Longtime doomspotters ‘Doc Jim and ‘Doc Michael have published their compendium of unhappy tidings in Converging Emergencies, 2010-2020. It’s 60 pages of face-slapping wake-up call, which begins with a quick summary of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief[*], and then dives into an overview of their big themes: Species Collapse, Resource Depletion, Biology Breach, Climate Chaos, Infectious Disease, and Recovery.
And a sweeping overview it is. The ‘Docs predict that the next ten years will be the “Species Collapse Decade,” and from this springboard they launch the reader into a high-level trajectory over the wreckage of the planet. Using several well-chosen items, they point to passing omens of doom: the Pacific Garbage Patch here, agricultural runoff there, and on the horizon, “Giant dust clouds, along with insect migration to now-warmer climes, [that] assist in the transcontinental dispersion of influenza, SARS, heavy metals, fungi, bacteria, malaria, and other unpleasant elements.“ By the time the reader arrives at the Recovery chapter, the outlook is grim indeed.
At this point, the ‘Docs and Desdemona part ways. In their words:
Normally, in the whole Kübler-Ross schema, this is the stage where you accept your fate. Well, we aren't there, because we still think there's a chance. What we've done in this stage is accept that there is a point to trying, if for no other reason than to engage as fully as possible in what is most certainly the beginning of the Great Unraveling. The Beginning of the Bad Times. The Ecollapse.
Or, as the Church of Subgenius calls it, the Eco-econocataclysm. Bless their hearts, the ‘Docs retain hope. But as Desdemona argues, the evidence supports the starker conclusion that it’s already way too late, and any outcome for the human species that doesn’t involve extinction will only be achieved by a unified global triage and austerity effort that spans many generations. Recovery, taken to mean sustaining nine billion humans and the biosphere that once supported them, hasn’t been possible for decades. (Desdemona should hurry up and finish the pending blog post on this subject.)
But this is a quibble. The book is informative and entertaining, and Desdemona heartily recommends it to anybody who suspects that things are much worse than they ever suspected.