I think most people don’t even remotely understand what is happening to us. Scientists realize the frightening reality. In a recent photo collection, scientists’ faces reflected the very real fears they have. Each one of half a dozen or so mentioned just one thing about which he or she was most worried, and together they encompass almost all of them: global warming, sea level rise (also here), severe drought, ocean acidification, weather extremes, extinction of species, overpopulation, global conflict from climate change, global catastrophe… There are plenty more.
These scientists genuinely fear for their own lives, and those of their progeny as well. They are all involved in research that has forced them to understand that things will come to a world-wide catastrophe in the true sense of the word. A new comprehensive UN report agrees. Everyone agrees except House Republicans, a number of whom seem remarkably stupid. Their ongoing intransigence, self-interest, and stupidity have for decades prevented the entire world from acting on climate change in any effective way, because we are the biggest polluter, and no significant pollution reduction can happen if the biggest polluter is not on board.
Scientists have real fears
of worldwide catastrophe.
Doubters will point to past predictions of dire consequences and scoff at today’s. Thomas Malthus was the first to realize that rising population could lead to mass starvation. And he was right, but fortunately we found ways to produce food more efficiently, thus changing the equation. Paul Erlich’s The Population Bomb foretold much the same thing, and he was right too. We’re still here, but world population crossed 6 billion in 1999, and 7 billion only 12 years later, on our way to 10 billion well before the century is over.
It is no longer possible to make the kinds of adjustments we did in the past, because rising seas are already covering vast tracts of land and invading coastal cities, and rising temperatures are on course to make ever larger land areas unsuited for crops, and eventually for any life at all. It is far too late to prevent these consequences. All we can do now is try to deal with them.
have for decades prevented
the entire world from acting.
Fears of worldwide catastrophe are very real fears. There is no evidence it will not happen. The tinder is already sparked, and we haven’t even agreed to design a fire extinguisher, and it’s actually too late to use it anyway. The only question is when disaster will arrive.
I am 75 now, and unlikely to live until 2050. But my grandchildren would only be around 50 then, their children in their 20s and their parents in their 70s. People living now could become victims of human-created climate changes that are on course to bring about the downfall of civilization and worldwide chaos and death. It’s even possible that babies born about that time, my great-great grandchildren, will be the last generation of humans forever. Unless there are radical and immediate improvements, it is unlikely there will be any humans alive by 2200 because it’s simply too hot. That seems radical, but it’s not just my conclusion.
Let us hope something intervenes. Let us hope we don’t end this way, suicide by our own stupidity.
The essential problem, as I see it, is that we are not as smart as we think we are, and we have certain shortcomings that could kill us all. We are greedy, arrogant, shortsighted, and intolerant. Most of all, we are possessed of a hubris that makes us scoff at the rising danger, and we are not willing to cooperate even to save our own lives. Even at this late date, corporate moguls want more profit. Since profit is their sole reason for living, they are incapable of understanding that their failure to understand what is happening will doom us all.
blatant disregard for natural limitations,
and absence of social cooperation
are drawing the whole planet
into chaotic climate change.
The increasing intolerance and violence in the Mideast and elsewhere threatens to bring violent instability to the entire world, because, as it was in 1940, the entire world could be drawn into war to defeat those who would kill us for their intolerant ideology, which led to the deaths of sixty million people in WWII (when world population was around 2 billion). The decline of the planet itself could only make it worse.
The First World has no reason for complacency, because the combination of uncontrolled capitalism, blatant disregard for natural limitations, and absence of social cooperation—we don’t want to spoil the First World party we’re having at everyone else’s expense—are inexorably drawing the whole planet into radical climate changes that cannot fail to bring chaos.
These incendiary trends are orders of magnitude beyond the greatest threats we have ever faced. For the first time in human history we have created global climate conditions we cannot control, that are already flooding vast areas, and will in time make the remaining land so hot no crops will grow and no humans can survive. That won’t happen soon, and with massive global cooperation we may luck out, but the fires are lit, and without radical and immediate change it’s probable that we will literally cause the end of our world. Suicide by our own stupidity.