War to End All Wars

I haven’t been this happy since / the end of World War II —Leonard Cohen

Preamble Whether humanity will see it or not, and regardless of whether humanity will act on it or not, the fact remains that with the onset of the Pandoracene, a human warfare has lately become internecine – a luxury that can ill be afforded. From now into the indefinite future, there will be room for only one war in this world, and that’s the war the Living World is now mounting against us; the rest is as the whim of tyrants or the squabbling of children.

First Approximation


here was a time, not so long ago, when I used to thank my lucky stars for being born into the world in time of relative peace, a time when war, or at any rate world war, seemed a thing of the past. Or perhaps of the future, but at any rate not now.

Then one day, I think it was in the mid 80s, it came to me that this way of thinking was mistaken, quite mistaken, that indeed war had been raging all around me all my life and I hadn’t even noticed.

forest fire

I’m referring of course to the war that western society has waging against the Living World ever since the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

And is waging still, though lately with this one crucial difference: that the world itself is now fighting back, whether through the Climate Crisis, which destabilizes, or through species extinction, which forecloses.

Truth be told, this is the only World War there could really ever be, and one compared to which our own World Wars, I and II, look like tribal dust-ups. But I get ahead of myself.

What this little essay really wants to say is that the advent of the Pandoracene is an inflection point in human history. In the Time Before, humanity had plenty of space for occasional dust-ups; but this is no longer the case.

Orson Wells once imagined the War of the Worlds, and now this is coming true. The savage irony in this is that the savage war the Living World has lately begun to wage against our western lifeways is being waged only inasmuch as western lifeways imagine themselves as unfolding in the absence of a world to unfold in. This makes us another world, and thereby establishes the possibility of a war of the worlds fought on one and the same planet.

I don’t say that Putin and the rest will grasp this point, or even care. I do say only that they must. We no longer inhabit the Time Before. Having entered the Pandoracene, the rules have changed: the only war that counts going forward is the World War invoked by the Climate Crisis – a war already far beyond our means without squandering resources with infighting.

So is the current shape of things, if you ask me anyhow; and perhaps, who knows, Orson Wells was onto something. Or then again perhaps he wasn’t. Only time will tell.

May peace be with you —Trevor

Next up: Born Naturalists