Collapse

29 posts / 0 new
Last post
Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 26 2020 13:34
Collapse

Could human civilization collapse or eventually become extinct because of climate change, and if so on what time scale are we taking about?

It seems like a lot of scientists are saying that societal collapse is now the most likely outcome, due to impacts upon crops and water availability, plus mass migration.

What impact does the pandemic have on all of this?

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Aug 26 2020 13:55

I don't know for sure, I did see this very bleak article doing the rounds a month or so back though: https://eand.co/if-life-feels-bleak-its-because-our-civilization-is-begi...

I've not actually read Desert myself, so I dunno if it's any use, and the people who are most into it tend to be a bit annoying imo, but it might be one starting point for grappling with this stuff: http://organisemagazine.org.uk/2019/10/03/desert-review/ https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anonymous-desert

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 27 2020 10:54

Thanks for sharing R Totale.

I will need to have a closer look at the desert stuff I haven't seen this before, the stuff Umair Haque is posting though I am not too sure what to make of.

He said the 2030's will be when climate change hits hard, the 2040's when ecosystems begin to collapse and the 2050's when animals are gone. He did not back any of these projections up with science though and it seems far too quick to me.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Aug 27 2020 13:26

Oh, come to think of it, Out of the Woods stuff is probably also relevant here, they're meant to have a book coming out called Hope Against Hope, and they contributed a few articles to a special "apocalypse issue" of the Occupied Times, which might be another good starting point. And like I say, I've not actually read Desert myself, so my recommendation of it is only a very cautious and provisional one - I was slightly surprised that the AF seemed to give it such a positive review.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Sep 22 2020 17:37

Richard Wolff did a recent interview with Mexie a libertarian leftist youtuber and podcaster who discusses political ecology issues.

The interview raises the question of capitalisms collapse so thought I'd share here to see what you think.

https://youtu.be/vipaqx_fo2g

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Sep 22 2020 19:00

Thinking about it, Inhabit is another attempt to tackle the questions around collapse:
https://inhabit.global/
"Path A:

It's over.
Bow your head and phone scroll through the apocalypse

Watch as Silicon Valley replaces everything with robots. New fundamentalist deathcults make ISIS look like child’s play. The authorities release a geolocation app to real-time snitch on immigrants and political dissent while metafascists crowdfund the next concentration camps. Government services fail. Politicians turn to more draconian measures and the left continues to bark without teeth.

Meanwhile, glaciers melt, wildfires rage, Hurricane Whatever drowns another city. Ancient plagues reemerge from thawing permafrost. Endless work as the rich benefit from ruin. Finally, knowing we did nothing, we perish, sharing our tomb with all life on the planet.

Path B

Take a breath and get ready for a new world

A multiplicity of people, spaces, and infrastructures lay the ground where powerful, autonomous territories take shape. Everything for everyone. Land is given over to common use. Technology is cracked open—everything a tool, anything a weapon. Autonomous supply lines break the economic stranglehold. Mesh networks provide real-time communication connecting those who sense that a different life must be built."

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Dec 4 2020 21:32

.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Sep 23 2020 22:22

I don't know much about Wolff but as he is a marxist not an anarchist and seems to me to be a traditional one I had the feeling that libcomers would likely have some issues with him.

Most left thinkers seem to be marxist academics. A lot of the stuff they write about I find really interesting especially when talking about how capitalism works, the impact it has on people, how it is not sustainable and its relation with ecology. Their solutions though usually involve needing government in some way whether its to bring in universal basic income, nationalisation, a green new deal or force action on climate change in the same way governments forced the economy to slow in response to covid.

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Sep 23 2020 23:47
Scallywag wrote:
I don't know much about Wolff but as he is a marxist not an anarchist and seems to me to be a traditional one I had the feeling that libcomers would likely have some issues with him.

Most left thinkers seem to be marxist academics. A lot of the stuff they write about I find really interesting especially when talking about how capitalism works, the impact it has on people, how it is not sustainable and its relation with ecology. Solutions though usually involve needing government in some way whether its to bring in universal basic income, nationalisation, a green new deal or force action on climate change in the same way governments forced the economy to slow in response to covid.

Just to say I'd also echo Out of the Woods as a good source on climate change issues. Actual scientific research is a good source too, but you have to be sort of careful because science isn't really neutral or immune to bourgeois influence, such as Malthus' ideas on population. I always thought it strange how a geology textbook might explain climate change, and then transition into talking about something like the classification of deposits based on profitability, as if "profitability" were something natural to earth's resources (and as if production for profit weren't a factor in climate change). I think Out of the Woods do a good job with blending scientific info and filtering out all the bourgeois stuff. This is a particularly good piece on hunger,

https://libcom.org/blog/political-economy-hunger-17112014

I don't see what Wolff's co-ops have in common with anything Marx wrote about so I'm kind of reluctant to even call him a marxist.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Dec 4 2020 14:40

A fairly interesting article sketching out four possible future trajectories: "Climate Leviathan" (a renewed UN-style global capitalist co-operation to maintain some kind of order), "Climate Behemoth" (Trump/Bolsonaro-style nationalism and denialism), "Climate Mao" (some kind of state socialist challenge to the above" and "Climate X" (various anti-capitalist autonomous-type visions).

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
Offline
Joined: 11-02-18
Jul 10 2021 22:06

In terms of understanding the progression of impact people in different parts of the world are likely to experience at different levels of climate change, I found the book Six Degrees very informative, or if you want a short version there's also the article based on this book.

Unfortunately this source is quite old (2008), so I'm sure there are many details that need changing. But I've yet to find another source that gives a very clear and detailed look of the impact at each stage along the way to a possible six degrees of warming. So, what would be the impact at 1 degree of warming, 2 degrees, 3 degrees, 4 degrees, 5 degrees, and 6 degrees. I think that broadly speaking the predictions remain more or less relevant.

Ninja64
Offline
Joined: 26-07-21
Jul 28 2021 10:59
Lucky Black Cat wrote:
In terms of understanding the progression of impact people in different parts of the world are likely to experience at different levels of climate change, I found the book Six Degrees very informative

Mark Lynas who wrote six degrees is in favor of nuclear power and GMO. I don´t see him as credible.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Jul 31 2021 18:53

People might find this podcast project interesting:
https://www.liveliketheworldisdying.com/

For some introductions to her approach:
https://www.liveliketheworldisdying.com/2021/01/11/were-all-preppers-now...
https://itsgoingdown.org/margaret-killjoy-on-an-anarchist-approach-to-pr...

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
Offline
Joined: 11-02-18
Jul 31 2021 21:17
Ninja64 wrote:

Mark Lynas who wrote six degrees is in favor of nuclear power and GMO. I don´t see him as credible.

That's disappointing about the nuclear power, but I don't think that having bad ideas for solutions to a problem means your analysis of the problem itself is wrong.

Black Badger
Offline
Joined: 21-03-07
Jul 31 2021 21:38

Bad ideas for solutions are definitely a problem if they cloud your analysis; haven't you ever noticed how most non- or anti-revolutionary critics begin with solutions and work backward to their analyses?

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
Offline
Joined: 11-02-18
Aug 3 2021 18:02

That's true. My statement doesn't apply for every case but it does apply for this case. In this case the problem we're talking about is the environmental and social impacts at various degrees of global warming. Someone's opinion on whether or not nuclear power is a solution wouldn't effect their assessment of the scientific reports on the impacts of climate change.

Black Badger
Offline
Joined: 21-03-07
Aug 3 2021 20:08

I heartily disagree. If someone thinks increased use of nuclear power to generate electricity is greener and/or safer than fossil fuels, and is offering it as a solution to climate change, then I am seriously skeptical about their analytical abilities in general.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Aug 3 2021 20:16

Bad solutions can certainly cloud people's analysis, but that's not always the case, if people could be neatly divided into "silly people with bad ideas" and "smart people with good ideas" then life would be much simpler than it is. It's one of those things that has to be shown on a case-by-case basis. If Lynas' opinions about the likely impact of climate change, as opposed to his opinions about nuclear power and GMOs, are that flawed, then someone should be able to explain what the actual problems with them are?

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Aug 4 2021 14:12

Not that read up on earth science, but isn't nuclear energy a viable alternative to fossil fuels, except (maybe too big of an "except"?) for the radioactive waste and security issues, such as the possibility of someone sabotaging a plant, as well as accidents/disasters (which there's always a greater likelihood of under corner-cutting capitalism)? I think energy needs/resource consumption would change significantly in a society where profit-making and growth, as things pursued for their own sakes, were not the driving force, doing away with pointless and wasteful industries (automobiles come to mind).

Anyone have thoughts/stuff to share on millionaires' "societal breakdown preparations"? I read this older article on Peter Thiel and his interest in New Zealand as some "sanctuary." The poorest segments of the world's populations are certainly the first to feel the effects of climate change/societal breakdown, but I don't see how millionaires are really "escaping" anything by building bunkers and panic rooms in New Zealand.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 5 2021 23:50

Regarding nuclear energy reading this has made me think that it isn't really a good solution

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/ten-reasons-climate-activists-shoul...

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Aug 6 2021 08:49
adri wrote:
Anyone have thoughts/stuff to share on millionaires' "societal breakdown preparations"? I read this older article on Peter Thiel and his interest in New Zealand as some "sanctuary." The poorest segments of the world's populations are certainly the first to feel the effects of climate change/societal breakdown, but I don't see how millionaires are really "escaping" anything by building bunkers and panic rooms in New Zealand.

I think the Margaret Killjoy stuff mentioned above functions as a kind of critique of that. From here:

Quote:
First and foremost, the bunker mentality will get us all killed. Even if a lot of us (myself included) are introverts and curmudgeons at heart, the human animal is still a social animal. We’ve evolved to take care of one another and be taken care of. We weather crisis better when we do it together.

When crisis hits, we work together. This happens naturally. Think about waiting for a bus at a bus stop with some strangers. There’s no reason to talk to each other. As soon as the bus is ten minutes late, though, the barriers of social isolation break down and everyone is friends. You’re all in it together, suffering the disaster of a missed bus. The social norms go out the window, and most of the time, what comes rushing in is a sense of togetherness...

The main exception to this is, of course, rich people. People who are used to being in control are the ones who freak out the moment anything goes wrong. There’s even a word for this: elite panic. Insisting on the norms of the now-failing status quo is exactly the wrong move.

So is choosing to self-isolate. If you go hole up with your ten friends in the woods when the power grid fails, that’s fine and good until your appendix bursts and none of you are surgeons. Or maybe you have a surgeon, and you survive that particular crisis. But while you were off hiding in the woods, someone stepped in to the vacuum of power, and you weren’t there to stop them or to organize something better, and society is reforming without your input.

Prepping has a bad name, for good reason. Prepping has such a bad name that I don’t always call what I do prepping. Most of what is labeled prepping is this individualist mentality—what I call the bunker mentality. Instead, we’re going to talk about preparedness from a point of view that remembers we’re social creatures and that we’re part of a society, from a point of view that recognizes how disaster tends to bring people together more than it pushes people apart. We’re going to talk about community preparedness, even if we’re going to talk about what you as an individual, a family, or a small community can do to be prepared to participate in a broader community preparedness.

I used to feel the relationship between individual and community preparedness as a tension: I was one of the only people I knew who focused on prepping before Covid, and I wondered what the point of it was. I don’t believe in individualist survival, so what good is it if I, and only I, have a gas mask or a few months of dried food lying around? Then, come Covid, I learned what the point is. The point of being prepared, as an individual, is that you’re better situated to help your community. The more of my own shit I have sorted out, the less I need to rely on others and the more I’m able to help people. It’s one of those “please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others” things...

Gear is less important than skills. Skills are less important than relationships. All three matter and all three interrelate.

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Aug 7 2021 22:29

Thanks for sharing that Scallywag, raises some interesting points. I'm still uncertain about the radioactive waste issue, and I forgot about the possible depletion of uranium as the article mentions. I'm definitely not an expert on this stuff, but with respect to radioactive waste, it seems it's possible to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, which is not currently done in the US.

I think it's also important separating what's feasible under capitalism versus a post-capitalist society. Capitalism itself is inherently destructive toward humans and the environment (even in "green industries" such as electric vehicle production), with profit-making and growth as its sole objectives. It's not merely a matter of us needing to drop fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources. I'm not optimistic that we can meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions or prevent further environmental damage under capitalism.

The points in the piece seem based on capitalism rather than a transformed society. The expenses involved in nuclear power for example wouldn't be an issue in a post-capitalist society, since money wouldn't exist. Similarly I couldn't imagine the threat of nuclear war being a problem in a post-capitalist world where there wouldn't be competing nation-states. Even under capitalism, Cold War era weapons have been disarmed in Russia and the uranium sold to the US to fuel nuclear reactors as part of the Megatons to Megawatts Program.

Quote:
9. Uranium mining is unsafe. There is no safe way to mine uranium or other radioactive elements. Building more nuclear power will result in more leakage of radioactive materials into the environment and more workers exposed to unsafe conditions and preventable deaths.

10. Nuclear means dispossession. About 70% of the uranium used for nuclear power plants worldwide is mined from the lands of Indigenous minorities. For too long, Indigenous peoples’ lands and culture have been treated as nuclear industry sacrifice zones. We should not support any expansion.

Indigenous peoples such as the Navajos did actually hire themselves out to uranium mine operators (contracting with the government) to fuel Cold War weapons production in the 40s-80s, which has impacted the health of the people living in those areas due in part to abandoned mines. (Workers of course, once any other means of existing has been taken away, have no other option but to take part in reproducing capitalism and the conditions of their own exploitation.) It's again worth pointing out however that mining wouldn't be the same in a post-capitalist society, since there wouldn't be a price tag attached to carrying out mining processes safely and in an environmentally-conscious way (to the extent that's possible), as well as reclaiming mines once done.

The argument that resources lie on "Indigenous peoples' lands" (I'm assuming they're not just talking about Indigenous peoples of Australia) is not really that compelling. I think leftists (American leftists particularly) tend to have an indiscriminately positive conception of "Native American" life—as if the Aztecs were the same as the Pueblos—and only figure Native Americans as victims in the history of European colonialism. I think one can recognize how Indigenous peoples were directly or indirectly driven to near-extinction (mostly through diseases) by Europeans without speaking today of "lands belonging to Native Americans." It's certainly true Indigenous peoples were driven off the lands they depended on, whether through deception or force, but the idea that lands currently or have ever "belonged" to anyone is antithetical to socialism. The scientific consensus is that Indigenous Americans crossed the Bering Strait (when it was not submerged) around 20,000 years or so ago, similar to how other humans migrated to places out of Africa much earlier. Many Indigenous Americans, as part of their creation stories, reject these explanations and contend they have "always lived" where they have. It's also worth pointing out that Native Americans themselves migrated within the Americas, waged battles among themselves (the Comanches raided and stole from the Pueblos for example; see also the Beaver Wars) and drove one another from "their lands." The arrival of Europeans and introduction of horses and weaponry aggravated these conflicts between Native Americans, but they also existed prior to European contact.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 8 2021 10:17

Thats kind of all besides the point though I think.

If nuclear energy and uranium mining is dangerous NOW and harms people and the environment NOW. Then it hardly seems reasonable to support it based on the idea of a post capitalist future where it MIGHT be something we can do without being destructive when we don't even know that.

Still the issue of how you get the resources you need whether we have money now or not as in where do we get them from? Is it going to displace people or affect peoples health? Who is going to mine these resources? Then there is still the issue of what we do with the waste and also the issue of safeguarding reactors against climate change, natural disasters and sea level rise. I am not sure if there is still the possibility of someone or some group statist or not building a weapon.

Also if we are mining this stuff on indigenous peoples land then I don't like the idea that we can do that anyway because land doesn't actually belong to anyone anyway so we can do what we want or that we can drive people from their lands because they did that to themselves anyway. Those are things a colonialist would argue not an anarchist.

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Aug 11 2021 02:23

The issue with uranium mining has less to do with its inherent dangers than with mining as conducted on a capitalist basis. With uranium mining on the Navajo reservation throughout the 40s-80s, safety precautions (such as mine ventilation, PPE, etc.) were ignored and mines were afterward abandoned. This article based on interviews of Navajo miners I think is illustrative:

Quote:
The respondents agreed in their descriptions of the working conditions of the era from the 1940s through the 1970s, prior to the creation of the Mine, Safety, and Health Administration in 1969. Several problems were identified, including the lack of engineering controls (e.g., mine ventilation), personal protective equipment, and worker safety education and training. All the workers reported that at no time during their employment were they informed of the dangers of radiation, nor were they informed of their rights under state workers' compensation laws when they became ill. The respondents also indicated that the workers were not even aware that radiation existed because there was no word in the Navajo vocabulary for it. The workers spoke little or no English, and believed the uranium companies had their best interest in mind. They therefore did not question health and safety practices related to uranium.

Quote:
All the workers said the mines were largely unventilated, that drinking water was collected from inside the mines, and that they often ate their lunches with unwashed hands inside the mines. Air and water testing results, when collected, were never reported to the workers, and so they believed the workplaces to be safe. Forty-two of the workers (97.6%) wore their dirty workclothes home for their spouses to wash with the family laundry. Some of the spouses who washed the family clothing said that they had rashes after finishing the laundry.

Mining companies' disregard for miners' safety and the environment has been the norm throughout the history of capitalist mining (not just in the US), regardless of whether it's uranium for nuclear weapons/reactors or the minerals companies use to produce electric vehicles or wind turbines. Mining companies and lobbying groups (like the National Mining Association) actively oppose regulation for the sake of short-term profit, in spite of long-term consequences (which can be shifted onto taxpayers/workers). Abandoned mines in the US become Superfund sites (if they qualify), which essentially means taxpayers pay to clean up and monitor sites after mine operators have scurried off with the profits (or have gone bankrupt etc.). Any kind of mining is disruptive to the environment (and in some cases mining shouldn't occur at all), but we wouldn't have the stuff we have today without it. What also drove Navajo workers to uranium mines was their poverty conditions on the reservation, which is again directly related to capitalism, and especially the history of European colonialism and American westward expansion. As I said it's not merely a matter of leaving fossil fuels in the ground in favor of renewable energy or greenwashed capitalism, which is the only thing capitalism can aspire to, just the appearance of being "environmentally friendly"; we need societal transformation.

The picture in the article is also slightly misleading; it's actually water vapor that comes from the towers, and radioactive waste of course isn't strewn across the front lawns of nuclear reactors.

Quote:
Also if we are mining this stuff on indigenous peoples land then I don't like the idea that we can do that anyway because land doesn't actually belong to anyone anyway so we can do what we want or that we can drive people from their lands because they did that to themselves anyway. Those are things a colonialist would argue not an anarchist.

I'm not an anarchist, and I definitely didn't say that we should "drive people from their lands." I'm not sure what the situation in Australia is, but there are no uncontacted Indigenous peoples in the US. 22% of Native Americans live on reservation (the Navajo Nation having its own government and Navajo Nation Police) with the rest living in the general population. Even today there are disputes over land ownership on reservations, such as the Hopi-Navajo land dispute, which of course has to be understood within the context of American policy toward Native Americans. I don't think I need to point out how ridiculous it is however for socialists to take part in such squabbles, especially when what's at stake is "economic development." At worst, when talking about "stolen/occupied lands" (which implies they have a rightful owner today), you end up with people like Black Hammer, endeavoring to "take the Land Back for all colonized people worldwide."

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 9 2021 16:36

There is a new IPCC report out today saying its very likely global temperature will rise more than 1.5 degrees within the next two decades. I've also seen something lately saying that there are signs of the gulf stream shutting down.

Scallywag
Offline
Joined: 24-03-14
Aug 9 2021 17:51

The climate conference is in Glasgow this year as well and haven't heard anything yet about protests.

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
Offline
Joined: 11-02-18
Aug 9 2021 23:46

Link to the 2021 IPCC report https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/

Link to the Executive Summary (policy makers' version, there's also a technical version but I assume that one is harder to understand) https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf

Page 19 of the PDF has a table with estimates of how much warming will occur 2021-2040, 2041-2060, 2081-2100. From what I remember it's the same as the 2007 estimates.

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
Offline
Joined: 11-02-18
Aug 9 2021 23:47

Btw, there are different estimates for five different possible scenarios of action/inaction.

adri
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Aug 11 2021 02:22
Quote:
I think the Margaret Killjoy stuff mentioned above functions as a kind of critique of that.

Interesting stuff. I guess millionaires' escaping just consists of them being able to adapt to the effects of climate change better than everyone else (moving to safer areas like New Zealand etc.). It's difficult to predict how things will turn out in the years, decades to come and how people whether rich or poor will be affected.