[P2P-F] Fwd: Acknowledging real end-times possibilities

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Sat Nov 23 03:30:42 CET 2013

contains five collapse oriented article at the bottom,

good summary of the arguments

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tom Atlee <cii at igc.org>
Date: Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 8:54 PM
Subject: Acknowledging real end-times possibilities
To: Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net>

Tom Atlee's Co-Intelligence Journal . The Co-Intelligence Symbol . What
this message is about: Concerns about civilizational collapse and human ext

[image: RockShadow1RanierCroppedLR]
Tom Atlee's Co-Intelligence Journal
[image: Cii-logo-smaller]<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1385171441-4e485cbbcb0c4900f8025fc23afc01ea-e563907?pa=18475744240>

. The Co-Intelligence Symbol .

*What this message is about: Concerns about civilizational collapse and
human extinction in the foreseeable future are rising and moving from the
fringes into the mainstream. Many who share these concerns are
understandably prone to despair and cynicism. What are the various
life-serving ways to confront and respond to these daunting realities?*
Acknowledging real end-times
[image: 220px-Yin_and_Yang.svg]

Co-evolution of Life and Death

Dear friends:

An increasing number of people are coming to the conclusion that there's a
non-trivial chance that civilization will collapse - or, more terminally,
that the human species will die off - within the next few hundred years,
thanks to climate chaos and/or many variously related threats.[1]

These extreme but no longer "crazy" views are drifting towards the
mainstream. Quite in addition to the many apocalyptic movies, novels, and
music - the R.E.M. anthem "it's the end of the world as we know it, and I
feel fine" being exemplary - former Vice President Al Gore recently
civilization might not survive the next 100 years - and two separate
York Times* op eds by Roy Scranton and Samuel Scheffler (below) recently
explored the philosophical and psychological implications of human

These cultural phenomena are the tip of an iceberg of disturbed collective
consciousness increasingly haunting the minds, hearts, and spirits of
ordinary citizens who really don't want to think about it or talk about it.

For years writers seriously concerned about climate change and peak oil
have been pioneering ways to address these emerging realities head-on, with
varying degrees of pessimism, practicality, positive vision, and spiritual
inspiration. Some of the many voices I know of in this choir include:

   - Culture Change<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1385171441-989db1d555e65dc2610637d330833361-e563907?pa=18475744240>
   - Transition Towns
   - John Michael
   - Post-Carbon
   - Oil Empire<https://go.madmimi.com/redirects/1385171441-4b03c639460f40c38128f6eed8a11fbd-e563907?pa=18475744240>
   - Collapse of Industrial Civilization

A quick look at any of them will tell you whether they speak to your own
needs and perspectives. In addition, below I've excerpted some specific
recent articles that will give you a taste of what I've been reading lately
that led to this post.

But I want to make clear: In this post I'm not wishing to promote or
counter any of these views or responses. What I want to do here is help
bring the issue out of the closet so it can be talked about more freely.

As hard as collapse and extinction are to think and talk about, I do not
believe that doing so makes them more likely. On the contrary, I believe
exploring them may free up energy to take more creative, wholesome action
together, regardless of how things turn out. I'm being guided here by an
understanding that what can't be spoken erodes our spirits and empowers the
darker, less free parts of our nature.

I believe that it is time to look more courageously at the full vista of
what we face in our and our children's future. And then make of it what we
can, fully connected with our love of life.

Furthermore, given the reality that we don't actually know what will
happen, systems science and evolutionary ecology suggest that diversity of
responses will increase our chances for collective resilience.

In my next post I'll discuss some of my own strategies for affirming life
in the strange circumstances in which we find ourselves - indeed, that we
have collectively made for ourselves - even in the face of the possible end
of civilization or the human race itself.


[1] *The various threats related to climate change* include (but are not
limited to) peak oil and other rapidly depleting resources, failed
agriculture and consequent starvation, the degradation and death of entire
ecosystems like oceans and rain forests, new or resistant diseases (or
diseases in new places), accelerating species extinctions, nuclear (war or
power) catastrophes, widespread wars and failed states, and
super-technologies whose potentially massively destructive impacts are
unleashed purposefully or by miscalculation, error, terror, or random
alienated or inspired hacking.

= = = = = =

Learning How to Die in the
By Roy Scranton
*The New York Times*

We have passed the point of no return. From the point of view of policy
experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question
is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how
we are going to deal with it.

There’s a word for this new era we live in: the Anthropocene. This term,
taken up by geologists, pondered by intellectuals and discussed in the
pages of publications such as *The Economist* and *The New York Times*,
represents the idea that we have entered a new epoch in Earth’s geological
history, one characterized by the arrival of the human species as a
geological force. The Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen coined the
term in 2002, and it has steadily gained acceptance as evidence has
increasingly mounted that the changes wrought by global warming will affect
not just the world’s climate and biological diversity, but its very geology
— and not just for a few centuries, but for millenniums. The geophysicist
David Archer’s 2009 book, “The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next
100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate,” lays out a clear and concise argument
for how huge concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and melting
ice will radically transform the planet, beyond freak storms and warmer
summers, beyond any foreseeable future.

...The challenge the Anthropocene poses is a challenge not just to national
security, to food and energy markets, or to our “way of life” — though
these challenges are all real, profound, and inescapable. The greatest
challenge the Anthropocene poses may be to our sense of what it means to be
human. Within 100 years — within three to five generations — we will face
average temperatures 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today, rising seas at
least three to 10 feet higher, and worldwide shifts in crop belts, growing
seasons and population centers. Within a thousand years, unless we stop
emitting greenhouse gases wholesale right now, humans will be living in a
climate the Earth hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, three million years ago,
when oceans were 75 feet higher than they are today. We face the imminent
collapse of the agricultural, shipping and energy networks upon which the
global economy depends, a large-scale die-off in the biosphere that’s
already well on its way, and our own possible extinction. If homo sapiens
(or some genetically modified variant) survives the next millenniums, it
will be survival in a world unrecognizably different from the one we have

[T]he biggest problems the Anthropocene poses are precisely those that have
always been at the root of humanistic and philosophical questioning: “What
does it mean to be human?” and “What does it mean to live?” In the epoch of
the Anthropocene, the question of individual mortality — “What does my life
mean in the face of death?” — is universalized and framed in scales that
boggle the imagination. What does human existence mean against 100,000
years of climate change? What does one life mean in the face of species
death or the collapse of global civilization? How do we make meaningful
choices in the shadow of our inevitable end?

These questions have no logical or empirical answers. They are
philosophical problems par excellence. Many thinkers, including Cicero,
Montaigne, Karl Jaspers, and The Stone’s own Simon Critchley, have argued
that studying philosophy is learning how to die. If that’s true, then we
have entered humanity’s most philosophical age — for this is precisely the
problem of the Anthropocene. The rub is that now we have to learn how to
die not as individuals, but as a civilization....

The human psyche naturally rebels against the idea of its end. Likewise,
civilizations have throughout history marched blindly toward disaster,
because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today —
it is unnatural for us to think that this way of life, this present moment,
this order of things is not stable and permanent. Across the world today,
our actions testify to our belief that we can go on like this forever,
burning oil, poisoning the seas, killing off other species, pumping carbon
into the air, ignoring the ominous silence of our coal mine canaries in
favor of the unending robotic tweets of our new digital imaginarium. Yet
the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our
fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy,
just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.

The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of
Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to
protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be
addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the
air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one:
understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we
confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do
to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting,
with mortal humility, to our new reality.

The choice is a clear one. We can continue acting as if tomorrow will be
just like yesterday, growing less and less prepared for each new disaster
as it comes, and more and more desperately invested in a life we can’t
sustain. Or we can learn to see each day as the death of what came before,
freeing ourselves to deal with whatever problems the present offers without
attachment or fear.

= = = =

Excerpts from
The Importance of the Afterlife.
by Samuel Scheffler
21 September 2013
*The New York Times*

I believe in life after death. My belief in life after death is more
mundane. What I believe is that other people will continue to live after I
myself have died. You probably make the same assumption in your own case.
Although we know that humanity won't exist forever, most of us take it for
granted that the human race will survive, at least for a while, after we
ourselves are gone.

Because we take this belief for granted, we don't think much about its
significance. Yet I think that this belief plays an extremely important
role in our lives, quietly but critically shaping our values, commitments
and sense of what is worth doing. Astonishing though it may seem, there are
ways in which the continuing existence of other people after our deaths —
even that of complete strangers — matters more to us than does our own
survival and that of our loved ones.

. . . Of course, many people are terrified of dying. But even people who
fear death (and even those who do not believe in a personal afterlife)
remain confident of the value of their activities despite knowing that they
will die someday.

. . . The knowledge that we and everyone we know and love will someday die
does not cause most of us to lose confidence in the value of our daily
activities. But the knowledge that no new people would come into existence
would make many of those things seem pointless... [O]ur capacity to find
purpose and value in our lives depends on what we expect to happen to
others after our deaths.

. . . But will humanity survive for a good long time? ...[We] know that
there are serious threats to humanity's survival. Not all of these threats
are human-made, but some of the most pressing certainly are, like those
posed by climate change and nuclear proliferation. People who worry about
these problems often urge us to remember our obligations to future
generations, whose fate depends so heavily on what we do today. We are
obligated, they stress, not to make the earth uninhabitable or to degrade
the environment in which our descendants will live.

I agree. But there is also another side to the story. Yes, our descendants
depend on us to make possible their existence and wellbeing. But we also
depend on them and their existence if we are to lead flourishing lives
ourselves. And so our reasons to overcome the threats to humanity's
survival do not derive solely from our obligations to our descendants. We
have another reason to try to ensure a flourishing future for those who
come after us: it is simply that, to an extent that we rarely recognize or
acknowledge, they already matter so much to us.

= = = = = =

Excerpts from

Why We Cannot Save the
by Dave Pollard

Hardly a day passes when I don’t hear a cry for us all to work together to
do X, because if we do that, everything will change and the world will be
saved (or at least be rid of some horrific and intractable problem and
hence made immeasurably better). Many variations of X are proposed, and
they’re often about (a) comprehensively reforming our political, economic,
education or other system, (b) achieving some large-scale behaviour change
through mass persuasion or education, or (c) bringing together great minds
and volunteer energies to bring ingenuity and innovation to bear
collaboratively on some issue or crisis.

It is perfectly reasonable to believe that such change is possible: Look at
what we have done in past to eradicate diseases, to institute democracy and
‘free’ enterprise worldwide, to dramatically reduce the prevalence of
slavery, to pull the world out of the Great Depression, to produce
astonishing technologies and improve the position of women and minorities,
we are told. All we need is the same kind of effort dedicated to X. If we
work together we can accomplish anything.

It is perfectly reasonable to believe that such change is possible. But
such change, I would argue, is not possible. The belief that substantive
and sustained change comes about by large-scale concerted efforts, or by
the proverbial Margaret Mead “small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens” misses a critical point — throughout human history such change
efforts have only occurred when there was no choice but to do them, when
the alternative of inaction was so obviously and inarguably calamitous that
the status quo was out of the question. And even then such efforts usually
fail — either they run up against fierce and powerful opposition and are
suppressed, or they bring about a new status quo that is arguably worse
than what it replaced. ...

We can be persuaded that our exhaustion, our physical, intellectual,
emotional, spiritual and imaginative poverty, the debilitating chronic
diseases that are now epidemic in our culture, the ghastly suffering to
which we subject other animals in the name of food and human safety, the
epidemic of physical, sexual and psychological abuse in our homes and
institutions, the endemic sense of grief and depression about our lives and
our world, the accelerating extinction of all non-human life on Earth
except for human parasites, the rapid depletion of cheap energy upon which
our whole culture totally depends, the endlessly growing gap between the
tiny affluent minority and the massive struggling majority, the runaway
climate change that our human pollutants has triggered, the utter
impossibility of ever repaying the staggering debts we have dumped on
future generations, and the consequences when those debts come due — we can
be persuaded that all of these things can be somehow fixed, that all of
these unintended consequences of the way we have been living our lives for
a thousand generations, can somehow be resolved in one or two, by a
concerted effort to do X.

They cannot. That is not how the world, or human civilizations, work, or
ever have worked. Our human civilization, like all living systems, is
complex, and complex systems do not lend themselves to mechanical ‘fixes’.
They evolve, slowly, unpredictably, over millennia. We may be able to
change many malleable human minds in a hurry, if we’re motivated, and if we
must, at least for a while until we can go back to what we were doing. But
we cannot change our bodies, which are still evolving slowly, trying to
adapt to our minds’ relatively recent decision to leave the rainforest, to
eat meat, to settle in large, crowded, stressful, hierarchical cities, to
walk upright. Our weary, pretzel-bent bodies are complaining about the
changes we have forced on them over the past million years, and struggling
with them. Too much too fast, they say.

And we cannot begin to enable the ecosystems of which we are a part to
adapt to these changes, ecosystems now in states of massive collapse,
exhaustion, desolation and extinction. We do not know what to do. We are
limited to mechanical solutions — technology and engineering — and
mechanical solutions cannot ‘solve’ these crises — crises that technology
and engineering have themselves substantially caused.....

So why do we go on clinging to this hopeful, idealistic view that we can
["save the world"]? I think it’s because we want to do our best, so we want
to believe we have enough control over ourselves and our actions and the
world in which we live to be able to “progress”, to solve problems and deal
effectively with crises. Life is wonderful and we want it to go on and be
wonderful for everyone, now and in the future...

[But] The challenges we face are overwhelming, and they’ve been
accelerating in size and complexity for millennia. The more we learn about
them, and their interrelatedness, the more daunting they become....

[If] we want to deal with the economic crises we have precipitated, neither
austerity nor stimulus will work. We have to reinvent our whole economy as
a steady-state one without debt or credit. But we can’t do that, because
without growth our economy will collapse and plunge us into the worst
depression civilization has ever known. And with growth our resources will
run out faster and climate change will accelerate, precipitating both
energy and ecological collapse globally. We have created a problem that has
no solution, and it’s the same one, as Jared Diamond and Ronald Wright have
explained, that led to the downfall of past civilizations. Except this time
the problem is global, and we’re all going down.

The same kind of dilemma faces us in trying to cope with peak oil. Research
such as George Monbiot’s has demonstrated that there are no renewable or
sustainable substitutes for oil (even with the loftiest predictions about
human ingenuity and improvements in technology) that can provide anywhere
near the power that hydrocarbons do. But our whole civilization, even our
food system, is hooked on cheap oil. When it runs out, in a series of
crises that will get steadily much worse as the century unfolds, our
economy will collapse, all of our technologies will run out of power, and
billions will starve. A future world with ten billion people trying to live
on a planet that, without the subsidy of cheap, abundant energy, can
perhaps support a tenth that number, is almost too ghastly to imagine. And
in our desperate effort to forestall that energy and resource collapse, we
are likely, just as the Easter Islanders did, to excavate every
mountaintop, dig into the seas and the sands and the deepest depths of the
planet, and cut down every tree until nothing is left standing.

That is why, when a problem or series of problems or crises appear
intractable, extremely difficult if not impossible to resolve, our tendency
is to resist dealing with them, to deny the problems, to leave it up to
future generations or higher powers to deal with them....

My hope is that eventually enough people will ...start to focus attention
on adapting to and increasing our resilience in the face of, the cascading
crises that will eventually (I think by century’s end) lead to
civilizational collapse.

This will be grim work, because these crises are likely to be ghastly, and
we are totally unequipped to deal with them. And it will be local work,
because centralized ‘organizations’ will be crumbling and unable to provide
any ‘top-down’ or coordinated help. We can start now (as soon as each of us
‘must’) to acquire the old and new skills and capacities we will need to
cope with collapse — relearning and relocalizing many basic skills of our
grandparents, both technical (e.g. permaculture) and soft skills (e.g.
facilitation), as we rediscover how to live in community and how to live
together self-sufficiently....

Until the old systems die, we won’t be able to see what, and how much,
really needs to be done anyway, and the remains of the old systems will
struggle defiantly to resist new experiments (this is already happening).
We can do some advance learning, and practice dealing with crises in a
personal, proactive way (i.e. rather than expecting the government to fix
each crisis as it occurs, and to tell us what to do).

We can get to know our neighbours, including the ones who are annoying and
ignorant and unable to self-manage, and what we can do with and for each
other, and lay the foundations for true, local communities. We can get to
know the place we live, the organic process of which we are most
immediately a part, and what else lives and can naturally thrive there. We
can experiment with new models and constructs of how to live sustainably
and joyfully, provided we recognize they are just experiments and are
unlikely to flourish until the old systems crumble.

Much of this early preparation can be easy, and fun, if we choose to make
space for it. And this still leaves us time, time saved by not trying to
hold on desperately to our dying civilization culture, to just be, to play,
to do things that are easy and fun, to live each moment of this amazing
life at this amazing time to the fullest. To free ourselves, and be wild
again, welcomed back into the organic process that is all-life-on-Earth,
where we always belonged.

*[The comments on this blog post are particularly diverse and stimulating.
I highly recommend reading them. - Tom Atlee]*

= = = = ==

Excerpts from
Rationally Speaking, We Are All Apocalyptic
by Robert Jensen

We are all apocalyptic now, or at least we should be, if we are rational.

Because "apocalyptic" is typically associated with religious fanaticism and
death cults - things that rational people tend not to take literally or
seriously - this claim requires some explanation....

"Revelation" from Latin and "apocalypse" from Greek, both mean a lifting of
the veil, a disclosure of something that had been hidden....

This "revelation" is simple: We've built a world based on the assumption
that we will have endless energy to subsidize endless economic expansion,
which was supposed to magically produce justice. That world is over, both
in reality and in dreams. Either we begin to build a different world, or
there will be no world capable of sustaining a large-scale human

A calm apocalypticism is not crazy, but rather can help us confront
honestly the crises of our time and strategize constructively about
possible responses.

*[Another article along these lines is Elliot Sperber's At the Edge of the
- Tom Atlee]*

= = = = =

Excerpts from

Sleepwalking to
By Richard Smith, *AdBusters*
18 November 13

*[Most of these excerpts cover the theme of Smith's article. But the whole
article is filled with very specific examples of the inadequacy of the
fixes being offered within the current economic system.]*

... Why are we marching toward disaster, "sleepwalking to extinction" as
the Guardian's George Monbiot once put it? Why can't we slam on the brakes
before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I'm going to argue here that the
problem is rooted in the requirement of capitalist production. Large
corporations can't help themselves; they can't change or change very much.
So long as we live under this corporate capitalist system we have little
choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas
instead of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative -
impossible as this may seem right now - is to overthrow this global
economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and
replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up
political democracy, an eco-socialist* civilization....

[Definition from
"Eco-socialists advocate dismantling capitalism, focusing on common
ownership of the means of production by freely associated producers, and
restoring the commons." *Note that this is different from state socialism
as practiced by "communist" countries. - Tom Atlee*]

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