While I was traveling, I was reading three books at once – 2312, a dystopian book about how, even as humankind reaches out and colonizes the rest of the solar system, we are still hamstrung by our environmental problems on earth, Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan’s book about colonizing the solar system, and The World Without Us, a non-fiction book about what would happen to the earth if we were all about to disappear.
In 2312, a lot of the space colonists live inside terraformed asteroids, which are manipulated around the solar system using gravity and special engines. Then, in Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan talks about the possibility of colonizing these asteroids and bringing them into earth’s orbit, but how, if we messed up the movement of the asteroid and crashed it into earth, we’d basically destroy our entire species. Asteroids could even be weaponized, he guessed.
Then, when we got home, I read a report by NASA suggesting that, unless we rapidly change a few major features of our civilization – overconsumption of natural resources, population growth, and economic inequality – we’re basically going to collapse in 20 to 30 years.
This is on top of the recent prediction by climate scientist James Lovelock that we have another 20 years of western civilization left, and there’s nothing to be done about it. When I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago, I said I’m just gonna rely on technology.
Nope, NASA says.
All of this – on top of the ending of True Detective, which fucked with me a little bit – sent me into a tiny bit of a panic spiral, which Steph was kind enough to put up with. Seriously guys: everything’s trying to kill us.
I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of my fucking Swiss Army Knife. That would be really useful in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. I guess I’ve got 20 years to get another one, but the one I had as a kid was super useful.
I’ve been trying to figure out what this “collapse” looks like. Is it a collapse of global capitalism and the global economic system? Is it a collapse of government? How many people can live off of the tomatoes I grow in my backyard? Also, how can I get a backyard and some tomato seeds? Does this mean I have to buy a gun? I really hate guns. Or is it a more complete collapse, where we’re all just poisoned by our atmosphere and die painful but relatively quick deaths? Is this a wacky, Shaun of the Dead apocalypse, or is this a harrowing, cannibalistic The Road type apocalypse?
The good news is that Steph’s cousin works for Hormel, so I’ll be able to get lots of free spam, and the other good news is that I’m pretty good with a slingshot. The bad news is, you know, we’re all fucked. And I haven’t even started learning how to build a proper bug-out bag.
While I was reading, I was trying to be a little bit hopeful about our prospects, about our ability to recognize danger when it’s coming head on. But then I read this bit from 2312: