Someone I once knew well used to cite Gramsci’s famous quotation: “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” I’m having to channel that as I look forward to 2022.
Here’s the well-informed writer Charlie Stross on the ways he sees things panning out.
Climate: we’re boned. Quite possibly the Antarctic ice shelves will be destablized decades ahead of schedule, leading to gradual but inexorable sea levels rising around the world. This may paradoxically trigger an economic boom in construction—both of coastal defenses and of new inland waterways and ports. But the dismal prospect is that we may begin experiencing so many heat emergencies that we destabilize agriculture. The C3 photosynthesis pathway doesn’t work at temperatures over 40 degrees celsius. The C4 pathway is a bit more robust, but not as many crops make use of it. Genetic engineering of hardy, thermotolerant cultivars may buy us some time, but it’s not going to help if events like the recent Colorado wildfires become common.
Politics: we’re boned there, too. Frightened people are cautious people, and they don’t like taking in refugees. We currently see a wave of extreme right-wing demagogues in power in various nations, and increasingly harsh immigration laws all round. I can’t help thinking that this is the ruling kleptocracy battening down the hatches and preparing to fend off the inevitable mass migrations they expect when changing sea levels inundate low-lying coastal nations like Bangladesh. The klept built their wealth on iron and coal, then oil: they invested in real estate, inflated asset bubble after asset bubble, drove real estate prices and job security out of reach of anyone aged under 50, and now they’d like to lock in their status by freezing social mobility. The result is a grim dystopia for the young—and by “young” I mean anyone who isn’t aged, or born with a trust fund—and denial of the changing climate is a touchstone. The propaganda of the Koch network and the Mercer soft money has corrupted political discourse in the US, and increasingly the west in general. Australia and the UK have their own turbulent billionaires manipulating the political process.
Source: Oh, 2022! | Charlie’s Diary