Amitav Ghosh - Intimations of apocalypse

On 5 February 2024 Amitav Ghosh gave a Tanner Lecture titled "Intimations of Apocalypse: Catastrophist and Gradualist Imaginings of the Planetary Future ". There is no simple “tl;dr” for this lecture, but here are several excerpts that stand out to me after spending a week editing the auto-generated transcript copied on 2024-02-18 from this now private youtube link:

Some extracts:

Given the scale and diversity of the disruptions that are already being felt around the planet, it is hardly surprising that the prospect of a history ending apocalypse is once again being widely imagined.

[The Event] ... is envisaged as a cataclysm that will involve many kinds of protagonists, some of some of whom are impersonal non-human agencies, such as atmospheric forces, viruses, financial systems, self-replicating nanobots, and artificial intelligence.

What is at issue here ultimately are two radically different conceptions of the planetary crisis, one of which is broadly gradualist, while the other is catastrophist.

The forces that have been unleashed by global warming are not under anyone’s control, nor are they reliable allies of any party. ... . If there is anything that that we can now be sure of, it is that there is nothing predictable about the unintended consequences of techno-scientific interventions.

I suspect that the ... imaginings of apocalypse, that are now so widespread in the West, are based not so much on scientific data as on the anxieties generated by the experience of living in societies that are increasingly unable to deliver on their promises.

... what the future holds may be the exact inverse of the techno-scientific utopias dreamt of by cognitive elites. It would be a world, or worlds, in which those who have long been stigmatized as poor and backward will regain their lost sovereignty, as it comes to be realized that Humanity’s future, such as it is, depends not on space stations, or high-tech bunkers, or Martian colonies, but on being able to adapt to rapidly changing environments here on Earth.

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