In our post-industrial, software-driven age of dwindling resources, we need to learn lessons and take action faster than ever before, says Tim Brown.

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The modern world is full of complexity, but often the simple narratives we hear from politicians, the media and in wider discussion fail to clearly and effectively address the realities and repercussions of how complex global systems interrelate. That’s a problem, because human beings are drawn to simple narratives like moths to a flame — it’s one of our great evolutionary strengths, but also a debilitating weakness.

Early forms of storytelling were necessarily simple to ensure our survival and the cohesion of the bands and tribes in which we used to live. If we journeyed back to a Pleistocene campfire surrounded by early homo sapiens, we’d find that simple human stories were being shared as a means of making sense of our surroundings, navigating social relationships and strengthening human bonds. The next day, those bonds would have been vital to help escape predation, hunt for food and find shelter for the group. …


Humanity faces extinction if it doesn’t change its unequal systems of production and consumption. The Green New Deal offers an alternative.

Words: Ann Pettifor
Illustration: Anthony Russo

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We are facing extinction. The Earth’s complex life support systems of atmosphere, oceans, land surface and life forms are at the point of breakdown, according to the world’s top scientists. As George Monbiot argues “only one of the many life support systems on which we depend — soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity — need fail for everything to slide.” …


There are numerous proposed strategies for addressing inequality and tackling climate breakdown. Using them all in tandem could be the best way to drive lasting change.

Words: Jocelyn Timperley
Illustration: Timothy Hunt

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Climate change is unfair. We already know that the poorer and more vulnerable you are, the more you’re likely to be affected by the impacts of climate breakdown. You are also far less likely to be responsible for its cause.

Consider Bangladesh, one of the nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. By 2050, some 27 million people are expected to be at risk from rising sea levels. But the average Bangladeshi’s greenhouse gas emissions are just a fifth of the global average, and one-sixteenth of those of a typical US resident.

Low-income countries, women, children and indigenous peoples are all already disproportionately affected by climate change. Within wealthier nations, existing inequalities within countries are also exacerbated. …


Our current economic narrative only serves to exacerbate inequality. It’s time to write a new one.

Words: George Monbiot
Illustration: Aleksandar Savic

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Do you feel trapped in a broken economic model? A model that’s trashing the living world and threatens the lives of our descendants? A model that excludes billions of people while making a handful unimaginably rich? That sorts us into winners and losers, and then blames the losers for their misfortune? Welcome to neoliberalism, the zombie doctrine that never seems to die, however comprehensively it is discredited.

You might have imagined that the financial crisis of 2008 would have led to the collapse of neoliberalism. After all, it exposed its central features, which were deregulating business and finance, tearing down public protections, throwing us into extreme competition with each other, as being deeply flawed. Intellectually, it did collapse, but still it dominates our lives. …


Reparations payments have typically tackled historic injustices, but they could also help address the worst inequalities of the present day.

Words: Paul Perry
Illustration: Elliot Beacock

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Author’s Note: This piece was initially written in the latter months of 2019. Before a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected BIPOC communities. Before yet another senseless, extra-judicial killing of a Black citizen in the United States. Now, millions of people around the world are marching for justice for Black people. Many of these marchers and those watching at home are wondering:

After centuries of oppression, what is owed to Black people?

While the scope of this piece focuses on a broader array of reparations cases, it also attempts to answer such a central question — in part — by discussing ways to heal communities that have long been discriminated against and marginalised. Reparative justice is one important part of what should ideally follow the protests and the eventual legal outcomes awaiting the individuals complicit in the murder of George Floyd.


Originally written to protect small farmers, India’s land rights are failing them. Now, more of them are seeking work in cities instead.

Words: Apekshita Varshney
Illustration: Maria Grejc

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“I had always dreamt of owning a car,” says Lakshmikant Kauthakar, a farmer in the village of Adgaon Khurd in the west central Indian state of Maharashtra. We are on his family’s farm, watching a network of valves slowly drip water onto flourishing sugarcane and banana crops. At some distance, the black soil, usually hardened by the unrelenting heat of the sun, is freshly ploughed and heavy with moisture. …


In 2015, Germany took in over a million refugees fleeing conflict and natural disasters caused by climate breakdown, many of whom are still struggling to build a new life.

Words: Holly Young
Illustration: Laura Liedo

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It’s a warm weekday evening in Berlin when I meet Kalthoum, 53, in the community centre where she takes part in a weekly women’s group of mostly Syrian women. The first thing she does is apologise for her German. She says language has proven the biggest obstacle to setting up a new life here in Germany since arriving from Syria in 2015. …


The motives for China’s infrastructural investment in developing nations are often portrayed as self-serving, but new approaches to development in Kenya may offer a blueprint for a fairer future.

Words: Florence Massena
Illustration: Cecilia Castelli

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For most of the last decade, the western world has looked on in discomfort as China’s economic and political ties with countries in the global south have expanded. Its Belt and Road Initiative has seen investments totalling hundreds of billions of dollars funnelled into infrastructure projects across 152 countries. …


Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and scale, affecting all but the super-rich and the world’s largest corporations.

Words: Frank Swain
Illustration: Kate Prior

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On a beach in Norfolk, UK, the sound of rolling waves and bickering seagulls has been replaced with the roar of heavy machinery. A slurry of sand and water belches from a huge pipe leading to a dredging ship offshore, while bulldozers crawl through the shallow water and push up drifts.

The machines are creating a sand dune, six kilometres long, seven metres high, some two million cubic metres in all. All this is to protect the Bacton Gas Terminal, source of one-third of the UK’s gas supply. …


Algeria is governed by an authoritarian regime of ex-military personnel that hoard the country’s vast hydrocarbon resources. A peaceful student protest movement wants all that to change.

Words: Francisco Serrano
Illustration: Nicolo Bianchino

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The student residence block at the Targa Ouzemmour campus of the University of Béjaïa, a coastal city in the Kabylie region of Algeria, has an air of normalcy and conviviality that is rare in most other campuses across the country. Students, young women and men, roam the grounds enjoying the afternoon light of a warm July day. They sit around smoking and listening to music, or study on benches. Clothes hang out of the windows and balconies of the three-storey apartment blocks. On the wall of one of the buildings, a large portrait of Lounès Matoub, a Berber musician assassinated during Algeria’s 1990s internal conflict, looks on. This is one of the few mixed university residencies in the conservative, Muslim-majority country. …

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Weapons of Reason

A publishing project by @HumanAfterAllStudio to understand & articulate the global challenges shaping our world. Find out more weaponsofreason.com

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