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5 Reasons Not to Predict the End of the World

5 Reasons Not to Predict the End of the World

“Everyone, deep in their hearts, is waiting for the end of the world to come.”

— Haruki Murakami

So you want to talk about the end of the world without sounding like a crank?

Rule #1 should be: Don’t predict when it will happen.

A lot of the writing on this site has to do with the collapse of civilization (and what that means). Following Jem Bendell, author of the now (in)famous “Deep Adaptation paper”, I anticipate “inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe, and possible extinction”.

Of course, all civilizations collapse. And all species die. Eventually, everything ends. But we are now in a process of acceleration toward that end. When will this happen? Who knows. The best answer I have read is “sooner rather than later”–which doesn’t really say much.

I have noticed, though, that a lot of people who are in the Doomer and Post-Doom communities are not so circumspect when it comes to putting a date on the end of the world.

Here’s five reasons why you shouldn’t put a date on the end of the world.

1. You’re wrong. (Collapse is complex.)

The collapse of any civilization is a complex phenomenon. Our global industrial-capitalist civilization is incredibly complex. And it stands to reason that the collapse of that civilization will be complex as well. And that makes predicting it that much harder.

I think some of the tendency to over-simplify collapse is driven by an unconscious desire for control. We feel out of control in our lives. Contemplating collapse only amplifies this. Imagining a simplified collapse gives us a sense of control. A false sense. The desire for control is a big part of the reason people deny collapse. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that we would see vestiges of this desire in the doomer and post-doom communities.

When you talk about collapse as something simple, you’re wrong. Because it’s complex.

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