Well written as ever but I get the impression he sees the collapse of global civilisation solely as a disaster and the worst thing that could possibly happen. He needs to get outside of the walls of Cahokia (in his imagination) and see the opportunities that open up once that rapacious center no longer has the power to dominate the surrounds. Here's another writer who read Tainter and came to the conclusion that civilisational collapse, while likely catastrophic especially for those most invested in the system (or most trapped by, and dependent on it) is ultimately the best thing that could happen for the living planet and for humanity as well:
'Our fear of collapse is an irrational one; one that is projected onto us by our leaders, who truly do have something to fear. This is the same class of elites that are the drivers and architects of all the problems we have so far discussed (see thesis #10). Now that we can see that civilization did not give us medicine (see thesis #22), or knowledge (see thesis #23), or art (see thesis #24) — but it does give us illness (see thesis #21), makes our lives difficult, dangerous and unhealthy (see thesis #9), destroys the way of life to which we are most adapted (see thesis #7), and submits us to the unnecessary evil of hierarchy (see thesis #11) — the true nature of civilization should now be plain to see: it is the means by which elites maintain their power and privelage, at the cost of everyone else.
Collapse undoes civilization. As Tainter highlights, such incredibly high levels of complexity as we have today are a bizarre abberation in the history of our species. Collapse returns us to the normal state of affairs — a state of affairs humans are well-adapted to. The benefits of living a well-adapted life are things we, in our maladaptive civlization, usually dismiss as utopian daydreaming. Lower stress, less work, better food, more liesure, more art and music, less violence, more security, less disease, more health — such is the human birthright intended for Esau the Hunter, and stolen by our forebear, Jacob the Farmer. Our plight is not normal; it is what happens when an animal lives contrary to its nature. It is an intractably stressful position, and adaptations must be made to allow such an unnatural state to continue. Coercion and control by authorities must be accepted, to take the place of a natural adaptation to the situation which we lack. More work must be exerted to tasks we have no natural ability for. Much of our energy must be expended simply keeping us alive on a diet we can scarcely digest (and is still mostly toxic to us), while never exercising the faculties that two million years of evolution has led our bodies to expect just over the course of another liesurely day. Today, in the United States — the most complex society our species has ever developed — the number one killer, by far, is stress.
The result of collapse is a reversal of all the quality of life issues that civilization raises.' - https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jason-godesky-thirty-theses#toc52
The difficulty will be getting through the bottleneck and being able to escape the worst paroxysms. Assuming the climate doesn't flip to the point where human life is impossible and we go extinct, I think Hedges' last line, 'this time there will be no exit' is flat wrong and indicates a lack of imagination on his part, if not a fundamental loyalty to the structures of civilisation which he can't imagine living without - no matter how much it kicks him in the teeth... Most environmentalists fail in the same way, seeing the struggle as how best to preserve civilisation, at least the best parts of it that their privilege has allowed them to enjoy. The 'end of civilisation' is routinely conflated with the 'end of humanity', but human beings lived on this planet for 2 million years without organised, high complexity state societies (some still do) and when this toxic system finally founders we'll have the chance to do so again. In fact trying to preserve civ at this stage is arguably the worst thing we could do. Godesky again:
'But, addressing the point of such an absurd statement — the idea that we have some moral obligation to try to stop collapse — consider a sickly child. Consider my brother. It is my earliest memory. The doctors insisted it was not meningitis, even though it matched all the symptoms — after all, how could it be? He had just a few days before had a large number of meningitis pathogens injected into his body, and, having been vaccinated, it couldn’t possibly be. That would mean that science and medcine had failed.
My mother told me not to watch, but I peeked, and the image was seared into my brain forever. My tiny brother’s body, screaming in agony, pinned down by my father and a doctor, as another took a needle nearly as long as my little brother’s entire body, and slipped it into his spine.
I cannot imagine my brother’s pain — or my father’s holding him down for such a thing. But he did the right thing — the hard thing. My brother very nearly died that night, but because my father could see that avoiding that passing agony would mean death, he survived. There was great pain, but once that pain passed, there was life.
That is very much the situation the human race is in now. Had our civilization collapsed in the Bronze Age, it would have killed millions and caused ecological devastation throughout the Mediterranean. It was avoided, and instead we had wars, empires, the decimation of the New World, and we have ushered in the single greatest mass extinction in the planet’s history. Now, we stand on the same precipice. Collapse now would involve the deaths of billions, and we can look back and see that it would have been better if our civilization had not survived the Bronze Age. But it did, for all the same pressures that push us forward now. If by some miracle we do find another deus ex machina, then we will only make it still worse — the deaths of trillions, and the very real poossibility of the extinction of our species, and all multicellular life on earth,
The cost of collapse is terrible. It should have been paid by our ancestors, and damn them for not paying it! The cost would have been so much less. Instead, the debt has fallen on us, and it is almost more than we can bear. Yet bear it — and pay it — we must. If we do, then humanity will be free once again. If we don’t, then our children will pay it, and then the cost will be too much to bear — they will damn us as we damn our ancestors’ weakness, for because of our weakness, there will be no bright, shining hope once the debt is paid. For them, the debt will be so great that it must be paid with the extinction of our entire species.' - https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/jason-godesky-5-common-objections-to-primitivism-and-why-they-re-wrong