Saturday, December 07, 2013

Adbusters Magazine Issue #186: Countdown to Catastrophe

The culture-jammers are at it again. The latest issue, on the newsstands now (if you happen to live some place progressive and/or liberal), is titled “The Big Ideas of 2047.” Spoiler alert! Here are the big ideas of 2047:
  • Neoliberal economics is dead; growth is no longer God
  • Progress is now a spiritual rather than a materialistic question
  • Products are priced based on ecological payoff
  • Usury (lending at interest) is taboo
  • Individual rights are gone, replaced by individual responsibilities
This is the shape of the reborn, post-collapse world presented at the end of the issue.

The intervening pages detail the unfolding catastrophe: “Sea levels are expected to continue rising for the next 1000 years or more”; on some date in 2021, a page diarises: “ppm hit 600 today... [that's CO2, for those who haven't been paying atteniton] scientists predict 9 degrees... no hope left... wild parties everywhere... the weak hide away.” It's an optimistic vision, overall, because something good survives and even prevails, but realistic at the same time. For instance, the global environmental movement is given a quick burial in a brutal run-down of its failures past and future:

Kyoto. Failed.
IPCC. Failed
Desertification Treaty. Failed.
UN Convention of Biological Diversity. Failed
Antarctica Reserve. Failed
2019 Framework for Ocean Conservation. Failed.
Rio + 20, +30, +40. Failed.

My writings are featured rather prominently (which is why I am tooting their horn today) although my name is misspelled relentlessly. I suppose I am yet to achieve the exalted status of those whose names are always spelled correctly in print.

There are three full-page spreads of my writings, presented as pages ripped from my books and stapled into a scrapbook, even though really the paragraphs were typeset separately to look like pages from books, and if you look carefully you will notice that the crossed-out lines are actually Greeked (“Lorem ipsum...”). Designers are strange sometimes.

One page contains the definitions of the Five Stages of Collapse. Another contains excerpts from the section on Financial Collapse. The third explains why “The root cause of financial collapse is usury.” I can be found under the year 2013, following an excerpt from Margaret Atwood's novel Oryx and Crake (which I loved, along with The Year of the Flood):
...still, as time went on and the aquifers turned salty and the northern permafrost melted and the vast tundra bubbled with methane, and the drought in the midcontinental plains regions went on and on, and the Asian steppes turned to sand dues, and meat became harder to come by, some people started having their doubts...


Lucas Durand said...

To be packaged up with Margaret Atwood...
Things could certainly be worse.

I also very much enjoyed Oryx and Crake.
My wife and I still make reference to "Chickienobs" as an inside joke when things like 3D printing of hamburgers or lab-grown meat comes up in the news.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dmitri, I had flood water lapping the end of my street on Thursday night. River Humber burst it's banks after a record breaking storm surge and part flooded the city. Houses flooded, street lights shut of emergency services everywhere, sirens - the full works. And water running where water doesn't normally run. Very exciting, for a night anyway. The whole place is a couple of feet away from returning to marsh land, if the sea rises more.

You reckon it's climate change - more numerous extreme weather events etc ?

Funny they mention Kyoto because I find myself standing next to the guy who negotiated it for UK sometimes. He doesn't look like he wants to talk about it, though.

None of those bullet points are going to come to fruition, BTW. It didn't work after Noah, and it won't work after our generation. Not for everybody, not all the time. But who said it should ?

Dmitry Orlov said...

Hey. It's a supreme irony that Newcastle, which started the coal-burning extavaganza with its awful sea-coal is now going underwater as a result. But if that brown ale stops flowing I'll be inconsolable.

My donkey said...

"although my name is misspelled relentlessly."

Misspelling is another sign of the times; a sign that details are not very important and that quality is no longer a vital concern. Proofreader used to be a job title, but the job fell by the wayside about the same time Spelling was dropped from the curriculum in elementary schools.

The result can be seen in people's writing today. What percentage of native speakers of English write "it's" when they mean "its"? Or "should of" when they mean "should've"? How many of us know that "loose" is not the opposite of "win", and there is no A in "definitely", and no E in "ridiculous"? And further, how many of us care?

If we don't care about spelling, what else don't we care about?

Well, we apparently don't care about buying quality products because such items are increasingly hard to find nowadays; we'd rather buy the ubiquitous cheap crap designed to break or wear out prematurely so we can go shopping again, hooray! And we no longer get upset when a store clerk can't answer our questions, or a contractor does shoddy work, or there's an administrative mistake, or a service is not provided as advertised... because we've become accustomed to incompetence, mediocrity, sloppiness, and misleading claims in our daily lives. We simply shrug and try to muddle onward in the same hapless and careless fashion.

That's how people behave -- and that's how society operates -- in a declining civilization.

The writing on the wall these days is apt to be misspelled, but the wall itself is crumbling, so our fate will soon befelled. (D'oh!)

deb98126 said...

Will pick up an issue just because you're in it, Dmitry. Love AdBusters and Margaret Atwood, too.

Unknown said...

Adbusters..., hmmm. Maybe we can add one more to their list:

Occupy Wall Street. Failed.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I agree with the comment about misspelling. It's the kind of thing that many Americans would dismiss as just ridiculously silly, petty, trivial, and it matters.

It's exactly as was already said; it IS an indication of something. If somebody can't even bother to get something that simple and basic right (especially if errors are pointed out, and they still get it wrong), what CAN they get right?

The abuse of the apostrophe is a classic, of course, not only in an example like the possessive "its" or the contraction of "it is", but the amazing stupidity of people who consistently make words plural by adding an apostrophe and "s", even if you correct them on that every time they do it.

In your case, the name problem is actually more easily understood, even though that is not really an excuse. I know I've done it, simply because I've seen the name "Dmitri" much more often. It's something like the problem often experienced by people named Alan, Allan, or Allen.

Still, again, if people can't get simple spelling right, and can't be bothered even when errors are pointed out, it's discouraging to think about how you can get across to them something much more complex.

(For example, I've found myself trying to explain to someone what the term "peak oil" actually MEANS, describing the patterns of Hubbert's curve and the history and the future implications, and all that. I'll work on that, and find myself faced with the person appearing to have comprehended and understood nothing. There might be a response like "yeah, alright, whatever, blah blah blah long winded whatever... so are we about to run out of oil, or not?".)