therefore become a design guideline for creating resilient systems and sustainable qualities, and a positive feedback loop between these systems” (51). While Peak Planet will ultimately set limits to the degree of ‘connectivity’ we can maintain long term, the sharing of small-scale solutions between disciplines and cultures will help to ensure that our existing knowledge capital is leveraged, and we learn from our collective experiences as we muddle our way through the transition into the post growth economy. 



Art, architecture, landscapes, music, fashion, literature and dance all express the values of the culture in which they emerge. The aesthetics of many of today’s artifacts and spaces are increasingly generic, mass-produced, slick and sterile, reflecting the unquestioning assumptions and values of conspicuous consumption and a growing economy. Status is typically earned through ones ability to embody newness, novelty, and technological progress. The aesthetics of the post growth economy will be very distinct from todays.  This is not to say that people will not be concerned with aesthetics or will not seek symbols of status - more that the values our aesthetics express will change on a range of levels: from passive consumer to active citizen; from global brands and individualism to local production and collectivism; from the generic sameness of the machine to the nuanced individuality of the hand made; from excess to frugality; from disposable to durable; and from the new and novel, to the repaired, salvaged, recovered and repurposed. For landscape architecture, aesthetic strategies will also include the messiness and rambunctious qualities of novel ecosystems that are influenced, rather than created through management or “design by removal of the unwanted rather than the addition of the wanted” (53).


This essay argues that we are in the process of transitioning into a post growth economy that is fundamentally different from anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. Because we are designers and creative problem solvers, and the primary medium of landscape architecture includes the regenerative capacity of the natural environment as well as the people and communities - who live, work, play and learn in these places - landscape architects are uniquely positioned to assist with our collective response. This will, however, require a conscious decision by landscape architects to refocus and adapt their current practice to directly address the problems of peak planet, peak oil, peak debt, and peak complexity. A range of themes and opportunities have been explored, and while varied in scope and scale, collectively they suggest a future practice that is directly engaged in the processes of localization through tactical design interventions that are small, slow and simple. Engaging directly in the novel ecosystems of the future and utilizing a wide range of salvaged materials, landscapes will look and feel different from those of today. They will also need to engage in new economic models and systems, which will mean they will be distinct in the way they are funded, created and managed. In this essay, a range of emerging themes have been discussed and it is important to note that the ideas expressed represent only a small selection of the possible directions for the future practice of landscape architecture. 



Gary Marshall is cofounder and executive of Resilio Studio - a multi disciplinary design engaged in landscape architecture, permaculture design, education and social innovation; and Auckland Permaculture Workshop – a community based education programme engaged in teaching ecological design, social innovation and appropriate technology. 

For people interested in learning more about the ideas expressed in this essay please feel free to contact the author on gary@apw.org.nz or visit our website - www.apw.org.nz


(1) Ed. Richard McLellan, 2014. Living Planet Report 2014: Species and spaces, people and places. World Wildlife Foundation. Switzerland.

(2) Daly. H. 2015. Economics for a Full World. A Great Transition Initiative Essay. http://www.greattransition.org/publication/economics-for-a-full-world

(3) Bardi, U. 2014. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. Chelsea Green Publishing. New Hampshire.

(4) Soil Association, 2010. A rock and a hard place: Peak phosphorus and the threat to our food security. Bristol, England.

(5) Heinberg, R. 2011. The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality.  New Society Publishing. Canada.

(6) An environment externality is a cost that is suffered by a third party as a result of an economic activity - the producer and consumer are the first and second parties and third parties include any individual, organisation, property owner, resource or environment that is indirectly affected. For example when water quality is negatively affected by intensification of farming it is the down stream human and non-human communities that experience and are required to manage and adapt to the reduced quality. 

(7) IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 pp.

(8) For more information see - http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-acidification

(9) For more information see – Hansen, J. Et al. 2015. Ice melt, sea level rise and super storms_ evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modelling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming is highly dangerous. Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics - http://publications.copernicus.org/

(10) Ceballos, G. et al.  2015.  Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License.

(11) Conventional oil refers to oil that is extracted from a well on land. Global oil supply has managed to remain relatively flat since the peak in 2006 due to unconventional oil such bituminous (tar) sands, oil shale, deep sea oil and coal and gas conversion despite the capital outlay of major oil extraction companies increasing:  “From 2000-2013, worldwide capital expenditures related to oil and gas production increased from $250 billion in 2000 to nearly $700 billion (both figures in 2012 dollars). Rising investment, however, has been yielding progressively smaller increases in the global oil supply”. - http://www.carbontracker.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Chapter2ETAcapexfinal1.pdf

(12) International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that peak oil occurred in 2006 (IEA 2010) and that the rate of global decline of conventional-oil fields is 6.4 percent per year (IEA, 2008).

(13) I say ‘renewable’ as there is increasing evidence to suggest that once the hidden costs of extraction of materials, manufacturing and distribution of the components, including supporting infrastructure of energy grids, roads and in some cases batteries as well as the ongoing maintenance are accounted for the ability for these energy sources togenerate a positive energy profit ratio is limited. Said another way, many of or supposed ‘renewable’ energy sources are only possible and viable because of the hidden energy subsidies they receive during extraction, production, distribution and maintenance from fossil fuels.  For more information see - Our Renewable Future by Richard Heinberg - http://www.postcarbon.org/our-renewable-future-essay/

(14) Hall, C. 2012. Energy Return On Investment. in The Energy Reader: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth Ed. Butler, T. Lerch, D and Wuerthner, G. Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Foss, N. 2015.  The Boundaries of the Future Solution Space. The Automatic Earth Blog - http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/08/nicole-foss-the-boundaries-and-future-of-solution-space/ - Retrieved 20th August 2015

(17) For example – Every additional dollar of credit creates less corresponding growth over time. In the 1980s, it took four dollars of new credit to generate $1 of real GDP. Over the last decade, it has taken $10, and since 2006, $20 to produce the same result. From Credit Supernova! By William Gross, February 2013 - https://www.pimco.com/insights/economic-and-market-commentary/investment-outlook/credit-supernova - Retrieved 1st October 2015.

(18) Foss, N. 2015.  The Boundaries of the Future Solution Space. The Automatic Earth Blog - http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/08/nicole-foss-the-boundaries-and-future-of-solution-space/ - Retrieved 20th August 2015

(19) It is estimated that credit now accounts for approximately 98% of our money supply For more information on therole of credit in our money supply see Positive Money NZ - http://www.positivemoney.org.nz/

(20) Foss, N. 2015. The Boundaries of the Future Solution Space. The Automatic Earth Blog - http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/08/nicole-foss-the-boundaries-and-future-of-solution-space/ - Retrieved 20th August 2015

(21) Complexity can be measured a number of different ways including the number of differentiated agents in a system; their degree of specialization and their interconnectedness. For more information see The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter and On the Cusp of Collapse: Complexity, Energy and the Globalised Ecology by David Korowics - http://www.davidkorowicz.com/publications/view_document/5-on-the-cusp-of-collapse

(22) Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature by I Prigogine and I Stengers in The Wealth of Nature by J.M. Greer, 2011

(23) Whites Law: Leslie White, 1943. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White%27s_law

(24) Tainter, J.A. 1988.  The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

(25) Peak Planet and Peak Oil are effectively non negotiable because they are predicated by the laws of thermodynamics.  Collectively Peak Planet, Peak Oil, Peak Debt and Peak Complexity are ‘wicked’ because “of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize [and] because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem

(26) In 1972, the Limits to Growth study was commissioned by Club of Rome and undertaken by a group of scientists based at MIT.  The study was the first study to utilize computers to model the converging the interrelationship between population growth, resource consumption, food production, industrial output and pollution.  Over the last 40 years and despite multiple articles and reports dismissing its findings, the Limits to Growth ‘standard run’ / business as usual scenario, which suggests industrial output and associated economic growth will peak some time before 2020.

(27) http://www.darkoptimism.org/2010/11/29/in-memoriam-david-fleming/#post-2583

(28) Fleming, D. 2011. Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. Claverts, England.

(29) See Peak Planet above.  For more information see also Post Carbon Institute, World Watch Institute and Nine Plantary Boundaries

(30) See Peak Complexity above.  For more information see also - The Long Emergency by Book by James Howard Kunstler, Collapse by Jared Diamond, Future Scenarios by David Holmgren - http://www.futurescenarios.org/ - and The Long Decent and The Ecotechnic Future, both by John Michael Greer.

(31) See 2006 film The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil; Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects by Dmitry Orlov; America Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco and any number of case studies and initiatives taking place in cities in the Rust Belt of America such as Detroit and Michigan; most South American sates and more recently, Greece and other southern European states including Italy, Spain and Portugal.  

(32) Greer, J.M. The Death of the Internet: A Pre-Mortem - http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.co.nz - Retrieved 6/23/2015

(33) Thayer, R.  2005. Sustainable City Regions: Re-localising Landscapes in a Globalising World, In - Landscape Review - Volume 9(2).

(34) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_design

(35) Lyle, John T. 1994. Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development. New York: Wiley.

(36) Key or ‘hub’ infrastructures are those infrastructures that maintain the operation our current global economy, they include monetary and financial system, energy flows, transport and distribution, information technology and electricity.

(37) Wealth in this since is often referred to as ‘capital’.

(38) Braungart, M.  and McDonough, W.  2002.  Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. North Point Press, United States.

(39) While necessary, strategies that reduce the environmental impact of an activity or process or make it more efficient don’t generate wealth.    

(40) A renewable energy budget is the total amount of renewable energy available within a given site. Typically this refers to either the total amount of solar energy that falls on the site, the total amount of kinetic energy that blows through the site as wind or flows through the site as water.

(41) A naturalised species is a ‘non native’ plant with reproduction rates sufficient to maintain its population over time.

(42) A novel ecosystem is a spontaneous or emergent ecosystem composed from a unique collection of species responding to novel conditions. Novel ecosystems typically, but not exclusively include both exotic and native species and result from human intervention but are not directly or consciously managed by people. Over a long enough time scale all ecosystems were likely to have had ‘novel’ origins - Marris, M. 2011. Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. Bloomsbury, New York.

(43) This process is also referred to as ‘Ecosyntheses’ - Tane, H. 2010. The Crucial Roles of Willows in Sustainable River Management. Watershed Foundation, Twizel, New Zealand.

(44) Birkeland, J.  2008.  Positive Development: From Vicious Circles to Virtuous Cycles Through Built Environment Design. Earthscan, London, United Kingdom.

(45) Greer, J.M. 2009. The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World. New Societ Publishing, Canada

(46) See Dave Snowden and the Cynefin Framework For more information see - http://cognitive-edge.com/

(47) For more information on tactical approaches to design see also – Small, Local, Open and Connected or SLOC by Ezio Manzini; Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; Adaptive Muddling by Raymond de Young and Stephen Kaplin; The Power of Just Doing Stuff by Rob Hopkins; and The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach for Solving Our Most Complex Challenges by Zaid Hassan

(48) Alexander. S.   2013.  Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilization.  Simplicity Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

(49) Notes on E.F Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful in Holmgren, D. 2002. Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. Holmgren Design Services, Victoria Australia.

(50) Meadows, D. H. 1999. Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System. Hartland, VT: The Sustainability Institute.

(51) Manzini, E.  2013. Small, Local, Open and Connected: Resilient Systems and Sustainable Qualities. http://designobserver.com/ - Retrieved 05/10/2015.

(52) The term ‘Post Growth Aesthetics’ is borrowed from Richard Heinburg’s article (post-) Hydrocarbon Aesthetics, in Peak Everything, 2007 – New Society Publishers, Canada.

(53) Del Tredici, P. 2014. The Flora of the Future. In Projective Ecologies Ed. C Reed and N.M. Lister. Actor Publishers, New York.