What happens when exponential growth trends in economic debt, energy scarcity, and resource depletion collide? If you ask Chris Martenson, creator of the online video series The Crash Course, one thing's for certain: "The next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years."

A Duke-educated neuropathologist turned economist, and former VP of a Fortune 300 firm, Martenson is something of a data connoisseur. His ability to crunch and digest complex figures led to a dramatic personal transformation several years ago, when he began to notice troubling trends in the growth-driven world. Now living a life of self-sufficiency in rural Massachusetts as a homesteader (complete with a chicken coop!), Martenson's latest vocation is as a teacher, sharing with others what he's discovered.

The Crash Course is his ambitious lesson plan, a three-and-a-half hour slideshow exposing the converging crises hurtling our way. Narrated by Martenson, the graph-laden presentation is divided into twenty easy-to-swallow chapters covering a trio of key topics he calls "The Three E's": Economy, Energy, and Environment.

With a flair reminiscent of your favorite college professor, Martenson demystifies abstruse concepts like price inflation and Peak Oil, and carefully illustrates the ways in which these disparate ideas are interlinked. Each of these three crucial aspects of our world, we learn, is locked into a hockey stick-shaped exponential growth curve, and in each case we are just beginning to "turn the corner" into a skyrocketing vertical climb.  Taken individually, any one of these trends could pose a serious problem. But were two or more to hit simultaneously (as the data suggests may be occurring), the compound effect on a globalized society is challenging to imagine.

Indeed, The Crash Course would be a supremely frightening ordeal if it wasn't for Martenson's buoyant and infectious optimism. Rather than succumbing to paralyzing fear, he encourages his viewers to recognize this unprecedented moment in history as a thrilling opportunity for change. The closing chapter in the Course, titled "What Should I Do?", is a conscientious, step-by-step framework for integration and positive action following what could be, for some, a paradigm-rattling experience.

I'm always on the lookout for effective media tools – Op-eds, documentaries, satirical cartoons – that can help people awaken to the massive changes looming on the horizon. From start to finish, Chris Martenson's Crash Course is, bar none, the best resource of its kind I've come across. And even more refreshing, it's offered online in its entirety, free of charge. Buckle down and enjoy the ride.


Story suggested by Brian Lord.