It seems relevant that the walled city where the wealthy few live in relative luxury while the masses outside war with one another for survival is pretty much the default premise of every dystopian sci-fi movie that gets made these days, from
“The Hunger Games,” with the decadent Capitol versus the desperate colonies, to
“Elysium,” with its spa-like elite space station hovering above a sprawling and lethal favela. It's a vision deeply enmeshed with the dominant Western religions, with their grand narratives of great floods washing the world clean and a chosen few selected to begin again. It's the story of the great fires that sweep in, burning up the unbelievers and taking the righteous to a gated city in the sky. We have collectively imagined this extreme winners-and-losers ending for our species so many times that one of our most pressing tasks is learning to imagine other possible ends to the human story in which we come together in crisis rather than split apart,
take down borders rather than erect more of them: Naomi Klein, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, www.noisnotenough.org
"The coming years will prove
increasingly cynical and cruel. People will definitely not slip into oblivion while hugging each
other. The final stages in the life of humanity will be marked by the
monstrous war of all against all: the amount of suffering will be
The biggest challenge facing humanity is that our political, social, and economic systems are shortsighted. Long-term planning typically
considers years or decades, but the global environmental processes we are now influencing play out over centuries, millennia, or more. We need to instill a sense of
geologic time into our culture and our planning, to incorporate truly long-term thinking into social and political decision making.
Scott L. Wing essay in Living in the Anthropocene.
“After ages during which the earth produced harmless
trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which
it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, I
believe is a passing nightmare ; in time the earth will become again
incapable of supporting life, and peace will return. ” Bertrand Russell
Jared Diamond wrote about the collapse of earlier
civilizations to great acclaim and brisk sales, in a nimbus of
unimpeachable respectability. The stories he told about bygone cultures
gone to seed were, above all, dramatic. No reviewers or other
intellectual auditors dissed him for suggesting that empires inevitably
run aground on the shoals of resource depletion, population overshoot,
changes in the weather, and the diminishing returns of complexity. Yet
these are exactly the same problems that industrial-technocratic
societies face today, and those of us who venture to discuss them are
consigned to a tin-foil-hat brigade, along with the UFO abductees and
Bigfoot trackers. This is unfortunate but completely predictable, since
the sunk costs in all the stuff of daily life (freeways, malls, tract
houses) are so grotesquely huge that letting go of them is strictly
unthinkable. We're stuck with a very elaborate setup that has no
future; but we refuse to consider the consequences. So messengers are
generally unwelcome. (attributed to James
"As we are all surely aware, we now face the most
ominous decisions in human history. There are many problems that must
be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance:
environmental destruction and nuclear war. For the first time in
history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent
existence -- and not in the distant future. For this reason alone, it
is imperative to sweep away the ideological clouds and face honestly
and realistically the question of how policy decisions are made, and
what we can do to alter them before it is too late." Noam
"... either one of the two features apparent in
historical societal collapses —over-exploitation of natural resources
and strong economic stratification— can independently result in a
complete collapse. Given economic stratification, collapse is very
difficult to avoid and requires major policy changes, including major
reductions in inequality and population growth rates. Even in the
absence of economic stratification, collapse can still occur if
depletion per capita is too high. However, collapse can be avoided and
population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of
nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are
distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion." study
(PDF) sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
"Here's what I've decided: the very least you can do
in your life is figure out what you hope for... What I want is so
simple I almost can't say it: elementary kindness. enough to eat,
enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to
be neither the destroyers or the destroyed. That's about it." Animal Dreams:
As for the natural world, we must try to restore
wonder there too. We could start with that photograph of the earth. It
may be our last chance. Even now it is being used in geography lessons,
taken for granted by small children. We are the first generation to
have seen it, the last generation to take it for granted. Will we
remember what it meant to us ? How fine the earth looked, dangled in
space ? How pretty against the endless black ? How round ? How very
breakable? How small ? It is up to us to try to experience a sense of
wonder about it that will save it before it is too late. If we cannot,
we may do the final damage in our lifetimes. If we can, we may change
the course of and consequently, the course of evolution, setting the
human lineage firmly on a path toward a new evolutionary plateau. The
Tangled Web: Melvin Konner, 2002: pg 436.
... we are in a race for our lives, as our global
economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems,
shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so
many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two
features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and
progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing
everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests,
though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers
optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking
rather than tough action. It is likely to be a close race. From
Jeremy Grantham, The Fall of Civilisations
"Population growth, resource scarcity, world
accumulation of weapons, and global climate change are all mixed
together, and accelerating and exacerbating each other. It's hard to
know even where to begin to talk about them. The big worry is our need
to acquire and consume resources. The underlying force here is that, as
a species, we keep on needing more of everything, and it has been our
consumption of fossil fuels causing global climate change. It's in the
pursuit of resources that we create armies. I see the nature of our
consuming behaviours as the central issue. If you don't somehow bring
that under control, none of the others will be solvable. If we don't
reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, there is no hope of addressing
global warming, and there is no hope of addressing the plunder of
Africa and the other oil-producing countries. So the nature of our
consuming behaviors, and the kinds of decisions that societies make
about the consumption of resources, is the nub." Michael T
Klare quoted in Loving This Planet, Helen Caldicott pg 195
Today, by the end of 2014, we have come to the
conclusion that humanity cannot be saved because (1) the overshoot and depletion
is far beyond restoration and adaptation, and (2) the people in power
positions are unable and unwilling to recognise and act accordingly.
So we added the "404 fatal error" page, from a nostalgic IT dawn era. Ecoglobe
"It might be a familiar progression, transpiring on
many worlds - a planet, newly formed, placidly revolves around its
star; life slowly forms; a kaleidoscopic procession of creatures
evolves; intelligence emerges which, at least up to a point, confers
enormous survival value; and then technology is invented. It dawns on
them that there are such things as laws of Nature, that these laws can
be revealed by experiment, and that knowledge of these laws can be made
both to save and to take lives, both on unprecedented scales. Science,
they recognize, grants immense powers. In a flash, they create
world-altering contrivances. Some planetary civilizations see their way
through, place limits on what may and what must not be done, and safely
pass through the time of perils. Others, not so lucky or so prudent,
perish." Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot
The Emerging World Order, Its Roots our legacy: Noam Chomsky
Yes Virginia. Our generation IS robbing yours now. Wages are
falling, benefits shrinking, working hours longer, vacation time less,
pensions disappearing, debt increasing personally and at all government
levels, most of the growth rewarded the already wealthy, politics degraded, and the Constitution at risk. (See
The Great Risk Shift: by Jacob Hacker.)
Most of the dysfunction of our institutions are caused by
extreme income inequality
including Campaign finance, lobbying, corruption, polarization,
corporate predators, media distortion, religious tribalism,
runaway costs in healthcare, pharma, insurance, social pathology, and class
are, as a
result, unlikely to deal with the challenges: climate change, nuclear
proliferation, overpopulation, or war.
The Republican agenda was never
for the people, but always for the Corporations
(That, by definition, is called Fascism.)
In fact: union busting, less job security, outsourcing, greedy CEOs,
shady book-keeping, auditor's collusion, corruption, and crony
capitalism ran rampant. Manufacturing jobs hemorrhaged to third-world
sweat shops in what was called globalization.
(See Naomi Klein's
book "Shock Doctrine".)
You will be competing for third-world wages. You will not earn more
than we did. Bush's appointees to the Supreme Court reliably continued his
policy of corporate supremacy and all but destroyed the republic with Citizen's United. US government no
longer serves the people, it answers to corporations.
Financial instability will be
evident as the assault on the New Deal continues, energy
prices continue to rise, trade deficits get worse, housing
foreclosures impact the middle class, inflation escalates, and so does
debt. The Fed is out of weapons. The stock market could fall out of
bed. The market is responding to Republican deregulation. Their bank
deregulation, the rollback of Glass-Steagle, was particularly
unwise. Deregulation, regressive tax reform, and
degraded labor rights will decrease financial stability. Because consolidation has produced even
larger institutions too big to fail, the next crisis will likely be
The two Bush Presidential elections WERE stolen. (See Conyer's report).
The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) became dysfunctional. Any
candidate that would serve the people (with, for example, peace) was disqualified. Only Kucinich dared
utter such thoughts but he was easily marginalized, kept off the debate
stage, and ridiculed by the main stream media.
Since the Supreme Court ruled to allow
unlimited corporate money into elections, expect the end of any real democracy in the US.
Trump won without the popular vote, and that signals the end of democracy in the U.S.
It is evident that US media keeps people distracted,
exploited, subservient, misinformed, juvenile, ignorant, and angry for
the wrong reasons. Since people don't really have information to make
an informed decision, there can be no democracy.
Don't trust anything you hear from US media,
particularly right-wing talk radio.
Media, already bad, will get
worse. It is a major cause of a culture of violence, toxic
politics, polarization, and of education failure in the US.
The three Republican Commissioners of the FCC decided, with strong Bush
encouragement, to further consolidate ownership. (Be realistic; every
country manages the news.) Last time they attempted this there was a
massive public outcry, but Bush promised to
veto any Congressional action if there was any attempt to roll back the
new standard. Yet another perk for media moguls. Less foreign
reporting, downsized investigative reporting, new legal obstacles for
reporters, more classified information, less whistleblower protection,
more shock jocks, and more consolidated,
down-sized media. Net neutrality is about to be rolled back.
The issues that matter don't get much press: i.e. healthcare, pensions, family leave time,
falling wages, union busting, outsourcing,
offshoring, environmental damage, etc.
What you WILL hear about is deficits, tax
cuts for the wealthy, illegal immigrants,
religious fervor from Republican candidates, hate speech from
Republican shock jocks, If they can get you asking the
wrong questions, the answers don't matter. In addition to inciting
anger, Republicans insist that everyone
has a right to carry guns. What could go wrong
with that ?
Federal agencies, under Bush, were
populated with party hacks, and career
civil servants left in disgust. Incompetence was rampant. There won't
be any press for this though. Federal agencies are foxes guarding the
henhouses. Trump cabinet picks are considerably worse than Bush's.
The US economy crashed and is returning
to feudalism because of spectacular income inequality. It will build
walled communities for the affluent, there will be walls along the
borders to keep 'them' out, and there
will be a steady increase in the population of detention camps.
We have passed peak oil, and without
cheap oil our current lifestyle, food and transportation will be
unsustainable. Climate change will
result in food shortages, drought, volatile
weather events, fisheries collapse, and will leave future generations
with a hostile planet. Population
will need to fall to sustainable levels. This will not be an option. "The 2015 UN global population projections
are alarmingly higher than just over a decade ago." (John Seager)
Discontent with a falling standard of living, fewer good jobs,
a shredded safety net, or serious food shortages can cause a turn to religion, a strong man dictator, or turn many
people violent. Widespread, uncontrolled gun
ownership will have its consequences including militarization of the
police. You will not be safer. Picture the wild west with automatic
The military-industrial complex is incredibly profitable, and
it now rules. Massive military budgets,
endless war, militarization of the country will
inevitably produce a national security
state. Civil liberties are collateral
damage. Wiretapping, massive datamining, RFID,
large scale surveillance will inevitability result in a totalitarian state.
Net neutrality will be a distant dream. You can forget about privacy. The Constitution
will be all but meaningless. Corporations
rule. Real government will be done in secret.
The hallmark of a failed state is its unresponsiveness
to its people. The forever war will likely turn nuclear.
The final stage of many empires in
history results in 'strong man' head of state. The President has expanded his power so that he
can now act in secret without the need to
worry about the Geneva Conventions, International
Law on Torture, Habeas Corpus, Posse
Commitatus, and he can freely disappear or assassinate
people even if they are citizens. He does not need to practice 'due process of law'. He is above the
law...and the Roberts Supreme Court
will likely agree because it will have more 'conservative justices'.
Congress will not be
able to perform oversight because the 'executive branch' doesn't have
to tell them anything. This means that we no longer have a Constitution. Checks and balances are
history because the President has more power than the King we revolted
against. See fascism.
The Presidency has continued to
accumulate power at the expense of the democratically elected Congress. We appear to be headed for an
imperial Presidency accompanied by an all-consuming effort to build an empire. Like every other empire in history, the
outcome will be serious failure if not destruction.
Because war is profitable expect more
of it. Resource wars will become more frequent as climate change and mass migrations
accelerate. The next war could be on our own
soil and it can be more destructive than any of the past. In any event
our military-Keynsian economy will self destruct.
Some are predicting that Israel will
bomb Iran. (For good reason, the Constitution authorized the Congress the
power to declare War, but, really, what's to
stop any President from doing it ?)
Unless the US abandons its quest for empire, your generation
will sacrifice for endless war for empire,
but, since the US is broke, the empire will not last long. Bush created a lot of ill-will. Obama has not held
anyone to account. Trump policy is completely wrong.
But wait, it gets worse. CO2 emmissions are not nearly slowed enough and will persist
in the atmosphere for centuries. Environmental damage will be catastrophic.
194 countries have signed on to the Paris climate agreement, but the United States, alone, has not.
Actually, the Paris agreement is not sufficient to slow the damage much.
Population overshoot is causing the destruction of the environment.
Republicans are in denial of that too.
...we can look forward with confidence to character-building
bankruptcies, picturesque bread riots, thrilling cavalcades of
splendidly costumed motorcycle police. Lewis
Lapham (Harper's Magazine Oct. 2005)
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the
flag, carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis (1935)
All the charts in Limits to Growth seen
to show [collapse] nearly inevitable, since we didn't take our foot off
the gas when we had the chance. And the seeming solidity of our
civilization could be illusory. As Diamond shows with abundant example,
"one of the main lessons to be learned from the collapses of the Maya,
Anasazi, Easter Islanders, and those other past societies is that a
society's steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the
society reaches its peak numbers, wealth and power." (in fact, that's
exactly when you'd expect it to happen, because that peak wealth
usually means peak impact on the environment). We're overleveraged in
ways that resemble those past civilizations. In fact, they were pikers
compared to us: the Anasazi may have died out when the climate shifted,
but they didn't make it happen. And if our societies start to tank,
we'll be in worse shape than those who came before. For one thing, our
crisis is global, so there's no place to flee. For another, most of us
don't know how to do very much - in your standard collapse scenario,
it's nice to know how to grow wheat. From Eaarth
by Bill McKibbon
didn't come across on the Mayflower. Indeed not. Nor with the Niña nor
Santa Maria. Certainly not. Democracy was here. It was in full flower.
It was rampant. It was all over. All nations were free, and that
includes the buffalo nation, that includes the fish nations and the
nations of trees. They were all free. That's what was here. Not to say
that people always got along. That's why we had great councils to keep
the peace. And that's what the Haudenosauneeshone leadership is about.
We are not actually chiefs. Chief is an English word. We are hoyaneh,
which means the peacemakers. We keep the peace. That's what the
leadership is about. That's our work, that's our job. To keep the peace
and promote peace. I think people wonder about Native leaders and what
we do. Some of the activities we're involved in carry us to many places
in the world, and our leaders have always been on the move.Oren
Lyons - the ice is melting.
It is clear to anyone paying attention that we have damaged
the climate beyond repair, climate disasters will become
increasingly more severe, food shortages will be widespread as a
result of drought and accelerating desertification, mass migrations,
widespread violence is likely.
Population pressure and lifestyle
are the roots of environmental degradation.
Recent collapse of the environment are plain to see in Haiti, Darfur, and others. Republicans are wrong in all of their population policies. Face it, there is no
other habitable planet. Climate change, accompanied by
extinction events, will cause massive dislocations of, mainly poor
people. Republicans, always in denial, refuse to mitigate the damage.
Massive immigration is inevitable.
Republican racism, greed, hostility and subservience to the wealthy, makes hypocrisy of their 'religion'.
We were warned in the 70's when computer simulations were done
to determine what might be the
Limits to Growth for the planet. Results, which today are right on
track, indicated that the economy would reach a plateau and then
begin a decline. What was not considered in that simulation, was
climate change. In 2005 the Stern
Report estimated that "the costs of climate
change, if not addressed, will be equivalent to losing 5 percent
(and potentially as much as 20 percent) of the global gross domestic
product (GDP) 'each year, now and forever'. Hundreds of millions of
people could be threatened with hunger, water shortages, and severe
economic deprivation. Climate change, Stern wrote, is the 'greatest
market failure the world has ever seen'. (From Technology Review,
July/August 2011). Economic growth will peak and then decline.
In August, 2011 a number of notables including James Hanson,
Naomi Klein, Bill McKibbon
protested outside the White House against the Keystone Pipeline
which is designed to transport oil from Canadian tar sands to the Gulf
of Mexico. Hansen, a NASA climate scientist, has said that approval of
the pipeline is "game
over for the environment".
Climate damage is settled
science: and Republicans, since they
care more about money than survival, and
represent large energy interests, are in
denial. (If the Arctic ice caps melt, just think... we can drill for
even more oil there.) It is well established that "losses
in biodiversity are occurring globally at all levels". Global warming is real and the
consequences are occurring more rapidly than the climate models
predict. Glaciers are melting fast and that can dry out rivers that
make much of the planet arable. Expect wierd weather, food
shortages, desertification, more migration, species extinction.
Canada’s biggest science agency has an internal document,
introduced to some staff by NRC’s former president days before he left his
position in March, that outlines an ambitious view of NRC in 2050. And
it shows a management vision of “nation-building” technology and
world-saving achievement, all resulting from radical re-organization of
what NRC does today.
First, the scenario: Global temperatures will jump by four
degrees Celsius by 2025, the document foretells, making regions near
the equator uninhabitable for months at a time.One billion people will
be in refugee camps or wandering the Earth, looking for a place to
live. The world will have 100 super-cities of more than 30 million
people, with tremendous strain on resources and health.
It gets worse: NASA climate scientist James Hansen
possible 10-foot rise in sea levels before the end of the century.
One-third of Florida's population lives below this level, as do more
that 700,000 residents of New York City. So do millions in major
coast cities. That would force evacuation of hundreds of millions.
Already police are being militarized in preparation for
popular uprisings by gangs with automatic weapons. Without wiser
policy, nuclear war is probable. That will be
"We must choose, and choose soon,
either for or against the further evolution of the human spirit. It is
for us, in the generation that turned the corner of the millennium, to
apply whatever knowledge we have, in all humility but with all due
speed, and to try to learn more as quickly as possible. It is for us,
much more than for any previous generation, to become serious about the
human future and to make choices that will be weighed not in a decade
or a century but in the balances of geological time. It is for us, with
all our stumbling, and in the midst of our dreadful confusion, to try
to disengage the tangled wing." (The
Tangled Web: Melvin Konner, 2002: pg 488)