I have just put down a book readers of this website are sure to take to heart — Twilight of Abundance by David Archibald, a fellow Quadrant contributor and currently Visiting Fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. The book arrived in the mail, sent to me by the author, so I did the dutiful thing and read the first page, and then I did the self-indulgent thing and read it through as fast as time would allow over the next two days — and with such enormous pleasure that the only fault I might mention is how short it is. (I know, two days for a short book, but I’m a slow reader at the best of times.)
You could say Archibald’s book is about climate change, and it is, and you could say it’s about resource depletion, and it is that as well, and you could also say it’s about the breakdown of international order and it is about that too. But really, what it does is take everything I already believe about the problems the West must face and put them together into a tapestry of such pessimistic realism that it is hard not to be drawn in.
But having read the book, the most astonishing thing is that now, when I find myself in the company of greens and leftists preaching the end of civilisation as we know it, I can now so out-do anything bleak prospect they offer and leave them in the dismal, cooling shade. They talk of fifty year and the rising of the seas etc, etc. But their scenarios have nothing to compare with global cooling’s horrors if anything like the kind of picture Archibald paints comes to pass.
And while the book may be overly pessimistic about the challenges we face – and I emphasise that it may only be overly pessimistic because it might actually be the best set of forecasts available anywhere – there is nothing in it that struck me as seriously over the top. What the book does is outline the kinds of trends he sees, starting with the effects that will flow from a cooling of the global temperature just as we are running out of the abundant fossil fuels we have taken for granted for the past two hundred years.
The book reminds me just how viciously stupid have been the left’s attempts to gag debate on global warming. Had the only evidence available supported the warmists’ cause, there might have been something worth continuing to discuss. Instead, with the abrupt end to the warming phase between fifteen and twenty years ago (depending on whose charts and numbers you prefer), and which has followed the solar cycle in the exact way temperatures have always done, we should actually be looking at the effects that may follow if a solar minimum is about to recur, as it did during the Little Ice Age which ended not all that long ago. Suppose the Thames were to begin freezing over again, as it last did in 1802, how will we get on in a world of such cold and reduced growing seasons? Try that out in conversation the next time some propaganda-programmed dimwit brings up climate change.
Global warming is climate change for idiots. A cooling climate may be the real thing and the possibility should be treated with the utmost seriousness. The subtitle, “Why Life in the 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish and Short’’, is exactly what the book explains. It’s a book with a message we should all be thinking about, and not just here in Australia but across the world.