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Finished reading At Work in the Ruins by Dougald Hine. This book is worth your attention. Dougald is best known—to me anyway—as the co-founder with Paul Kingsnorth of the Dark Mountain Project.

This book originated with Dougald’s realization that he needed to stop talking about climate change. Not that he came to believe any less strongly in the reality and serious threat of climate change—rather, the problem with talking about climate change is the framing. Climate change is a finding of data-driven science but climate change points us to larger issues that science cannot answer. Are our current troubles merely the result of unfortunate effects of atmospheric chemistry or are they the result of a disastrous way of living on the Earth?

Most people who talk about climate change, especially the philanthropists and technocrats who steer the course of governments, see climate change as a problem to be solved by STEM. These are the people on the “big path” that

sets out to limit the damage of climate change through large-scale efforts of management, control, surveillance and innovation, oriented to sustaining a version of existing trajectories of technological progress, economic growth and development.

Yet this is more of the same thinking that brought us to this point of converging crises. It is the program of human control over nature.

Dougald writes in favor of the “small path”, which is

made by those who seek to build resilience closer to the ground, nurturing capacities and relationships, oriented to a future in which existing trajectories of technological progress, economic growth and development will not be sustained, but where the possibility of a world worth living for nonetheless remains.

The dream of modernity, the technocratic future, may well lie in ruins. But as the title of Dougald’s book suggests, there is work to be done in these ruins. As he and Kingsnorth wrote in the Dark Mountain Manifesto:

The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world, full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths that lead into the unknown wold that lies ahead.

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