Wednesday, 11 July 2012


As a vet of the internet collapsitarian scene, I`ve been reading breathless rants like this one regularly for some three years.

Yes, James Howard Kunstler is breathless.  He's a bit obnoxious.  But if his verbose, scathing predictions of impending doom become repetitive and wearisome week after week, I still give him a free pass for making them witty, irreverent, and entertaining.

Despite the fat balance in humanity`s hubris account that financial failure, the end of the world, and catastrophic climate change failed to materialize in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and now, more than midway through 2012, I am not hanging this over JHK`s head.  Not at all.  If his refusal to turn it down for one week is irritating, it is only mildly so compared to idiotic permanent bulls like Daniel Yergin at the Wall Street Journal or our very own PM S Harp, who think the earth is more than willing to underwrite colossal wastefulness in the form of Ford Expeditions and 250,000 square foot retail outlets indefinitely.

The truth is, the bad situation in Europe is always in the news because it is bad.  Banks across the developed world are routinely exposed to be involved in massive frauds (see JP Morgan ``trading loss``, Barclays `LIBOR scandal``, etc).  The American government is permanently dysfunctional and spending itself into oblivion.  The Coral reefs have declined 70% and species are dropping like flies.  Oh, and it is hotter than hell here in Ontario and Quebec.  Have you noticed?

The thing is, when you read the things humanity`s lived through (even starting with something relatively innocuous like Frank McCourt's Angela`s Ashes, a funny and excellent memoir about growing up dirt-poor Irish), you just don`t find anything that compares in modern society.  You just can`t picture these conditions in modern society, even if wage growth has been stuck in a permanent ditch since the mid 1970s.  The poor today are not starving; they are disproportionately obese.  They also evidently find money for things as diverse as chemical dependencies, neck tattoos, data plans, pop and, okay, they probably have no money left after that.  My point is, there is too much collective knowledge out there to support a scenario of stern-faced breadlines circling the block and miserable poverty everywhere.

Or maybe there isn`t.  Maybe it`s going to get too hot to grow food, the oil`s going to run out and the human race will experience a spectacular collapse.  The planet will flame out in a millisecond to a speck in the universe, the way it started.  It will happen one day anyway when the sun expires.  Stars don't live forever, you know.

The hypercomplex world we`ve created is of course vulnerable - to government defaults, disruptions in the food supply chain, uncertainty in the availability of a resource we depend so profoundly on.  But dooming all the time is exhausting, and it`s depressing.  There's one exciting statistic on the horizon - yes we are actually running out of something bad for a change - the number of countries where women still accept being assigned the permanent role of baby making machine is dwindling and falling fast.

So everything is in a state of flux.  Meanwhile, the sun is almost certain to rise tomorrow.  Have a beer, phone an old friend, go see a grandparent, make love to your spouse, and book a flight somewhere you`ve never been.  Because even if the world goes down the toilet in six months, you might die tomorrow.  All that`s certain right now is there`s some daylight you could be standing in instead of hunching over your computer reading my claptrap.  This daylight is the symbol of our current human condition - we have no idea what the farg is going to happen, of course, but we are alive.  Right now.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. Good blog. Keep up the great work.