Is It Really the End?

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018 Special Report on Climate Change

“[A] ‘whole systems’ approach would be needed for the type of transformations that could limit warming to 1.5°C. … To limit warming to 1.5°C, mitigation would have to be large-scale and rapid. … [L]imiting warming to 1.5°C would require a rapid escalation in the scale and pace of transition, particularly in the next 10–20 years. … [T]here is no historical precedent for the scale of the necessary transitions, in particular in a socially and economically sustainable way. … Limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would require unprecedented rates of transformation in many areas, including in the energy and industrial sectors, for example.”

Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

by Derrick Jensen, Aric McBay, Lierre Keith

“We know in our bones, if not in our heads, that this culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living.”

“Geoengineering is Inevitable”

by Dave Levitan

“The latest IPCC report found that the world could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2030. Keeping it from soaring beyond that level and into the realm of the catastrophic ‘would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.’ Does that sound like something humans are remotely planning on doing, given what we have seen to this point? I hate to borrow from a fictional version of Mark Zuckerberg, but if we were going to solve climate change, we would have solved climate change.”

“Learning to Die in the Anthropocene”

by Roy Scranton

”Within a few generations we will face average temperatures 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today, rising seas at least three to ten feet higher than they are now, and worldwide shifts in crop belts, growing seasons, and population centers. Within a couple hundred years humans will be living in a climate the earth hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, three million years ago, when oceans were 75 feet higher than they are now. …

“We face the imminent collapse of the agricultural, shipping, and energy networks upon which the global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that’s already well underway, and our own possible extinction as a species.

“What’s even more shocking is that it’s probably already too late to stop it, even if the world’s political and economic elites were willing and able to radically transform our global fossil-fueled economy, which they’re not. …

“None of the political or technological solutions on the table—a carbon tax, cap-and-trade schemes, carbon capture and sequestration, decarbonizing the atmosphere, renewable energy, nuclear power, and geoengineering—are likely to work, and almost certainly not quickly enough to preserve global capitalist civilization as we know it. The next several decades are likely to be grim, brutish, and bloody, even nastier than the first two decades of the twenty-first century have been already.”

Note: If you want to read more about what our world might look like in the future, check out “The Uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells.

“Clean Energy Won’t Save UsOnly a New Economic System Can”

by Jason Hickel

”The root problem is the fact that our economic system demands ever-increasing levels of extraction, production and consumption. Our politicians tell us that we need to keep the global economy growing at more than 3% each year …That means every 20 years we need to double the size of the global economy. …

“GDP growth has been sold to us as the only way to create a better world. But we now have robust evidence that it doesn’t make us any happier, it doesn’t reduce poverty, and its ‘externalities’ produce all sorts of social ills: debt, overwork, inequality, and climate change.”

Note: If you want to learn more about why renewable energy won’t save us, check out “The End of Global Development as We Know It” by environmental engineer, Josh Kearns. Also check out Kearns’ article, “Let’s Stop Using the Word ‘Sustainability.'”

“Life Versus the Machine”

by Paul Kingsnorth*

”The collapse of the industrial economy is, in all likelihood, the only remaining way to prevent the mass destruction of life on Earth. …

“[Since] 1970, there have only been two occasions when the world’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen rather than risen. The first was the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. The second was the near collapse of the global economy in 2008. … The only thing in my lifetime that has come close to slowing down the ecocidal death machine that we call the ‘global economy’ has been collapse.”

“How Capitalism Torched the Planet by Imploding into Fascism”

by Umair Haque

“It’s at this point that Americans will ask me, a little angrily, for ‘solutions’. … There are no solutions, because these were never ‘problems’ to begin with. The planet, like society, is [not a problem to be solved, but] a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. …

“We were busy ‘solving problems’…[but] we solved all the wrong problems … We solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people … We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough—and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead.”

“This is How Republics End”

by Mike Duncan 

“Within 100 years of Rome’s imperial victories in 146, the republican system would be dead. The triumph of the Roman Republic was simultaneously the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic. The early destabilization of the republic was caused by skyrocketing economic inequality. … while the rich got richer, the poor got poorer. … When reasonable attempts at reform failed, populist demagogues were able to exploit the resentment, anxiety and desperation of burdened families. … This combative and increasingly toxic atmosphere led to the collapse of all of the unspoken rules of political behavior.”

10 Reasons Why We’re Not Going to Be Saved

by John Halstead

We’re doomed. But the reasons why have less to do with parts-per-million or degrees centigrade than they do with human psychology and culture:

  1. Civilizations die. Ours is no exception.
  2. Unlike war, climate change does not present us with an easily identifiable enemy whom we can “other.” The enemy is us.
  3. We don’t want to question the (il)logic of growth on a finite planet. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair, it’s difficult to get a person to understand something when their whole way of life depends on not understanding it.
  4. Forty years of neoliberal indoctrination has succeeded in convincing too many people that (in the words of Margaret Thatcher) “there is no alternative.”
  5. We are unlikely to change until a crisis forces us to, but the nature of climate change is that the effects of our actions today are “baked” into the earth’s climatic system and don’t manifest for decades, by which time it will be too late.
  6. Capitalism has proven to be impressively resilient and able to absorb dissent and capitalize (pun intended) on its own failures.
  7. Our democratic system of government is structured to discourage rapid change and encourage compromise. We have the luxury of neither now.
  8. The very solutions we come up with have a way of making the problem worse, because we are still operating from within the same level of alienated consciousness which created the problem. (Carbon offsetting and geoengineering are two obvious examples.)
  9. Eco-theologian Thomas Berry said, “We will not save what we do not love.” Most people do not love wild nature. We dismiss it or hate it or fear it.
  10. Nature bats last.

* *I cannot unequivocally endorse Paul Kingsnorth’s writing after the spring of 2020. After that time, following his conversion to Orthodox Christianity, Kingsnorth’s slide from Green anarchism to proto-fascism became undeniable. All the quotes by Kingsnorth here come from before that shift.

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