The May 2020 episode of Nature Bats Last on the Progressive Radio Network featured a discussion with Kirkpatrick Sale about what we believe to be the unfolding collapse of industrial civilisation and his latest book on the subject titled “The Collapse of 2020”.
The episode is embedded here:
For additional reference, I quoted his article posted on December 19 2019 on Counter Punch titled Political Collapse: The Centre Cannot Hold.
Kirkpatrick Sale has a Facebook page where people can follow his work on social media. The page is embedded here:
Kirkpatrick has kindly agreed to come back on the show towards the end of the year assuming this set of living arrangements is still hanging together and that’s a big ‘if’, considering how precarious the situation is today and we will have witnessed another Arctic Sea Ice melt season by then. More information on the cascading effects of the loss of sea ice can be accessed here; Cascading Consequences of the Loss of Arctic Sea Ice.
Feel free to subscribe to this blog and leave a question for Kirkpatrick in the comments section below. I will endeavour to address them on our subsequent interview, should fate allow it to proceed.
“The Collapse of 2020” can be purchased here
Learning to control fire, which long preceded agriculture, I regard as the critical turning point in the biological and cultural evolution of humans. Cooking food appears to have entered human evolution about 2 million years ago. Richard Wrangham makes a good case for this in his book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human”.
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“How Climate Change Is Contributing to Skyrocketing Rates of Infectious Disease
A catastrophic loss in biodiversity, reckless destruction of wildland and warming temperatures have allowed disease to explode. Ignoring the connection between climate change and pandemics would be “dangerous delusion,” one scientist said.”
As we discussed on the show;
And even in the midst of this Pandemic, the US Forest Service continues to destroy forests to ‘save’ them from burning down…which causes them to burn worse. The Stupid is so painful it burns the inside of my skull to think about!
Bozeman Watershed Project Spills Bad Blood
During this last couple of months, this ‘stay-at-home’ order and non-essential business closures with The Trump Greater Depression slamming down worldwide not just in the US, I see loaded logging trucks continue to drive by heading for the mills as the Hedge Fund vultures clearcut like it was the 1960s around here. So wiping out habitat is an essential business I’m guessing? Boggles the mind!
And then there was this article ten days ago:
As the Earth Dies…
It’s about a new book out: The Robbery of Nature, John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark (Monthly Review Press)
And I’m nearly through another ‘old’ enviro-collapse book from 2013 titled: The Race for What’s Left; The Global Scramble For The World’s Last Resources by Michael T. Klare. Another used book from Powell’s in Portland that I hadn’t read. Detailed reality, the corporate who, what, and where and very ugly indeed. Seven years later it has only gotten worse. Of course, what else isn’t new? Reading books like these that are now considered outdated gives me a hell of a viewpoint because authors tend to try to keep upbeat about ‘winning’ the fight against the global wealthy polluters, and to see the place they were standing to how much farther down the road towards total collapse we’re at now is…well, daunting I guess you could say.
So what does one do to keep from stuffing your head into the ground like an ostrich? There is SO much going on all around the planet that it is impossible to keep up with even if you do nothing else but read from one article to another and not sleep a wink at night, much less read recent history and the thoughts of those who thought maybe it could change for the better.
And nothing did. At all. In any way. Except for the worse. Even knowing it’s coming this sucks, Kevin!
And just to make things a bit more ‘interesting,’ imagine trying to avoid a pandemic with this happening:
Unfortunately, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could be record-breaking
Wow. All I’ve been doing is fire break clearing the last month in between alternating 85’F heat waves and deluge T-storms through the month of April to now. Rained again, t-storm micro-burst for about an hour, just before dark this evening. Been getting those since last week. But at least it ain’t burning and I won’t get hit by a hurricane…
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An excellent debate on the unfolding collapse of Industrial Civilisation
I’m 3/4s through ‘The Race for the Last Resources’ and, oh my, Kevin, I can sure read the last seven years before they happened in these pages. The author pretty much hit ever point he could find. But again, like I’m finding with a number of the older writings about climate and collapse I’ve picked up as used lately, it wasn’t nearly as pessimistic as the realty has turned out to be. But it explains a few things I hadn’t put together that connects with current events. Just like the previous older one I read recently, it was a worthwhile read just for the look back.
When we run out of Rare Earth Metals the end of ‘sustainable alternative energy’ completely dies. And like everything else, it’s going fast! I wonder if some of the debate you’ve posted talks about that? If I didn’t have dial-up internet I’d probably watch all of these and get seriously depressed!
A retired physicist’s mathematical look at the thermal imbalance in the atmosphere first:
Living With Global Warming
Then a short one from Paul Street:
Livable Ecology, Not Police
Nothing else for now.
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At 8:59 he says he wants to get off this planet. That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Even though he is (sickly) laughing about what a nasty place this planet is going to be to live on without the forest….he really wasn’t kidding, was he?
It’s taken 2 hours to download 9 minutes. I’m surprised that my dial-up didn’t disconnect. After watching this maybe it would have been better if it had since I really don’t like looking at the ocean methane boiling up with the background view being oil wells…too aware of just how far we are off the cliff.
Kevin…I read what you are doing on Rakino and I’m doing the same thing on my small spot of ridgeline. I guess these are what keeps us sane because the rest of the crap going on…doesn’t.
And it’s hot. Really hot. Don’t go outside hot. The weather predictions are completely off, very much under-predicted as my thermometers are all reading like August weather. The big difference is that this is the dry mountain side of Washington State, and the humidity has been above 50% for over a week or more. I read 94’F/35C today about 1pm. I didn’t go outside after that and now it’s dark and only 75’F… What’s the Wet Bulb of that temp with 50% humidity?
A link to the destruction going on in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada where I’ve done backcountry postholing to the top with a snowboard on my back. It…doesn’t really snow there anymore, and now only cow grass is being allowed to grow.
Savagery in the Great Basin
You probably read Hunziker’s essay today on counterpunch.org?
And the Sahara dust cloud heading for the US? Biggest in 50 years…
Recipe for Disaster: Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap
At the moment I have massive t-storm masses towering over me as the come in from the north/NW loudly grumbling thunder. We don’t get weather from that direction this time of year, it’s always from the s/w. Temps have been hot, more like July and August than June, and there are at least 20 million households in this country about to be evicted for non-payment of rent since the working class was told to stay home as the gov closed their jobs. But bailed out billionaires and their corporations to the tune of $4.7 trillion including what is waiting in the wings already approved.
Collapse has many faces, doesn’t it?
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“King wrote: “The ‘comfort cult’, as Amalrik called it – the tendency in seemingly stable societies to believe “that ‘reason will prevail’ and that ‘everything will be all right'” – is seductive. As a result, when a terminal crisis comes, it is likely to be unexpected, confusing, and catastrophic,”
In Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” Bill asked
“How did you go bankrupt?” .
“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
This is exactly how civilisations collapse, slowly and then suddenly. The cognitive dissonance around not seeing the obvious signs is amazing.
Well Kevin, the gradual part has been obvious for quite a while, long before this Pandemic hit the world six months ago. As a matter of fact my take is that I saw it ‘officially’ start in 2004 when President Cheney had his sockpuppet Wbush sign the ‘most favored trade treaty’ with China that flat hollowed out what little was left of the manufacturing in this country after HWbush’s NAFTA/GATT trade treaty was signed into effect by neoliberal corporate conservative B. Clinton who was put into office to deregulate the banks. Did that well, didn’t he? And then that prick signed every corporate bill that crossed his desk… It’s been a long time coming and what we are seeing is the end result of greed and avarice of the Class War that this country has always been deeply buried under…REAGANOMICS! Trump is nothing but the true face of Ronnie Ray-Gun in my estimation!
When the Banker-created crash of 2007/8 hit, my little snowboarding gear sew shop just rolled over and died but it was already doomed because of the 4,000% increase in slave-made Asian textiles that flooded this country since 2004…but I was living on property with no mortgage and a 60×35 foot deer-fenced rectangular garden (moose just walk through fences by the way) in the hopes I could survive what was coming. I probably won’t but one has to try.
And now 12 years later? It should become very obvious to far more people right about the time the courts process 27,000,000 eviction notices at the end of this month and all those people/families find themselves sitting on a curb. The same time that ‘extra’ $600 per week comes off the fifty million unemployment claims that have been filed. I wonder what the actual numbers are of ‘job losses’ since there is a huge number that were ‘gig’ economy and under-the-table workers that are also eating shit.
I’m talking with people who are wondering what the hell they are going to do, one being a 37 yr old middle & high school best friend of one of my stepkids who is desperately trying to buy a car with that extra $600 the next two checks so he can ‘go find a job’ that are contracting like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk. He’s been calling me from a university town down in California late at night the last few months where he’s been a welder and in college, and I just don’t have anything good to tell him. I was his high school ‘Senior Project Mentor’ back 2001(?) as I was for his sister a couple years later just before I moved, and he values my opinions but at this point I’m more of a pillow to cry on I think. I was warning my friends and family about what Cheney & W were going to do, and my Kenpo Karate and snowboarding students (he was both) heard a lot about what I thought was coming. But only a couple of friends listened and got out of debt as I did by moving to these mountains. I didn’t know a single freaking person here when I moved though I still had a few shops buying from me in the PacNW…it was time to go, though. And here I am 16 years later watching the insanity of the ‘exceptional democracy’ that has never been a democracy or exceptional…fall off the cliff.
So how much fun is this gonna get, eh? You probably wouldn’t be shocked to hear about how much gunfire I’ve heard the last 6 months in these mountains. A country founded by slavery and genocide truly has only one trajectory…
One to read that compliments the Crispin Hull article you posted. I also read the Jim Golby article about Trump using military troops to ‘quell’ protests. May we live in interesting time…
I’m just hoping my book will come out in the next two weeks before all this shit happens! Still waiting for the ISBN copyright…
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The US is going to collapse…on purpose for the increased profit and power of the wealthy. This is so not much fun. And I’m serious when I say I wonder when the first refugee, friend or family, will show up walking in from the gate on this property. There is just so much bad coming together at the same time that I keep feeling that I could turn into a refugee zone… Scary thought, that!
One article below on this subject, but of course the ripples will spread out into the pond from the US fall.
There Is No Plan (For You)
Unemployment, evictions, business failure, a pandemic and health crises are all here at once. The federal government doesn’t care.
Millions of people are about to experience the falling dominoes of economic disaster that will engulf their lives, destroy their wealth, and leave them with nothing.
Consider the astounding confluence of social and economic crises that are all barreling towards the American people at this moment.
In the midst of an enormous, unavoidable increase in national unemployment, the $600 per week unemployment benefit increase that has sustained millions is set to run out at the end of this month, and is unlikely to be renewed at its current level, if at all. Eviction moratoriums are expiring, and more than 20 million Americans could be in danger of eviction in the next four months. Many small businesses, their resources exhausted, are closing for good, and bankruptcies of large businesses are accelerating. Millions have already lost their employer-based health insurance, and millions more will. At the same time that schools will be unable to reopen safely, a huge portion of private child care facilities are going out of business. And city and state governments will face plummeting tax revenue at the same time as they face a need for increased crisis spending, leaving the future of mass transit and other public services in doubt.
Millions of people, through no fault of their own, are now facing long-term unemployment. They will, through no fault of their own, lose their health insurance during a public health emergency. Unable to pay rent, through no fault of their own, they will be evicted and put out on the streets. The businesses that employed them, which also provided the jobs to which they hoped to return, will, through no fault of their own, be forced to close permanently. They will be unable to find child care, through no fault of their own, and that will prevent them from seeking out new income. The cities where they live will, through no fault of their own, be forced to slash the services that could have helped them during their time of need. They will be lost.
This is the nightmarish future that we are all walking towards. And it is, I’m afraid to say, coming very soon.
This was a choice. None of this had to happen. There is one, and only one, entity that has the capability of preventing this horrific chain reaction of social collapse: the federal government. With the stroke of a pen, the federal government can appropriate money to everyone to tide them through their unemployment. It can stop evictions everywhere. It can expand health insurance, stop businesses from going bankrupt, bail out city and state governments so they are not forced to cut services, and take the public health steps necessary to push infection rates low enough to make it possible to reopen schools, and free parents to work for a living.
All of these things are possible for the federal government. They have chosen not to do any of them. (Democrats passed the HEROES Act through the House in May which would provide some meaningful relief, but Senate Republicans have refused to take it up.) Therefore, millions of people are about to experience the falling dominoes of economic disaster that will engulf their lives, destroy their wealth, and leave them with nothing. It is impossible to avoid that outcome now. The only question is how bad it will get. And it is important to understand that this outcome has been chosen for us by the people who are running the country.
Hope is an important emotion, and one that’s necessary to carry us through hard times. But it can stand in the way of our ability to analyze situations truthfully.
Let’s be honest about our prospects right now. Does anyone really believe that restaurants, bars, sports, all forms of live entertainment, many retail establishments, airlines, hotels, travel, tourism, or commercial real estate—to name a few—are going to resume their baseline level of business operations at any time in the next 6-12 months? They will not. The states that tried that a month ago are now facing the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the entire world. A portion of the jobs in these industries, and in the associated industries that depend on them, are going to evaporate. Fifty million unemployment claims have been filed. Forty percent of people earning less than $40,000 lost their jobs in March. Some millions of people are, as we speak, seeing their jobs disappear for good.
Despite the fact that this was entirely predictable months ago, there has not been any serious attempt to prevent it from happening. (A serious attempt, as many intelligent people pointed out in March, would mean the federal government giving citizens enough money not to work and businesses enough money not to go bankrupt for the amount of time that it took to take the public health steps necessary to resume a careful version of normal life. Many other developed countries did this, but we did not.)
Not only have we failed to prevent this first-order economic crisis, but we are also failing to even enable the existence of a social safety net to catch the people who are going to fall into the pit of economic despair. Our leaders just do not care. They know that people have lost jobs, and will not be able to find new ones, and will not be able to pay their rent. But the people occupying positions of power in the federal government do not care enough to take the steps to save those citizens from the abyss. These facts do not move them.
Nobody can be blamed for the existence of a pandemic. The federal government can very much be blamed for what it has done in response to the pandemic. And blame it we must. We must blame, specifically, the Republican Party, which controls the White House and the Senate. If you are not in the class of citizens wealthy enough to be Republican donors, you have seen a response to this natural disaster that has been geared entirely towards the interests of people who are not you. The handful of good and useful measures that were put in place at the beginning of the outbreak are now running out, and they will be replaced, if at all, with lesser and worse measures, even as the scale of our calamity grows. The stock market, however, has now recovered almost all of its losses.
The plan has always been to save capital and let the people die. Everything is going according to plan.
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Here’s the latest that fits in this thread. From ‘Kollibri terre Sonnenblume is a writer living on the West Coast of the U.S.A.’
This is What Collapse Looks Like
It’s time to normalize the word, “collapse,” to describe the ongoing conditions in the US.
It just keeps getting better, eh?
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“2020 is the Year the World as We Know it Began to End
This is What a Collapsing Civilization Looks Like”