Brutal Nihilism

Without divulging the source, I read this in a forum in response to some reflections about the extreme heatwaves in various parts of the world.

“Most of us will perish in scorching heat waves lasting for months and months during the coming years! And if it would not be the heat that kills us, then most likely starvation and/or dehydration or even cannibalism – when the entire agricultural food supply chain collapses due to unviable climatic conditions, human meat will be the last resort.

Parents, be prepared to kill and eat your children… children, be prepared to kill and eat your parents… friends and neighbours, be prepared to kill and eat yourselves mutually, lovers and loved ones, be prepared to kill and eat yourselves mutually… a global Holodomor.

And there will be no God, no Jesus Christ, no Mahdi, no Messiah, no Saoshyant, no Maitreya to save us, as they are all just delusions of the human brain which desperately wants to hope, to believe – but there is no hope. Face it.

Perish, human race!

Millions and millions of years from now, eventually some other species might evolve into sapient beings, and the whole senseless dance begins once more… and so in countless liveable locations throughout the Universe, until the last red dwarf stars have faded to blackness.

Yes, Arthur Schopenhauer was so right…”

I have often reflected on the sheer irresponsibility of portraying climate change in such eschatological terms. I can only suppose that the person who wrote the above piece was influenced by something like the following:

Since the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century, man has been burning fossil fuels and producing pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions retain the heat of the sun like a greenhouse and cause average temperatures to go up. If these temperatures are recorded on a graph, the graph resembles a hockey stick. There has never been any global warming until our own time. We have about twenty or thirty years to eliminate our carbon emissions, or else we face calamities such as were never imagined in the Book of the Apocalypse! Vast numbers of people would migrate to cooler parts of the world and the sea level would reclaim much of that available land. All because of our fault…

Also see an explanation of Lord Byron’s Darkness, written in July 1816. I wonder if I detect a form of neo-Romanticism in this wave of climatic Weltschmerz. A recent book, David Higgins, British Romanticism, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene gets an interesting introduction:

This book is the first major ecocritical study of the relationship between British Romanticism and climate change. It analyses a wide range of texts – by authors including Lord Byron, William Cobbett, Sir Stamford Raffles, Mary Shelley, and Percy Shelley – in relation to the global crisis produced by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. By connecting these texts to current debates in the environmental humanities, it reveals the value of a historicized approach to the Anthropocene. British Romanticism, Climate Change, and the Anthropocene examines how Romantic texts affirm the human capacity to shape and make sense of a world with which we are profoundly entangled and at the same time represent our humiliation by powerful elemental forces that we do not fully comprehend. It will appeal not only to scholars of British Romanticism, but to anyone interested in the relationship between culture and climate change.

There is definitely a connection, though I myself veer to my “Classical” side on this one.

So I am a denier or at least a sceptic? I wrote on this subject in Scepticism and Freedom of Thought just as the world was about to lock down against the mysterious virus from China. I am sometimes yelled at for being “sceptical”, and I would reply that I am indeed sceptical in that I suspend my judgement on the subject not being in possession of scientific data that I could trust is not influenced by political ideology. Science used to be sceptical until repeated experiments producing the same result confirmed a theory. Water freezes at 0°C and boils at 100°C. I also wrote Saving the Planet… the year before. I am a Romantic in terms of my love of nature and our duty to refrain from acts of pollution like throwing waste plastic into the sea. What I hate as much as plastic in the sea and smog above cities is the hysteria of people who are close to suicide and the irrationality of witch-burners. Certainly, unregulated industry, concentrations of humans in cities, the increasing use of petrol and diesel cars and other means of internal combustion-powered transport are polluting the earth and causing big problems. Perhaps we need to go back to feudalism and life like in the Middle-Ages. Remove modern medicine and hygiene and that would get the population down! I say this in cynical jest, because my first question is that of whether I would be the first to live without so much as a horse to provide basic transport for the purpose of trading or working.

I won’t attempt to go into the science, but there are sources available on the internet. Which ones do we believe, not being ourselves climate scientists? I find it easier to believe that nuclear and natural gas used to generate electricity have reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than those who want to limit everything to wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Do your own searches on Google, and I have an open-mind, except to hysteria and obscurantism. I find it ironic that Germany opposes nuclear power and is now deprived of Russian gas. Check mate. They will have to re-light the coal furnaces! Switching off the lights and heating of millions of households next January, telling the population to “eat cake”, is hardly likely to endear political authorities without military force!

Perhaps we will end up like the Morlocks in H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. Maybe the oligarch billionaires would get sufficiently organised to set themselves up as a new aristocracy and give the starving masses a choice between death or serfdom. There are many science fiction and dystopian films offering a spectrum of possibilities that would make us prefer to die. Berdyaev suggested in The End of Our Time, that there could be a new Middle Age, a Christian one. This is a recurring theme of many Romantic authors, a prime example being Die Christenheit oder Europa by Novalis written in the wake of the French Revolution. Maybe we must learn to live again without technology, medicine, mass communications, transport on demand. How many of us could adapt? Fewer than we think.

As an ordinary guy who is not a scientist, I think that we need to stop the hysteria and do what we can to slow down the degradation of the planet because of human pollution. Nuclear fission can be very dangerous but is usually safe. Nuclear fusion is a possibility, and that would solve everything. We need to get out of consumerism and reflexes that usually come with city life. We need to live more simple and frugal lives, go back to organic farming, who knows. Whatever, all that will take time and responsibility in political decisions (anyone heard about the common good recently?).

Dreher’s Benedict Option comes into my mind, but it needs to be much more thought out to adapt to more than formerly urban Americans. The author could justly rebuke me for being unfair, because he is thinking exactly along these lines. Christianity will give us hope, spirituality and morality that would be a breath of fresh air compared with the brutal nihilism I mentioned at the beginning of this article. What can we offer in response? Certainly not what is found in “junk” Christianity and the hypocrisy of institutions and their clergy. We have a long way to go ourselves.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Brutal Nihilism

  1. Timothy Graham says:

    Have you heard of the 1972 research study Limits to Growth?
    The statistical model used suggested that continued unbridled consumerism would result in a resources crisis that would lead to a sharp decline in the world’s wealth and population….
    The decade predicted for the crisis to occur? 2020-2030
    I think a lot of economic and political “experts” sneered at the time of its publication.

    • Thank you for this comment. I do believe that what you say is correct. It is happening with an energy crisis that reminds me of the early 1970’s, but this time leading to a need to live with a decline of our wealth and recourse to medicine. I’ll read the article. 2020-2030 are here. It’s also interesting that de-growth was a part of the ideal proposed by William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement.

  2. Stephen K says:

    I believe we should take care of our immmediate environment. At one extent, if I was a Jainist, I would take care all the time to avoid crushing an ant or bruising a blade of grass. But I’m not, so just walk where I want to, confining myself to avoiding bumping into people or tripping over and hurting myself. but I return kitchen waste to the garden to help grow things, etc. But I think the political world has become infected with the latest variant of apocalypticism, which is to say the cult of climate catastrophism.

    I think it is a cult. Real people are already suffering from the effects of it and will continue to do so. The rich and powerful behind the push by the self-proclaiming “green” left ideologues and other “useful idiots” will not, it seems.

    Now more than ever seems it right to cultivate a way of thinking and acting at the individual level in relation to each personal moment and remembering that life, death and the evolution and destiny of the universe is beyond our control and comprehension.

    The last few years have altered my perspective on many things. I think the groupthink we are being constantly bullied into adopting is very pernicious. As far as possible I will not be bullied.

    • There is a very interesting video about Greta Thurberg.

      The source is Australian and you would know it better than I.

      My initial reaction was cruel: flog her publicly, take all her money away from her and sell her to the Taliban in Afghanistan. But she was set up, possibly by her own parents and indoctrinated in a modern form of Marxist ideology. Most significant is the absence of any practical consequence of doing away with all forms of energy or relying on sources (wind and solar) that are not sufficiently efficient for present-day needs.

      I have also seen a “secular” form of the medieval eschatological expression. This has always been an aspect of Christian theology and the origin of monasticism. True Christian eschatology is more concerned about the immanence of God’s Kingdom than anxiety about our own death or the end of our world through war, natural catastrophe, a meteor from space, etc. The modern ideology is a caricature and carries no spiritual value or reflection about the relationship between humanity and divinity. It is a cover for an attempt to go beyond opposing excessive consumption and the ideology of growth. Would little Greta, who is now 19 years old, and no longer the weeping little brat she was, be aware of these longer-term implications and the way she is being used?

      The video suggests that the spell is broken, and the Greta era is ended. Now, politicians need to think about how they are going to remedy their stupidity in following this ideology. Putin is a genius who seized his moment when the west is at its weakest, prisoner of its own green ideology and unable to do much about the prospect of its own citizens going hungry and cold this winter. There are holes in his own assumptions too. I am very uncertain about the way the “special military operation” is going in Ukraine. We are bombarded with “post-truth” propaganda, and equally certain pieces of news contradict each other. So much for Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction!

      More goes on in the coulisses of politics than we imagine. They will now talk about the “energy transition” and adopt pragmatic short-term solutions including the use of coal to replace the Russian gas we no longer get. We are in for a hard winter, and we seem to be going back to the 1970’s. After that, if our political authorities don’t want a bloody revolution (which would lead to totalitarianism), they will have to adopt pragmatic solutions before going on with efforts to provide non-polluting energy. We above all need independent thinkers, true scientists and philosophers!!!

    • Stephen K says:

      I find your posts encouraging and very considered. They prompted me to explore further. Without inaccurately conflating the intentions and focus of Warwickensis in his commentary of August last year [see with my own in my comments about the climate cult here, I want to say that I found his reflections spiritually refreshing and relevant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s