C9 of The Great Disruption - When the Dam of Denial Breaks

In the last chapter Gilding moved from despair to hope by believing that we have the power to prevent The Great Disruption from becoming The Great Collapse.

He believes that in the near future, an ecological/economic Pearl Harbor will break us out of denial and despair, move us to the Great Awakening.

Note: Re-reading this and other chapters I see that it is I who predict an ecological/economic Pearl Harbor, not Gilding. The response by people and government that he believes must happen will result from a tipping point of awareness - when it becomes obvious (to intelligent people of good will?) that we are heading toward a cliff and something must be done. He thinks that after-the- fact this awareness might be attributed to an economic Pearl Harbor - a single black swan event - but probably not at the time. That will be magic.

The implication is that this black swan event must be bad enough to convince even anti-government conservatives that action is necessary. It will require death, destruction and economic disruption. But it must stop short of triggering ecological feed-back loops that result in total climate collapse.

In other words we will have to be lucky - if you can call a Pearl Harbor style event luck. That is what Gilding requires you to believe.

So, in this spirit of belief...

After the event occurs (maybe it will be a series of lesser events symbolized by one dramatic Pearl Harbor event) the "dam of denial" will break. We will move to a war-time footing.

Action will take place on two fronts. The old economy and systems will react first. Driven by a vested interest in maintaining established ways, yet aware now of the extent of the problem, this part of our society will fight the initial tactical battles. Spending great sums of money, expanding the power of government, the old order will attack the problem of greenhouse gas emission, or whatever it was that pushed us to the edge. Such actions might even create a period of financial growth.

Gilding believes that in this war-like atmosphere, almost anything can be accomplished - at least in the short term. However, he thinks that the old order will not willingly give up the idea of continued growth. The old order will accept that continued material consumption cannot go on, but will believe (as it believes now) that material growth itself can continue - maintained by new technologies and efficiencies. The old order will argue (as it argues now) that we are basically a greedy, competitive species and that this style of economy suits us best.

This is where the second front of the war comes in. Knowing, as Gilding knows, that the laws of physics do not allow unlimited material growth in a finite world, some people will coalesce around a new economy and style of living. This new order will fight the strategic long term battles - over a period of 40 or so years. It will move us past consumerism and stuff.

No comments: