‘Pareidolia’ is the trait humans have for seeing patterns which aren’t really there – such as seeing a rabbit on the moon, or Elvis in an oddly shaped carrot. In my case, it’s seeing the end of the world in a patch of damp plaster on the wall.
Still, one of the key tenets of Iolo Morganwg’s Bardism is “Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd” – The Truth Against the World. As Druids, we need to find out what is true – and we need to champion it even when it is unpopular or unpalatable.
My home needs some urgent work done before next winter – when it rains, water seeps through the wall. It’s not going to get done.
Since the beginning of the year, I tried hard to get a builder to agree to do the work. Few of them even returned my calls. Of the few who came to look at the house and give me a quote, most never got back in touch and/or were clearly cowboys. Eventually I found a local company with a good reputation who agreed to do the work, though it was going to be very expensive. Still, we signed a contract and I paid a substantial deposit – several thousand pounds. Last week, after three months of doing nothing, they told me they would need to raise the cost by 25% – which I can’t afford – and that even then they wouldn’t be able to start work until next year. We agreed to cancel the contract, and they have returned my deposit.
No other companies are interested. They all say the same things: they can’t get skilled workers, and they can’t get any materials. This isn’t a surprise – it’s been reported for some time, given the number of converging crises.
The question is: how long will it last? The answer is not likely to be comforting: I suspect that in fact we will never go back to where we were, and this situation is here to stay. There isn’t going to be much new construction, or work on existing structures. That’s going to have a big impact on both homes, offices, and retail – and it won’t be good. How will it play out? That remains to be seen – but there will be more and more people who, like me, dread the rain.
At the same time, it was announced that families in the UK will be facing substantial increases in the price of energy next winter, in part because renewables aren’t producing enough. That’s the energy that they use to heat their homes, to keep the lights on, and to cook. That’s going to be very hard on many households and, given our ongoing dependency on depleting fossil fuels, that’s also going to get worse.
In fact, within ten years, the combination of depleting natural resources, pollution, demographics, and other factors means that it will no longer be possible to have a growing economy. That’s the opinion of a KPMG analyst who looked again at the models of the 1968 ‘Limits to Growth’ using today’s data:
- Update to limits to growth
- Yep, it’s bleak, says expert who tested 1970s end-of-the-world prediction
- The data: the Guardian’s climate dashboard
Another way of putting that is to say within 10 years we will be in a recession that will never end, with less and less economic activity every year.
At the same time, we see huge fires and unbearable temperatures in the West of the Americas, in Siberia, in Turkey – and who knows where else, that isn’t being reported. We see floods in Britain, in Germany, and in the eastern Americas… This is only going to get worse, and we are not ready. Extreme weather will be the norm and UK is not prepared, scientists warn.
We’re going to need to completely rebuild our transport and power infrastructure to cope with the effects of climate change – but we don’t have the resources to do it any more. That means roads, railways, pipelines, and power lines being flooded, or buckling in the heat, and we won’t be able to replace them – and this will probably become evident to everybody within the next ten years.
In fact, the possibility that we might be on the edge of social and economic collapse is seriously being talked about now:
- New Zealand rated best place to survive global societal collapse
- An Analysis of the Potential for the Formation of ‘Nodes of Persisting Complexity’
As the author of the KMPG paper says, all is not lost; there is still time to change the way we live in order to avoid the worst. I’m not holding my breath, though. We are where we are because people have ignored warnings for decades; I don’t think they will change until they are forced to.
So if you’ve read this far, you know that at least you have a decade to try to prepare. Imagine your life from 2030 onwards, in a world of perpetual, ever-worsening recession. How will you live?
If you’re following the path of Druidry, you have options. People will always want entertainment. They’ll need new stories, to make sense of the new world. People will need non-pharmaceutical forms of health care, and hospitals and clinics won’t be around so much.
And people will need spiritual guidance. As things fall apart, and all the stories we used to tell ourselves no longer match our reality, how should we live as part of a collapsing society? What will give us meaning? What values should guide our choices and our actions? How do we explain suffering?
Does your Druidry have answers to these questions?