💧Mexico City Is Running Out Of Water: Rationality & Mythology

23 million people face a tipping point in Mexico's water crisis. It's time to decide how we will live our lives in response.

💧Mexico City Is Running Out Of Water: Rationality & Mythology
Death and Life by Gustav Klimt

Amongst all the noise, here’s a story. Record-breaking heat and years of mounting drought have forced more than 550 neighbourhoods to turn off their tap water in Mexico City. Officials are predicting “Day Zero,” the moment the reservoirs will stop pumping and 6 million people will lose their water supply. A few people have died. It's like the beginning of a 1000 movies. It's fine, there is a little tricky thing going on, but it's just a little tricky thing, right? And the audience is going “No you fucking idiots it’s a fucking massive thing”. The audience is hooked. There is nothing like people being stupid to lock in our attention. 

The audience is in a parallel universe - in another time and space. In a hundred years it will be a standard part of the syllabus in shitty universities around the world with the exam question: “Why did no one stop the first mass death crisis in Mexico City during the 2020s?”. A bit like teenagers now answering “Why were the European ruling classes such dicks that they could not stop WW1?”. It’s not written quite like that, but it’s what everyone is thinking. 

So let’s answer it. First, the rationality. Science 101 tells us that life and death are absolutely binary. You can't be half dead. Then there is a single point when you stop being alive and you die. It's called a tipping point - you tip from one state to another. Just like that - in a moment. Lights on. Lights off. One moment you have 80 howler monkeys dropping dead from Mexico’s trees and then it gets a degree hotter and you have thousands of monkeys dead. One moment you have a few people dying in Mexico City from heat exhaustion and then it heats up another degree or two and there is rotting flesh across the whole city. Millions without water or air conditioners. Sure there is noise in the system, probabilities and likelihoods, but don't insult your intelligence. You know what I am saying. You know what is coming. 

A soldier removes the body of a howler monkey that died amid extremely high temperatures. (AP Photo/Luis Sanchez)

Or do you? Seeing is believing right and you have not seen a million rotting bodies. Have you seen any? That’s a big problem. Only experiencing horror can prepare us for it. So here's a story. As a farmer, I grew leeks for the great British public for 30 years. Every year I planted leeks - boring, hardy, and predictable. If you don't know, it's hard to kill a leek. Sure there’s that noise in the system - a few leeks rot for no good reason, the odd cold spell knocks out the unfittest and so on. And then one year, a decade ago, it was around -15C. Not just for one night (tricky but survivable) but for several. One of the coldest winters in Wales. You read about that a lot nowadays: the driest, the hottest, the wettest, the coldest. And nothing much is happening (unless you are poor and in some ‘unimportant’ place). And then… you hit the tipping point.




A big field covered with sludge - the debris of rotting organic matter. That's you and me too. We’re just organic matter - and subject to a precise tipping point we turn into rotting meat on the floor. It's just the way it is. 

Seeing is believing. I learnt that day, as I walked through my sludge fields, that civilisations collapse - this civilisation will collapse. I knew it with my whole being, to my core. Reading this article does not come close to understanding what is coming. Sorry. But it's the best I can do.

Next, the mythology. It's all happened before. Rationality turns out to be just extractive greed which leads to tipping points no one sees coming. And bang. Down we go. A chaos of Freudian-esque theories fills the void of trauma. The door reopens to the world of myth. Human folly. Our desire to die. Wanting to take everyone with us (just look at the comments on Twitter). The collapse of time and space. That is the only story in every moment, ever repeating - every moment that has existed and will exist is here now, as you read this. We both live both in a prison and in an endless expanse. It's all a myth. It's all we ever had.  

What to do? The phrase which goes around my head at the moment is: “Decide to live your life”. The key word here is “decide”. Don’t be a slave to all the rationalist stories of impossibility. Life is the endless enactment of impossibilities but only if you decide to live it. 

You have a sense that this is true. Now go and act as if it is true. And yes this does mean quitting your crappy day job. 

Tomorrow, I'm hosting my monthly Zoom call with a Q&A session and breakout groups. Don't be miserable in bed. Come and join us.

This month, I'm also hosting a 2-day online conference to co-design the revolution with guest speakers like journalist, Chris Hedges and IPCC reviewer, Peter Carter. Sign up for it at www.r21c.net

As always, you can sign up for nonviolent civil resistance with Just Stop Oil in the UK or via the A22 Network internationally. 

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