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With the Clock Running Out, Humans Need to Rethink Time Itself

Reconfiguring hours could restore humanity's hope for the future

Another day, another deadline: To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, greenhouse gas emissions must peak “at the latest before 2025,” according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. This is how we live now—not in the Biblical end times, but in a permanent “time of the end,” in the words of 20th-century German Jewish philosopher Günther Anders. Between the possibility of nuclear war and the forward march of climate change, for at least 70 years a distinctly secular apocalypse has always seemed just around the corner. Time itself is one of the victims.

Just take a look around: The mega-droughts, wildfires, and category-busting hurricanes we see today are the result of emissions past—a hauntological quirk of the carbon cycle. The acute stress of the Covid-19 pandemic slowed time for some, while for others things sped up—both natural responses, psychologists say, to the immense stress of lockdown. News of the war in Ukraine, which once might have arrived in a morning paper or nightly program, is transmitted through our screens 24/7. And TikTok trends move at the speed of a micro-video, pulling fast fashion and even fast furniture along with it. Everywhere, the past, present, and future appear to be collapsing into each other.

Speed has been the name of the game since the Industrial Revolution, according to the German political scientist Hartmut Rosa, author of Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity. For centuries, Westerners have bought into the narrative that “we can overcome material scarcity through economic growth, scarcity of time through faster technologies, and a better, free life through changes in science and politics,” he said in 2015. People are pushed to pack in more labor, more consumption, more everything. Yet the more we cram, the less those experiences register in our minds and memories, leading to a profound sense of alienation.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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