In Sao Paulo before Christmas someone referred to me as a “doomer.”

I had not heard the word before, but was told that it describes sad, train-spotter-like people who can’t stop talking about peak oil, climate change, the instability of financial markets, the impending food crisis, and what John Michael Greer calls the “catabolic collapse” of industrial civilisation.

Now it’s true that plenty of people out there are unhealthily thrilled by the prospect of apocalypse. Their number includes, or so we are told, George W Bush.

But you don’t have to be an End-Days nut to conclude that we are headed for what one might call, to put it mildly, a discontinuity. If you look under the hood, the life-support systems of industrial civilisation are coughing and spluttering alarmingly.

Even mainstream politicians, who hate being associated with bad news, are promising rough times ahead.

But I reject the label “doomer”. The word implies that, faced with these scary prospects, we have to choose either to join a cult, or head for the hills with a truckload of guns and baked beans.

As a bottle-half-full kind of guy, I’m headed for a third space – between despair and flight – where a lot of creative and collaborative work needs to be done, much of it involving design.

This newsletter – and Doors of Perception projects – will focus on those kind of activities during 2008.