Havoc, Thy Name Is Twenty-First Century!
Havoc, Thy Name Is Twenty-First Century posits that our civilization doesn’t have a problem . . . our civilization is the problem, and nothing less than a new global system is required to turn the tide. Disaster looms in our future, one sparked by an overreaching economy, poor resource management, and incompetence bordering on criminal idiocy when it comes to the planet, our population, and the global ecosystem we all inhabit.
There are plenty of books out these days that detail, lament, or otherwise herald the approaching twin catastrophes of climate change and overpopulation, some focusing on societal or governmental issues, others on science and refuting pseudoscience, and still others on the role religion plays in how we approach global crises like this. But Havoc stands out in this ever-growing field by combining economics, thermodynamics, and philosophy to explain how we reached this tipping point and what it will take to pull us back from the brink.
The author doesn’t waste any time getting started, launching straight into the scientific side of things by defining “the sphere”—the thermodynamic ecosystem we’ll be discussing—both physically and mathematically, then processing the forces at work within the sphere. We’re introduced to the GLOPPE—the global population plus its economy—and how these two concepts (the GLOPPE and the sphere) are affected by the overall economic and collective social construct that defines our civilization at this time. This construct is the global system, and Havoc defines our current global system, GS2, as a result of World War II, and characterizes it as a runaway capitalist mindset complete with deluded belief in limitless growth potential.
It’s easy to drown in all this data; Pogany clearly believes that even casual readers will process what he has to say, and he never takes a break to allow people to catch up. As soon as you’ve processed the math, he hits you with philosophy. Still processing that? He’s already moved on to history.
Although Pogany’s narrative progresses quickly and throws a LOT of new terminology at the reader, the fundamental message is clear: most people could not care less about the unsustainable resource demands their actual level of living generates, whereas we need to realize that we both impact the world and are part of the world. Although the core message is bleak, Havoc‘s end game is all about shifting to a new global system, GS3, formed by twin pillars of understanding and belief.
The author has a monumental task here, trying to cover economical, scientific, social, and philosophical bases for how to restructure our entire society in order to save the world and ourselves. And although he does an impressive job communicating while running all those bases, the sheer wealth of information threatens to overwhelm readers.
But perhaps that’s the point. It must be overwhelming to consider this, because we have overwhelmed already. We’ve overwhelmed the world, and the power we hold is overwhelming. Havoc is both cautionary tale and reminder that we can do incredible, impossible things. But only if we want to.
Although I think Havoc might be too big a first step for undecided readers or newcomers to the topic, it nonetheless remains a valuable, thoughtful resource toward understanding the long road ahead.