We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our way of living is already passing into history.
Collapse is the transition away from a globalized, hyperconnected and materially-abundant society, toward a state of greater precariousness, lesser abundance, potentially reaching a stage of existential risk for our species.
At the peak of the Seneca Cliff, the curve that describes the rapid phase transitions of complex systems on the basis of the principle that "growth is sluggish, but ruin is rapid." We see a green valley in the distance, but the road down the cliff is so steep and rough that it is hard to say whether we will survive the descent.
Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.
Hope, while once a useful trait, is what has condemned us, because we literally cannot see the cliff as we dance off it. Instead of celebrating the failed audacity of hope, it might be prudent to contemplate, in the time we have left, the paucity of hope - because the most we can realistically hope for, trapped by forgone conclusions, is to vanquish fear and find the grace of acceptance.
- Uncivilisation: It is to accept the world for what it is and to make our home here, rather than dreaming of relocating to the stars, or existing in a Man-forged bubble and pretending to ourselves that there is nothing outside it to which we have any connection at all.
- Dark Mountaineers: Artists who generally ascribe to the idea that climate collapse cannot be stopped or reversed, a forum in which one can be honest about their sense of dread and loss.
- Inhumanism: A shifting of emphasis and significance from man to not-man, the rejection of human solipsism and recognition of the transhuman magnificence.
- Anthropocene: A proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.
- Simple pastoral: Merely another of our many vehicles of escape from reality, that doesn’t interrogate civilisation's main driving forces, but instead focuses on returning to rural simplicity.
- Object Oriented Ontology: A school of thought that rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects, that objects exist independently of human perception and are not ontologically exhausted by their relations with humans.
- Freudian death drive: The hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state.
- Agrilogistics paradox: A maniacal urge to live, and to diminish stimulation, that ends up being self-destructive, generating mass extinction, through global warming, that it was designed to avoid.
- Existential Risk: An event that could cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity's potential.
- Feedback Loops: The results of global warming are complex. Much of the destruction caused by warming also contributes: the albedo effect, forest fires, melting ice, and ocean acidification all mean more greenhouse gases and less places for carbon to go. It remains unclear how these systems will interact with ongoing anthropogenic warming.
- Albedo Effect: Warming caused by the disappearance of ice which previously reflect heat back into space.
- Fossil Capitalism: A theory suggesting the modern economy is actually just a system that runs on fossil fuel.
- Tragedy of the Commons: A situation in a shared-resource system where individual users, acting independently according to their own self-interest, behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling the shared resource through their collective action.
- Age of Salvage: When a civilization breaks down, the most efficient economies are most often those that use its remains as raw material.
- Cornucopianism: Crackpot optimism, hopium.
- Drawdown: Stealing resources from the future.
- Creeping normalcy: Used to describe how gradual changes can be accepted as the normal situation if these changes happen slowly, or incrementally.
- Wishcycling: Where people are hoping that something is recyclable and therefore they put it in with their recycling.
- The Jackpot: The mundane cataclysm of modernity itself. It is hundreds of millions of people driving to the supermarket in their SUVs, flying six times a year, and eating medicated animals for dinner.
Rate of Collapse
|Rapid||Collapse will happen rapidly on a global scale within a narrow timeframe. Lots of small local infrastructure failures, political instabilities, or extreme weather events will prevent a gradual transition.|
|Linear||Collapse will occur slowly and globally. Global infrastructure and production chains will be increasingly harder to maintain. Many nation-states and local communities will see their material conditions deteriorate over the years. Although this will lead to a reduction in population and welfare, the gradual transition will allow for adaptation.|
|Non-Linear||Due to ecological and infrastructural cross-dependencies, there will be a breaking point where several different and converging forces will be triggered. These will accelerate collapse before a stable situation is reached. This rate of change may be too rapid for humans to adapt to effectively.|
|Deniers: there are no downward trends, climatic or ecological threats. The present order is not subject to threats of historic magnitude or capable of experiences compromised material and social well-being. Examples: Koch Brothers, Exxon, Clintel||Defeatists: the collapse is inevitable because we should have acted earlier. Now any technical and political solution is superfluous.|
|Technological Optimists: collapse is possible, but it is a technical problem that can be solved. In particular, new technologies in the ecological, energetic, and digital field will be able to reverse the phenomena we are observing.||Delayers: collapse is inevitable and the primary goal is to slow it down in order to extend current conditions as much as possible, making it easier to get through the collapse, and to minimize the cost in terms of human lives.|
|Reformists: collapse will be prevented by deep restructuring of the production system, welfare, and huge investments in ecological remediation. There will be a political tipping point due to the damage caused by the approaching collapse and the resistance of nation-states to act and protect the status quo. When that happens, sufficient forces will be released for radical interventions.||Post-collapsists: the collapse is inevitable and therefore we must act now to build conceptual, technical, and social tools that will serve us during and after the collapse in order to minimize long-term consequences.|