The following books, articles and videos have been useful to me in trying to get my head around this stuff. This is far from a complete list, and I’ll be adding to it as time goes on.


Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, William R Catton Jr (University of Illinois Press, 1982) – start here for the basics.

Limits to Growth, Donella H. Meadows et al. (Earth Island, 1972) – see also Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update, Donella Meadows and Jorgen Randers (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004), in case you were hoping the original scenarios would prove to be wildly inaccurate.


Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered, E. F. Schumacher (Vintage, 1993) – this is the classic.

The Wealth of Nature: Economics as If Survival Mattered, John Michael Greer (New Society Publishers, 2011) – also a classic in my opinion.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years, David Graeber (Melville House Publishing, 2013) – a long book but very well worth the effort; see also his Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (Penguin, 2018) if you’re finding work unrewarding.

Economics from the Top Down is an interesting blog by the Canadian political economist Blair Fix. He doesn’t post often, but his posts are always worth a read.

Tim Morgan’s Surplus Energy Economics blog is well worth following.

Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources? is a useful paper (spoiler alert: the answer is No).

Michael Hudson’s blog is interesting if you can cope with academic economics (I struggle sometimes, but it’s worth the effort).

Civilisational Collapse

The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph A Tainter (Cambridge University Press, 1990) – an academic text but short and to the point.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Jared Diamond (Penguin, 2011) – a more popular approach and therefore somewhat over-optimistic.

The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age, John Michael Greer (New Society Publishers, 2008) – a book I re-read regularly.

A New Green History Of The World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, Clive Ponting (Vintage, 2007) – a gloomier take than Diamond’s.

Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail by William Ophuls (CreateSpace, 2012) – a succinct and compelling overview of our predicament.

Food and farming

The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, Wendell Berry (Sierra Club Books, 1977) – anything, in fact, by Wendell Berry, but this is the place to start.

Feeding People is Easy, Colin Tudge (Pari Publishing, 2007) – or anything else by Tudge, who has spent his life studying these issues.

SHOPPED: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets, Joanna Blythman ( Harper Perennial, 2010) – just when you thought it was safe to go to to your local supermarket. And if you do, her Swallow This: Serving Up the Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets (Fourth Estate, 2015) may make you reconsider your choices when you get there.

Chris Smaje’s Small Farm Futures blog is worth following, by someone who has put his spade where his mouth is. He now has a book out – A Small Farm Future (Chelsea Green, 2020) – which I have reviewed on this blog.


Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of The Archdruid Report (Founders House Publishing, 2015) – essays from John Michael Greer’s previous blog (yes, he was an archdruid, get over it).

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Iain McGilchrist (Yale University Press, 2019) – not for the faint-hearted, but a deep enquiry into the mode of thinking that got us here.

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