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    • Now That We’re At Peak, How Fast Will Civilization Collapse Be?
      Last week I wrote an article about the future of civilization, collapse centered around a graph from “Limits To Growth.” I spent a fair bit of time staring at this graph yesterday, and I want to return to it, because it says some very important things about what’s coming up over the next decades. The first thing to understand is that the future is, as Willia […]
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In the History of the Universe, We Are Here

Ian Millhiser is a senior correspondent at Vox, he is described as “focusing on the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the decline of liberal democracy in the United States.”

Yesterday he posed a question on Twitter, to the effect that if the Republicans took over Congress in 2022, and the Presidency in 2024, what were the chances in his lifetime that we would ever get to see fair democratic elections again. The answers were of two varieties, many saying, “no chance, it’s over,” others saying that there are still more good people than bad people, and that we have to keep trying and not giving up.

I woke up this morning to see headlines of more shootings, this time in North Carolina. This to go with the shootout in Houston the other day. And the man who is a devoted follower of Tucker Carlson’s, “great White replacement theory,” where Carlson has kept repeating that Democrats, liberals, were going to bring in immigrants to take jobs away from White people, his viewers. And this man put on a bulletproof vest, brought his assault weapons to a store in Buffalo, New York, and shot at Black people, killing ten, and proudly streamed it on the internet, before being captured.

There were also fires in California, and the recent ones in New Mexico, due to global warming which has taken the moisture out of the air, kept rain away which would irrigate the layers of the soil, and so made fires more quick to start, almost without external combustion, and then far more difficult to contain.

There was Elise Stefanik,put into third in Republican House leadership, saying that Democrats are the party of immigration, lawlessness, Communism, and other bad things, while the Republicans were the party of patriotism and American values, and that is why there is going to be a red tsunami in November. I wonder if she counts all the gun bloodshed as a red tsunami, and cheers for it. Probably, if she thinks that it will help Republicans win.

Last night, there was a lunar eclipse. I didn’t manage to see it, though there will be another one in November. A prominent scientist said that it is a special thing, to be reminded of the eternal dance of the Earth, the sun, and the moon. Millions of people must have watched it, and maybe they felt a sense of awe and wonder in contemplating the universe, and our place as the only known one of the billions and billions of star-formed bodies, to harbor life.

There was perhaps first a nullity, then a singularity, then a big bang which exploded, sending matter outward at great speed in what was now the universe. Billions of stars were formed. One of them was what we call our sun. After billions of years, the bodies which circled around it in orbit, including what we call Earth, cooled to a point where life could form, in what has to be an almost incomprehensible congruence of favorable elements.

First were microscopic entities, then after more millions of years, one-celled creatures, then more complex beings which lived in the sea. Then after many more millions of years, a few of these creatures climbed out of the sea, and went onto land. Then were many Ages of creatures, we have later named the Ages. There were the dinosaurs which ruled for millions of years, then probably were ultimately destroyed because of an asteroid which hit Earth, blocking out the sun so that there was no food supply for the plant eaters, and then no plant eater food supply for the meat eaters.

Then later the Ice Age, which caused the end of other species, though some evolved into current species. Somewhere in there, the scientists have tracked it, what we call the human race began. It may well be that as we and apes had a common ancestor, the species which was the more violent ultimately ruled, and that is what humans evolved from. That is certainly the theme of “2001,” as written by the somewhat optimistic humanist Arthur C. Clarke, and put on film by the more misanthropic Stanley Kubrick.

We humans have minds, and have created various things: edifices, machines; and organized societies. Some humans have developed compassion, caring, and what we call “humanity.” Some others have used their minds to find ways to obtain those things which humans have seen as material wealth: the ores in the ground, the currencies they have invented, to gain power over others, and to have the ability to force them to do what they want them to do, so that they can even subsist.

H.G. Wells imagined a future history in which what was the human race split into two races; one the mild Eloi, and then the cleverer and maleficent Morlocks, who raise the Eloi, create food for them to eat, and then kill and eat them. Wells, somewhat of a social darwinist in his own behavior, though not his politics, saw this as a very real possibility of the way that humans would evolve, or devolve.

Are we seeing some of that now? Remember the flower children of the 1960’s, and that innocent song by Marcia Strassman of that title? The teenagers in San Francisco who would hand flowers to policemen during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967? The “police riot” in Chicago at the Democratic Convention of 1968, so described by the Kerner Commission? “The whole world is watching,” the people being attacked by police clubs chanted. And so it was, and so it is; but the lessons are perverted in the minds of this new evolving group of angry, selfish, violent haters who are goaded by Fox News and the thousands of fascist websites.

And there are still many decent people. There is a site called “Otter Cam,” which shows the otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The otters are of course very cute, and the people who staff the Aquarium are kind and caring, and explain to the viewers how they provide enrichment programs for the rescue otters, to keep things interesting and enjoyable for them. That is what humans can do at their best, and there of course are other examples of that, humans trying to conserve and help other animal species, and people using their time and money to aid less fortunate humans.

But will the power of the angry, soulless, violent people, controlled by billionaires whose only goal is to accumulate more wealth and power, overwhelm them? We see a Republican Party which has no moral moorings whatsoever. They will lie and cheat and fix elections just so they can win. Somehow the Nazis managed to infiltrate America, or is it that the human condition inevitably leads to Nazism everywhere?

These are not enjoyable thoughts; and dwelling on the darker things is not healthy, though on the other hand, we cannot make them go away by ignoring them. There are indeed good people, but they need to understand, and be motivated enough to do what they can to prevent this trend from getting worse. Economic power is one important thing which somehow does not get written enough about. People undertaking massive boycotts of various companies, thwarting the desires of the billionaires who really only care about how much money they make. This is something to discuss further.

We are this little planet in this very large galaxy, in this immense universe. The Earth has so many wonderful resources, and yet we see a distorted and sociopathic minority destroying them out of rapacious and chortling greed. Animals do not do this, nor birds, nor fish. Some humans do. How to find ways to stop them in their violence and hate and corrupted and broken mental processes, is the task of the good part of of the human race.

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