Introduction/Locating this Study Within Academia
Prof Bendell doesn’t number his pages, so his analysis is clearly inadequate and civilization will survive after all! Therefore, I don’t have to wrestle with any implications, which is just as well, since they all suck and I don’t want to. The lack of page numbers is going to make referencing the article difficult. I’m going to have to approach this by sections.
I have been surprisingly floored by this paper since I read it last week. More grief and fear than I expected; wakeful nights. I’ve been glibly cynical and pessimistic for years, but as it turns out, I do not want to do the tasks of grief for societal collapse. The questions are too hard, and I keep slipping back into denial. Which is super easy, because we are all doing that together and everything that is ongoing in my life is not about near-term unavertable collapse. But today I’ve read a few more of their papers and agree with them.
In his introduction, Prof. Bendell writes about why he is writing this paper. He was struck that his review found no academic planning for the most likely outcome. Rather, everything we see says ‘if humanity doesn’t do this complex and unselfish task on a scale never seen before, it will really be bad’. Of course, there is no evidence that we will undertake a complex and unselfish task at any scale, so the likely outcome is the really bad one. But even though I thought I had realized it before, seeing that explicitly laid out without the ‘absent a miracle’ step was pretty painful.
I will also say, that none of you brought me any cheer at all. Nope. The lot of you, including my mother, were all “yeah, we know. Gonna be terrible.” So, I have been in grief and anger this past week, and also switching back the dailiness of our entire surroundings, which make the whole thing easy to ignore. I’ve thought of a few selfish, white-privilege kind of plans to help my own kid. But half of the despair is the returning feeling that nothing on a larger scale would work even if I did it. I would do effective things in a heartbeat, but I cannot imagine what they are. (Do not inform me about green-motivated personal austerity.)
I do want to draw parallels from the failures of world-scale climate change dialogue to the failures of California-scale water dialogue. Prof. Bendell writes, on some fucking page:
The … field of climate adapation is oriented around ways to maintain our current societies as they face manageable climactic perturbations.
Which looks to me a whole lot like every Californian administration’s water goal of “please, what we have now for just a while longer”. Which, I am sorry to say, is all I can detect in Crowfoot’s “portfolio approach”. Portfolio approach TO DO WHAT? To supply the world with cheap snacks? To provide clean drinking water to everyone? To have thriving rivers? To retire 3 million acres of irrigated ag with equity and dignity? I can apply a portfolio approach to any of those. But I am worried that the Newsom administration will stick to the default, even as climate change hits us.
We are all doomed.