Wednesday, 5 November 2014

is Doomerism doomed?

Republicans take over the running of the USA in yesterday's mid-terms and no doubt there will be those who feel that this is it; the beginning of the end.

Any chance that the USA will contribute meaningfully and positively to next year's Climate Summit, already identified as being crucial to the well-being of us and our planet, is probably vanishing pretty fast. And without strong positive input from the USA, there isn't likely to be unilateral movement from other key players in the climate policy debate.

A lot of people are already pretty downbeat about where humanity is going vis-a -vis the planet and Nature, and this is more fuel to the fire of underlying doom-mongering, that the end of civilization as we know it has come a step closer, a step sooner.

It's good that lots of people are now aware of the many issues which arise in relation to a changing climate and are worried about what the future might bring. It's less good when people promote the idea that we might as well give up any hope of progress and work on the basis that we are, fundamentally and inevitably, fucked.

This isn't just because of the 'negative waves' which rebound from such consciousness, though. There is a very tricky problem, which connects environmental doomerism to its political antithesis, objectivist libertarianism.

The assumption of many people who write, blog or produce journalistic pieces on Climate is that the readers all agree and understand that the future which is being projected in social terms is self-evidently 'Bad', or 'Evil', or otherwise morally unacceptable. Speaking personally, I find it enormously worrying that the human victims of climate change around the world are barely considered in considerations of many bloggers and writers, when in the end, the consequences of an unmitigated warming of the planet will be comparable to the Holocaust (there, I said it).

The problem is, that whilst our 'friends' and online audience will agree with us that the moral implications are appalling, it is likely that our opponents will be inclined to think the complete opposite. How could this be?

You need to understand the underlying 'vision' of Randian and Objectivist Libertarian Philosophy. The ideal society envisioned by these world-views is one in which a minority (the meritocratic plutocracy of intellectuals - consider the conflicts there) is the only meaningful object of value and benefit, at the cost of the unwashed, illiterate, worthless majority. The Libertarian world exists to satisfy the needs of the empowered individual, to permit that person's liberty to pursue meaningful intellectual activity and behave responsibly in making decisions which impact on others (without giving those ignorant others a say in what they think is good for them).

So, a world of the near future in which millions of Africans, Asians, South Americans, Poor people, vulnerable populations, all are at great risk, and likely to suffer and die, is not necessarily a 'bad thing'. Because it means there is more to go round for the deserving/empowered/justified. Because it means that the 'natural order' of society as envisioned by the unspeakable Rand may come to pass.

Under these conditions, it's very hard to see what the point of being 'doomerist' could possibly be. Your opponents are singing from a fundamentally different song-sheet, and your natural allies, who push for mitigation and adaptation to preserve and protect future generations, well, they just get depressed.

Maybe the mid-terms are just more evidence that we are too stupid to save ourselves from the 'big crash'. Maybe it is clear that Business As Usual has too much inertia to stop it. But this is not going to stop me for fighting for a better, more just, more equitable, more sustainable world. I'm going to keep fighting for this in whatever small ways I can. Because it is the right thing to do.

You are likely, reading this, to agree with me that the kind of future scenarios painted in the IPCC summary report are things we don't want to happen, that are morally unacceptable. So, what do you want to do about it? If its wrong, you can choose either to give up and hope it doesn't hurt too much when it comes, or perhaps imagine that you will somehow miraculously find the means or luck to survive the coming breakdown of civilization and be part of a new, better re-creation of the Next Social Order, or you can stand up for your principles and say to yourself; "No, this is wrong, and I'm going to fight it. I'll write to my local press and TV stations, my politicians and representatives. I'll be active in local environmental campaigns and, if necessary, stand in the streets and shout about injustice. I'll campaign for better answers and make as much damn noise as I can make."

Sometimes, the realities of politics, human society, human nature, come and bite us on the ankles. Even more reason to get back up, dust ourselves down, and get on with what we believe must be done.