A reading list for those suffering from fatalism

Why the reading list?

My whole life, but especially since the election of Trump I have found myself periodically gripped by despair when it appears impossible to visualize much needed change in the world. Here are some examples:

Over and over again I wonder, is there any hope? Are we so stupid as a people that we’re going to kill ourselves? Given the fact that we need the cooperation of lots of people to address these issues, if we are advocates for change, is there any hope of us being able to change our future trajectory?

I noticed as I struggled with this question that certain things I read helped me feel like there’s hope, or helped light a way forward. And other things that I thought would be helpful were absolutely not. Below is a bibliography of everything I’ve read on the topic and what I thought would help.

The bibliography

This is our story“, from Wait But Why? (Recommended): If you put a philosopher, a programmer (systems thinker) and a data nerd into a test tube and shook it, out would fall the writing of Wait But Why. They are currently in the middle of a long multi-part series to help explain how our civilization appears to be such a dysfunctional mess. While there’s no good answers in here as to how to fix it yet (and honestly, no easy answers exist), I’ve found the chapters released so far have allowed me to think about the problems we’re facing in a more manageable way without completely fatalistic attitudes.

“We’re doomed. Now what?”, Roy Scranton (Not recommended): I was excited to read this because it’s perfectly summed up what I was feeling when I realized the climate crisis was not mitigatable around year three of the Trump Administration. Unfortunately the book appears to spend 90% of it’s time reiterating the “We’re Doomed” sentiment. Apart from having that provide an enhanced sense of dread, I realized he’s wildly wrong. We’re doomed is a binary assessment and the state of the world is not like that. Scranton’s solution is to throw up his hands and adopt Buddhist non-attachment as a solution. Even for the climate crisis, there are things we can do to mitigate and withdrawing from the “Doomed” situation is just lazy.