Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be immersed in a perfect storm?
Nothing would be predictable from one moment to the next – except for your probable eventual destruction.
Chaos all around you… Noise and confusion buffeting you from every side.
Even its memory would begin to recede.
As a species and a civilisation, that’s where we are now. Our beautiful planet is under attack from weapons of mass destruction. Chemical weapons are being deployed against our people. The foundations are being laid for ecological and civilizational collapse.
“Weapons of mass destruction?” you ask, a little incredulous. “They didn’t exist the last time someone claimed they did1. You’re sure they exist now?”
Well, the evidence is pretty overwhelming:
– Burnt hydrocarbons flooding our atmosphere with CO2
– Intensive agriculture stripping away our soil2
– Intensive tree-felling stripping away our forests3
– Mono-culture farms decimating habitats4
– Mining5; concrete production6; nuclear spillage and spent material
– Factories creating more waste and packaging than product
These are the WMDs we’re using to attack our world.
And their most destructive impact?
Climate change – exacerbated by the feedback of icecap loss, tundra melt, forest fires and increased water vapour in an already warming atmosphere.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
The air above our heads is turning into a lens.
Unabated, our world will soon begin to cook.
There’s other bad stuff happening too:
– Water exhaustion
– Sea levels rising
– Ocean acidification
– Storms, droughts, wildfires and floods
– Species extinctions
It would be easy to go on.
The stuff of nightmares?
I can feel my jaws clenching as I sleep.
4: Chemical weapons
Those are the WMDs: Weapons of Mass Destruction….
What of the chemical weapons we’re using against our own people?
Well, they’re hardly to be avoided:
– Plastics, flooding through the environment, accumulating even within our own bodies7
– Pesticides, decimating the pollinators we so desperately need
– Herbicides destroying plant diversity
– Phosphates bleeding into water supplies
– Mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic: deforming and poisoning everything they touch8
Our media trumpets the crimes of dictators who use chemical weapons against their own people… and yet here we are, chemically poisoning our entire world.
5: A civilizational apocalypse
And there are other ways we’re attacking human viability, ways which are neither so obvious nor direct:
– Intensive meat farming creates an ever-increasing likelihood of pandemics
– Uncontrolled genetic engineering creates the risk of entirely new viruses and pathogens
– Antibiotic failure looms
– Environmental degradation and resource depletion has already begun to cause mass migration and war
– Nation states continue their uncontrolled development of armaments, including AI- or semi-autonomous weapons
– Undisciplined AI research offers a band new risk: the introduction of a sentient power with no commitment to organic life
A pretty picture?
Well, tell me – do you enjoy the darker paintings of Hieronymus Bosch?
7: A failure of ethics
The winds from our perfect storm are howling – and the walls of our nations begin to shake.
But there’s more.
The storm that engulfs us is also cognitive. It’s a storm of lies; of viral opinions and beliefs; of self-destructive social narratives… And a catastrophic failure of ethics.
In the very eye of the storm we discover:
– An idolatry of wealth
– The celebration of greed
– The escalation of inequality
– An obsession with attributes (such as race, gender, origin, colour) instead of focussing on what really matters: integrity, fairness, honesty and courage
– The objectification of humans as punters, targets, markets: our individuality and humanity ignored.
At the storm’s centre we find:
– The funnelling of wealth to a tiny elite
– The worship of possessions
– The worship of artefacts
– The idolatry of things
– The fetishisation of leaders
– A neoliberal creed of consumerism and growth
– The industrial-scale harming of factory-farmed animals
– People peripheralised by robotics, AI and apps
– The commercialisation of war
– The relentless centralisation of authority, ownership and wealth
– The technological enhancement of propaganda and persuasion
– Our media taken captive by finance or power
– The commercialisation of sexuality
– The dissolution of communities
– The atomisation of individuals
– The normalisation of lying
– The idolatry of ‘success’
– Legal systems which favour the rich
– Democracy hijacked by wealth
– Psychology hijacked by commerce
– Identity hijacked by politics…
A perfect storm rages around us… and another howls inside our heads.