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Eco-fascism is our future The Green movement will become an all-consuming empire

Experts have become the high priests of atheism. Credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

Experts have become the high priests of atheism. Credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Images


July 24, 2021   7 mins

The numbers were in, and everybody could see what was coming: at least ten billion human souls by the end of the century. All of us clamouring for food, water, space and the triumphant benefits of the all-conquering “global economy”, which the Western powers had been cajoling, threatening or enticing the rest of the world into since the dawn of the age of empires. Now this economy encompassed everything, everywhere and everyone on Earth. There was no escape, even on the highest peaks or in the deepest forests, from its products, its worldview or its 15G connectivity. The entire planet, from mahogany trees to office workers, was now a “resource”, to be eyed and totted up for the necessary and beneficial growth of the global machine.

That growth, of course, came with a few side-effects: a changing climate, collapsing ice sheets, mass destruction of ecosystems, the razing of forests and the highest extinction rate in sixty million years; not to mention growing social polarisation and massive economic inequality. Everybody had known about this since the late twentieth century, but they had all presumed, or hoped, that somebody else would sort it out. The World Economic Forum was on the case, after all, and Bono and that Swedish girl, and those weirdos who dressed up as dinosaurs or whatever and chained themselves to bridges. This sort of thing had been part of the furniture for so long that people barely noticed it anymore.

But it wasn’t working: everything had been going in the wrong direction since the Limits to Growth report had correctly predicted, back in 1972, what was on the way. By the 2020s it was uncomfortably obvious that the report’s predictions — mocked or ignored at the time by the great and the good — had turned out to be startlingly accurate. Spiralling global consumption had led to rising demand for resources, which were becoming exhausted as landbases and ecosystems were degraded by human use, leading to increasing prices, social and political strife, ecosystem breakdown and looming civilisational collapse. Limits to Growth had identified the period between 2008 and 2030 as the point at which the collapse would begin to bite, with stalling growth, climatic instability, rising death rates and social turmoil as evidence of overshoot. So it had proven.

Even the most committed apostles of Progress and Development could see the writing on the wall. Something radical would have to be done. The old-school greens who, in response to Limits To Growth, had preached about pie-in-the-sky stuff like “de-growth”, simple living, organic farming or foraging for nettle tops, didn’t have a sellable message in a world of demand, with Westernised consumers all insisting on their right to low-cost WiFi connectivity. Everyone was sick of being nagged by people like that, anyway. The more grown-up environmentalists — the kind who wore business suits and wrote policy papers about the regrettable but realistic need for nuclear power and geoengineering — knew this very well. Solutions had to be big, brave and global.

In the end, as the wildfires, droughts, ice melt and supply chain collapses mounted, a stark choice presented itself: an ambitious plan to Save The Earth, or a collapse into barbarism. That was how the media sold it, anyway, and since it had been long anticipated, nobody really minded much. We were all locked into the machine by now, after all: all reliant on its largesse to eat, sleep and work. The worse things got — and they were getting worse fast — the more appetite there was for bold, assertive, planetary-scale action. And since the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone had got used to obeying the authorities and submitting to behavioural monitoring, in order to prevent mass disaster.

And so, the global empire arrived, largely on schedule. Corporations, well-heeled NGOs, states and regional blocs, trailing a bevy of media and intellectual lapdogs in their wake, consolidated their Green New Reset, or whatever they were calling it today, with impeccable ease. The new world would be progressive, inclusive, open, sustainable, gender-neutral and, above all, intensely profitable. The ongoing assimilation of any ecosystems, cultures, perspectives and lifestyles that conflicted with progress would be implemented in a manner which ensured carbon neutrality. The sustainable global machine — smart, interconnected, perpetually monitored, always-on — would encompass everything and everyone, producing cascading benefits for all. The long-held Western dream would finally be achieved: the world would become one. One market, one set of values, one way of living, one way of seeing.

By the time some of the environmentalists realised who they had sold their soul to, it was too late. But what, in any case, had the alternative been? The small-is-beautiful crowd, with their patchouli-scented jumpers and their 1970s talk about limits and sovereignty, had been cancelled as eco-fascists long ago, exiled to distant smallholdings and housing co-ops with their well-thumbed copies of Tools for Conviviality and other yellowing tomes by dead white men. Now that an actual eco-fascism was on the horizon — a global merger of state and corporate power in pursuit of progress that would have made Mussolini weep like a proud grandfather — there was nothing to stand in its way.

Unlike previous empires, this one knew how to present itself: with wind farms rather than dreadnoughts, pictures of smiling children rather than squares of redcoats. It used eco-friendly, inclusive language as it enclosed land, funnelled wealth upwards and coated wild landscapes in renewable technologies made from rare earth metals (a regrettable necessity, but a temporary one: sustainable asteroid mining was well on the way). But it was curious how the wealth and power seemed to stay in mainly the same hands; odd too that the rolling eco-crisis never seemed to actually go away, however many billionaires and NGOs attempted bright new techno-fixes. In fact, the tighter the empire gripped, the more everything seemed to slip away from its grasp. It was almost as if the techno-fixes themselves were the problem.

Over time, the inevitable happened: the age-old progress trap closed in like a Venus Flytrap patiently digesting its victims. The genetic modifications and the nanotech “solutions” went awry, as Earth’s inscrutable systems refused to behave the way the computer models had predicted. The mass dumping of iron filings into the ocean did not sequester as much carbon as hoped, but it did lead to an unexpected collapse in whale numbers. The Bill Gates-funded sun-dimming technologies had succeeded in lowering the planet’s temperature, but the feedback loops that kicked in lowered it much more than expected, leading to mass crop collapse and famine, which in turn caused riots across the world. The early 2040s saw half of Africa subsisting for several months on locust swarms while Silicon Valley’s finest dined on sustainable insect burgers in their New Zealand redoubts.

Tower farms, superpigs, eco-drones, cloud seeding, space reflectors: everything was tried, but the trajectory didn’t change. Earth’s limits refused to budge. To the Faustian West, “saving the world” had been just another means of trying to control it, but Gaia, like God, would not be not mocked. Life went on, but civilisation, increasingly, didn’t. Cities fell, waters rose, deserts spread. Jeff, Mark, Richard and Elon went into low Earth orbit on separate rockets, all claiming to have got there first, but their head-freezing facility in the Sonoran desert suffered a tragic thawing episode when the solar farm formerly known as Kansas was knocked out by a freak solar flare.

By the late 21st century the oil wells were slowly bottoming out, the rare earth metals were exhausted, and the boundless renewable future of electric cars and limitless green energy had been filed away and forgotten like an embarrassing teenage crush. The asteroid mines never got off the drawing board. The population peaked and started falling, along with the sperm counts. The suburbs and the oceans slowly emptied, and the stuttering Internet became so poisonous that even Mumsnet came with a trigger warning. Everyone told themselves that progress would be happening properly if only those people weren’t in charge.

Most of all, a great disappointment seemed to spread like an ink stain through the remnants of the West, as it dawned on everyone that there was to be no spectacular denouement. There was no revolution and no restoration; no Star Trek, but no Matrix either. There were no robot soldiers to fight and nobody was building a Death Star. The best anyone could manage at this point in industrial capitalism’s downward curve was a weedy little spaceship built by a glorified bookshop manager, which could stay up in space for all of three minutes. The end of the world, it turned out, was less like Terminator and more like a Star Wars prequel: you wait for years in anticipation, and then it’s just a let-down.

In other words, it was history-as-usual, as the latest grandiose human project faced a long, grinding decline. The apocalypse, in the end, had turned out to be… boring. But maybe this shouldn’t have been surprising. The word Apokalypsis, in the original Greek, simply meant unveiling, or revelation. In an apocalypse, something is exposed that we all need to see, but are refusing to look at. What we saw, as our delusions crumbled, was that we had never really been in control at all. We had misunderstood the world, and our place in it. We had come to it as conquerors, boors, abusers, rather than lovers or friends — so obsessed with orbiting Earth that we had forgotten to look at what we were orbiting.

Modern humanity had turned on both creator and creation but our rebellion, as long predicted, had failed. Now the post-apocalyptic skyline belonged to those who had always known that: to the monks, the hermits, the anchoresses and the forest tribes; to the workers on the margins, steadily improving lives human and non-human with no desire to shout about it. To the small nations and the edge-dwellers, the quiet and the unambitious. To the earthworms and the shy hedgehogs, the suckering plants and the ever-flocking birds, foraging in the ruins of the latest fallen empire. To those who had seceded, and who had generated rather than draining the finite pool of life.

By the 23rd century, some of those who still remembered quite what had happened (it was hard to piece the facts together, since everything of value had been stored on the now-obsolete “Internet”) noted with some irony that the society which had grown out of the rubble of the machine age looked curiously like the one proposed by those early eco-fanatics: land-based, low-tech, community-centred, cored around a religious story, and highly suspicious of any grandiose claims. Much of England now looked like the fourteenth century, only with CB radios and better dental work. Over in America, the Amish had bought up most of what had once been New York state, and the remnants of the self-build hippie culture of the Pacific Northwest had begun restoring the deserts created by the megacities of the 2070s. The blades of giant wind turbines were bent into ploughshares. The meek had — after a very long detour — finally inherited the Earth.


Paul Kingsnorth is a novelist and essayist. His latest novel Alexandria is published by Faber. He also has a Substack: The Abbey of Misrule.


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J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
2 years ago

Easily the best article to date in Unherd’s ‘Apocalypse’ series.
An amusing and disturbing piece of satire that is frightening because of the insight that the corporate world will coopt every popular movement, whether it be the environmental movement or the social justice movement, for its own ends. We’ll somehow end up paving the world in expensive concrete for the sake of the environment.
It’s also noteworthy that the dividing line between our current reality and this rather exaggerated description of how the environmental apocalypse eventually came about is uncomfortably thin. The technocrats are certainly eager to foist increasingly complex ‘solutions’ on us that will ultimately exacerbate the problem.
As the author suggests, good old ecological complexity will likely save us in the end. We really don’t understand the environment we’re trying to fix and it will ultimately assert its own balance whether or not that’s to our liking.
I imagine my grandkids playing checkers by candlelight after a hard day helping bring home the harvest. The word ‘internet’ an archaic term found in books regarded more as mysticism than history.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

If we continue with the level of complacency that you demonstrate, your grandkids will not be able to enjoy an eco-system that will allow them to reap a harvest.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago

If this is happens it will part of evolution like the Permian-Triassic extinction (80% fauna killed, 30m years to recover) or the Cretaceous extinction (76% fauna killed, arguably still in recovery) All this really means is that Homo Sapiens is NOT the master of the universe, or even Earth, but a tiny droplet in the water fall of time. If we evolve to control our destructive instincts we can last till something else makes us extinct, if not we will do it ourselves. Earth, however, and life upon it will carry on regardless. Eco-NSDAPers are a statistically higher risk to our existence than say nuclear holocaust, though qualitatively the risks are same in terms of outcome. I suggest we unite to give the ecos the same treatment we gave their founding fathers back in 39-45, including the bit where the Red Army enters Berlin (but in Islington, Portland O.R and Brighton, Sussex instead)

mike otter
MO
mike otter
2 years ago

If this is happens it will part of evolution like the Permian-Triassic extinction (80% fauna killed, 30m years to recover) or the Cretaceous extinction (76% fauna killed, arguably still in recovery) All this really means is that our species is NOT the master of the universe, or even Earth, but a tiny droplet in the water fall of time. If we evolve to control our destructive instincts we can last till something else makes us extinct, if not we will do it ourselves. Earth, however, and life upon it will carry on regardless. Eco-NSDAPers are a statistically higher risk to our existence than say nuclear holocaust, though qualitatively the risks are same in terms of outcome. I suggest we unite to give the ecos the same treatment we gave their founding fathers back in 39-45, including the bit where the Red Army enters Berlin (but in Islington, Portland O.R and Brighton, Sussex instead)

Jonathan Ellman
IS
Jonathan Ellman
2 years ago

A couple of flaws in this. Firstly, the environmentalists are not selling their souls to an elite class of corporates. The environmentalists are the corporates, that’s what environmentalism is. It’s what unites environmentalism with the rest of wokeism. Secondly, Kingsnorth misses the conflicts between global power blocks: the USA, the EU, China, India, Russia, etc. These conflicts will undermine corporate, wokeist environmentalism and competition will continue to drive progress just as it always has.
War is the father of all.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

Unless we can understand that our eco-system is actually the source of all our money, then we shall continue to destroy what was a healthy ecological balance some sixty years ago. Indeed I agree that unless the overdeveloped countries can acquire some understanding and humility then we are likely to end up fighting over the dwindling resources. Pride comes before a fall.

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Sixty years ago, “ecological balance” was set to starve humanity. That’s where the likes of Paul Erlich were correct.

What happened instead was the Green Revolution, where Earth is not only supporting double the population, but they are living better and longer. This would not have been possible had we succumbed to the eco catastrophist view.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

My dystopia would be based on these axioms:
There is no wealth to funnel if nobody is creating wealth.
Environmentalism is an indulgence of the richest countries.
Richest countries are cleanest countries.
They also have slowest reproduction rates.
Destroying wealth causes environmental degradation.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

Our environment is the underlying source of all our wealth. We have been exceeding the bio-capacity of our Earth for more than 50 years. It is becoming very ugly, this article implies that we shall live to see the 23rd century. If we attempt to continue with the economic growth paradigm, most of us are unlikely to survive to the end of this century.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Irrelevant.
Few of us on this forum are likely to survive until the end of this century in any circumstances.
Explain precisely how “we” exceeded your assumed bio-capacity of “our” Earth in 1971?
Economic growth is precisely the thing that allows Environmentalism, an indulgence not afforded to poor societies.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

Ever since I first came came across Greens (they didn’t call themselves Greens but that was the values package) in my student days (coincidentally over the Greenham Common nuclear protests stuff), I have yet to scratch the surface of a Green, and not find a Marxist inside.

Last edited 2 years ago by Prashant Kotak
Mash Mallow
Mash Mallow
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Watermelons – Green on the outside and Marxist Red in the middle. It is truly amazing how protesters turn to profiteers even amidst that ideology. Absolutely fed up of middle class and millionaire psuedo Marxists. There are quite a few in my area – one millionaire publisher acquaintance, defending Corbyn, said he was voting for him because , “we need a little bit of Marxism for a while”. The naivety was breathtaking; my reply was , “YOU NEVER GET A LITTLE BIT OF MARXISM!”

Drahcir Nevarc
RC
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Mash Mallow

Agreed. It’s no different from saying that we need a little bit of Nazism for a while. Absolutely disgusting.

Bob Pugh
BP
Bob Pugh
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Yup, Watermelons all of them, green on the outside red in the middle.

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago

I know this is really boring but there is no climate crisis. Oh dear what will we write and think about now? We are in a warming period in the earth’s cyclical evolution, that’s all. Please just read the facts. The books can be really boring, full of tables and graphs, sadly unlike Al Gore’s sensationalism. But if you respect truth rather than a good story you know what to do.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Morris

What book(s) would you recommend that best present the data supporting the theory that the earth is in a cyclical warming phase?
I certainly find the idea that the current climate change is due to a natural process to be more frightening than if its caused by human activity. There’s nothing we can do about cyclical warming and we’ll just have to adjust our life styles.

Hardee Hodges
HH
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Try  “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” by Steven E. Koonin . The politics of the climate movement get in the way of the science. We observe that population declines as income rises so the population bomb is unlikely as long as world growth continues improving. Forecasts of doom as resources decline have always been wrong as technology improves – beyond the entertainment world.

J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

Thank you.

Ian Morris
IM
Ian Morris
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“There is no climate crisis” by David Craig is excellent. Also try. “The real Inconvenient truth” by M.J. Sangster, “Human caused Global warming “by Tim ball and “Inconvenient Facts” by Gregory Wrightstone

J Bryant
JB
J Bryant
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Morris

Thank you.

Hubert Knobscratch
Hubert Knobscratch
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Watch Tony Heller on Youtube

Andrew Sainsbury
AS
Andrew Sainsbury
2 years ago

Or Mallen Baker to debunk him and get a more balanced world view.

Matt B
Matt B
2 years ago

Fascism, and newly hip Marxism? As in the past, dystopias will allow both dark twins to fight it out, this time over a green mantle.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt B

Good comment, although I see things slightly the other way round, i.e. Marxism is hip fascism.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Why write these? A few days ago we had Bret Weinstein doing one….I just do not get this sort of article – next one where we become underground dwellers in billion strong cities as the surface is radioactive, or soilent green, or whatever – but it is just disaster porn, and that does not do it for me.

I do love a good dystopias though, because they have such intelligent looks on existence, they cause reflection on the human condition, on existence, on what is Ultimate, and some are great literature.

‘Brave New World’

‘1984’

‘Marching Morons’

‘Space Merchants’

‘Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’

‘Animal Farm’

please add any…..

Mel Shaw
MS
Mel Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

If you haven’t already, try Asimov’s ‘Caves of Steel’ and later works. Plenty of underground cities and robots, but, thankfully, no weirdly shaped extra terrestrials.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago
Reply to  Mel Shaw

Thanks for the tip. I remember reading some of this stuff in high school. I’ve been meaning to revisit it.

Lesley van Reenen
LV
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It is a series on apocalyptic thinking. Therefore it is the third one of a series.

Andrew Floyd
Andrew Floyd
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Riddley Walker

Drahcir Nevarc
RC
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

What is the distinction between ‘disaster porn’ and the dystopian literature in your list?

Ana Fernandez
Ana Fernandez
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Alastair Reynolds has some interesting takes on the future of humanity in the Revelation Space series.

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Watch any Mad Max movie and you will see a more likely picture

Chauncey Gardiner
CG
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

‘We’ by a Russian author, Evgeny Zamyatin. It predates ‘Brave New World’. Well worth the read.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It is an important article, but it fails to recognise the reality of the situation that we are in. The author is mistaken to imagine that humans will live to see the end of the 21st century let alone the dawn of the 23 century. He fails to grasp the reality of the escalating climate and ecological collapse. Even with the recent dramatic pictures of devastating floods in nearby Europe he is clearly unaware of the reality that is unfolding daily. He is unable to admit that human suffering is an essential part of the story which is playing out right now. He will come to wish that his prediction ‘England now looked like the fourteenth century’ might be possible, but I’m afraid the ecological balance that we enjoyed all those years ago will never return in our lifetimes. Especially if we choose to continue with the lack of understanding that is displayed in this article and its readers. #Degrowth #UnitedAspiration

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
Elena Lange
EL
Elena Lange
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

E.M. Forster‘s “The Machine Stops”.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

If the scenario he envisages were to play out, it strikes me as infinitely naive to imagine pacifist Amish and hippies inherenting the world. 14th century England’s peace was after all the product of the feudal system upheld by the monopoly of violence emanating from those grim Norman castles. That certainly didn’t sprout out of the ground like so many fey willow trees.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

His scenario fails to recognise how badly damaged our eco-system is now. We began exceeding Earths biocapacity over 50 years ago, consequently ecological collapse has commenced with escalating extinction rates. COVID is a symptom of ecological collapse, we are part of the Sixth Mass Extinction.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago

More importantly, I would add, it ignores what human nature leads to in those circumstances.

chris sullivan
CS
chris sullivan
2 years ago

Quite -back to nature red in tooth and claw – one would not want to be alive when this starts happening – let alone wish that on your grandkids ! It seems many have not read enough history – when law and order breaks down the psychopaths and just plain evils come out to play in THEIR new world – and the rest of us will be the defenceless sheep…………….

Rob Britton
Rob Britton
2 years ago

It seems that China, and the way it does thing, is providing the blueprint for how the West deals with “eco fa5cism” as evidenced by the way the West followed the lockdown script on how to deal with Covid. The only problem is that Western societies are typically democracies so something clearly has to give.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rob Britton
Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Britton

You are right that something needs to give. The public need to change their awareness and attitudes, we have an apocalypse unfolding and both the author of this article and the majority of the readers treat the destruction of our only habitable planet by our own species as some kind of joke. It is time for a reality check, #Degrowth #UnitedAspiration

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

Now write the novel.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

The novel could be written in a different, much more pleasing, way …but it already has been! This afternoon I finished reading a beautiful novel called This is Happiness, by Niall Williams. It’s background story is the coming of electricity to a little village in remote Ireland, and the intuition some had that ‘being connected’ would change a way of life which for all its inconveniences offered a sort of freedom preferred to, well, what we have now. Niall Williams, a recent discovery, is such a pleasure to read, in a world where we seem to be drowning in negativity.

Barbara Williams
BW
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

Not negativity, complacency. The apocalypse is real and it is happening now. Most people are complacent like yourself, saying give me a nice story to read, don’t tell me the truth. Which is why we have newscasters everywhere including Unherd failing to inform their readers that actually humanity is unlikely to see the end of the current century let alone the dawn of the 23rd. #Degrowth #UnitedAspiration

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago

Not sure what all the fuss is about. It was much hotter in the 1920s and 1930s than it is now. There have been times in the earth’s history going back over millions of years when it has been much hotter and much colder than it is now. Similarly there have been times when the percentage of C02 has been much higher than now. It’s rather unlikely that these earlier climate changes were caused by burning fossil fuels

Barbara Williams
BW
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Morris

Check out this recent article, ecological collapse is well underway and COVID is just a symptom. We wreck our environment, which means money loses its purchasing power. Society is right on track for a global collapse, new study of infamous 1970s report finds | Live Science

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago

Yes, we do of course have many environmental problems: resource depletion and plastic pollution perhaps being two of the most serious. But isn’t there a lot of sloppy thinking around, blaming everything on “Carbon Emissions”. During the history of the world C02 has varied from very high to very low levels. This could not possibly have been caused by humans as there were no humans around. So how come it’s all our fault now? Have natural forces subsided giving way to anthropogenic emissions? There may be some evidence in history that changes in CO2 concentration have lagged behind changes in temperature. This rather suggests that temperature change drives CO2 change and not the other way round.

Steven Campbell
SC
Steven Campbell
2 years ago

Barbara, when your hair is on fire please, go to the sink, pour a glass of water and put the fire out. Then, when it cools a bit, try thinking about things in a cool rational, common sense way.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Well I don’t agree with most of this, but the parts which recognise that modern corporate environmentalism is actually just Fascism, yes, that part’s definitely true. And we might well be headed for the dystopia predicted here, just not hand in hand with capitalism, because capitalism has never been an enemy of the planet: why do you think conservatives are capitalism’s best political friends, and where do you think the word “conservative” comes from?

There’s an ongoing bright future ahead of us in which we really do all get flying cars, live past 150, and do it all in an advanced, clean energy economy in which everything is reused, recycled, and we tread ever more lightly upon the planet’s finite resources. It’s not some pipe-dream: we’re headed there now. The obstacles are not technological: with present-day molten salt reactor technology, we can both create clean nuclear power and at the same time clean up those dangerous 20th century uranuim waste stockpiles. We’re producing more food on less land all the time, and returning more land to the wild as a consequence. Forests are growing not shrinking, and the only definite effect of all our CO2 emissions, so far, is that more vegetation is growing on those parts of the planet that previously could not support as much plant growth.

The obstacles to this bright future are political: we have a growing authoritarianism in the West which sees economic progress as an false promise and personal liberty as an enemy of a collectively-conceived version of society. This is not some abstract concern: it is already doing obvious damage to our politics today, and if not stopped will do a great deal more.

Earl King
Earl King
2 years ago

Certainly depressing. China goal of gathering up every resource it needs for global domination is well on its way thru its Belt and Road initiative. When those countries fail to pay back the loans…China takes whatever value it can scoop up. This will likely lead to war somewhere. China will not have the military to control its far flung empire much like Rome finally collapsed. This of course will concurrently be during the decline of the US Empire….Probably sometime in the next 79 years. Empires fall. That is lesson of history.

si mclardy
si mclardy
2 years ago

Thank you Paul for a great article. Some of the comments remind me a bit, of folks on the Titanic who refused to believe there could be a serious problem. This reaction to defend the status quo has played out in history over and over again so that you could say it is “boring”.
Cheers.
sandy

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
2 years ago
Reply to  si mclardy

A lot of what he says of course makes sense and is of course even wearily predictable. But I’m not sure his crypto-anarchist take on things is a very good guide to what is going to happen when everything collapses. Human history suggests what happened in Somalia in recent years is a more likely model for a world that has crumbled.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
steven russell
SR
steven russell
2 years ago

‘The machine stops’ by E.N. Forster is a book that we read in our english literature class when I was in school in 1984, and it was written in 1909. It is a story about a dystopian world where everyone live in individual cells underground, and it has an uncanny similarity to what is happening today with social media, and what is also happening with the climate, it sums up our world perfectly. Very spooky. I recommend it to anyone who can get a copy.

Last edited 2 years ago by steven russell
Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  steven russell

I am saddened that you don’t recommend that we actually get a grip and change our foolish behaviour to maybe mitigate the situation. #Degrowth #UnitedAspiration

steven russell
SR
steven russell
2 years ago

I don’t know what you are expecting me to recommend exactly.
We were just talking about books that were written that were covering the subjects that that we are concerned about now. As for changing our behaviour, isn’t that what a lot of us are trying to do now? What are you doing?

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  steven russell

Check out my concept of a United Aspiration Work involving the United Nations – Poems For Parliament

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago

So, we’re reducing our impact and you’re writing poems. Okaaaaayyy.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Somehow I missed the bit where several billion people died, amidst an ecological collapse that makes our current one look like a sick day at the zoo, as a result of our retreat back to the fourteenth century…

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Yes. The idea that it’d happen while preserving wifi and good dentistry merely adds to the stupidity of the concept.

LCarey Rowland
LR
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

“The weak shall inherit the earth”. . . fulfilled, makes one wonder what other statements of the crucified/risen One are far more relevant to real life than most denizens of civilization care to admit.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

Well done.
Best thing I’ve read this Saturday — maybe this week. And I read a lot.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

I know this article is satirical in nature, but clearly the author buys in wholesale to the narrative of impending ecological doom. Why can’t people educate themselves, before coming up with this absurd, almost fact free doom mongering? It is almost complete rubbish, not even supported by the IPCC reports.

Read Hans Rosling. People on the Earth today live better than at any previous time, people are astounded when told that Africans today have better life expectancy for example than Europeans in 1900. There are exceptions, but that is the big picture, and to my mind it verges on the criminal that so many intellectuals simply don’t want to recognise this in any way, because it appears to feel so much better to, oh so fashionably preach doom, as humans have always done. Oh, and this has been largely achieved by capitalism and free trade, both very much out of fashion today. If we don’t know how we got to reach our achievements, how can we ever learn to build on them?

I wish we actually had some brave volunteers to live in small band societies as Homo Sapiens lived for 95% plus of our time on the planet. THAT is the true alternative. And it has some upsides, such societies are more equal (though with big differences between the roles of men and women!), children much experienced and mature, capable of being functioning members of the society much earlier, diet could be good, no obesity, people fit and healthy (except of course for the inevitable disease). BUT no phones, radios, modern medicine, book, electric power, heating, transport etc etc. Life expectancy would be much lower. In truth very few people, even in such band societies, wish to forego modern aids to living when given the choice.

We have never, since the dawn of agriculture at least, and even before – (humans caused mass extinctions in many places) – lived ‘sustainably’ with the planet. Human ingenuity has nonetheless solved almost every problem it has encountered, and will continue to do so. As it does, new problems will continue to emerge (as the comment about battery power shows).

The desire for a problem free, egalitarian ‘end state’ utopia is perhaps understandable, but to dwell on that extremely unlikely outcome too long (much more likely to become a dystopia anyway) is an avoidance of real choices and is fundamentally childish.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Why do Unherd repeat articles with 3 month old comments?

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

For anyone who is really interested in how society might mitigate the massive ecological imbalance that humanity have created over the last 60 years then this article will be of interest What Does An Ecological Civilization Look Like? – YES! Magazine (yesmagazine.org)

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

You mean,Yes! Magazine, situated in one of the richest parts of the richest country, home of multi-billionaires such as Bill Gates, and operating on the stolen land of the the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes?
Do you see what I mean about Environmentalism being an indulgence of the richest?

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

You are mistaken to imagine that humans will live to see the end of the 21st century let alone the dawn of the 23 century. You fail to grasp the reality of the escalating climate and ecological collapse. Even with the recent dramatic pictures of devastating floods in nearby Europe you are clearly unaware of the reality that is unfolding daily. You are unable to admit that human suffering is an essential part of the story which is playing our right now. Just because your home town hasn’t had a direct hit you feel immune. You will come to wish that your prediction ‘England now looked like the fourteenth century’ might be possible, but I’m afraid the ecological balance that we enjoyed all those years ago will never return in our lifetimes. Especially if we choose to continue with the lack of understanding that you display.

Last edited 2 years ago by Barbara Williams
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Humans have managed to survive for many years and likely will survive many more thousands. True enough we have seen entire civilizations vanish because of resource constraints caused by the lack of technology – the Mayans come to mind. Yet Mayan humans survived to meet the Spanish and collapse again only to rise again. While suffering and struggle are human like all animals, we suffer less than our forebears as a result of modifying our world. Not too long ago we predicted an atomic extinction (might still happen) but even that aftermath we can hope that electricity won’t need reinvention. Given our 10’s of thousands years of evolution as many other species arose and fell, we still have a way forward.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges
John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

Incoherent claptrap.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
2 years ago

Pictures of flood markers in German towns,as indeed you see in the Netherlands,clearly show that flood levels had been much higher at some points in the past. The same is true of events in other parts of the world. The doomsday cult always choose the figures that suit their theories.