Chicken Little may be right and the sky is falling down, but I think what is more likely is that we are seeing a flock of giant canaries gasping for breath. The turmoil in the financial markets, the surge in the price of oil and the floods in the USA and India can all be seen as warnings that our two hundred year old experiment is moving in to toxic territory. My biggest fear is that we will recover from these shocks too quickly. (This does not mean I have no sympathy for the hapless victims of these shocks who simply want to get on with their lives, I do.) But I am concerned that just as the lessons from the oil shocks in the Seventies were swiftly forgotten, we may find that as things return to “normal” in two or three years time, we will forget the message from our giant canaries that if we want to retain the benefits of our current ways of life we will have to change the way we organise and manage our life on this planet, starting now.