Thursday, September 17, 2009

A stoic walks on lava

Both [Conrad and Ballard] were unsparing critics of civilisation, but they never imagined there was a superior alternative.
-- from John Gray's review of the Dark Mountain manifesto.

My published comments on the manifesto are here and here. Gray is probably right in this:
[Today], the belief that a global collapse could lead to a better world is ever more far-fetched. Human numbers have multiplied, industrialisation has spread worldwide and the technologies of war are far more highly developed. In these circumstances, ecological catas­trophe will not trigger a return to a more sustainable way of life, but will intensify the existing competition among nation states for the planet's remaining reserves of oil, gas, fresh water and arable land. Waged with hi-tech weapons, the resulting war could destroy not only large numbers of human beings but also much of what is left of the biosphere.

A scenario of this kind is not remotely apocalyptic. It is no more than history as usual, together with new technologies and ongoing climate change.

...stoicism will be needed if civilised life is to survive an environmental crisis that cannot now be avoided. Walking on lava requires a cool head, not one filled with fiery dreams.
P.S. Dougald Hine replies to Gray here.

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