The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

I published this short post back on April 22, 2013. It has been regularly viewed on my blog since that time. I feel sorry for those viewers because back then the essay was available at the links below. Because the authors turned the essay into a book it can no longer be viewed on the Internet. It can be bought on Amazon and at regular book stores. I did find a review of the essay so detailed that you can read much of the contents. The essay was only 19 pages long and that included 5 pages of endnotes. The book is 104 pages so the authors must supplement the material. I recently discovered a documentary film called The Merchants of Doubt. It is based on the author's book of the same name. It gave me an excuse to repost this article. More on that project after my post.


I came upon an interesting read the other day. It's a short essay by Naomi Oreskes, a Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Erik Conway, a Historian of Science and Technology. It was published in Daedalus (Winter, 2013), the quarterly Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. It's titled, The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. It's a combination of science fiction and history.

Oreskes and Conway wrote the, Merchants of Doubt published in 2010 which documented the relationships of a small group of conservative scientists and the fossil fuel industry that attempted to creat doubt about climate change.

The science fiction of the essay is that it's written from the prospective of a Chinese historian writing in the 24th Century. The history part of the essay is that it relies on what is happening now.

…all agree that the people of Western civilization knew what was happening to them but were unable to stop it. Indeed, the most startling aspect of this story is just how much these people knew, yet how little they acted upon what they knew.

The authors blame many for the inaction. Scientists with their 95% certainty standards, the “carbon combustion complex” with it's monetary interest, and governments with their inability to act.

If you are interested in reading the essay, you can read it here.


UPDATED 5/21/14

I've noticed many people hitting this post over the last year. Using the link above takes you to a site that no longer has the essay available. It seems that the authors created a book out of the essay and it will be available(July 1, 2014) at Amazon here. In the meantime I have found the essay at this site. Don't know how long it will be available there.


That didn't take long did it? It wasn't that great of a post but now it's been update twice.

The book, The Merchants of Doubt, was first published in 2010. It get good reviews on Amazon. The website for the book is a great source for anyone wanting to follow up on the subject. The documentary was just released last December in the United Kingdom. I don't believe I've seen it playing in the United States yet. Could be wrong. The following is a video of Naomi Oreskes explaining the denial of climate change in America. It's 58 minutes long so get yourselves a bag of popcorn and something to drink.




3 thoughts on “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

  1. Wrap Up 3–The Blog – greenbirdingmendo

  2. Wrap Up 2014 – greenbirdingmendo

  3. One Last Post, Because It’s Important! – greenbirdingmendo

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