Vice Climate Alert: ‘The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun’
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
As the photo above shows, it may already be too late to save our civilization from the horror of global warming induced hot weather and a rising sea level.
The Collapse of Civilization May Have Already Begun
Scientists disagree on the timeline of collapse and whether it’s imminent. But can we afford to be wrong? And what comes after?
By Nafeez AhmedNov 23 2019, 12:00am
“It is now too late to stop a future collapse of our societies because of climate change.”
These are not the words of a tinfoil hat-donning survivalist. This is from a paper delivered by a senior sustainability academic at a leading business school to the European Commission in Brussels, earlier this year. Before that, he delivered a similar message to a UN conference: “Climate change is now a planetary emergency posing an existential threat to humanity.”
Jem Bendell, a former consultant to the United Nations and longtime Professor of Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cumbria’s Department of Business, delivered a paper in May 2019 explaining how people and communities might “adapt to climate-induced disruption.”
Bendell’s thesis is not only that societal collapse due to climate change is on its way, but that it is, in effect, already here. “Climate change will disrupt your way of life in your lifetimes,” he told the audience at a climate change conference organized by the European Commission.
Devastating consequences, like “the cascading effects of widespread and repeated harvest failures” are now unavoidable, Bendell’s paper says.
He argues this is not so much a doom-and-gloom scenario as a case of waking up to reality, so that we can do as much as we can to save as many lives as possible. His recommended response is what he calls “Deep Adaptation,” which requires going beyond “mere adjustments to our existing economic system and infrastructure, in order to prepare us for the breakdown or collapse of normal societal functions.”
Science, gut, or a bit of both?
According to Penn State professor Michael Mann, one of the world’s most renowned climate scientists, Bendell’s grasp of the climate science is deeply flawed.
“To me, this paper is a perfect storm of misguidedness and wrongheadedness,” he told me.
Dr. Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who is also world-famous, was even more scathing.
“There are both valid points and unjustified statements throughout,” he told me about Bendell’s paper. “Model projections have not underestimated temperature changes, not everything that is non-linear is therefore ‘out of control.’ Blaming ‘increased volatility from more energy in the atmosphere’ for anything is silly. The evidence for ‘inevitable societal collapse’ is very weak to non-existent.”
The following is a video of Jem Bendell discussing his work, in which he quotes our favourite arctic ice expert Professor Wadhams:
Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann might have been scathing of Bendell’s claims, but from reading the Vice article, a lot of people spoke up on Bendell’s behalf.
I suspect it is slowly dawning on the likes of Mann and Schmidt they are no longer part of the climate movement mainstream. They simply aren’t alarmist enough.
The future of the climate movement belongs to people like Bendell, or perhaps even Schmidt’s predecessor at NASA GISS James Hansen, who once famously predicted that runaway climate change would cause the oceans to boil.