Take some time and read through Our Future The Earth, which proposes to tell the story of “where we are” on climate change, but miserably fails to accurately portray the actual reality. I took the time to read through this paper, but left shaking my head. I’ve included some excerpts from this publication to share why I firmly believe that humanity remains firmly entrenched on the path of failure and why some of this is still happening.
Species-centric thinking is humans must (always) come first while still actively trashing the planet and making the biosphere uninhabitable. More growth and “sustainable development” claims are terms that are so overblown and misused that it defies intelligence. There is no such thing as sustainable development. Almost everything humans do within the modern world is ultimately non-sustainable because nothing is actually being replenished. The notion that even more growth can be tolerated is the Achilles heel to this paper.
Here are a few excerpts:
“We have improved the planet for our survival in a number of ways, but we have also made it worse” lets you know what kind of scientific dishonesty will be forthcoming. Humans cannot “improve the planet” without taking something away from the planet, since we offer nothing the planet requires. What we did “for our survival” is not and never will be a planetary improvement. There has been, and always will be, a price to be paid for what we did.
We can only make the planet worse then it was before. By damming rivers, cutting down forest and leveling mountains, we irrevocably change the face of the planet, but it’s not “better”, it’s worse. We’re definitely making it worse for our grandchildren and worse for every other living species on the planet ad infinitum. In fact, we’ve made it so worse that human habitability will likely reach zero in the coming century. By then, every other mammal will also be extinct. We may have “survived” easier then before our “improvements”, but at this price, it certainly wasn’t worth it.
The chapters that follow help to define our current state and identify the challenges we face in achieving a good Anthropocene. Crucially, they also suggest ways of improving our future prospects to create a sustainable society living within our environmental limits.
This must mean that there is also “bad Anthropocene”. Modern humans have never learned to live within the environmental limits no matter how much technology or science or hopium we throw at it. If we actually had “lived within our environmental limits“, we’d have no such need to even be discussing climate change, or extinction or any of the issues that have now presented themselves all over the world. So far, the bad Anthropocene is definitely the path taken.
The implication here is that we’re somehow finally going to get it right, but how can that possibly be true? If we continue to insist on doing everything wrong perpetuating the very systems and practices that caused these problems in the first place, how can this claim change the outcome in any meaningful way? I know from extensive reading and from tearing apart the dishonest and lies that reports like this fabricate, that they are not offering anything that will change the uninhabitable future.
“Migration will continue to be an important survival adaptation” – this is a euphemism for how badly we fucked up the planet to the point nobody can live in these regions anymore. The full sentence reads “Migration will continue to be an important survival adaptation, with the potential to improve lives and livelihoods for migrant and host communities alike.”
This too is complete bullshit, because what it really means is climate refugees (billions) will need to escape hellish regions and invade the remaining habitable regions, increasing population density and competition for jobs, housing and support as humanity crowds into smaller and smaller livable spaces.
This is hardly an “improvement”. Sure, climate refugees may finally have access to a flush toilet, but the “improvement” of their lives came about at the stunning cost of trashing the entire planet making their home countries virtually unlivable and forcing overcrowding everywhere else – until that stops too as the remaining habitable regions also decline in viability and resources. If four-fifths of the Earth is now being used just to produce our food now – how does anyone suppose that we’re going to survive on 1/3 less of the Earth fit for human habitation in less then 100 years from today?
It will trigger a cascading domino effect of escalating destruction and demand for whatever is left. Once we destroy habitability in one swath of the Earth, it will quickly expand to more of the Earth (already a known climate science fact), crowding the surviving populations into smaller and smaller zones of remaining habitability. Some “improvement” this will be.
I write a lot about collapse and the extinction-level event that climate change will cause. I’ve also used the word hopium to point out the falsehoods that so often permeate these kinds of publications. But now, I will give you a new definition:
Hopium is the denial of reality. Hopium breeds false optimism. Hopium is nothing to be proud of. Hopium is what got the entire world in severe trouble with COVID-19 and the pandemic response. Hopium is going to kill billions of humans because hopium creates delay. Hopium is humans embracing delusional memes about the future.
As long as there are misleading reports such as Our Future On Earth around, the odds of actually solving humans habitability problem will get worse and worse.
There is reason to be hopeful: there have never been as many areas of land and sea under some sort of conservation protection – the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau is to close off 80% of its marine area (an area larger than California) to commercial fishing and mining, to create a marine sanctuary for its 1,300 species of fish and 700 types of coral, for instance. There has also been a growth in urban farming and architectural ecosystems – city planners are increasingly greening artificial spaces with parks and gardens, creating novel ecosystems that encourage urbanites to get closer to nature.
Why is this hopeful? This is actually an indictment of our massive failures. Due to over-exploitation globally, some tiny areas (relative to the size of the world’s oceans) are “under protection” (which if you do any research does not stop fishing fleets from fishing right next to these areas or even entering into these areas to poach). Everywhere else is still being severely over-exploited.
“We live in our own small local environments that we can ourselves defile, restore, or enhance”.
Humans do not “enhance” the Earth in any way. The hubris in this statement is astounding. And who only lives in their small local environments if they inhabit the modern world? Everything we eat, wear, consume, drive, use and buy comes from thousands of miles away. Nobody is doing anything about any of that (at scale). This statement only describes tiny tribal villages that raise their own food and make their own clothes and nobody else. But even they are now dependent upon cell phone manufacturers, oil companies, imported tools and supplies and an endless stream of transported goods that are sourced all over the world.
Are they “enhancing” their local environments? Some are – but it’s not near enough. It’s a virtual drop in an ocean of global degradation and destruction.
There are additional reading sources in this report, which I have also taken some excerpts from. You can read The Future Earth Risk Report 2020 here. This report was written by scientists and has a completely different tone then the Our Future On Earth report. Yet even this report utterly fails to present accurate facts, example:
Overpopulation: The potential for the world population to reach a threshold that exceeds the planet’s carrying capacity, potentially leading to ecological and societal collapse.
Strangely, the potential is the emphasis, ignoring the long standing reality of the actual planetary carrying capacity which is far below current population levels, and the reality of ecological and societal collapse already occurring in many parts of the world.
This is yet another example of scientific reticence to actually state the bald-faced truth and instead, present terminology in a misleading future tense. Potentially, they’re full of shit like a Christmas turkey and they’re potentially still lying to everyone. Why at this late date are they still pretending they don’t know what’s what when we actually do know that the Earth’s carrying capacity has long since been grossly exceeded?
I’ve come to believe that few scientists and especially science editors and journalists have the courage to tell it like it is. They’re afraid to speak the whole truth. When reality is very different then what is being reported in papers like this, this makes no sense whatsoever. Political decision makers love this sort of nebulous future framing farting which leaves them ample room to just go on ignoring the problems which they’re quite content to keep on doing, thus guaranteeing our future failures.
Imagine 10 billion people on the planet when everything is now breaking down all at the same time all over the world. No food, no water, too much water, deadly storms, collapsing infrastructure, billion + refugees, diseases and pandemics – does anyone honestly believe that then is the time to finally admit to the truth? Or that this is the time to finally get serious about revamping how humanity survives on this planet? Can’t happen? It is happening. A quarter million people are being added each day. In just over a week, that’s two million more people.
Where are all the resources going to come from to sustain these additional lives? What does this mean for rising greenhouse gas levels? What about pollution? How will the world feed these people when they too become adults? Will there even be enough land, water or food? I know from extensive reading that these questions are not adequately answered and there is reason to have serious doubt that our present rates of growth are anything but “sustainable”.
The potential is actually this: humanity is facing collapse, having long since exceeding planetary carrying capacity.
It is extremely easy to find gross dishonesty in nearly any publication which pretends to accurately inform and asses the risks humanity is truly facing. Here is another example from the Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach
Climate change now represents a near-to mid-term existential threat to human civilization. But this is not inevitable. A new approach to climate-related security risk-management is thus required, giving particular attention to the high-end and difficult-to-quantify “fat-tail” possibilities, in order to avoid such an outcome.
Allegedly, this “new approach” will (now) “solve” the existential threat of deadly climate change “in time”. There is no other way to read this factually false statement. The promise of “avoiding such an outcome” is fat with dishonesty and deception because of the countless assumptions this entails.
I will make it plainly clear – we cannot replace the missing ice. Nor can we draw down the carbon dioxide and methane from the atmosphere and soils globally fast enough. We’ve got a thousand years (at least) of warming still ahead of us due to the long-lived nature of major greenhouse gasses. We’re still not even trying on a scale that would have any meaningful effect. The existential threat of deadly climate change is for now, virtually immutable and very likely (high probability) to remain that way.
There’s more just in the Overview section of this paper:
To reduce or avoid such risks and to sustain human civilization, it is essential to build a zero-emissions industrial system very quickly. This requires the global mobilization of resources on an emergency basis, akin to a wartime level of response.
Do you spot the erroneous assumptions? First of all, industrial systems are a primary cause of dangerous climate change. Perpetuating this destructive activity even under the false “zero-emissions” claim will not solve resource destruction, environmental degradation and habit destruction. Nor is there any such thing as “zero-emissions” industrialized activity.
This is the problem with science and researchers who appear to have no clear understanding of ecology. Human civilization, with its industrialized processes is inherently destructive to the biosphere. We try to pretend otherwise and twist the meaning of words to hide the horrible truth. Other buzzwords being grossly distorted are “sustainable” and “development”, more accurately described as “continued destruction” and “endless growth” all of which will lead to collapse of civilization and likely, our extinction.
In EVERY science report I have read, there is the inherent notion that civilization in its present form MUST continue “as is” for our species. Growth, development, expansion, economy, et. al., must be maintained. This begs the question: If these are the root problems that caused deadly climate change (which they are), then why would we seek to perpetuate any and all of these even longer?
There are other ways to live on this planet nearly indefinitely. Why isn’t this even being considered? Why is this topic ALWAYS missing from these papers?
I think that the answer to this question is obvious – it is not even within the frame of reference for scientist, industrialists, business or policy makers (or nearly anyone else). Their assumption, which is factually false, is that humanity must always press forward for more. Yet they seem to lack the capacity to understand that this is the reason why we are now in this predicament. Our desire for more led to exactly that, with all the terrifying consequences this has now unleashed. Our hubris is to think that we can now also (finally) control our wastes with more technology yet this has never been true.
We also believe that we are capable of restricting our growth, and our greed, but now, the power of unlimited consumption is literally in the hands of billions of people, who in turn, are being programmed by business, industry and government to endlessly consume on a daily basis. In Alan Weisman’s book, “Our Last, Best Hope for a Future On Earth” he shares the near-complete futility of trying to combat medieval thinking and institutionalized religion. It’s still a gigantic losing battle after billions of dollars and decades of effort.
If we don’t address gross over-population and the real carrying capacity of the planet, along with unlimited consumption and endless greed, our waste streams (greenhouse gasses and pollution) will continue to accelerate biosphere collapse, leading to our (soon) extinction. It’s just that simple. The civilization that we embraced refused to consider finite limits on any of the Earth systems that sustain life, and we deliberately designed economic models based upon this gross miscalculation.
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes in our entire history, and it is being ignored by scientists, researchers, academics and policy makers. An economic model based upon consumption and endless growth was always destined to destroy Earth’s habitability and human survival. Religions that fail to recognize that the Earth is now way over-full and over-used have violated their core teachings.
Scientists that continue to insist that growth is still desirable are doing the entire world a great disservice. We look to these experts to give us expert guidance, but I’m still not seeing it and have been looking for decades now. If they can’t actually tell us “like it is”, then we need to find those who will and can, fast. Otherwise, you might as well embrace the hopium and the suck that will come with it, because it’s going to really suck to watch your own children die from something that we should have all prevented.