I’ve a horrible feeling that we’re entering the endgame for our planet.
Not in any apocalyptic religionist sense, but in terms of physics. I get the impression that the world weather system has had enough, and tipped over into something beyond complexity theory and broad-brush predictability.. and into chaos. Something truly nonlinear.
Last year Britain had the hottest summer on record. This year, the wettest, with the worst floods in history. On Sunday, there was snow in Beunos Aires. Soon the fabled Northwest Passage will actually be navigable, thanks to melting ice. (Captain Cook wasn’t wrong, just early.)
I feel the ‘tipping point’ was reached a couple of years ago, and will start having real effects in a couple more. (The current troubles are just a prelude.) And society’s going over the edge with it. The last thousand years of reasonable, survivable weather are over.
Tornadoes, flash floods, extreme drought, subzero summers and scorching winters will become the norm. The maps will be redrawn, with much of Northern Europe dissolving into an archipelago of mildly interrelated islands and the Netherlands consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker. The USA’s Eastern Seaboard will lose the ‘board’ part. California will become an island state.
And worst of all, Kevin Costner will release a director’s cut of ‘Waterworld’.
The time of settled communities – a brief 10,000 year interlude in our species’ 3m year history – is over. Man will become a hunter/gatherer again, moving between four-metre floods and drought-ridden deserts where once there were cities, living on spires and mountaintops. Hunting, perhaps, not for food and fields, but for information and communication. It will be a violent world, warring tribes battling for scarce resources, strong leaders allocating favour and influence in a ceaseless battle for supremacy. Our pattern of villages and towns will reform into violent, barely-human mobs, roaming the polar tundra of Surrey and the sunbaked deserts of Scotland. It’ll be almost as bad as the West End on a Friday night.
This world will be tribal. There will be Europeans, in an uneasy alliance with the Americans, perhaps somehow holding onto to its pre-eminence due to its skills with technology. The Asian peoples will join together – but will the Chinese or Japanese triumph as their masters? Or will there be two blocs of rich and poor Asia, the parched subcontinent versus the cooler, richer East? The tribes of Africa will somehow struggle on; for them alone, life may even seem a little better, without strings-attached IMF loans or a visiting Bono to worry about. And the Muslim world will unite in a new Islamic empire, waiting only for one charismatic imam to turn it into a full caliphate. it will trade its oil for our water, holding the world to ransom in the same way the USA’s EHM people did in the 70s and 80s.
Politicians, unable to act having no channels to exert authority, will fade into insignificance. The world will lack leaders, and society will belong to warriors and philosophers, those with charisma and ideas. Evolution, which modern society attempts to deny by letting the weak reproduce, will re-assert itself, and only the strong and fit and intelligent will survive.
We’re heading for a different world. But I’m not all that sure it’s going to be a worse one.