2017 Brad Collins CC BY 4.0


The Chenla Institute is founded on the premise that inevitability is not fate. The inevitable is a train under full steam. The momentum that the train builds up is inevitable. But we can still do things that determine how that momentum will play out. Do we put on the breaks to slow down before going into a bend or do we lean down on the throttle and derail? We cannot not wholly control or even know our future, but we can shape it.

Chenla was founded to establish the foundations for Mankind to transition to becoming a distributed civilization. Today's global civilization is dangerously centralized, with the majority of the population located in a small number of largely coastal mega cities. Specialized knowledge for building and maintaining critical parts of our civilization are located in a handful of critical technological tidal pools. A perfect storm of any combination of man-made or natural calamities that knocked out two or more of these places for an extended period of time could easily send the global economy into a tailspin that it might not be able to recover from. In other words, it's not the global killers that are most likely to be the end of us, but local and regional disasters in key locations.

The likelihood of such disasters is set to increase dramatically in the coming decades. Climate change will result in relentless hurricanes and typhoons that will cause havoc on coastal cities. Many inland regions face severe long term drought that will result in political upheaval and massive dislocation of millions of people around the world. As the polar icecaps melt, sea levels rise and force the abandonment of coastal cities which are now home to more than a billion people. These are no longer a scenarios, they are inevitable. The only question now is what we are going to do about it. An important part of that answer will be for civilization to transition to what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls antifragile, so that destroying civilization would become a game of wack-a-mole. Wipe out something in one place and it'll pop up somewhere else.

Now starting on our third decade, Chenla Institute is preparing to put all of the past two decades work into practice. It's not enough to understand what is inevitable and write a book about it. Go to any bookstore, the shelves are groaning under the weight of all the books telling us what's coming. But if we disregard these warnings like the breathless ramblings of a Henny Penny, or worse, throw up our hands in despair saying that the problem is too big for any one of us to do anything about it, the inevitable will become inevitably worse.

Yes we must first understand the problems that face us. But we also need to work out how to solve those problems and collectively get off our asses and get to work. This is where our work begins.