Forget Hybrids, Solar, Recycling, Eating Organic, Clean Energies?
In an American Scholar cover story, “The Earth Doesn’t Care If You Drive a Hybrid,” Nobel Physicist Robert B. Laughlin warned that “humans have already triggered the sixth great period of species extinction in Earth’s history.” Get it? We’ve already triggered a catastrophic ending. Now we’re just waiting, in denial.
So you can forget recycling, hybrids, organic food, solar power, forget clean energy. Not enough. Never will be. Adapting may make you “feel good,” but it will still never stop the momentum of global warming temperature increases as population rockets up to 10 billion.
Planet-Earth just doesn’t care what humans do, to cause climate damage … or to reverse it. Listen closely: Nature has a “mind” of its own, the same “Mind” that Einstein wanted to “know.” About that same time as Laughlin warning, environmentalist Bill McKibben also warned in Foreign Policy, that it may already too late. Hawking agrees. Now, our last great hope, our best strategy, says McKibben is to keep all the “coal, gas and oil underground.” Naturalist Edward O. Wilson even quantified how much that means in his new Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life.
But given the political power of fossil fuel climate deniers and the planet’s out-of-control population growth, leaving half the planet undeveloped is highly unlikely, a dangerous “third rail” for politicians facing repeated short-term election campaigns. Especially today with more than a billion cars already above ground moving people around the planet, every day pulling up to the pumps, demanding more and more gas.
Now imagine what happens to all that demand for fuel as global population adds another three billion! More people, more cars, more driving, more energy, more pollution, and the planet just keeps burning hotter.
Are Humans Beings Planet-Earth’s Newest “Dinosaurs?”
Humans may well be the next dinosaurs in the crosshairs of destiny, driven by a selfish survival-the-fittest madness gene, in denial and psychologically incapable of truly comprehending our suicidal drive to self-destruct, opting instead for short-term gratifications. This indictment is obvious in the works of many experts:
In THE RACE FOR WHAT’S LEFT: THE GLOBAL SCRAMBLE FOR THE WORLD’S LAST RESOURCES Michael Klare put it this way: “No matter how much corporate or government officials wish to deny it, there are not nearly enough nonrenewable resources on this planet to perpetually satisfy the growing needs of a ballooning world population.” This trend echoes Jeremy Grantham’s warnings that it will be “impossible to feed the 10 billion people” that U.N. demographers predict will live on Planet-Earth by 2050, in just one short generation.
In COUNTDOWN: OUR LAST, BEST HOPE FOR A FUTURE ON EARTH, Alan Weisman warns: “Every species in the history of biology that outgrows its resource base suffers a population crash, a crash sometimes fatal to the entire species.” In short, while reducing population numbers is not popular with most people and politicians, it’s yet another reason even the United Nations is ignoring their own population growth predictions for 2050.
In REQUIEM FOR A SPECIES, WHY WE RESIST THE TRUTH ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, Clive Hamilton is also incredibly blunt: Earth will soon “enter a chaotic era lasting thousands of years. Whether human beings would still be a force on the planet, or even survive, is a moot point. One thing seems certain: there will be far fewer of us.” George Marshall went further in his Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change.
Can we think different, change in time, save our planet, our species? In HOMO DEUS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TOMORROW, Yuval Noah Harari says it’s unlikely: “We do not become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather we become satisfied when reality meets our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.” Our demands are addictive, more is never enough.
So what is next? As Michael Tennesen details in THE NEXT SPECIES: THE FUTURE OF EVOLUTION IN THE AFTERMATH OF MAN, any effort to bring down the accelerating population growth would be “asking humans to do something that no other species has ever done; constrain their numbers voluntarily.” Ergo, since population growth is unstoppable, global warming is unstoppable, our sustainability bottleneck is a catastrophic ending.
What if our civilization here on this planet really is the only “intelligent life” left across billions of years, trillions of star systems and hundreds of millions of potentially habitable planets? So far, scientific evidence does suggest that we are in fact all alone. But why us? Are we unique, or merely the latest civilization to hit a universally preprogrammed “sustainability bottleneck,” and just like all the others before us, we also lack the “intelligence” to figure out the codes, solve our problems, save the world, break through to the other side, and survive.
In fact, “intelligence” may be our fatal flaw, the same fatal flaw in all earlier civilizations on habitable planets. Are we all just too smart for our own good? The latest left alone, living on a dying planet, in denial, self-destructing, victims of our own successes, a limited intelligence. The latest stopped short of the end zone as the clock runs out, unable to break through our “sustainability bottleneck” thanks to the kill switch embedded in our genes … not by some enemy “out there” somewhere.
Next? After The “Age of Humans?” New Species? On New Planet?
In her classic, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert identifies our self-destruct tendency as a “madness gene.” The DNA of all humans is instinctively egocentric, we are all capitalists programmed with a survival instinct, a mutation that paradoxically drives us individually and collectively to sabotage not only our own capitalist economy and ideological successes, but to self-destruct our civilization, planet, even ourselves in a suicidal madness. And yes, even setting the stage for the coming “sustainability bottleneck.”
Free will? Or fate? Anthropologist Jared Diamond says the choice is still one that humans can make. Must make. And we are making. In his classic Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, we see a madness gene guiding the collective brains of all species, driving us to risk all, like the mythic Icarus flying too near the Sun, inevitably self-destructing in the relentless pursuit of a dream.
Diamond has warned us so many times that our human brain never learns the lessons of history, that our inbred myopia—short-term survival instinct—makes us perpetually in denial, that we are our own worst enemy in the long-run.
One key example stands out: Centuries ago two million people thrived in the great Mayan civilization. Yet, as with “so many societies, the elite made decisions that were good for themselves in the short run and ruined themselves and societies in the long run.” As a result, the Mayan civilization collapsed “because of a combination of climate change, drought, water-management problems, soil erosion, deforestation.” The rulers “managed to insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions.” Forests were leveled. Unfortunately “the kings didn’t recognize they were making a mess until it was too late.” They were in denial. Sounds familiar?
Grand Design? God Particle? Or “Unified Theory of Everything!”
The catastrophic endgame warnings of physicists Fermi, Hawking, Frank, Laughlin and other experts hint to a far bigger plan for our world, a plan filled with mysteries and contradictions. Einstein believed “the human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe,” yet searching for the “Mind of God” was his greatest priority.
So what are the “New God Algorithm Wars” really about? At best, experience tells us it is the “still small voice” within each of us. And at the same time, something bigger too. In The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking and his co-author hedged their bet, concluding God did not create the Big Bang that triggered our universe, creating life on our planet about 13.7 billion years ago.
More recently, however, when Hawking learned that scientists at Europe’s CERN Hadron Collider had finally discovered the elusive “Higgs boson,” Hawking again warned that this “God Particle” would eventually trigger a doomsday scenario and “wipe out the universe,” echoing his prediction of a “catastrophic ending.”
The Question Nobody’s Asking: “Why Is God Killing Life On Earth?”
Our search began with a challenging hypothesis: “The Question Nobody is Asking, Why is God Killing All Life on Planet Earth?” Today, perhaps a more accurate way of stating it as a scientific hypothesis might be: Is there a secret “God Conspiracy” of humans committed to destroying Planet-Earth? Not a conscious conspiracy, but more in the nature of Jungian psychology’s “collective unconscious,” a neural network guidance system prewired in our DNA that at times overrides free will, coordinating individual decision-making in accordance with some master plan.
At the time I was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley, during evenings working on the script for a musical comedy based on Goethe’s Faust and its prototype The Book of Job from the Old Testament. Today everyone is playing the blame game with global warming, passing the buck. But back then, the narrative wisdom and fascinating moral contradictions of The Book of Job seemed rather obvious in the one-sided destructive power of God’s “Whirlwind” wiping out Job’s family, wealth and power. There was absolutely no question who was running the show, although later in 1808 Goethe gave Faust free will, choice and responsibility.
All that raised some profound questions: If God really has absolute control of the climate, then, from a theological perspective, global warming can be neither “human-caused” nor “human-cured.” We could not “blame” God. Get angry, yes. But we must also acknowledge that “God” does have a plan, much as in the Dalai Lama’s The Universe in A Single Atom and Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design.
Of course we know there are no scientifically verifiable answers, although pollsters could easily troll for public opinions, as they did during the recent political campaigns in America and across the world. Suspicions were later confirmed in a Washington Post column: “People are seriously wondering whether God is punishing us with the 2016 election.”
So yes, it turns out that that “question no one is asking” really is very much on American minds just below the surface, buried under the climate science denialism virus by partisan polls, myopic politicians, click-bait bloggers and rampant media hyperbola, all mucking up the collective unconscious.
As Einstein once put it in a moment of self-examination: “The most important question facing humanity—is the universe a friendly place? All people must answer for themselves.” And if unfriendly, then each must decide what or who really is killing life on the planet. If human-caused, then we are our own worst enemies. But what if God’s Whirlwind really is the cause, as in The Book of Job? In fact, what if God really is purposely killing life on Earth? Why? More questions. More answers, or silence? … next to …