2.294 Writing, FOPAL

Tuesday 09/28/2021

Did the aerobics class. Asked leader A.J. about his “strength with weights” class. This because the cardiologist urged me to start working with weights to slow loss of muscle mass. Unfortunately A.J.’s class comes on Tuesday/Thursday and just doesn’t fit my regular schedule; anyway it didn’t sound like it would be enough of a challenge. I shall have to try to use the machines in the gym. Oh sigh.

The writers group met; the cue for the week was “What remains to be done.” Last night in about an hour I wrote up something that had been growing in my head for a while. I will put it at the end. Well received as usual, and several other people immediately made the connection to Yeat’s poem “The Second Coming”. We agreed that the lines,

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

was the best description of Facebook that could be written. Or Fox News.

Went down to FOPAL and processed 6 boxes of computer books. The major find there was a stack, nearly half a box, of books by Daniel McCracken. He was a prolific and respected writer of books on how to program, from the 1960s into the 1990s. What’s unusual about these is that they are mint and are all signed by the author. So like he had a stack of new books to sign for some reason, and did, but they stayed together and got dumped on us 25 years later.

It’s a problem because they ought to be worth something but what, and to who?

OK here’s my cheerful little essay.

What remains to be done is…

Nothing. And Everything.

For the Human species, an accelerating series of catastrophes will, I confidently expect, reduce global population from its present 7.8 billion by at least a third, possibly by half, at the end of this century. Sea levels will rise, deserts will expand, growing seasons will become shorter in the north temperate zones. All of these will contribute to natural disasters, and to huge movements of displaced, distressed people, and these will legitimize ever more authoritarian governments as nations “respond to the present crisis”, and the next crisis, and the crisis after that.

At least three of the Four Horsemen, Famine, Disease and War, will ride freely and in coordination. The drying, or flooding, or — in Northern Europe after the imminent collapse of the North Atlantic Circulation — the freezing of farmlands, will lead to famine; famine inspires desperate attempts to seek new food sources, causing people to pioneer for arable land in jungles and other new locations, which in turn brings pandemics of new zoonotic diseases. Famine and disease lead to mass movements of displaced, resentful people, which in turn lead to border skirmishes, armed intrusions, and all-out war. Eventually there will be jihads, righteous crusades, against the developed nations that stubbornly continue to burn fossil fuels and make the climate worse.

I don’t think the Human species will be wiped out, not even if some geriatric Caesar, in the last throes of nationalistic, racist rage, uses nuclear weapons. I do think that economies, borders and national governments will be reshaped in completely unpredictable ways, so that the geopolitical map of 2099 will be vastly different from today.

None of this will be pleasant. None of it will be pretty, or elegant; most of it will be carried out to an accompaniment of willfully-ignorant demagoguery, self-righteous bombast, and self-serving denial. Inconceivably vast fortunes will vanish, dry up and evaporate, leaving millions who thought they were secure, in poverty. New, smaller fortunes will be grubbed together by opportunists.

And people will die; there will be deaths, in percentages of populations, not seen since the First World War or the Black Death, but because the total is so much higher, the absolute numbers of deaths probably won’t be matched in history again — because the total population of a climate-changed Earth will never be as large as it is now.

People born in the current decade will grow up in this chaotic world, and the best of them will try to manage it, to maintain, sustain, hold things together until the species completes a vast “downsizing”. The luckiest of them might live to see a smaller, stabler world system beginning to emerge in 2100. They have Everything to do. Bon chance, kids.

We have — well, no, I won’t presume to speak for anyone else, so — I have Nothing to do. The ways are greased, the fuse is lit, the avalanche has begun to move; I can imagine nothing that I, personally, could do to alter the course of the Juggernaut that has begun to roll. Oh, sure, I’ll vote for, and contribute to, the right, or rather, left, candidates. I’ll keep my carbon footprint as small as I can, shrinking my grain of the global sandstorm. But I expect these things to have about as much effect as they have had in the past.

So I’ve nothing to do except pass the days as each comes.

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