Collapse may ACCELERATE global warming
by Eric Schechter
3 Febraury, 2013
Many people in the environmentalist movement are looking forward to the collapse of our "civilization," because they believe that will slow global warming. I think they're mistaken about that, because they have a mistaken notion of what the collapse of "civilization" will look like. They are imagining that people will stop using fossil fuel, and will live in peaceful small farm communities, practicing permaculture, perhaps using oxen-drawn plows.
That would be nice, but that depends on a drastic change in culture. I'm all in favor of that drastic change -- I've been screaming for that change -- what we need is a global eco-anarcho-zen-socialist revolution -- but I don't see that happening. Here is what I see happening:
Collapse will first become evident to most people in the form of mass starvation. Global warming is causing crop failures, which in turn are causing a rise in food prices; we already saw that in 2012. In fact, that has been going on for years; the "Arab Spring" was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of a food vendor in Tunisia who could no longer make ends meet; but farmers in India have been committing suicide for years. That's all going to keep getting worse, because global warming is accelerating.
But the rich are not becoming gentle, not setting the stage for peaceful small communities. The rich, who are in control of our society, are calling for austerity. They are calling for measures to impose greater hardship on the less fortunate among us, in order to increase their own control, their own power. All sense of civility is breaking down. Where will that lead?
If governments continue to exist at all, they will be swallowed by their military and police branches, like a giant version of Blackwater. If the US government continues to exist, it will be as the enforcer branch of Goldman Sachs. If a national currency continues to exist, that will be only because the US government wields enough brutal force to back it up. If there is no national currency, then barter and local currencies will take its place -- but exchanges will be furtive scenes, as likely to end in gunplay as has ever been the case in heroin sales.
Most people will continue to be employed by large corporations, because they do not know any other way of life. But the corporations will become more abusive toward their workers. Wage-slavery will increasingly resemble literal slavery.
Some of the slaves will escape, seeking a better life, searching for a community farm that they can join. But they will be pursued by slave-catchers. And community farms will not be safe from marauding bands, from warlords who want to expand their territory.
People will not stop using fossil fuel. Here is how that will work out: The rich people who control the oil fields and refineries are not going to willingly give up their wealth. Instead they will hire many more armed guards. Every oil-tanker truck or ship will be guarded with many weapons. There will still be plenty of market for fuel. What will change is that any pretense of regulation will fall away. The production and use of fossil fuel will become dirtier than it has been in many decades. ALL known reserves of fossil fuel will get used, even though climatologists have already made it clear that that will be fatal for the ecosystem. Global warming will accelerate.
That's the early part of collapse.
Crops will fail, more and more. People will starve, more and more. All the other plants and animals will die off too, except maybe anaerobic bacteria. All the people will die. And global warming will continue for many years after that, due to the feedback loops that have been set in motion.
The only hope that I can see for avoiding that fate is through a global eco-anarcho-zen-socialist revolution, to replace profit with cooperation, and to implement carbon-negative technologies on a massive scale. Even with such a revolution, we're still going to have billions starving to death, and the ecosystem still might not survive -- but the ecosystem might survive. And that revolution has to happen soon, which seems unlikely -- but it could happen, because an idea sometimes spreads very quickly. That rarely happens, but occasionally it does happen.
If you agree with the idea in this essay, then help to spread it -- i.e., share this link. If you want to help spread it even faster, paste it in some of the forums to which you belong. If you really want to be obnoxious about it, post a link to this essay on the timelines of all your friends.