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BIT – Week 6 – Adaptation

Whatever happens as climate collapse continues, it will be dramatic, and it will not be kind to the poor, or the generally not-rich…some factors we do know are coming, and we can only attempt to prepare for them.

Who is the “we” here? I’m thinking about this as an American, so I think the American public, but I think especially young people. Even with this election, we can continue down the road of fear of change & promises to bring back previous decades, or we can stake out a big, bold path into the future. But in our everyday lives as well—we can resist denial, lower our own impacts, lobby our elected officials to pass the Green New Deal (+ Blue New Deal), and push forward. We have to.

Though (I hope) our current coronavirus is a blip in the historical radar, I think it virtually guaranteed that all societal hell will break lose during my lifetime. And though the rich will be better off, their money will not save them, because most of what being rich provides requires the labor of the poorer, and they do not have proper healthcare and will lack essential resources as they become scarcer. (To give a specific example: in a pandemic, Ariana Grande can’t get her houses cleaned by immigrants without access to health care. Will this lead to neo-feudalism/a new wave of company towns/societal collapse/something else? Who’s to say.) Between pandemic risk, climate collapse risk/migrations/politics, resource shortages, warfare (caused by climate/resource shortages like in Syria right now, technological/nuclear/otherwise from fanatical geopolitics/domination), automation, state surveillance, and ballooning populations, there is much to be worried about.

At home, putting aside the international risks momentarily, we’re not talking about there not being a crisis during my lifetime, but with the Green New Deal & other policies we can build a road toward fewer, less intense crises. We don’t have to live in a dying, desperate world—I think my other posts have made clear that I’m actually optimistic & truly believe we can & will build a better future—there’s no way to ignore a number of deeply concerning societal trends (inequality/climate/etc).

Though this is a depressing way of putting it, if we all died off because of climate collapse, that would be getting the easy way out. Humans have always adapted; humans will continue to adapt. Through resource access, geographic advantage, planning, or just plain luck, people will continue to survive in most scenarios. So I think that calls 1) not for nihilism, but for optimism, and 2) for longer-term thinking.

Are we doomed? In some sense, yes, because certain terrible scenarios are near-unavoidable. But we’ve always had wars, famines, disasters, truces, milestones, progress. Automation, climate collapse, pandemic, and inequality are all very real and should not be ignored. But in the long term, banding together, we can & will build a better world. We’ve always adapted.