A long time ago I read a book titled “The end of Western Civilisation, a view from the future”. Written as if a hundred year in the future, looking back on how we messed up the response to climate change. The thesis of the book is that Western civilisation became trapped in the grip of two inhibiting ideologies: positivism and market fundamentalism. As a result, destroying civilisation in most of Europe and the USA. Africa and Australia are wiped out. China survives. It is referred to in the book as the great collapse 2073-2093.
It is a fascinating read with an eerie ring to it. A must read. Describing the absolute failure of scientists and politicians to grapple with what they knew was happening and could not resolve it. Starting with what is in effect market failure. The refusal to calculate the full cost of production which includes the cost to the environment.
Back to the future?
Everything we see happening now is described in the book. Spinning, industry lobbying by fossil fuel companies, blaming, ignorance, fake news, active denial, passive denial, neoliberalism, non-interventionism, interventionism, narcissism, reductionism, etc.
Nobody was taking a holistic view or joining up the dots. Too many scientists were working in silos, specialising in just one thing. Nobody speaking up. Inertia. Complete system failure.
Resulting in heat waves, massive rise in sea level (Holland disappears), depopulation and mass migration, outbreaks of disease (typhus, cholera, dengue fever, yellow fever, black death, etc.), famine, deforestation, you name it. Read “Climate change” if you want more.
We know what we have to do
The hard part, according to the book, is that we knew what had to be done and we did nothing about it. Because the political, economic and social institutions had a vested interest in maintaining the use of fossil fuels. If you want proof of that, look where the subsidies are still going. The International Energy Agency estimates that, globally, governments provided $493 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels in 2014 (that is from “Climate of Hope“). If we would have spent that money on solar or wind……….
This could happen in our lifetime
If you believe that we will live to be 150 years old (and I do), this will all happen in our lifetime. Again, eerie and a must read. It will make you think. After that, you should pick up “Drawdown” and “Buddhist economics“. There is hope.