Thomas Kuhn described a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline as a paradigm shift. The paradigm is what members of a scientific community have in common as their set of shared values and practices. It is the lens through which they look at the world. That lens starts cracking, if the shortcomings of the paradigm is challenged by too many contradicting insights or anomalies. Eventually the paradigm will be replaced. An often-quoted example is how the special relativity from Albert Einstein challenged, and eventually replaced, the Newtonian mechanics, which had been used for decades to describe force and motion.
In a linear economic model, we extract resources, use them for products or as a source of energy and then dispose them. This model has dominated production and consumption since the industrial revolution. It relied on cheap access to resource and energy, and has turned many services into tangible products which can be widely distributed and sold.
This model, and its mechanic system of linear interaction is challenged by its own shortcomings and by an emerging organic or circular economic system. Around 20% of the 84 billion tonnes of materials which we extract annually are fossil fuels. Their combustion causes climate change. Also the extraction and disposal of the remaining biomass, metals and minerals is immediately linked to a range of environmental issues. While available material reserves are rapidly depleted, their scarcity makes commodity prices increasingly volatile.
The new paradigm is one where material use is circular, free of waste, and regenerative by design. Investments in renewable energy have already outpaced those in the fossil fuel industry, and the emergence of disruptively successful business models based on revolutionary efficiency gains in the use of assets, energy and materials, shows that the paradigm is shifting.