On this blog, Nate Hagens writes: I’m a social critic, political/cultural commentator and artist. The modern industrial world is sleepwalking towards the cliff of economic and ecological ruin. Most are oblivious to the paradigm shift that is occurring, but some are starting to awaken to the false stories our culture has told itself. My objective is to highlight important news stories and essays to find the hidden truth behind what Joe Bageant called the American Hologram.
In 2009, two English writers published a manifesto. Out of that manifesto grew a cultural movement: a rooted and branching network of creative activity, centred on the Dark Mountain journal, sustained by the work of a growing gang of collaborators and contributors, as well as the support of thousands of readers around the world. The Dark Mountain Project is looking for other stories, ones that can help us make sense of a time of disruption and uncertainty.
New and largely unstudied risks are associated with powerful emerging technologies and the impacts of human activity, which in the worst case might pose existential risks. The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk wants to reap the enormous benefits of technological progress while safely navigating these catastrophic pitfalls.
This 2013 article by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich explores the possibility of global collapse. Environmental problems have contributed to numerous collapses of civilizations in the past. Now, for the first time, a global collapse appears likely. Overpopulation, overconsumption by the rich and poor choices of technologies are major drivers; dramatic cultural change provides the main hope of averting calamity. In Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.
In this article, collapse expert Luke Kemp says studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us how much risk we face today. Worryingly, the signs are worsening. From the BBC.
In times of upheaval, why do some people, communities, companies and systems thrive, while others fall apart? That’s the question at the heart of an exciting new field, and an urgent new agenda for the 21st century. In Resilience, Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy bring you important scientific discoveries, pioneering social innovations, and vital new approaches to constructing a more resilient future. You may never look at your world, your organization, or yourself the same way again.
The Community Resilience Reader: Essential Resources for an Era of Upheaval, Edited by Daniel Lerch, combines a fresh look at the crises humanity faces, the essential tools of resilience science, and the wisdom of activists, scholars, and analysts working on the ground.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond includes four sets of studies. Seven chapters discuss some of the clearest, most familiar, most striking examples of past collapses: the ends of Polynesian societies on Henderson and Pitcairn Islands, where everybody either did abandon the island or else ended up dead; the end of the Viking settlements on Greenland, which similarly disappeared completely; the disappearance of Anasazi settlements in desert areas of the U.S. Southwest; the decline and abandonment of Classic Maya cities in the Southern Maya lowlands, while Maya cities survived outside those southern lowlands; and the decline of Easter Island’s Polynesian society, famous for erecting giant stone statues.
Apologies to the Grandchildren by William Ophuls is a collection of essays that throw light on questions of ecological collapse, the connection between the ecological crisis and the breakdown of liberal democracy, and what society will look like when we exhaust solar capital in the form of fossil fuels and must live once again on the daily and seasonal flow of solar income. This book illuminates the forces that will determine the long-term future of humanity.