Short note: I don't hate Chris, and I don't have much room for hate, even Bolsonaro or Trump. I just happen to despise hypocrisy and willful ignorance.
For review or anyone who didn't see it, here is Hedges' actual essay, as posted on Truthdig, a site I do recommend, with my further comments interspersed:
[Start from CH:] There is nothing new to our story. The flagrant lies and imbecilities of the inept and corrupt leader. The inability to halt the costly, endless wars and curb the gargantuan expenditures on the military. The looting of a beleaguered populace by the rich. The destruction of the ecosystem. The decay and abandonment of a once-efficient infrastructure. The implosion of the institutions, from education to diplomacy, that sustain a functioning state. The world has seen it before. It is the familiar disease of the end of a civilization. At first it is grimly entertaining, even amid the mounting suffering. But no one will be laughing at the end.
[Ok, a modus operandi for CH: Restating the obvious and rubbing it in our face, as if we don't have that done in the headlines every day.]
Human nature does not change. It follows its familiar and cyclical patterns. Yes, this time, when we go down, the whole planet will go with us. But until then we will be mesmerized by fools and con artists. What are demagogues like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, positive psychologists and Candide-like prognosticators such as Steven Pinker other than charlatans who insist the tragedy facing us is not real? What are the technocrats and scientists arguing that education and Western civilization can turn us into rational beings other than shamans? What are the corporate titans who make their fortunes off the arms, chemical, fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that are destroying the natural world other than high priests demanding human sacrifice?
[The answers are almost always obvious, as in this case, deluded and brainwashed Homo so-called sapiens. Seriously, does any reader here not know this? But I hasten to add that it is memes, or ideas, that now struggle to rule the world, rather than raw human force. E.g., capitalism, consumerism, capitalism with a conscience, or extreme efficiency and non-consumerism, kindness vs. hate.]
There is one human story. Dressed in new clothing and using new tools, we endlessly relive it. If we still read philosophy, literature, history, poetry and theology we would not be surprised that greed, hedonism and hubris have easily defeated empathy and reason [As in completely? Is that why I spent 25 years in elementary education?]. But because we do not, because we spend hours each day getting little bursts of dopamine from electronic screens, we think we are unique in human existence. We are unable to see that the climate conditions that allowed civilizations to flourish during the last 10,000 years will soon be replaced by a savage struggle to survive.
[If anyone reads theology, I have to ask both who and whyto study the unknowable? That may be a chip from my Catholic school shoulder, but I believe any thinking person, by definition, must surely ask the same. As for those electronic screens, we have the potential for genuine human connectivity unimagined even a decade ago. We can visit a riot in Hong Kong, soar on a hang-glider, use Windows to look into other folks bedrooms, and so on should we so choose. Maybe a preacher's son doesn't like a dopamine rush, of course.]
Human beings have inhabited the planet for about 200,000 of its 4.5 billion years. For most of those 200,000 years, humans did not radically alter the ecosystem. [Our ancestors used fire to burn large swaths of land for many reasons; everywhere we went, the large mammals and other life forms disappeared in rapid fashion. As reading two bits of biology would show.] But the Industrial Revolution, which began about two and a half centuries ago, saw human beings extract fossil fuels, tapping into a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum. The energy from fossil fuels provided unparalleled wealth and military superiority to the planet's industrialized north, which used its power to subjugate most of the rest of the globe to cheaply extract resources and abuse cheap labor. The human population rapidly climbed to over 7 billion. The air, water and ice have seriously degraded under the onslaught as the planet shifts from one climate to another, a climate that will no longer be hospitable to human habitation.
[Before the industrial revolution, it was human slaves who did the work. As in about half the human population, as anyone reading history should know. Did Chris ever see the caves off the coast of Cassi, where the slaves lived, worked morning till night, till the end of their short lives? Giving us, incidentally, the stone for base of the Statue of Liberty. Surely he well knows that it was several thousand slaves who built that Wonder of the Word, The Great Pyramids? Was that better than using petroleum? The human population was two billion, btw,at the time of my birth, 72 years ago; now it's eight billion, for more properly rounded figures. Does Chris know this? It would seem so click here. No matter, he seems fine with bringing another life or two into the horrifying world he well knows we are facing. I call it sadism of the most deplorable kind. I'd say it from a jury box, so this is where the ad hominem line may get fuzzy.]
The only existential question left is how we will choose to wait out the finale. But to pose that question is to defy the cultural mania for hope, the yearning for collective self-delusion. If reality is grim, you banish it. You invent impossible scenarios of inevitable salvation. Which explains how we ended up where we are.
[Where was Chris in the sixties and seventies, when had our ideas been listened to, including those on overpopulation, we would NOT be in the fix we are in now. Did he ever read Energy for Survival: The alternative to extinction, by the brilliant Wilson Clark, that I personally wrote publicly about in the seventies, then got motivated to live off-grid for 14 years, build solar airships, write a book on solar greenhouses (based on the one I built) go to countless hearings on the environment, solar energy, nuclear weapons, etc. ad nauseaum? We ended up here because not enough people stood up for what we knew; these were absolutely NOT impossible scenarios.]
Most of the climate activists and operatives of democracy see themselves, like the wider consumer culture, as being in the business of selling hope. Without hope, they argue, people would succumb to despair. People would not resist the looming catastrophe. Of course, the opposite is true. Hope, or rather false hope, exacerbates despair and lethargy. It infantilizes the population. Carbon emissions may continue to rise, the polar ice caps may continue to melt, crop yields may continue to decline, the world's forests may continue to burn, coastal cities may continue to sink under rising seas and droughts may continue to wipe out fertile farmlands, but the messiahs of hope assure us that all will be right in the end. Only it won't. We will not be able to adapt. Those who sell you the false hope that we can adapt are as self-deluded as those who brand global warming a hoax. And, at least subconsciously, many people know it. [I would hardly use the word "may" in this paragraph. But I would also point to someone who eloquently spoke about hope, correctly, though Chris refused my personal request for him to interview the man click here, who I fear my questioner here has gone a bit insane on attacking, ad hominem, without truly looking at the evidenceas I have.]
The longer we publicly deny the bleak reality before us and privately cope with our existential dread and pain, the more crippling despair becomes. This schizophrenic existence is a form of emotional abuse. It is imposed on us by a dominant culture that will not allow us to speak this tragic truth. This censorship forces us to struggle with reality in solitude, eroding our confidence in our perceptions and judgments. [It strikes me that Chris has himself failed to go through the stages of grief, and getting past acceptance, which is the only way one can think halfway clearly. And I ask: Knowing all this, shall we spend what time remains wallowing in despair or refocus our attention to things we can still love and appreciate? A pet, nature, old pictures, happy memories, learning the amazing discoveries in science, from astronomy to zoology, reconnecting with old friends? Sitting on death row, give me Tulsi Gabbard or Marianne Williamson over Chris, any time. Hope? Ok, maybe a slim one, but I enjoy listening to it. BTW, when my family lived off grid, we had 600 wattsnot kilowattsof power, and all the amenities of a decent RV, click here, while my kids were in school learning that "solar power isn't feasible." Human flight wasn't possible, light bulbs weren't, and going to the moon wasn't, until they were.]
Andrea Dworkin in her essay "A Battered Wife Survives" wrote of effects of sustained abuse, saying that "one's mind is shattered slowly over time, splintered into a thousand pieces. The mind is slowly submerged in chaos and despair, buried broken and barely alive in an impenetrable womb of isolation. This isolation is so absolute, so killing, so morbid, so malignant and devouring that there is nothing in one's life but it, it. One is entirely shrouded in a loneliness that no earthquake could move."
She went on to ask "What is reality?" and then answered.