This civilisation is finished: so what is to be done?

Read, Rupert (2018) This civilisation is finished: so what is to be done? Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) Occasional Papers Volume 3. University of Cumbria, Ambleside, UK. (Unpublished)

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We’ve gambled too much on succeeding in preventing or mitigating anthropogenic dangerous climate change and the anthropogenic extinction crisis. Because we were unwilling to face up to the alternative. But the alternative is not as simple as an instantaneous end of life would be. The alternative is complex, involving many possible variants of ‘unthinkably’ horrendous, bad, and even good. Most crucially: there is a huge difference between the various versions of complete irrecoverable societal collapse, on the one hand, and the rise of a successor civilisation(s) out of the wreckage of this one, on the other. We have to be willing to think this. And face it. We have to get serious about the processes of transformational and deep adaptation that are now necessary. We cannot any longer avoid the vast effort involved in attempting to adapt our communities to cope with our changed and changing world; not least because the time-lags built into the climate system mean that, even in the extraordinarily unlikely event that we manage to stop massively damaging our climate further, it is bound to deterioriate further for a long time to come. And, more fundamentally, because this civilisation is finished. The only way in the hard times to come that it might appear to persist is if we manage to transform it beyond recognition… That transformed civilisation would in no meaningful sense be the same civilisation as ours. This paper asks, given that this civilisation is finished, what exactly, among those willing to face up to this terrifying and liberating reality, is to be done?

Item Type: Report
Publisher: University of Cumbria
Departments: Research Centres > Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS)
Additional Information: This is an edited and referenced transcription of a talk given at Churchill Coll., Cambridge, on Oct. 27 2018. See the original video, and the Q-and-A that followed, Rupert Read, Department of Philosophy, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. IFLAS is based at the University of Cumbria, UK.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 15:10
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2021 13:30


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