The Solutions Are Already Here


6.5/10 For context: I was gifted this book by my anarcho-feminist friend to read as a feel-good book about fixing climate change instead of all those fear mongering articles about how doomed we are by e.g. the Extinction Rebellion folks. Well, I don’t think it really worked for me… although the book is called The Solutions are Already Here, the author doesn’t really present any globally viable solutions that in the foreseeable future fix anything. The solution he presents is basically anarchy. Anarchy in a sense that people should unite and violently topple over governments, states, police, military and all institutions connected to capitalism. Then we should revert some 3-500 years back in time, stop using big machinery, roads, planes and anything that runs on gas and heat up our houses by burning wood that will be so abundant because all monocrop fields will get reforested.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very much against consumerism. I dream of living outside of the city in a small tightly bound community of like-minded geeks who grow big fraction of their food and build things around them. But I also believe in scientific progress and our ability to change the incentive structures such that we don’t just consume and deplete the resources around us but care about our environment and become more connected to both our food production and our waste disposal. Peter Gelderloos, the author, would probably laugh in my face and tell me that I am naive and that states just want power and have their populations guarded like a flock of sheep. But this point of view makes states look like perfectly running evil planners that make well coordinated decisions on huge scales for many years ahead. Again, maybe I am naive, and I don’t have any evidence for my opinions here, but I think the state oppression is a lot more of an emergent phenomenon than an orchestrated one. It’s just a bad set of incentives running at several levels of the social structure that result in the oppression and uncontrolled depletion of resources because money runs the show. What I am trying to say is that to a great degree I agree with what this book puts forth - there are many interconnected problems right now in the world with the leading one being the climate change that’s running it’s course and most people in power are just trying to keep the business going as usual. But the set of solutions that this book proposes just doesn’t overlap with the idea of change I have in mind. Violence breeds more violence and returning back in time by abolishing most of the scientific and engineering progress we developed in the last 3 to 5 centuries is bonkers to me. There must exist a highly technological future in which we consciously consume and replenish the resources of the mother Earth. How to get there is the question but this book doesn’t have those answers.

Also, I read this book just a few months after I finished my cancer treatment at just 24 years old. I’m sure Peter would tell me my cancer had some environmental causes stemming from capitalism, but the current scientific literature doesn’t point to that at all (I had Ewing Sarcoma for those that are curious and want to do their own research). What I was thinking for a big part of the book was the following - in the world of anarchy, where we stop global scientific and medical progress and revert to much more primitive way of life, I would most probably be already dead. There would be no chemo, no radiotherapy and no highly skilled surgeons to cut away part of my vertebrae without causing any major neurological damage and allowing me to beat my cancer for good. All of that would be mostly gone but big part of genetic diseases would stay and many people would be dying because of the lack of access to modern medical care. So this is another reason for why I don’t see the solutions presented in this book as viable on any grander scale than that of a small village living in its own anarchist world in the middle of Catalan’s landscape (where the author lives).

On that last note, if you choose to read this book I would suggest the following: read the first two chapters to get a pretty grim but factual overview of all the wrong things we are doing to this planet and then skip to page 173 to read about Gelderloos’s imagined future in the Catalan countries after the abolishment of capitalism. Those last 20 pages of fiction nicely sum up the solutions he proposes and gives you a much easily readable summary of the middle 100 pages that are quite dense.


An anarchist view of the many crises that are happening right now in the world - leading with the climate one but touching on crises of immigration, indigenous people’s oppression and colonialism. Including many examples of local struggles, the book tries to provide a view into how anarchist practices are creating a tangible change for the better in the world.


Chapter 1 - All That’s Wrong with Us

  • kept up lawns are pretty terrible for biodiversity. Better than pavement but do not provide much in terms of shelter or sustenance for useful bugs and insect
  • although at first it might seem like nonsense to pool up climate crisis with other crises (racism, sexism, social-class divide etc.), the different groups affected by different crises would together have more power to achieve long lasting change than each fighting on their own
  • some scientific estimates predict that a period of heat could last upwards of 200,000 years. This immediately makes me think that if humanity survives till then, and stays relatively humanoid, there will be a great social upheaval about global cooling
  • according to the author saying that the industrial revolution is responsible for the climate change is mixing cause with the effect. The roots of climate change go beyond the industrial revolution, starting with mono-agriculture and deforestation brought by colonization - so as with everything else, the root cause are old white men…
  • small local effects of climate change have been occurring even before Jesus Christ walked the Earth. Usually deforestation caused by accumulation of power and resources in a small geographic area eventually caused floods and erosion that destroyed cities and sometimes even empires
  • the main driver of climate change are (white men of course and) states. States gather power and care about keeping their citizens in check. This usually results in building cities and increasing reliability on the state-run infrastructure. In turn the state ramps up its mono-culture production which greatly reduces ecological variability, sending the local ecology down a vicious spiral
  • what historically worked better were smaller decentralized communities that build resilience, self-reliance and had a strong connection to both their food production and waste disposal (makes total sense, my dream little community setup)

Chapter 2 - More is Wrong

  • what’s striking is that the author doesn’t only criticize the obviously harmful burning of fossil fuels but also all the renewable solutions we tried to come up with. Wind turbines? Bad. Hydroelectric dams? Bad. Solar panels? Bad. Nuclear power? Bad. All capitalist solutions are simply bad. To a degree, I accept his critique, he presents valid points in which all these technologies still cause harm but there’s no mention whatsoever that this harm might be significantly lower than that of just keeping burning coal… which is a sad view to have
  • in the same vein, all kinds of NGOs and movements that are pro-climate change (e.g. Extinction Rebellion) but cooperate with the current governments are bad, downward stupid and will never achieve the change we need right now. Okay dude, I understand you want anarchy, but is there anything remotely good about the current system? I mean, there are happy people, living happy lives, we are not living in a total hell as is portrayed in this book