“The Earth Doesn’t Care If You Drive a Hybrid!” Or recycle. Or eat organic food. Or live in a green house powered by clean energy, solar power. Or squander scarce resources. Sorry folks, but Planet-Earth just doesn’t care how much you waste.
Was that published in Mother Earth News? Satire in The Onion? No, it was the actual cover story in the elite American Scholar journal, written by Nobel Geophysicist Robert B. Laughlin of Stanford University. I bring it to your attention because in today’s irrational climate science denialism arena, this may be the only arena where politicians and scientists agree. Actually Laughlin’s message is rather conservative:
“Far from being responsible for damaging the earth’s climate, civilization might not be able to forestall any of these terrible changes once the earth has decided to make them … The geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control … Earth didn’t replace the dinosaurs after they died” during the last great species extinction. She “just moved on and became something different.”
But so what, you say, wasn’t that 65 million long years ago? Won’t happen again in our lifetime. yes it is … humans are the new dinosaurs, one of the next species slated for extinction, warn 2,000 United Nations scientists. And much sooner than you think.
Yes, we are actually the cause of our own extinction, even accelerating on the timetable, thanks to our new GOP leadership. Signing our own death warrant. Not millions of years in the future, but in a century, two at the most. Thanks to our love fueling climate change with fossil fuels. Yes, we’re all closet science deniers.
Master Of Our Fate? Captain of My Soul? No, Just Another Dinosaur!
Here’s how Laughlin put it: “Humans have already triggered the sixth great period of species extinction in Earth’s history.” Get it? We’re to blame. We are the engine driving the next species extermination. Ours. The human race is on a suicidal run to self-destruction. We can’t blame it on the great American conspiracy of climate-science deniers, Big Oil, the Koch Bros, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Congress. It’s us.
We just keep buying gas guzzlers, keep investing retirement money in Exxon Mobil, keep making more and more babies, forever in denial of the widening gap between perpetual economic growth and more babies living on a planet of rapidly diminishing resources.
Yes, humans have already triggered the sixth great species extinction. And yes, it’s already in progress for this century. Why? Because we’re solving the wrong problems, using the wrong data, applying the wrong formulas. Even the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with its 2,500 elite scientists. They update us with 2,000 page technical reports, every five or six years since 1988.
The Wrong Problems … Wrong Equations … The Wrong Solutions …
But they’re solving the wrong problems. As problem solvers, the U.N.’s army of 2,500 climate scientists aren’t much different than former ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson. He admits climate change is real. But he believes it’s just an “engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution.” Tillerson also doesn’t trust those “climate models to predict the magnitude of the impact.” Like the U.N. scientific models. Instead, Tillerson has faith that humans will “adapt to a sea-level rise.” We’ve “spent our entire existence adapting. We’ll adapt.”
So even if the U.N. has 20,000 scientists who are 100% certain that climate change will wipe human civilization off the planet like dinosaurs, never to return … still you can bet your Big Oil retirement stock that Tillerson and every other science denier will keep fighting for free-market capitalism, subsidies and deregulation, keep investing $37 billion annually in exploration. And with their war chest of $150 billion annual profits, they can still pay off all the politicians and investors they need to make sure Big Oil keeps beating all the U.N.’s climate scientists.
Biggest Problem: Denial of Planet’s Unsustainable Population Growth
What’s wrong? Everybody on Earth is in denial about our biggest problem … population growth. Too many new babies, a net of 75 million a year. Yes, we’re all closet deniers — leaders, investors, billionaires, politicians, the 99%, everybody, even Bill McKibben’s 350.org global team. The U.N.’s 2,500 scientists know overpopulation is Earth’s only real problem. Ignore it.
Get it? Earth has only one real problem, there’s the one main dependent variable in the scientific equation. But we refuse to focus on it. So, yes, even scientists are science deniers too. They know population growth is the killer issue, but are avoiding it too. Thousands of scientists have brilliant technical solutions to reducing the impact of global warming. But avoid the root cause. They keep solving the dependent variables in their climate-change science equation. But population growth is the cause of the Earth’s problem, not the result.
Stop, shift, focus on the real problem. Stop focusing on the dependent variables. Your scientific method makes this clear … we are making too many babies. Population’s out of control. And that’s the world’s No. 1 problem. But we’re all in denial. So nobody’s dealing with the world’s biggest problem. Listen:
Scientific American says global population growth is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” By 2050 world population will explode from today’s 7 billion to 10 billion, with 1.4 billion each in India and China, and China’s economy nearly three times America’s.
In “The Last Taboo,” Mother Jones columnist Julia Whitty warned: “What unites the Vatican, lefties, conservatives and scientists in a conspiracy of silence? Population.” But this hot-button issue ignites powerful reactions. So politicians won’t touch it. Nor will U.N.’s world leaders. Even if it’s killing us.”
Back in 2009 billionaire philanthropists meet secretly in Manhattan: Gates, Buffett, Rockefeller, Soros, Bloomberg, Turner, Oprah and others. Each took 15 minutes to present their favorite cause. Asked what was the “umbrella cause?” Answer: Overpopulation, said the billionaires. Too many people.
Jeremy Grantham’s investment firm GMO manages about $110 billion in assets. He also backs the Grantham Institute of Climate Change at London’s Imperial College. He says population growth is a huge “threat to the long-term viability of our species when we reach a population level of 10 billion” because it is “impossible to feed the 10 billion people.” We don’t need more Big Ag farming, we need fewer mouths to feed.
In The Sixth Species Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert warns that “though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did.” Which increases the probability that as population increases and our limited resources get scarcer, wars will increase just as the Bush Pentagon warned, about the time the Iraq war was launched.
But how? Bill Gates says let’s cap global population at 8.3 billion, even as his vaccine and contraceptive plans extend life expectancy. Columbia University’s Earth Institute Director Jeff Sachs says even 5 billion would be unsustainable. To stop adding more is tough enough. But how do eliminate two billion from today’s seven billion total? Voluntary? Remember China’s one-child plan. it didn’t work.
Why Refuse To Face The “Population Problem?” There is No Solution!
Population is a Zen Koan, an impossible question, a puzzle with no answer. Get it … There is no solution. Overpopulation is driving us off a cliff. Even worse, nobody really cares enough. Nobody’s working on a real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. But denial is killing us.
Any real solutions? Or do we all just wait for wars, pandemics, starvation to erase billions? Wait in denial? Is that the sound of the sixth great species extinction dead ahead? Will killing, disease, poverty solve Earth’s biggest problem, the problem no one wants to talks about—over-population?
Meanwhile, Big Oil’s marketing studies keep telling men like Shell Oil the truth about the inconsistent behavior of irrational humans living in denial. How we just keep telling ourselves we’re recyclers, green, love hybrids, eat organic.
Why? Because we just keep buying , keep holding Big Oil stocks for a future retirement, keep stocking up on carbon polluting products, because our subconscious secretly endorses Big Oil’s strategy. As Tillerson told Charlie Rose: “My philosophy is to make money. If I can drill and make money, then that’s what I want to do,” making “quality investments for our shareholders.”
Is It Already Too Late? Why Can’t We Stop Self-Destruction?
“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, environmental anthropologist and author of the classic Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.”
Can it be stopped? Before it’s too late? Don’t bet on it. Watching how Washington solves real problems lately is not encouraging. Diamond detailed the scenario that keeps repeating in history: We need leaders with “the courage to practice long-term thinking, make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they reach crisis proportions.”
But unfortunately, leaders become rigid and myopic, driven more by personal interests than courage, long-term thinking and the public interest. They move from crisis to crisis, often too little, too late. And at some point they pass the point of no return, are caught off-guard, make errors of judgment and their world’s collapse, rapidly.
The dinosaurs didn’t even know what hit them in the last great species extinction. We know what’s ahead. Or do we? Are we just “sleepwalking to disaster,” as the U.N. Secretary-General warns.