If the Coming Environmental Apocalypse! continues to underwhelm and be met with “Meh,” I think the social engineers are going to have to start talking about near-Earth objects, and begin discovering objects that are going to be Coming Right At Us!, and that might work for a short time, but they will have to set a short window and then deal with the resulting let-down when it just misses us, or set a longer window of time until arrival and then suffer an even bigger loss of interest when it also fails to smash us. After that, there’s just aliens – good ones, bad ones, neutral ones… until that, too, is nothing special. After that? Nothing. Nothing but the truth after that, which includes catching up on human attrition in a big way.
As the Prophet (just a guy I know on Google+) said, “Humanity is stalled right now,” and we know why. The metanarratives are dead. We invent narrative glosses to cover brutal, low-level truths, but now, the lies we told ourselves are growing just as miserable and untenable as the truths they were meant to conceal from our attention. When the truth is no good, and the lie is no good, there is nothing but waiting for some outside agency to force a new story upon us. And we’ll pretend to hate it even as we lap it up. A person locked in solitary confinement would relish the chance to interact with people, even if that interaction was all pain and brutality, because our brains require the stimulation. So, we’ll eventually find an excuse to create more drama locally, if we can’t get it from god, asteroids, rising sea levels, or space brothers. And that drama will be about sex and death, naturally. Which means race, immigration, etc. We can buy more time locally by projecting our animus outward to other nations, and if other nations are facing the same internal pressures (they are), they will gladly reciprocate, as we project our young males out to our perimeters, and they project their young males out to their perimeters, and where the perimeters meet becomes a big dumping ground for excess troublemakers (young males).
I don’t have an answer. I’m sure something will come along, eventually, it’s just that this brings no comfort, either, given our history. Our societies have evolved to be based upon war. When it doesn’t look like war, it’s only because we can extend abstractions out. Sports, business, etc. But it’s always war, at the bottom. That’s why we bury the truth. In the absence of a grand, shared lie, or metanarrative, the truth is bound to come bubbling up to the surface. Either at home or yonder. But like that prisoner in solitary confinement, I think our species will breathe a sigh of relief when it comes. And that is the scariest part of all. This is what we are, beneath all of our pretty lies.