This might be the most important article you’ll ever read
You might have read The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler:
. . . or the article “Soon To Be Picturesque Ruins!” by David Watson in Issue 41 of my Green Horizon Magazine:
The latter begins:
Recently I was invited to comment on “collapsology.” It was the first I had heard the term. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that mass society’s tendency to baroque proliferation, and capitalism’s tendency to turn everything into commerce, would leverage widespread anxieties about social collapse and even potential human extinction into fodder for an academic discipline, literary fashion, YouTube jeremiads, experiential retreats, and consulting businesses. “Seems / everybody’s having them dreams,” Dylan once put it. And since anyone who takes up the subject of the current peril could be called a collapsologue, I must be one, too.
Yes, a specter now haunts industrial capitalism, and with it our species and the entire life web in which we evolved. What is commonly called the “end of the world as we know it” is no longer a matter for the future tense: invisibly, and also very visibly, the specter is already turning its grim wheel. A sense of ecological dread, depression, even panic (now categorized by psychologists as “climate grief”) has become a topic hard to avoid for anyone stopping to consider human prospects and the prospects of so much that is precious to us. It’s a daunting subject. Activists continue to advocate and organize against complacency and distraction. But already by 2018, that inveterate optimist of the will, Bill McKibben, was writing that if the present situation continues to unfold as it has, “we will have drawn a line in the sand and then watched a rising tide erase it.”
The ever-increasing canon of “collapsology” material has, to date, been somewhat abstract. But the following article, published yesterday, is not at all abstract:
“ . . . a great band of human misery now stretches [east-west] more than 3,000 miles from Kabul to Tunis and [north-south] 2,000 miles from Damascus to Mogadishu. This vast zone of deprivation, dictatorship and violence may regenerate Isis or lead to the rise of new al-Qaeda-type organizations. It will certainly produce great surges of refugees once again heading for Europe because they see no future for themselves in their own countries.”
Our hyperbolic civilizational trajectories of population, production, consumption, pollution, and depletion (and inequality, of course) are clearly unsustainable. They’ve gone too far to simply plateau at the current levels. Rather, we face a long period of difficult de-growth as those levels settle back toward what might be viable. The key thing about the above article is to recognize that it’s a concrete documentation of the social aspects of a breakdown process that has now begun.
It will play out over many generations. It will manifest from the periphery to the center. But it has begun and it will be dated from our time.
[What is to be done? It’s simply stated but not so simple to effectuate: As deliberately and consciously as possible our human race needs to reverse the civilizational trajectories that have characterized the recent period and learn to live more lightly on the earth.]