On the idea of Top Down vs Bottom Up solutions, It appears that both fail to relate to what will be possible in a world of decline and localization.
Since the current form of trade and commerce depends on cheap fossil fuels, it will be crippled by rising energy costs. This will eventually bankrupt nations and lead to revolution or dissolution as they are forced to localize.
From the Bottom Up perspective, it forgets the true dependency of the masses. It only works when there is enough land in the locality to support the population living on and around it. Food will become very local.
But that assumes we survive the mass exodus that will occur as food stops being imported into major cities and their starving masses begin to spill out in search of anything edible.
It will be amazing if deer and boar survive the decline.
So from a resources and ecology point of view, neither approach can work for the amount of people currently living on the planet. The complexity and energy requirements of that kind of governance would not be possible. Culture is the only thing that can provide any hope. But it will not avoid the pain.
Small farms, permaculture projects, and other natural food production oriented lifestyles and the people those systems support will be the only thing that survives. There will be no city or urban lifestyle where electricity powers almost every aspect of daily life.
Water and food and the ability to utilize and transport them ultimately determine what is possible for civilization. There is a definite maximum at which we could utilize the most sustainable and hospitable areas of the planet in an agriculturally formed lifestyle. If we were doing more then simply trying to find a solution for our cultural paradigm and instead, thinking about a solution for the long term, we would be focusing more honestly on what is possible by cataloging what is available in finite form and renewable form.
Let’s get the numbers, but I am afraid the numbers would not provide the answers needed to walk the current population through the resource bottleneck. This is the reality that we must accept. Once we do, more reasonable approaches can be made as to what is possible in the long term, and how we can mitigate the crisis in the meantime.
The primary goal is to increase organic, sustainable agriculture and thus increase the amount of people occupied with that particular activity. This is where culture plays an important role. We can pretend that we can keep being a culture of consumers, or we can accept the culture that is available to us via our realm of possibility.
But alas, the current culture is deeply engrained in the modern human psyche of developed nations. Often people speak as if humans never have or could survive without the luxuries of only the last century. Given the entirety of the human experience, our modern experience is a mere exception to the rule of what has been and is possible for life on earth.
In the evolution of life, there are many dead ends, and Industrial Man is only one.