What ‘Losing’ To Climate Change Looks Like

Fuck around and find out

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Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), (Under the well of the Great Wave off Kanagawa) [‘The Great Wave’].

As discussed, we have lost the ‘fight against climate change’ before we started, simply from the way we look at the problem. ‘We’ are not the relevant species and ‘fighting’ is not the right metaphor. All of our ideas of ‘victory’ hinge on further domination of nature which is why we’re ‘losing’ in the first place. Just ask the old gods or the new. Actual winning would require a level of sacrifice we consider disastrous in and of itself. We are a bunch of hairless apes, ruled by corporations, picking a fight with the fucking weather. This is as stupid as it sounds.

Regardless of the theoretical possibility of ‘beating’ climate change (why are we always hitting?), it is (also as discussed) simply too late. The time to stop corporate colonialism was in the 1600s, the time to stop capitalism was in the early 1900s, and the time to address the growing symptoms of collapse was in the 1970s, at best. As you may have noticed we are multiple doubling cycles later, ie, way too late. Exponential growth is a bitch, and it’s a boss bitch now.

The gods may move slow, but when they do move, they move inexorably. We feel like we have control over climate collapse but we don’t. This change has been a long time coming and we just happen to be here when it plays out. It’s like being on the beach and seeing a tsunami coming in. It’s a category error to ‘stop’ it and too late to run. What’s happening is much is bigger than us, and it’s the big one.

Given that we’ve already lost to climate change, the most important question is: what does losing look like? What do the limits to growth look lie once you hit them? There’s no better place to look than the book The Limits To Growth from 1972. Unfortunately, there’s no worse time than now, nearly two doubling cycles later. What was a prediction then is an unsolvable predicament now. We were born in the age of fucking around, but we will die in the age of finding out.

The FA Era

The Limits To Growth (LtG) crew ran a computer model called World3 which calculated how different forces — population, pollution, industrial growth— would interact in the future. Unlike conventional economic models — which completely ignore the environment — these models accounted…

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Indrajit (Indi) Samarajiva is a Sri Lankan writer. Follow me at www.indi.ca, or just email me at indi@indi.ca.