I’d like to share some knowledge that may help navigate the next decades. We live in a multi-polar world with widespread echo chambers, propaganda, and both malicious disinformation and ignorant disinformation, so it’s hard for this kind of message to get through to people.
We are living through one of the most significant events in human history, and most people don’t know what is going on.
To be able to perceive the situation it’s important to observe through a humble, yet courageous lens. It helps to contemplate the fact that one day we will die and to confront the fear of our death. You must also make an effort to set aside any pre-existing stories about religion, progress, humanity, and politics. Setting aside these stories can be traumatizing if your sense of who you are is dependent on them. This is one of the big obstacles to awareness. It’s hard for people to go through this stage.
It takes courage to make an honest assessment of the situation. I don’t want to convince anyone of my views, but I feel it’s a good idea to share what I know because it may be quite helpful for people receptive to this information. I’m well aware that humanity will always have a diverse set of opinions and that during predicaments like this one, the most widely shared views will always be that of denial.
To understand our predicament one of the first things needed is to rid our minds of a few false stories. One of those stories is that humans are the big shit… We are not. Yes, we’ve done pretty incredible things, but we are not the be-all and end-all of the universe. This narrative might be hard to knock down for some, but it’s just the truth. The universe doesn't revolve around humanity. That’s a fairytale. This is a needed step because it allows you to have a look at our circumstances from a less biased or less human-centered view.
The second false story is that humans are fully rational beings and that our society behaves rationally. It’s often difficult to look at ourselves and honestly ask if we act rationally or not. The truth is that both at an individual and societal level, we are driven by many things like emotion, desire, culture, instinct, habit, and context, and reason is only one of the drivers. Do you think the horrors of WWI were done by fully rational beings? We rationalize many of our actions after the fact, but the truth is that we are not fully rational. This is important because this means that we often don’t make the most reasonable decisions… no shit Sherlock.
Another false narrative that may be even harder to set aside is that regarding humanity, there is someone at the wheel. Yes, there are organizations, governments, elites, cultures, instincts, and other “strings” that generally move humanity in certain directions, but there is no single central group making any decisions, there is a spectrum of top-down and grassroots organizing between diverse factions. For better or worse, there are no “lizard people” running the show. You can see this in how the world handled Covid-19. Humanity didn’t come together and discuss how to respond to the virus. Governments, institutions, groups, and individuals took different approaches. There was no well-coordinated leadership because there is no genuine leadership in our world. Other examples are artificial intelligence and nuclear research. In a world with “someone at the wheel” there would be discussions (public or private) around these ideas and global decisions would be taken. But in our world pretty much some groups do try to have these global agreements and other groups just do what they want. No one is at the wheel. To be clear, I wouldn’t want anyone to be at the wheel either. That would be too much concentrated power. This is important because there won’t be any well-coordinated effort to tackle our circumstances. Just as there will never be a well-coordinated and effective, global effort to deal with things like war, starvation, and pandemics. The U.N. is a toothless tiger if that wasn’t obvious already.
Having laid the previous stepping stone let’s continue with the actual predicament. I’m using the word predicament instead of problem because problems have solutions. Predicaments don’t have solutions, just responses. For instance, the fact that one day we will die is not a problem, it’s just something that we have to live with and respond accordingly.
Our predicament starts with the fact that the world population has been gradually increasing for the last thousands of years, and in the last hundreds of years the increase has become exponential. Like an economic bubble. At first glance, this by itself may not seem like a reason for concern. But it sets the stage.
Contrary to popular belief, the reason for this unprecedented population growth is not because we are incredibly good problem-solvers, it is because we’ve learned to use various non-renewable resources (coal, oil, and natural gas) that come from buried plants and plankton that went through millions of years of transformation.
Non-renewable is the keyword here. As in a one-time thing. The fossil fuel aspect of our predicament is a deep rabbit hole. I will only briefly mention that fossil fuels are the lifeblood of our industrial civilization. Absolutely every single good that is produced and transported in the world relies directly or indirectly on fossil fuels. Without them, there is no industrial civilization as we know it. Of these fossil fuels, oil is the most widely used, and the first one that we will be unable to continue to extract. Most easily obtainable sources of oil are gone. The decreasing availability of non-renewables will also continue to lead to armed conflicts. Natural gas and coal are still relatively abundant and easily extracted though, which leads to another part of the predicament.
There are still many people out there that are skeptical of global warming. I understand that our governments and mainstream media have spread countless misinformation and propaganda at many times in history and continue to do so today. This often happens during “interesting times”. The fact that efforts to counteract global warming are sometimes being used as an excuse for misguided purposes doesn’t mean that global warming is a hoax. Skepticism is healthy. It is a necessary part of learning.
For those that still believe global warming is fake, or that its consequences will be minimal, the evidence is overwhelming if you are willing to go outside your echo chamber. You can either travel towards the Arctic and ask the locals if the world is warmer in recent years than decades ago. Or you can trust the overwhelming majority of scientists. For instance, out of a sample of 54,195 scientific articles, 99.94% of scientists agree that there is global warming and that it has been caused by human activities. Do you think a hypothetical group of people could trick 99.9% of scientists into believing in something fake for a period of time longer than half a century? Including the scientist doing research in the field, studying the earth directly?
Global warming at first glance doesn’t seem as threatening when talked about as 1.5 to 4 degrees Celsius or more of warming over the next decades. This refers to the average global temperature, meaning that some places could have a change of temperature that is much more than the average. For instance, some places on the earth could be 20 degrees celsius warmer than normal.
Global warming is caused by the byproducts of many human activities. Activities like agriculture, industry, fires, and combustion engines produce greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane. These gasses lead to more solar energy being retained by the earth’s atmosphere. This leads to a hotter world with more frequent and stronger storms (there is more energy in the system). The faster melting of the glaciers will lead to less fresh water in places that depend on water from glacier-covered mountains. It will also lead to higher sea levels because the oceans expand when they are warmer and also because the glaciers are adding water to the seas. Inevitably, these changes will cause increasing armed conflicts as well as disruptions to global food production. Global warming is just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s talk about another aspect of our predicament: ecological overshoot. Ecological overshoot means that due to the dominance of our industries and territory over the natural world, we’ve driven various parts of our environment beyond its healthy limits. This has led to the sixth mass extinction of animals and plants. Their rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times faster than normal. The natural environment is what supports humanity. It produces oxygen, food, clean water, and renewable resources. Ecological overshoot is turning the environment into a house of cards. This issue is more important than climate change, but I won’t expand on it much because to me it’s quite simple: if the plants and animals go bye-bye, it is a given that we’re next on the list. I’m not saying we’re going extinct in the near term. But we will most likely face a population bottleneck and the collapse of our industrial civilization within this century.
So far I’ve briefly explained our limited fossil fuel resources, what happens when we use those resources too much anyways, and that we are in ecological overshoot. The next piece of the puzzle is our economy. The economy is the weakest of these links, and that’s why it is the one that will fail first. It may be difficult at first to see why our economies are deteriorating globally. There are countless stories explaining the reasons: the war in Ukraine, Covid-19 lockdowns, money printing, supply chain issues, market cycles, the reversal of globalization, etc. Those are big factors for sure, but the main issues behind this deterioration are climate change and fossil fuels. Climate change is the sand in the gears of the industrial civilization machine, and its fuel tank is running out because of the increasing difficulty of oil extraction.
It’s also hard to see that the economy is deteriorating because you can still buy cheap electronics and some people are insanely rich. Globally it’s undeniable that every year we are going in the direction of more economic inequality. The number of haves is decreasing and they have more resources. On the other hand, the number of have-nots is increasing and they have fewer resources. This is the opposite of a strong economy. A strong economy has a more balanced distribution of resources.
It doesn’t matter which flavor of government is in charge. It doesn’t matter what kind of currency they use. This is fundamentally an issue of diminishing energy. There is no way around it. You could blame the economic issues on the elites, the immigrants, the refugees, the rich, the poor, the libs, the conservatives, the feminists, the marginalized, the whites, the blacks, the IMF, the WEF, the UN, the NWO, the deep state, the lizard people, the gods, or whatever your favorite scapegoat is, but you wouldn’t be blaming it on the actual cause.
Okay, so where is the practical and useful information in this text?... Well, this is my advice. First, go through the process of grieving and accepting what the information above entails. Then realize that the economy won’t get better, there may be rebound periods, but the overall trend will remain. Right now we are in a period in which governments and banks are trying to manage the economic problems, but that’s like a person trying to fight a hurricane with their fists… they will go down. Currently, they are printing money and using various tactics to tighten or loosen up the economy, but it is a losing battle.
My advice is to start adapting to a world that is trending toward poverty. That means living with a lower purchasing power. This is not temporal. Start transitioning from a world where everything is about money to a world where community and aid networks are increasingly more important. Start thinking about food resilience in an age of disruptive weather events, climate change, supply chain disruptions, and pests. We will go through a period opposite to globalization at a global and regional scale. Things will have to be sourced closer to home. As we’ve seen with various disasters, you will have less and less support from emergency services, government assistance, and insurance. That means austerity. You’ll experience a decrease in the quality and availability of police, ambulance services, firefighters, paramedics, pensions, healthcare, insurance coverage, etc.
It’s hard for people that grew up in a world with widespread stories of everything getting better, to suddenly realize that things will increasingly get worse and worse. The truth is that some things will get worse and some things will get better. There is always a silver lining.
I recommend you strive to localize your needs. Ideally, our communities should start thinking about how they will fulfill their needs for food, energy, water, and tools in a local and resilient way.
Some people think that these challenges are still far away in the future. That this is something their children may face but not themselves. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to take a look at places like Haiti, Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine, etc. The changes are already here, but they are unevenly distributed. This type of thing happens exponentially. First gradually, then suddenly. Anyone alive during the next decade will feel the impacts of what I’m describing in this text. It doesn’t matter if you are the richest person on the planet and you live in an ivory tower, we are in this together in spaceship earth and it will impact you one way or another.
This may seem depressing and full of doom, but the reality is that when we are born there is never a promise or agreement that we will live an easy life or that our quality of life will increase forever. We are all descendants from a very long lineage of people that struggled through numerous challenges. Some of our ancestors have successfully navigated through unimaginable conditions. Humanity has gone through major upheavals and population bottlenecks before, there have been floods, volcanoes, ice ages, epidemics, dark ages, and wars. Why did we ever think we would get a free pass?
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
by William R. Catton (affiliate link)
How Everything Can Collapse
by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens (affiliate link)
Breaking Down: Collapse
podcast by Kory and Kellan