Through the Eyes of The Doomed

Through the Eyes of The Doomed – Perceiving a world that is soon to end by Mark Wilson. Mark Wilson was awarded ‘highly commended’ by the Ian Bell Award judges 2018, more details here.

The world is coming to an end and nobody wants to pay any attention. The news with its desperately screamed warnings makes me want to scream right back. Read any article online about global events and you can either find yourself sucked into a fatalist view for earth, or you can find a big enough distraction to bury the truth under mountains of clickbait. There are whole communities online dedicated to avoiding distraction and remembering the narrative, and in the panic it creates, I find a relaxing read before bed.

I discovered a new crisis filled niche forum when reading a conversation between other emergency fetishising users trying to decide why it was labelled as, a conspiracy forum. A forum that gives off mixed energies of alarmist, isolationist, and an impossible to ignore blinding truth, r/collapse. I had subscribed within a week of visiting. Its focus as a forum is to share information on climate change and other factors that will lead to the inevitable demise of how we live our lives. Acting as a place of comfort, fear, and all the mixed emotions in-between. As I look on the twenty-fourth of November the three top read posts are shared from New York Times, Times, and the Washington Post. They detail of the palm oil catastrophe, scientists pleading with the destruction climate change is causing, and how the US administration denies all these effects due to it being ‘cold out’. The fourth post suggested was asking if anyone else on the forum is choosing to opt out of Christmas this year. I chose to read that one instead.

Some readers may be surprised to learn that most of the users and regulars in this forum don’t live in a cabin out in the woods with lead lining the roof. Caring doesn’t have to be crazy. The post about Christmas shows how many users have family and friends they don’t want to forget at Christmas but will deliver them hand-made clothes or food and instead focus on experiences this holiday. I think about my own Christmas celebrations where my home transforms into a festive light-house to guide extended family to their gifts of whatever we can import in time. Even within the forum there are examples of the devastating effects of climate change being ignored for something more comforting. Maybe a one-off flash of headlines won’t convince you but allow yourself time to understand the ground beneath these mountains of claims. The world is reaching its boiling point.

On November the 11th, breaking the chronology so far in this article, I made a post within the forum in order to gain a general response and interaction with the regular users. I wanted to gauge how manic the population was. Most users had un-subtle identities like ‘VirginiaIsDoomed’ and ‘VisionsOfUtopia’. Once you get in this mindset of disaster seeking it must be difficult to not make it your personality. I asked vague questions to give the users a soapbox, a microphone to scream however they wanted. How have their views affected their life so far?
‘It has affected my performance at college to a very big extent, failed 4 out of 6 semesters this year ever since learning about collapse last winter…everyday I wake up I wonder when all this is going to end’.

‘I’ve since decided that even though there is probably no point, that doesn’t mean I won’t try keep my loved ones safe’.

‘Personally, it’s the absolute knowing that we are destroying the biosphere and have obliterated a huge part of it. I will never be able to enjoy the natural wonders at this rate of ecological destruction’.

Most responses sort themselves into a nihilistic view of the world or a holistic view of the world – either approach stays concerned with their day to day. What were their long-term plans for an inevitable collapse?

This is the difference in this forum from other online communities of ‘doomsday preppers’ and conspiracy lovers. These users do not have a solid plan. They don’t have posts judging the best shotgun to defend their off-road civilian tank, they have very little foresight. Having spent so long indulging myself in the worries of the forum, I feel myself panicking just a little bit too. To try find a good quote, and to ease myself, I asked about a plan on escaping the soon-to-come fires.

‘One could argue that I will almost certainly die an empty and brutal death before doing anything useful’.

‘Considering where I live, don’t think I can do anything to survive the collapse here, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the end sooner than later anyway. The only way out seems to be migration and seeing how first world citizens are treating refugees now, it seems like I will be escaping one hell to another.’

‘Embrace the suck’.

‘Suicide’.

There is no secret safe house or uncharted colony up North that runs off bio-energy and accepts those lucky enough to survive. There is no plan. I know I’m out of my depth collecting these responses.

I have become engrossed and obsessed with an ending now, I cannot see a world where it continues to tower at the same height in fifty years. On the 9am bus to university on the 15th of November, I count how many cars I see with only one driver, and how far apart they are in the stand-still traffic from a shared car ride or a bus. I look over at the twenty cows that stand in the field next to the road who will be shipped across the country to feed into meat consumption, even though numerous studies have shown the climate benefit of a meat free diet. I end up having a ham sandwich that day, as do all my friends. None of them shop from charity centres, despite fashion being a leading cause of pollution due to sourcing of materials and transportation. Very little shows up on my timeline about the recent wildfires spreading over the Californian landscape. This is only information discussed in r/collapse.

I had a chance to share nerves with a user of r/collapse in a skype interview on the 18th of November. His username is collapse2050. I realise now going over my notes that his username is in relation to his own predicated date of the end. 2050 is 17 years old, three years younger than me, and was willing to wake up at 9am PST to have an hour-long unprepared interview. I made small talk for the first five minutes and apologised for my headphones being tangled up and the loud Christmas lights celebrations happening outside my window. I couldn’t find any studies into how much energy is used to light up the town centre for twelve hours a day, two months a year.

For someone who only found this forum a year ago, 2050 is as informed and active within climate change prevention as someone can be. Working with COAST, an Eastern seaboard environmental observation group, reading peer reviewed science publications on the effect of climate change, and email correspondence with Guy McPherson. (A Google of McPherson displays his multiple talks as a scientist from the University of Arizona warning of sudden climate change and a near extinction. There is also an hour-long video of McPherson at a 9/11 Truth Group talk in San Diego.)

I asked 2050 how he first started getting into such a depressing passion for preserving life. He said living in the Pacific North West of America he was privilege to a close-up experience of nature deterioration, even seeing his own backyard slowly decay due to wildlife erasure. I questioned on if he spread his found information to many people: were they ignorant, did anybody listen? His answer was typical of the general response received within the forum, some people took a while for their foundation of denial to melt and plunge into truth, while most people just told him to ‘shut up’.

Throughout the entire hour interview conducted over Skype, 2050 is feeding me constantly with information on scientific theories. The methane burst that happened roughly 15,000 years ago causing temperatures to rise ten degrees Celsius, and it may repeat in the future due to melting ice sheets. Global dimming which creates a heat shield around the earth, temporarily preventing up to sixteen-percent of sunlight in the UK and the probable cause behind several North African droughts. With sixty-percent of all wildlife becoming extinct since 1970 due to mankind. This is amongst numerous other warnings that I don’t yet have the will to absorb. In my eyes 2050 transformed into a certified expert and not just the only person on the forum willing to speak face to face.

I’m desperate to know at this point what his survival plan is, surely someone so well researched and prepared must have a safe house, a contingency plan, anything. He gives me some of the many possible causes of a collapse; blue ocean event, super volcano, nuclear war. He has no plan for any of these scenarios. Just suggesting that I mentally prepare myself for the time to come. This is upsetting but not surprising, as learned earlier this is not a doomsday preppers forum, there is no escape route. He did mention to leave and avoid cities as fast as possible,
‘Bad people will have a time to shine, they’ll be after your tin of beans’.

I thank him for helping me with research for this article. This interview happened on the same day protest groups blocked five London bridges early morning to have any change, or any slight acknowledgment that something was being done to benefit the climate crisis. Traffic resumed at 4pm that day.

I’ve taken on a lot of the suggested reading that users posted within the forum. My day on Friday the 16th was spent researching the water crisis that struck South Africa last year and is currently now attacking Mexico. When I got home from work on Saturday the 25th I was reading about the ultra-rich in America armour-plating their homes in preparation of a class war. I managed to read a couple of articles on the train on the 26th about cutting down meat consumption to prevent methane gas pollution. I consider myself fully indoctrinated but clinging to a calm stage.

Considering how it will take more than just several users having anxiety attacks online to make a change I decided to pay my dues and personally raise some awareness. I spoke to my Dad about his thoughts on renewable energy, he claims that there will always be more sources of oil for us. I spoke to my friend about the rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns the past few years, he likes that Scotland is becoming more tropical. I bullied people in my bar to try and get them to listen, as the barman they don’t really have anywhere else to go. They manage to agree, and act concerned for a long minute, then go on to order several plastic products from 500 miles away to be delivered within two days. I felt myself going mad, and still do, trying to get people to feel as scared as I am.

I think of something 2050 said in our interview. He’s been much happier since embracing the thought of a collapse. The pressure put on him, and users of the forum, and anyone else awake to the crisis has created a clear goal. There is something to stop. So far, we still have a life to fight for, even if others do not.; ‘For you and me it hasn’t happened yet, we can live life’.

It acts as comfort for the present.

Comments (5)

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    Interesting commentary. At 20 years old you are a similar age to my son, who is studing Ecology at a southern university, so some of my concerns must have rubbed off a little. I haven’t seen his course curiculum but I do wonder if it sponsored green wash, centred around maintaining economic growth at any cost. He is off to Australia next year as part of the course, which is kind of ironic given the state of extremes Australia is suffering. Australia is probably going to be the first of the ‘western civilisation’ countries that is going to collapsed by climate change, species loss and environmental degredation.

    If you’re quoting Guy McPherson, then you’ll know Humpty Dumpty Tribe and Collapse Chronicles I suspect, all part of what we call the Doomosphere. At times like these I like to quote Hambone Littletail, “I am a walker in two worlds”. One being the matrix (the business as usual world we all inhabit) and the other being the doomosphere. I have no problem doing that, and feel quite comfortable with it. In fact, the doomosphere is a more comforting place than the matrix. Going shopping on a Friday afternoon in the town centre provokes more anxiety attacks and despair than catching up on the latest from the doomosphere (currently reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallis Wells, reduced to £15 in Waterstones 🙂 ).

    But having seen the latest thoughts from Rupert Read and Jem Bendell, and dipping my toes into permaculture, I’m thinking of re-labelling the doomosphere to the Change-osphere. Because, what is happening, and what is to become for us as a species, is merely change. Dramatic change, yes, with highly likely a huge death toll, but if 6 out of 7 are programmed to extermination because we’ve crossed the carrying capacity of the planet, that’s still a shitload of people left. And paradoxically, the very country that started this off (England) might have pockets of the most surviveable zones geographically.

    And we all know change is what is needed. The current economic model, indeed the current societal model, is failing far too many of us. 40 years of neo-liberalism has drummed into many of us that change is needed, although there has been no consensus of what that change needs to be, which is exemplified by the failure of the progressive left to dominate politics since 1979.
    The change we need is so radical that for too many it is unmentionable. To me it is basically the complete abolition of economy and nation states as concepts. That isn’t communism, or some weird benevolent dictatorship, it is the removal of all “-isms”.

    It doesn’t matter whether it is unmentionable to the 99% or not. These changes are going to come, whether we like it or not. Not climate change particularly, but the fact that we have exterminated pretty much all the mega-fauna, and are now working our way through the micro-fauna, shows our unfettered greed has made us into gods who think we have the right to exterminate any or all species at whim, just to make a profit. Mother Nature is having none of this nonsense and will do the necessary corrections. Most likely through the methane releases from the oceans and tundras. Economic collapse or WW3 will have happened long before that though.

    I no longer try to warn people or preach the doomosphere to the unawakened. I used to post a lot on FB and nobody listened, so I blew my account up, and have been a lot better off without it since. What I do now though is drop a hook line into conversation. We all talk about the weather, so drop in a line say for example, “yes it’s quite warm, did you know it was 18 degrees C in the Arctic last month”, or this weeks is, “yes, a heat wave in February, that’s odd, warmest ever for 200 years apparently.” People who are aware will immediately catch on and you can have an hour conversation about the doomosphere, and both feel better afterwards. This happened recently when my landlord’s electrician came round to fix some lighting. I always remember his last line, “it’s been great having this conversation.” These are some of the moments that are worth treasuring. And it’s a good measure of who you can rely on in the future.

    And for the people that aren’t aware, you can see their brains freeze as they try to associate 18*C with something that supposed to to be cold as ice, then the neo-liberal mask slips back into place and they go on to talk about their summer holiday in Spain. Just from the point of view of studing human nature, it’s quite revealing.

    If someone does mention their holiday in Spain, I like to quote Keven Anderson, climate scientist at the Tunstall Institute, Manchester, who reckons that every jet flight a person takes is the equivalent carbon emissions of 9000 African farmers for a year. It’s quite astonishing that so many people deem that their package holidays abroad are a right that they must have, and get quite angry about it.

    There is a difference between being obsessed and being informed. By all means tread the wonky boards of the doomosphere, but don’t forget to have a life too. Knowledge is power they say, and someday that knowledge will be of us. It’s not about prepping, as Jem Bendell said, if you have a stash of food are you prepared to kill defending it, or do you answer to a higher moral calling? Know that you are going to die, and everyone around you will. Whether it is of natural causes at 96, or war, plague or famine at 25, or in front of your stash at 32. This will happen. Accept that and you can move on to the next level, which is to discover,
    a) yourself, ie, what it is you are good at, and what gives you the most peace of mind, the most creative joy (and never mistake the highs of acquisition, speed, sex, drugs or alcohol as that fulfiment). In the end you’ll find it is the most selfless of activities that give you the most.
    b) discover the power, the beauty and the healing of nature, whilst it is still there, enjoy it while you still can.
    c) discover other like minded people, and share the fear, anxiety and joy that change is bringing. Maybe you can plan together, or just draw mental support from each other. They may only be 1% of 1% at the moment in terms of numbers, but that will change as we go along.

    I never forget the words of Chris Hedges, ascerbic commentator on the US political system. He doesn’t fight fascists because he wants to win, he fights fascists because they are fascists. Similarly with the doomosphere. You don’t fall into hopeless despair and do nothing because we might all die due to climate change, you do whatever you feel is necessary because it is the right thing to do. It actually doesn’t matter if you fail in a fight, it matters that you fight. In the case of climate change, it’s not really a fight, because it’s going to happen whatever we do, so fight is re-defined as adaptation. And adaptation is whatever you feel is the right thing to do.

    Yes, we could all go vegan, stop driving, stop consuming, stop flying, buy green energy, get solar panels, get an electric car, vote, stand for different politics, etc, and that’s great, but a net 81 million people are born each year 99% of whom will go on to eat meat, drive SUVs, own smart phones and 80″ TVs and fly abroad if they get the chance. UN figures show that not breeding is the single most thing a person can do to reduce carbon emissions, many times more than all the other options put together.
    Extinction Rebellion and other groups like that use studies that show that once 10% of a population are aware and advocate change, change will follow automatically. This applies to consumer goods as much as societal change.
    Add to this the thoughts of Carne Ross, the Accidental Anarchist. You can’t tell people what to do, and protesting only goes so far. You can only lead by example. So try and be the change you want to see. Once enough people see working examples that succeed, they will want to join in. And that will have far more effect than anything else.
    So if you want to go vegan, do so, even if you fear derision. By doing so, successfully, you set an example to others. After a year of it, and you are healthier and wealthier because of it, you’re more likely to impress than cause derision. If your mates have invited you on a jet setting holiday abroad, don’t be afraid to refuse. Those that are true friends will accept it. Those that deride you, well, do you need those kind of friends? And so on.

    Me, I think the only chance of surviving total collapse is if everyone is involved with growing food in their local communities, with decisions made at a local level. So I volunteer in three local community gardening projects, work with the Green Party, and live (now vegan) as frugally as possible (on £10K a year). You meet some nice people that way, and get outside in nature for a bit, with the added bonus of free food every so often. Yes, I still walk in the Matrix, use fossil fuels and resources at 1.5 planets worth a year, and accept that it is all hypocritical, but I have never felt so good in my life as right now.
    We were all duped, by the magic of neo-liberalism and capitalism, conned into a free lunch by the so-called free press, and paid for by debt slavery, and it is this legacy that the young will have to dis-inherit. I cannot apologise that I will not be on the ramparts fighting the oligarchs with pitchforks, you’ll find me tending the vegetables and fruits in some obscure corner. And if that sets an example that others like to follow, then thats good enough for me.

    People ask my how long we have, and I say 13 years +/- 10. That’s not for extinction, but total societal collapse. Enjoy it while you still can folks, then embrace the change when it comes.

    1. Kenneth G Coutts says:

      Brilliant ! Mark.
      There is folks out there, with the same idea.
      I remember all those years ago , writing a piece at college, on the destruction of rain forests and results.
      1985 ish,
      Constantly try.
      Always felt that the loss of polar ice caps.
      Planet earth would flip axis in some way.
      I’m no expert, don’t why I felt that.
      All other species breed to their surroundings and food sources.
      We humans have no control unless the neoliberal corporate war machine spirals out of control.
      Which they are at the moment.
      Your path is a good one to follow.
      Less is more.
      Live by the seasons, which is blurring now.
      37.9 Deg C yesterday in our little corner of the Charente, crazy!
      Worrying.

  2. Alistair Taylor says:

    Thought provoking, Mark. Good article. Glad that it was recognized, and further spread by Bella.
    The biosphere is changing quickly, and most people don’t want to think about that too deeply. But as Greta, from Sweden, said, bring on the panic, because the house is on fire.
    The most “powerful” governments are doing nothing to help. Quite the opposite, really.
    “Brexit” is a waste of newsprint. Trump is a bad joke.
    Until there is a real global awakening we humans are more or less doomed. Which might not be a bad thing in the greater scheme of things, because the planet will cope and heal and evolve, as it has done over geologic time. It’s a pity that we’re making such a mess of things though.
    Anyway, blah de blah.
    Sometimes writing can be a good outlet, because we care about the here and now. We care about the children. We’re not stupid, and we can make a difference. Personally, i don’t have long left. 40 years tops. But i’m going down fighting.
    Keep the fossil fuel in the ground. Stop producing and polluting with oil and plastic. Do more with less. Ban the weapons. Live in peace. Work together, with compassion and love.
    Keep making music and art. Respect others.
    How difficult is that to understand?

  3. Indyman says:

    What is the name/URL of the forum

  4. SleepingDog says:

    I hope there is some galactic wasted-planet-survivors forum out there, where entities who will never meet swap stories of their near-extinctions. Or have little doomed symbols attached to their accounts if they haven’t posted for a few rotations. What we lack here is that one-level-up perspective, at least outside of science fiction. Maybe individual opinions will change like late-game Reversi pieces when it comes to an accelerating pattern of predicted catastrophes. I hope someone’s left to write Earth’s wiki page.

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