Dr. IHAN (short for I Have A Nightmare, wordplay on Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech).
Prophet of Doom.
These are the names given to me by friends. They are the nicest things people call me. You can imagine what others say.
Such is the cost of dealing in reality when we’re ensconced in a world of make believe.
To repeat, then:
Fossil fuels are finite. Oil lubricates our economy. Without abundant supplies of inexpensive oil, our ideological monorail is headed for a cliff. That leaves our country with two choices: (1) commit to a steady-state economy or (2) go to war to get oil. We’ve been accelerating toward economic disaster since Jimmy Carter committed us to the latter choice in 1980: “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” At this juncture, more than three years beyond the world oil peak, disaster is the only option for the economies of the country and world.
And of course I realize the consequences for living humans. Why do you think I rarely sleep? What do you think occupies my mind, every moment of every day and most nights? For starters, unimaginable suffering. Certain death for millions of humans. Probably billions. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Conquest, Famine, and Pestilence.
Do you really think I want this to happen? Do you really think I’m a fan of chaos, suffering, starvation, and brutal death? Do you really believe I have no empathy for fellow humans, seen and unseen? Do you really believe my goal is to generate fear, anxiety, and tears?
If so, you haven’t been paying attention to what I say and write. For starters, check here, here, here, here, and here. There’s more, but you get the idea.
The collapse of civilization dictates the loss of all the “money” in my retirement accounts. It indicates I’ll be exposed to unimaginable suffering, and ultimately death — likely sooner than later. It requires me to see — and undoubtedly experience — violence on a very personal level. And yet, the collapse of civilization is truly good news, if not for me personally then for all other cultures and species in the world. And also, of course, for future generations of humans on Earth.
To quote half the people to whom I speak, “Whaddya mean?”
As it turns out, chaos and a massive human die-off is better than what’s happening now. The Four Horsemen have ridden into every corner of the globe, and have brought the apocalypse. Civilization has rained, and is raining, fire and brimstone onto the planet.
In short, civilization is the problem. It inflicts unimaginable suffering to nearly every species on the planet (excluding rats, cockroaches, and damned few others). It is the cause of unimaginable suffering for people in “uncivilized” cultures. As the last remaining superpower — or, if you prefer, “hyperpower” — we’re strongly committed to destroying cultures and species as quickly as possible. We need finite resources to grow our economy, and we have the world’s largest military. Therefore, we obtain the resources by the usual and expected means.
As if those consequences of our greed are not enough, we’re killing our own future, too. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels very, very soon, we’re committing our children and grandchildren to a world that is uninhabitable to humans. And we’re ensuring they’ll be the last humans on this planet.
So, do I want to see it all come down? Personally, no. Like everybody else, I do not want to die young after suffering immensely. But I’m wise enough to see beyond myself, and empathetic enough to give a damn about other cultures and species, and even future generations of our own species.
Call me silly. But yes, I do want to see it all come down. And the faster the better, for the sake of everything on Earth that matters.
I’ve written as some length about the sources of my hope. Here’s what I hope for:
I hope we can power down with the tranquility of Buddhist monks. I hope we can get along on far fewer resources. I hope we can occupy small communities in harmony with the Earth and our neighbors. Most of all, though, I hope we can stop treating the world as a colony of American Empire. And with that hope comes the necessity to bring it all down.