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[Week 4 Discussion] Desert by Anonymous

Submitted by RosaReborn in readingclub (edited by a moderator )

This is the first week of two discussion weeks dedicated to Desert, in which we read to page 33 (sorry if there was confusion about that). As such there will be no voting thread this Friday but next Friday instead. Link to Riot for quick chat discussions.

This text presents a realistic, albeit bleak view, on the future of society in the face of the global crisis that is climate change. It establishes how the state will seek military control over populations displaced by the destruction of nature and how an altered climate will create incredible strain on society. It also discusses possible means of survival outside the state with the example of anarchistic ideals exemplified in Africa.


So what are your impressions of the text? Does the future of the world terrify you? Bring hope? A weird combination of the two? Will small communities be able to survive the violence brought by state powers or the environmental effects those states cause? Will you equipped a motorbike with flamethrowers and guns to hunt for water à la Mad Max?

Having separate thoughts/points as separate comments might make it easier to organise the conversation.

Comments

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Tequila_Wolf wrote (edited )

Looking forward to seeing what people have to say about it. Having read it years ago and now again, the general message is now something I mostly just nod along with instead of voraciously embrace.

That said, is there reason to think that the author's timeline, that "we may have twenty years (probably more)" is reasonable? How apocalyptic should we really understand this?

I'd like us also to keep in mind a quote by Aragorn!, from a review they did of another's book, which I think of quite often.

What [the writer] continues to miss is that for the bulk of humanity, including civilized people, this apocalypse has already happened. We are currently the over-populated survivors of total destruction, blinking in the sunlight of our own loss, wandering aimlessly for food and shelter.

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selver wrote

I'd be interested in how close the predictions are too. Without a background in it, I always find the environmental / climate change talk impossible to get into. I don't know who's predictions can actually be trusted at all. It's an extremely alienating topic in general.

That's a great aragorn quote.

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RosaReborn wrote

Apocalyptic predictions are always arbitrary because the effects of climate change are not a singular event like a nuclear holocaust. Instead it occurs on the scale of years and decades, even centuries. That is a great quote you posted because there are already people who must contend with the consequences of environmental exploitation everyday. Those in the West may not really be effected for decades more in a significant way. The super rich can insulate themselves and may not be significantly effected for a hundred years or more. Your level of impact depends on the resources you depend on and where you are in the world.

Basically the timeline is somewhat arbitrary but in 20 years the strain on society will likely be so great due to climate refugees and diminishing resource extraction that normal functioning of society will be more likely to collapse

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zoneReNovator wrote (edited )

Yeah, it feels like a lot of the timescales you see to do with climate change are to do with when the effects become uncontrollable and irreversible and when the rapid temperature change is high enough to match historical periods of ecological collapse. This really doesn't seem to indicate of how soon we will see the worst effects of collapse, so much as how those effects cannot be mitigated.

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ziq wrote (edited )

The super rich can insulate themselves and may not be significantly effected for a hundred years or more.

Most westerners will be insulated by default. It's the global South that is going to be in the sea, much of the West won't feel real effects for a long time. That's why they're shutting down their borders right now to keep us out. There are a few exceptions, like Florida, but places like that are so wealthy that they've been delaying the effects by spending billions to pump the floodwaters out.

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BigGeorge wrote

We're already working to turn Florida into an underwater amusement park, it's all good.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

Two key paragraphs in the first four sections for me were just the ones that orientated future action:

"Social movement anarchists in these regions might want to think seriously about what practical preparations can wisely be made for self-rule, civil war, survival and the unfortunately inevitable emergence and strengthening of authoritarian forces and inter-ethnic conflict. “We must have the ability to defend ourselves, survive, and exploit crises in society including capitalist at tempts to destroy us. The divided and industrial nature of today’s society has already determined the instability of tomorrow.”" p20

"Give or take the particularities of the local, we may have twenty years (probably more) to prepare for these ruptures, not as an alternative to other tasks at hand, but as an integral part of a long term multi-pronged strategy. For some, it will also be a matter of life or death." p23

I'd be very interested to know which of you have found this generally to be a text that reorients your goals - what they were and what they're moving towards now?

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RosaReborn wrote

I like how realistic this text presents situations. It acknowledges that hopes for a pan-global movement of anarchism is unlikely and that other forces may have the advantage. I like how it looks to enable groups of people in fragmented spaces and acknowledges that climate change will effect places differently and thus solutions may need to be adaptable. That being said, to really address the causes of climate change, we must push a unified resistance to the destruction of the environment everywhere. Oil emissions in the USA still harm an autonomous community in South America. Plastic in the ocean still kills fish near Thailand. As someone working in renewable energies, I'd like to see a reduction of consumption across the board and a complete shift to renewable energy and sustainable living. States, including my own, claim to support this but hamper it at every step. Climate refugees may push the state to act but I can only foresee it acting in a reactionary way.

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Uproot wrote

Reducing consumption is not enough. You must completely disconnect your life from it.

We have worked on DIY projects that relied entirely on self-manufactured and recycled materials. For example we have successfully produced PCL (Polycaprolactone) in our lab, a high heat and impact resistance polyester with biodegradable feature. We used it for nearly everything that required durable framework. Another of our project was home-based wall electric battery consisted of throwaway lithium-ion laptop batteries. They are currently powering our lab and hackerspace. When the power goes out, and it did happened, we could sustain with solar or wind based power source, then routed the power to the wall battery panels. We also worked on solar panels that were produced entirely with home-made materials that does not involved toxic rare earth or heavy metal that pollute the environment.

References that our projects were based on here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hejOT7NF72E

https://jehugarcia.com/project-puerto-rico

https://mad-science.wonderhowto.com/how-to/diy-solar-power-make-your-own-diode-based-solar-panels-and-capture-suns-energy-0134833/

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ziq wrote

I agree completely and am also attempting to live in this way.

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zoneReNovator wrote

This sounds really cool. References are good, but I'd be interested to know if you made a record of what you tried anywhere.

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Uproot wrote

We have a repository on 0xacab.org but we'll share all the source codes once it gets to be employed in the area. Keeping minimal activities on the internet for now because of all the doxxing targeting our members and the organizations I'm part of.

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selver wrote (edited )

Not only climate change, but other issues as well. We live in a world with a proliferation of nuclear weapons and all sorts of other ways that groups can really fuck up other parts of the world. Localism is insufficient, each local will always be under constant threat of being destroyed if power is not being similarly fought in other places. The modern world is too small & connected.

Not that I think it's likely possible to do that, but the author doesn't really acknowledge the problem. If you're espousing localism, you sort of need to accept a fully nihilistic position about the hopes of continued survival for radical communities, as you are in a way completely giving up your power to defend what you've built.

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Tequila_Wolf wrote

I'm not sure I'm understanding you here. I think that localism here is assuming that there will be resistance everywhere to some degree and that there will also be communication and organisation between localised groups where it is immediately useful or just desired.

And problems like the possibility of nuclear attack I think are assumed (that is, I think that the people in these localised places will simply live under that threat, though presumably there will still be (state?) actors doing work to prevent it), but I agree that there's room for it to be thought about more.
I guess since I'm living in sub-saharan Africa I think less about direct nuclear attacks since there seems to be little reason to bomb here relative to other places.
I'd be interested in hearing from you a more fleshed out version of what it might look like to have a non-localised approach to this situation.

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ziq wrote (edited )

As someone working in renewable energies,

How much of your work sources local renewable energy? Does the renewable energy industry largely rely on Chinese and Indian heavy-industry manufacturing and destructive bigag biofuels still, or is getting more sustainable?

reduction of consumption

As long as capitalism stays afloat, I don't think that will happen. Capitalism depends on constant growth.

I'd like to pinpoint when the markets hit the point where there's no room left to expand, so the whole system can finally collapse. Any greenwashing bandaids the neoliberals come up with will only prolong the planet's decay, and result in much more catastrophic disasters when the pile of cards does come tumbling down.

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RosaReborn wrote

As long as capitalism stays afloat, I don't think that will happen

Completely agree, there will be robots as functioning CEOs long after humans are dead.

And as to your question about renewables, it's in field of hydrogen storage, specifically hydrolysis of water for energy storage from wind turbines so no foreign influence or resource extraction