Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Views of Collapse: Christy Rodgers

"Impossible to predict, the future is."

The voices of the end of civilization and its resulting effects have long been noted here, specifically those of Jared Diamond and James Howard Kunstler. Now Christy Rodgers, an internet being previously unknown to Chaos, takes on these influential prognosticators, in this extended review, along with one apparently unavailable in the US, James Lovelock, author of The Revenge of Gaia. Rodgers effectively skewers both Diamond and Kunstler for their foibles; in Diamond's case it is a starry-eyed emphasis on "balance" between pessimism and optimism, the delusion that the "public" will collectively act to deal with our environmental unsustainability and a refusal to treat the present with the same rigor as his analysis of past collapses, while Rodgers saves most of her vitriol for Kunstler, who presents a set of "sketchily researched laundry list" of converging catastrophes as fact, while in general, projecting his own paranoia and prejudices into his predictions (we all remember the invading Asian pirates!). Rodgers review of Lovelock is similar: the man predicts the violent revenge of the planet for the insults done to it by humans unconcerned with their ultimate environmental effects. As Rodgers notes, this doesn't give a potential audience much to be hopeful about. As far as Chaos is aware, this is the most thoughtful critique of collapse theory at the moment, and well worth perusal (especially if you've read some of the works). Kunstler has always made Chaos somewhat uncomfortable, especially the firmness (and sometimes outrageousness) of his predictions. Likewise, Diamond's almost deliberate slighting of the effects of peak oil seems calculated to produce an untowardly optimistic result. Chaos wonders how Rodgers would view Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Civilizations.

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