When one looks back over previous societal extinctions and collapses it was due to one of the base elements I described above (air, water, soil) become depleted, corrupted, or polluted among other issues and problems: desalinization, oceanic disturbances, asteroids, deforestation, land overuse, etc. – the list is endless, with variations of the theme over and over. But one thing they had in common is that for the most part the collapses of society in the past were for the most part localized to a specific region and civilization. In our time it is global and planetary wide. So that we cannot like those ancients pick up and move to other climes: there is not place else to go – this is it.
One of those fascinating aspects of reading Ligotti was his forthrightness. He points out the human animals propensity for deception and self-deception. Our civilizations are constructed out of deceptions, lies, illusions, artificial systems that all seek to defend the human from the raw and bloody truth of the natural world. We all want to live. We all think life is worthy of effort. We all think life is alright. Some even think we are God’s little angel, his favorite – an exception in the great animal kingdom, and that he’ll save us from any massive world collapse. While the pessimist and sceptic in us says horseshit, nothing’s going to save your sorry ass this time bud – this is the end, caput. Comprende?
As another author, Roy Scranton tells us, global warming is what is called a “wicked problem”: it doesn’t offer any clear solutions, only better and worse responses.4 One of the most difficult aspects to deal with is that it is a collective-action problem of the highest order. One city, one country, even one continent cannot solve it alone. Any politician who honestly and frankly worked to detach her nation’s economy from oil and coal would not survive in any kind of democratic or oligarchic government, because the rigorous austerity necessary to such an effort would mean either economic depression and poverty for most of her constituency, a massive redistribution of wealth, or both. Moreover, any leader who forced her country to accept the austerity and redistribution necessary to end its dependence on cheap carbon would also be forcing her country into a weak and isolated position politically, economically, and militarily. The entire world has to work together to solve global warming, yet carbon powers the world’s political machinery and shapes our current form of collective life. It’s coal and oil that we have to thank for connecting the many nations of the world into one tight, integrated economy. Without the information, energy, and transportation infrastructures built and sustained with carbon, there wouldn’t be any global civilization to try to save. (LDA, KL 552)