In fact, it becomes more difficult with every passing day to ignore any of these three phenomena, despite the ongoing irrelevant spew emanating from politicians and the media.
Economic recession? Check, since 2000. Economic depression? Check, since 2008. Rampant “natural” disasters? Check, with increasing frequency. Climate chaos? Indeed, only the willfully ignorant can miss it.
When it rains it pours
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is what simultaneous, systemic collapses look like. We’re awash in tell-tale interactions between climate change, “natural” disasters, and the industrial economy. A parched planet blows through major cities, obscuring the sun even as record-high temperatures are eclipsed. Fire and flood are on the rise. We used to be able to exert a modicum of control over the latter two phenomena, back when climate chaos wasn’t exploding and the industrial economy wasn’t imploding.
On the other hand, we used to contain nuclear power within nuclear power plants, too. Well, except the occasional Hiroshima and Chernobyl. Now it’s Fukushima, Fort Calhoun, Cooper, and Los Alamos, and all at the same time.
The official line — “Notification of Unusual Event” — is becoming paradoxically common. Our collective, societal ability to keep the plates spinning is no longer a justifiable assumption.
Yet we continue to take for granted the inherent justice of the unjust, absurd set of living arrangements to which we’ve become inculcated and enslaved.
There can be little doubt a system that enslaves, tortures, and kills people is wrong. Industrial culture does all this with stunning efficiency. Big Energy poisons our water. Big Ag controls our seeds, hence our food. Big Pharm controls, through pharmaceuticals, the behavior of our children. Wall Street controls the flow of money. Big Ad controls the messages we receive every day. The criminally rich get richer through crime: that’s how America works.
Through it all, we believe we’re free.
Even more strangely, we believe we’re promoting freedom around the world. Here in the land of a war-based industrial economy, we used to busy ourselves with the quaint concept of one war at a time. Now we’re committed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of the industrial age. Tack on a few more oil-rich, Muslim countries — say, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia as of this writing — and a reasonably intelligent person might conclude an increasingly desperate United States is beginning to lose its global hegemonic grip.
Phenomena that formerly captured our attention every few decades now appear weekly. The new normal is a mad scramble to steer clear of nature’s wrath while ratcheting up resource wars to stay one step ahead of complete socioeconomic collapse.
Amidst the chaos, long-time political insiders warn of civil unrest.
Meanwhile, 300 million self-absorbed Americans watch the feel-good “news” to see which models of beer and automobile are being pimped by their favorite celebrities. It seems the personal game of “who’s screwing whom” is more important to the typical television-addicted American than the international, imperial game of “who’s screwing whom.” Oblivious to the carnage of industry and the lunacy of our lives, we keep praying the stock markets go up while bickering about who’s to blame for our economic misfortune. Meanwhile, the shamans and high priests of the faith-based junk science known as neoclassical economics assure us the industrial economy is growing. And, they say, this is a good thing.
But beyond the culture of make believe and into the realm of reality, we know otherwise. Civilization precludes maintenance of a robust living planet capable of supporting human life for additional millennia.
There is another, better way to live. But we can’t be bothered. Please pass the guacamole, and don’t tell me about the horrors of globalization that allowed the delivery of its component ingredients. After all, extinction is for lesser species.
Until it’s not.
–Guy McPherson for Transition Voice