View all posts by Jussi16 January 2019
This post is a list of essays and articles covering climate and ecological breakdown from various perspectives, including how these overlapping crises may induce collapse of industrial civilisation as we know it. This is companion piece to my essay on collapse – please read that first.
We are currently living in the early ripples of extinction-magnitude crises. There is no time for cheermongering or false hope. The time to act is now.
Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation
What initially got me onto the topic of collapse was Dr. Jem Bendell’s paper on Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy – here’s his introductory post. Dr. Bendell is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK).[The] evidence is mounting that the impacts [of climate change] will be catastrophic to our livelihoods and the societies that we live within. Our norms of behaviour, that we call our “civilisation,” may also degrade. When we contemplate this possibility, it can seem abstract. The words I ended the previous paragraph with may seem, subconsciously at least, to be describing a situation to feel sorry about as we witness scenes on TV or online. But when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life. With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.
I highly recommend Dr. Bendell’s hour-long interview with Amisha Ghadiali. It is very human, moving, and relatable:
You can find more information on Deep Adaptation here.
Rupert Read on the end of civilisation
Dr. Rupert Read is a Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia. In his talk This civilisation is finished: So what is to be done? (pdf), he proposes the following seven steps:
- Wake up
- Talk about this
- Think civilisational succession
- Build lifeboats
- Holding actions
I recommend watching the whole talk here – it runs for about an hour, with some excellent Q&A:
From the abstract:
We’ve gambled too much on succeeding in preventing or mitigating anthropogenic dangerous climate change and the anthropogenic extinction crisis. Because we were unwilling to face up to the alternative.
But the alternative is not as simple as an instantaneous end of life would be. The alternative is complex, involving many possible variants of ‘unthinkably’ horrendous, bad, and even good.
Most crucially: there is a huge difference between the various versions of complete irrecoverable societal collapse, on the one hand, and the rise of a successor civilisation(s) out of the wreckage of this one, on the other.
We have to be willing to think this. And face it.
To me, the most shocking part of the talk is around the 15-minute mark when Dr. Read talks about total collapse:
Or it could be worse even than that; it could be the elimination of virtually all complex life except extremophiles. Why could it be as bad as that? Because if something like the methane dragon really does start to fly and causes a runaway effect there is no knowing how how much it will go on. There isn’t very good reliable science on this but some scientists think that it could push up global temperatures by at least something like 12 degrees. The heating might not stop at all.
I think it’s obvious that total collapse has to be avoided and it doesn’t hugely matter when you drill down within it which version of it you have. But it still does matter a bit; for instance, it would (for more than one reason) be much much worse for us to exterminate all cetaceans as well as ourselves than it would be for us just to exterminate ourselves; above all, because doing the former would render it less likely that a new species would be able to come along after we were gone and do a better job of creating a culture that can last.
I used to think that no matter how bad us humans end up pushing climate and ecological breakdown, up to and including human extinction, there will still remain a Planet Earth with meaningful life afterwards. Now, I am less convinced.
Awakenings and acknowledgements
The extracts below are from various posts and essays where the authors acknowledge humanity’s ongoing destruction of our living planet, and where that may lead:
Collapse: A reading list – Jussi Pasanen
View all posts by Jussi16 January 2019 This post is a list of essays and articles covering climate and ecological breakdown from various perspectives, including how these overlapping crises may induce collapse of industrial civilisation as we know it. This is companion piece to my essay on collapse – please read that first. We are… [Read More]