“To be truly radical is make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.”
– Raymond Williams

A Dictionary for Our Times

Originally published in the Spring 2020 edition of STIR magazine

Lean Logic, by David Fleming

Extracts from David Fleming’s extraordinary, posthumous Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It (Chelsea Green, 2016).  Selected for this issue by its editor Shaun Chamberlin.  Endnotes omitted.

Asterisks mark words with their own separate entry in the dictionary.  Any of these can be read in full and for free at the newly-launched

 Dark Optimism section break ornament v1



Expectations. The attitudes and assumptions which shape the way we make sense of events and plan our response. Unless our expectations

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The Sequel: Life After Economic Growth

Originally published in the Fall 2018 edition of Tikkun


As Simon Mont wrote in Tikkun’s recent issue on the New Economy, “capitalism is collapsing under the weight of itself, and it’s not pretty.”[i]

Our globalised world finds itself caught on the horns of a seemingly impossible dilemma – either cease growing, and so collapse the economy on which we all depend, or continue to grow until we overwhelm and destroy the ecosystems on which we all depend.

As my late mentor, the historian and economist David Fleming, put it,[ii]

It is certain that there are no simple answers to this—none that could

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Confessions of a Hypocrite: Utopia in the Age of Ecocide

Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2016 edition of the Kosmos journal


I confess – I love Magnum ice creams!

Yet surely as a good, responsible eco-citizen, I must be aware that these relatively cheap, beautifully packaged nuggets of deliciousness are inescapably products of the industrial system that is destroying all that I hold dear?

That Magnums are produced by Unilever, not only the world’s biggest ice cream manufacturer but the world’s third largest multinational consumer goods company, associated with deforestation for palm oil, exploitation of …

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For Hallowe’en This Year, I’m Dressing as the Economy

Originally published on openDemocracy on 26 October 2016

The original article can be found here


Economics shapes the bulk of our waking hours, so how do we reclaim control of our lives from such a dismal science?

As my friend David Fleming once wrote, conventional economics ‘puts the grim into reality’.

Something of a radical, back in the 1970s Fleming was involved in the early days of what is now the Green Party of England and Wales. Frustrated by the mainstream’s limited engagement with ecological thinking, he urged his peers to learn the language and concepts…

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Beyond Carbon Pricing

Originally published in the Carbon Management peer-reviewed journal on 16th April 2015

The formal version of record can be found here


This is the Abstract, Executive Summary and Introduction of the paper. Full text available here.

Reconciling scientific reality with realpolitik: moving beyond carbon pricing to TEQs – an integrated, economy-wide emissions cap


This article considers why price-based frameworks may be inherently unsuitable for delivering unprecedented global emissions reductions while retaining the necessary public and political support,…

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Music and Movement

Originally published as the editorial of the Fall/Winter 2014 edition of the
Kosmos journal

The online version of the editorial can be found here

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And if you want to transform…?

Sometimes we meet a young person who continues to hold a deep place in our minds and hearts long afterwards. I met Shaun briefly at the New Story Summit. It felt as though I had known him forever. The future of humanity and the hope of the world is with such talented and dedicated youth. I want to honor his work by sharing one of his essays.
~ Nancy Roof, editor,

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The Ecological Land Co-operative

Originally published in the Winter 2012 issue of Permaculture magazine; that article can be found here

The below extended version republished in the Jan 2013 issue of Country Smallholding.  Full illustrated feature (including comment pieces from others) available here. The magazine’s editorial also concerned itself with the topics raised

And the Spring 2015 issue of STIR magazine featured an updated version, taking a different slant, which can be found here

An imaginative and exciting scheme was launched to provide would-be smallholders with affordable land and low-impact dwellings.

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Dark Optimism interview

Originally published in the June 2012 issue of Transition Free Press

A full online version of that issue can be read here. This interview appears on pages 8-9

In the first in our series of conversations with key thinkers and activists within the Transition movement, Charlotte Du Cann talks with Shaun Chamberlin about cultural stories, collaboration and the future.

In 2000 Shaun Chamberlin, a student of philosophy, received an email from his father out of the blue. By the way that future you were expecting is not going to happen. Here’s a link showing how the next decade is going to

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Tradable Energy Quotas: A Policy Framework for Peak Oil and Climate Change

Originally published at The Oil Drum on Jan 24, 2011

Reaction and comments on the article can be found here




On the 18th January 2011, the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil (APPGOPO) launched their report into the TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas) system of energy rationing.

Speakers included two Members of Parliament – John Hemming MP, Chair of APPGOPO and Caroline Lucas MP, author of the 2006 peak oil report Fuelling a Fuel Crisis. Also speaking were Jeremy Leggett, convenor of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security and Shaun Chamberlin,…

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Obituary for David Fleming

Originally published in The Ecologist on the 21st December 2010

The online version of the article can be found here


Dr. David Fleming, a visionary Green thinker and one of the key whistleblowers on peak oil, has died aged 70. He was a significant figure in the genesis of the UK Green Party, the New Economics Foundation and the Transition Towns movement. His legacy also includes TEQs (Tradable Energy Quotas), the energy rationing scheme currently under consideration by the UK Government, his influential book Lean Logic and the real delight and inspiration he gave so freely to all who met …

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Applied Philosophy

Originally published in the March/April 2010 issue of Resurgence magazine

The online version of the article can be found here

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

For me, there was a definite moment when my environmental awakening began in earnest. I was studying philosophy at the University of York a decade ago when, out of the blue, I received an email from my father alerting me that “a long-term survey of oil and gas resources shows that demand for oil will exceed the maximum possible supply by 2010 and the oil price will sky-rocket”. This was …

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Transition Timeline interview

Originally published in the Summer 2009 issue of Clean Slate – The Practical Journal of Sustainable Living

A PDF of the full illustrated article can be found here


Blanche Cameron: What caused this book, The Transition Timeline, to come about?

Shaun Chamberlin: Primarily that Transition communities were asking for support. They were trying to form positive visions of the future for their communities, but were finding it a little foggy looking twenty years ahead, particularly with regard to the bigger trends and policy decisions around climate change, peak oil, food supply and…

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Carbon Budget

Originally published in the March/April 2009 issue of Resurgence magazine

A PDF of the full illustrated article can be found here

Ensuring essential entitlements to energy for all whilst guaranteeing that the UK meets
its target of 80% emissions reduction by 2050.

In these times of climate emergency, peak oil, economic turmoil and biodiversity devastation we are told again and again that large-scale problems require large-scale solutions – that we must channel our efforts into bigger, better global agreements to address these challenges.

As a young man searching for my calling…

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Peak Coal – Coming Soon?

Originally published at The Oil Drum: Europe on Apr 05, 2007

Reaction and comments on the article can be found here




The general consensus view on coal supplies has long been that we have hundreds of years of the stuff left, and that oil and gas depletion are the pressing concerns. However, dissenting voices are emerging. Canadian geologist David Hughes recently claimed that “peak coal looks like it’s occurred in the Lower 48 (US states)“, and the consensus position on coal is also called into serious question by the Coal: Resources and Future Production

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