Note — Nov 14, 2021

The Transapocalyptic Now

Excellent piece by Alex Steffen on, of course, the climate crisis. It’s a well presented and, in my opinion, quite balanced representation of where humanity is at right now regarding carbon and the unequal apocalypse we are starting to see happening in front of our collective eyes. Covering the work to be done, the scale and scope of change, the vultures taking advantage, the plutocrats preparing bunkers, and some hopeful outcomes, it’s a useful and sobering overview.

I always like when things are named in a way that makes sense and provides a useful handle on a topic. Steffen talks of “discontinuity” to explain that it’s not either the end of the world or back to normal, it’s a break in continuity; he talks of “ruggedizing” instead of adaptation or resilience; and of course he talks of spectrum of the “transapocalypse.” “Some parts of the world will experience death and suffering and tragic upheavals as horrible as any humanity ever seen, even while others experience unprecedented prosperity.”

One of the consequences of having suffered five decades of predatory delay on sustainability and climate action is that all around the world many of our places — cities and coastlines, grazing lands and floodplain farms, mountain towns and fishing villages — are moving from a state of being able to cope with shifts in heat, rainfall, and natural systems to a state of depletion and worn-out incapacity. […]

The planetary crisis means a huge increase in the number of people who will be pushed up to the very edge of apocalypse. Many will be driven over. This is an unjust price they will pay for decades of predatory delay by slow interests. […]

But it will also require something more: it will require ruggedization on a scale we’ve not yet really even imagined. It will require not only lessening the transapocalyptic pressures bearing down on humanity, but greatly increasing the number of places and systems and institutions that are capable of thriving in a much more discontinuous reality. […]

Bringing our civilization into balance with the carbon cycle is a epochal undertaking, and involves essentially rebuilding the world’s industries, even while we scale them up. […]

Finally, we need an intellectual and creative leap into engagement with the realities of our transapocalyptic present. If we are not foolish, we will be learning more, listening more, helping more, sharing more, engaging more and, unfortunately, intervening more.

More → There’s actually hope in Steffen’s piece but if you want more good news anyway, to balance out the doom, here’s some via Future Crunch: Indigenous peoples to get $1.7bn in recognition of role in protecting forests / World leaders, corporations at COP26, take major step to restore and protect forests / Nearly all development banks committed to cutting coal investment, data shows / EU, US end row over steel and aluminium tariffs, taking aim at ‘dirty’ production.