Home > The Great Unraveling? > Why the Series?

Laurie Laybourn-Langton introduces the interview series: its purpose, what topics will be covered, and why we’re initiating this timely discussion.


The coronavirus pandemic has brought the interconnectedness and fragility of global systems into stark relief. In this way, the pandemic is a warning from the future, a future in which the growing consequences of the climate and ecological emergency are expected to increasingly destabilize societies around the world.

This stabilization is already here, and it has been for generations falling disproportionately on those least responsible for its causes. 

As is the case with the coronavirus pandemic, the increasingly severe consequences of the environmental crisis will widen already large inequalities within and across societies. And those consequences will also have an impact on communities already suffering under a host of social and economic problems, from high levels of inequality and political fragmentation to economic instability and the ongoing shock of the pandemic. 

Just as we must contend with feedback loops in natural systems, so to must we reckon with the prospect of environmental breakdown, driving cascading destabilization in critical economic energy, food, and socio-political systems, and vice versa.

And we see this with the coronavirus pandemic, a zoonotic disease spread easily around the world, driving a health crisis, whose impacts post through social, economic, and political systems—testing and worsening their fragilities.  We also saw the awesome power of human agency, how quickly it can be mobilized and at unprecedented scales, from community support networks to global stimulus. facing up to the interconnected crises of today and tomorrow requires extraordinary cooperation and coordination to rapidly realize more sustainable, equitable, and resilient world.

And it’s to this end the campaigners, politicians, companies, governments communities all across the world, increasingly pushing for an enacting change. 

But these efforts have to remain robust to growing destabilization and be grounded in an understanding of the systemic nature of the predicament we face. The wrenching disruption of the pandemic presents huge opportunities, but also barriers to change, as shown by those seeking to reinforce the pre-pandemic status quo. And in a similar way, efforts to realize a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient world must be capable of navigating the compound crises of a more destabilized future, capitalizing on opportunities and overcoming threats in order to make a better future. 

Now, this is the first video of a series in which I will talk with a number of leading voices who are working to understand these issues, and acting to make change.

The purpose of this series is to explore a range of issues that are important for understanding our current moment and the challenges to come. And they act as provocations to stimulate thinking on how to act in a more destabilized world.  Each conversation lasts around 10 minutes, and we’ll be releasing them in batches over the coming weeks. The series will then culminate in a final video and a live panel discussion, which will synthesize an understanding of these fast arriving challenges, and then start a dialogue on how efforts to realize a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient world can best navigate an uncertain future. 

This dialogue is convened by the Post Carbon Institute, Anthropocene Actions, and the Villum Kann Rasmussen Foundation. We will share more details about it in due course. For now, welcome to the interview series, and I hope you find the conversations engaging and thought-provoking.