6th Mass Extinction, Abrupt Climate Change, Antarctic Ice Melt, Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD), Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Corporatocracy, Davi Kopenawa, Eco-Apocalypse, Extinction of Man, Green Washing, Guy McPherson, Inverted Totalitarianism, Military Industrial Complex, Mr. Natural, Neoliberal Capitalism, Robert Crumb, Security and Surveillance State, Social Psychology and Theories of Consumer Culture: A Political Economy
Front Row Seat to the Eco-Apocalypse
“I fear their euphoria of merchandise will have no end and they will entangle themselves to the point of chaos. They do not seem concerned that they are making us all perish with the epidemic of fumes that escape from all these things…” ~ Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami leader and shaman
Another year has turned over on Earth, home to an exothermic, bipedal omnivore known as capitalist carbon man whose expanding numbers and army of fossil-fueled machinery spans the globe. There’s nothing subtle or restrained about his reign of terror. He pokes and prods the climate change beast while taking for granted the stability of the Holocene, a peculiar aberration in the paleoclimate record. Plotted on a graph, the history of Earth’s climate resembles the jagged teeth of a demonic monster, a volatile creature whose abrupt and catastrophic shifts have wiped landscapes clean of most life. The consequences of burning the equivalent of an olympic sized swimming pool of oil (300,000 liters) per second, year after year, into the atmosphere will ultimately prove lethal to the planet’s habitability. Recently, scientists were surprised to discover a “Delaware-sized methane cloud” hovering over the U.S. southwest, the remnant of “years of intentionally released and errantly leaked natural gas during fossil fuel drilling operations.” No less problematic to the Earth’s homeostasis are the many other destructive habits of capitalist carbon man such as moving ten times more dirt than all natural processes, fixing more nitrogen than all terrestrial bacteria, and producing more sulfate than all ocean phytoplankton.
The exponential melting of Earth’s cryospheric regions is a foreboding harbinger of devastating sea level rise, altering oceanic and jet stream circulation, changing hydrologic cycles, and wholesale disruption of the entire planet’s biospheric system. A brief retrospective of our unfolding environmental meltdown by a major news source concludes that “2014 will likely go down as the year that melting polar ice caps graduated from being a geographic abstraction to a symbol of the irreversible ways we’ve warped the planet.” News reports continue to grow more ominous with recent warnings that the oceans are on the verge of belching their decades of stored heat from human industrial activity. CIVILIZATION is in the process of going ‘poof’ as its leaders play monkey politics and the masses are drowned in a sea of consumerist images. As Dr. McPherson recently pointed out, gallows humor is the 6th stage of grief for coping with a civilization that is blind to its own demise.
“Going Green” is a Marketing Slogan and Inverted Totalitarianism is the Most Successful Form of Tyranny
The unsettling truth is that the slogan “going green” has become a marketing ploy to greenwash capitalism and keep business-as-usual going. The speeches of corporate and political leaders are sprinkled with conscious-soothing key words such as “sustainable”, “eco-friendly”, and “2°C climate goal”, but there’s nothing sustainable about globalized techno-capitalism and the target of limiting warming to 2°C is a cruel illusion. So-called “green energy” is severely limited by suitable geography and intermittency of power production. The behemoth Google learned from its own extensive research that “today’s renewable energy technologies won’t save us.” The top business firms appear to be having a problem squaring their green rhetoric with reality, and there seems to be no way to make automobiles truly sustainable. Germany, the poster child for a green economy, is now “burning more coal than at any point since 1990.“:
“We already are on the edge of what is possible,” Mr. Löllgen said in an interview at his Düsseldorf office. “Is it worth it if we as a country succeed in reaching our targets in reducing carbon emissions, but sacrifice good jobs and our industrial base?”
Another misleading headline I get tired of reading states that humans may be headed for a 6th mass extinction. Let’s clarify this statement once and for all by admitting emphatically that we are well in the throes of a mass extinction which will likely include ourselves within this century. By all rational evidence, industrial civilization with its billions of inhabitants cannot survive without fossil fuels. The only way capitalist carbon man will ever be sustainable is as fertilizer beneath the crumbled concrete and asphalt ruins of industrial civilization. Don’t expect any mea culpa from a culture which has been programmed to believe converting all of nature into inanimate symbols of wealth is “progress” and “development”. Not even the dire warnings of esteemed scientists and religious leaders can break the spell cast by capitalism and its definition of progress. Our institutions have become intransigent, petrified monoliths to which all will be sacrificed.
“I think the notions of free will and self-determination have the appearance of reality during a civilization’s gestation and expansion phases, when there is more opportunity and social mobility. As things calcify, instruments becoming institutions that serve their own ends, the facade is harder to maintain. Human existence has always been contingent and constrained by circumstances. These ‘free’ notions are illusions, narrow windows of perception with a limited range of influence during times of transient prosperity.” ~ BP
The term inverted totalitarianism, coined a decade ago by philosopher Sheldon Wolin, describes America’s brand of despotism in which “every natural resource and every living being is commodified and exploited to collapse as the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism and sensationalism.” Opposition to this dominant consumer culture is systematically co-opted and suppressed by the marginalization and alienation of alternative thought. Neoliberal capitalism governs not only states and economies, but extends right down to an individual’s behavior and way of living:
One of the goals of neoliberalism is to foster a population of individuals who will play an active role in their own self-governance by interacting with the market and consumption through calculated acts and investments… sets of rules and conditions are established between institutions, economic and social practices, and patterns of behavior. They generally function outside of conscious awareness and they habitually influence social behavior. Examples of dominant consumer culture discourse include the political linking of consumer sovereignty and choice with freedom, the linking of citizenship and national pride with consumption, the work and spend treadmill that many people choose to pursue, the commercialization of childhood and adolescence, and the celebration of consumer values through the mass media and advertising.
– Social Psychology and Theories of Consumer Culture: A Political Economy
Who better to label people as “unpatriotic” if they acknowledge the reality of climate change than the host of TV’s quintessential symbol of capitalism, The Wheel of Fortune? Beneath this digital web of commercials and TV infotainment is the iron fist of militarized local police and the panopticon surveillance state which can quickly stomp out those troublesome malcontents who break free of the American hologram. What better way is there for controlling entire populations than to condition them to enjoy their chains of slavery? America’s form of tyranny, a blend of covert and overt oppression, is the most successful in the history of mankind.
None of This Can Really Be Happening, Can It?
With all the disjointed and delusional thinking out there, I feel compelled to write a blog post periodically to get the facts straight and assure myself that what I see and hear every day is really happening. Yes, we really are terraforming the Earth into a barren wasteland while convincing ourselves that it’s worth it for the sake of a cubicle job and life in cookie-cutter suburbia. Yes, we really are ruled by the Washington-Wall Street-Pentagon complex. No, you will never get the raw truth from mainstream news outlets. Yes, I’m getting older and need to exercise more because a sedentary lifestyle is as bad as smoking. Yes, industrial civilization is still on track to collapse within my lifetime. As Robert Crumb’s mystic guru Mr. Natural exclaimed, “The whole universe is completely insane!”