While homeland security zealots have predicted a nuclear weapon attack on United States soil will occur this July 4, a visitor to Irregular Times asserts that we have an apocalypse now. You may have noticed Tom’s frequent comments here that the world as we know it is doomed and that efforts to prevent global civilization-ending disaster are too late to be effective. In a general way, Tom has asserted that resistance is futile. Yesterday, Tom made this general assertion specific:
How can rational people live in complete denial of reality? What is this, mass psychosis?
Surely you realize, by now (and if not, soon enough), that this hole in the Gulf gushing crude, methane and other noxious, formerly sequestered carbon by-products, will be looked at as the Big One that took us down to less than a billion people on the entire planet, living brutal, wretched, HARD lives and dwindling with the cascading systemic collapses happening world-wide, not least of which is the food chain.
Tom has just predicted that the Gulf oil spill will take the Earth’s population down from more than 6 billion people to less than 1 billion people “living brutal, wretched, HARD lives.” He’s made this prediction in stark terms, too, declaring that those who don’t see this coming disaster are living “in complete denial of reality,” possibly suffering “mass psychosis.”
Although I am not sanguine about the state of humanity, and although I agree with Tom about most of the sources of our problems in the world, I don’t agree with Tom that our circumstances are inescapably dire. I observe that although people are often venal and destructive, people can and have also make notable progress. In the historical blink of an eye, the average human has gone from living in her own poo and dying at the age of 35 to living much a longer, healthier, more informed and more self-determined life. Too many people still live under the thumb of oppression, poverty, ignorance and pollution, but the trends in this regard have been positive. I agree with Tom that some of these trends are in danger of reversing direction, but that is not the same as the collapse of civilization or the return to medieval standards.
Most importantly, I disagree with Tom that there’s nothing we can do about the conditions in which we find ourselves. I believe that we are capable of continuing to make our world a better place to live in, and I believe that we are capable of making our world a worse place to live in too. I believe that on the social level, the availability of information and the preservation of transparent liberal democracy can make the difference between these two outcomes. On the individual level, I believe that knowledge, critical thinking and the application of effort to take action can make the difference between these two outcomes.
Returning to the specifically matter at hand, while I appreciate that the Gulf of Mexico is undergoing a disaster unprecedented in American history and while I think there are some big changes we need to make to prevent such disasters in the future, I don’t believe that the BP oil spill will be “the Big One that took us down to less than a billion people on the entire planet, living brutal, wretched, HARD lives and dwindling with the cascading systemic collapses happening world-wide”. I think that’s a massive misunderstanding of scale. And I don’t think I’m psychotic or delusional…
… but then again, how many delusional psychotics recognize their state? Tom may be right; I may be wrong. Usefully, he’s made a specific prediction. Let’s see how it turns out. I hope that I’m right. I also hope that if our world’s population does not decline to less than a billion people as the result of this oil spill, Tom might rethink the idea it’s too late to do anything about anything.