Tuesday, 25 August 2015

What are we meant to do when we are told the world is ending?

Reblogging this piece I came across by Clive Martin from March 27th 2014. It encapsulates a recurrent question students on ecological philosophy courses I run ask, and it's a 'hardy perennial' for anyone who makes a habit of staring into the interlocking and unfolding ecological and social crises of the twenty-first century.
[VICE] It's become commonplace to say that we, as "young people", have no future. We blame the shocking unemployment levels, we blame the Lib Dems' collaboration in the benign Vichy coalition we live under, we blame the baby boomers who are refusing to bequeath their wealth to the generation beneath them, we blame Thatcher for creating a society of bored and broken service industry workers whose jobs are constantly under threat. And we're right to.
I fully agree that these problems have sent everyone a bit mad, forcing us into a fruitless, childless existence that we can only escape with drinking games, Tesco Finest meals, cheap flights, gut-rotting drugs and shit games on our phones. But what is our generation going to do when the shit really hits the fan? Not when Carphone Warehouse pull out of the UK and universities cost 30 grand a year, but when Armageddon starts WhatsApping us?

Everyone’s been predicting the end of time since time began, obviously. God was going to kill us. Then the devil was going to kill us. Then the nuclear bomb was going to kill us. And now asteroids, or the sea, or our own shitty behaviour is going to kill us. Whatever happens, we know that one day it's all going to end in fire and for the media, this paranoia is a golden ticket. The ultimate paper-selling, SEO-friendly scare story – because most people are going to have at least some passing interest in hearing how and when their species is going to end. It's grade-A clickbait with a highbrow twist: the holy grail of the modern media.

Unfortunately, when you pick up the Guardian or whatever, it’s not mad men waving "THE END IS NIGH" placards, it’s really serious-sounding scientists. This gives weight not only to individual scare stories about bird flu or acid rain, but more significantly to the patchwork of terror, which suggests that – through a combination of gluttony, stupidity and cruelty – we’ve pretty much fucked the planet and the future is looking very much like a disaster film directed by Hieronymus Bosch.

The latest study I read comes from the pretty solid source of NASA, who've worked out that just because our society has managed to produce Citalopram, Itsu and Spotify, we aren't immune from the same kind of collapse that has eventually befallen every other human society in history. And that our resource-plundering modern habits aren't exactly helping our case for survival, either.

It's interesting, and somewhat sobering reading. Much like Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer's retort to Michael Gove, it's a piece that will make you wonder if it's worth just shuffling off this mortal coil with as little fuss as possible.

And that’s the real question: What we are we supposed to do with this information? Is there anything we can do? Or should we just get the patio chairs out of the garage, put some Stella on ice and wait for our neighbours to start barbequing Alsatians? I mean, it’s one thing for old people to hear that their legacy is fucked, but it’s another for young people to hear that they have no future. [CONTINUES]

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