The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us

George Monbiot explains why Extinction Rebellion's approach is our best shot at escaping our current death spiral.

"Realistic" goals aren't physically realistic. The avalanching changes we face aren't linear and gradual, but 

...the Earth’s systems are highly complex, and complex systems do not respond to pressure in linear ways. When these systems interact ... their reactions to change become highly unpredictable. Small perturbations can ramify wildly. Tipping points are likely to remain invisible until we have passed them. We could see changes of state so abrupt and profound that no continuity can be safely assumed.

Many past civilizations collapsed, not because they didn't understand their problems or didn't have the know-how to solve them, but because ruling elites thwarted solution.

…social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.

The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster.

Even the bodies that claim to be addressing our predicament remain locked within destructive frameworks.

...a decoupling of rising GDP from global resource use has not happened and will not happen.

Decades of institutional failure ensures that only “unrealistic” proposals – the repurposing of economic life, with immediate effect – now have a realistic chance of stopping the planetary death spiral. And only those who stand outside the failed institutions can lead this effort. [emphasis mine]

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Monbiot cites Lizia Woolf's response to "Aren't you setting yourself up to fail by not seeking (politically) realistic goals?"

“What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … This is an emergency. We are facing extinction. When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?”

She says,"We cannot imagine on a real life emotional physical level what this is going to look like."

A BLISTERING EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO BBC DISMISSAL OF CLIMATE ACTION ...

You and I are not only dumbfounded by failure to project ourselves into the so-different unfolding extinction as Lizia Woolf can. Kevin MacKay describes collective ...

Dissociation: globalized production and distribution systems disrupt people’s ability to put their own actions, and the actions of elites, into a coherent causal and ethical framework.

The Ecological Crisis is a Political Crisis

Oligarchic capture of almost all academic, political and media institutions - which should be providing a coherent causal and ethical framework - are oligarchy servants. Monbiot gives the example of how mass media lets "opaquely funded lobbyists that masquerade as thinktanks to shape public discourse and deny what we face." Another example of his is the Institute for Public Policy Research, which hosts a meeting to address our climate change predicament, and simultaneously offers

...a major new economics prize for “ambitious proposals to achieve a step-change improvement in the growth rate”. It wants ideas that will enable economic growth rates in the UK at least to double. 

I struggle every day to put our situation into a coherent causal and ethical framework. Atheist Nexus can be a forum to knit one together. Your thoughts are welcome.

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Replies to This Discussion

I read all your climate posts,Ruth, and I don't answer often because I feel I have nothing to add. But I appreciate your struggles very much and I do what I can of course. Can you still manage with all the enormous, hard and threatening thruths you handle?

...oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand... because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society.

Makes sense!

...the Institute for Public Policy Research... hosts a meeting to address our climate change predicament, and simultaneously... wants ideas that will enable economic growth rates in the UK at least to double.

"Growth, growth, growth" to cure all ills... many people have said this before me: unbounded growth, on a finite planet with finite resources, simply does not work.

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