On Tipping Points

Here’s a short piece on the likelihood that Earth’s ecosystems will collapse suddenly, as opposed to gradually, which is how most people assume the collapse will transpire—if they think collapse will happen at all. Here’s a major source for the aforementioned piece, called “Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems.” Sounds hopeful, does’t it?

I think the beginning of the collapse will feel something like the 1929 stock market crash that launched the Great Depression; people will wake up one morning and something—maybe most things—will be drastically different. Maybe no water will come out of the tap, or maybe oil will have tripled in price, or maybe no more bees will be found. Life will suddenly be so different from what it was previously that it will be unrecognizable to Americans and other First-Worlders. Many poor people around the world may say, “welcome to the club!”, but in fact, their lives will soon be unrecognizable as well, since the world is so interconnected that a crash in any one sector means a total crash (as we saw with the Great Depression 2.0 in 2008).

Preparing for that—let alone convincing others that it’s very likely to happen—is extremely difficult, as it’s not exactly clear when and how it will happen, and even then, it’s even less clear what could possibly be done to either ameliorate its effects or be sufficiently ready for the aftermath. And so it is to be a doomer: to just have to point out the obvious, over and over again, without any solution in sight (and indeed, the hallmark of a doomer is pointing out the obvious fact that there probably isn’t a solution to the trap in which we find ourselves). Oh well?


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