Humanity’s march towards self-destruction

Chris Hedges writes: Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth — intellectually and emotionally — and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.

The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth — as well as killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury — as well as unrivaled military and economic power—for the industrial elites are the forces that now doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence. But even as our economic and environmental systems unravel, after the hottest year in the contiguous 48 states since record keeping began 107 years ago, we lack the emotional and intellectual creativity to shut down the engine of global capitalism. We have bound ourselves to a doomsday machine that grinds forward, as the draft report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee illustrates.

Complex civilizations have a bad habit of destroying themselves. Anthropologists including Joseph Tainter in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” Charles L. Redman in “Human Impact on Ancient Environments” and Ronald Wright in “A Short History of Progress” have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the Earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed and self-worship. [Continue reading…]

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4 thoughts on “Humanity’s march towards self-destruction

  1. mijj

    > The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth

    it’s not the human species, it’s not white europeans and yanks as a whole. It’s leaders of a particular mindset. The leadership embraces its conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting (and don’t forget lying and deceiving) qualities – it’s those psychopathic qualities that got them to their position as leaders. It uses all the power of propaganda it has available to convince the rest of us the the cherished greedy selfish qualities of our leaders is the essence of all of us. This way we all, as a species, can be held to responsible for the qualities of our leaders.

  2. Vin

    Obviously our leaders bear primary responsibility, but almost everyone in the first world shares some blame for this unparalleled crime. All of us who listened to the siren song of advertisers and bought more stuff than we need, who ate meat every day, who didn’t do everything possible to resist our psychopathic elite — all of us are guilty.

    We’ve all played “I’ll be gone; you’ll be gone” to some degree.

  3. eugene

    The urge to blame is incredible. Like children, we wondered at the trinkets and gleefully so. We blissfully avoid responsibility by blaming “the leaders”. To me it’s the human animal. We are a brutal, violent animal who loves the spoils of war. Then go to church (whatever religion) and shout our “goodness”. The real issue, of course, is population and the amount of resources consumed with the US top of the list. Like all empires, we sucked the rest dry in the name of entitlement.

    And the “planet” will not be destroyed, just the one we know. As George Carlin said, the planet will go on just fine. I hate to see the rest of the animals go but us, it’s simply what happens to all animals that over populate. I understand the need to “do something” but nothing will be done. Accepted that long ago. In the scheme of things, it really is doesn’t matter.

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