I am very optimistic regarding the fate of humanity on Planet Earth. I have little hope regarding the fate of humanity on Planet Earth.
I am optimistic because I have been involved in enough projects to know that humanity knows how to regenerate healthy ecosystems, restore biodiversity, have electricity without greenhouse gases, feed ourselves without cruelty to animals while also avoiding harmful nutrient runoff, how to thrive without air pollution, educate without creating massive debt, have economies without externalities, all while generating a future that promotes life – not extinction.
I have little hope because I do not see humanity rising to the challenge of both the speed and scale of the changes we must make. We can do it. We have the basic skills and foundational knowledge. My lack of hope is that we won’t do it. That we will choose not to be smarter or more efficient. That we will not become better stewards for the future. That we will continue to wait for the ‘other guy’ to do their part first.
To some of you, the words above may be reminiscent of the opening in “A Tale of Two Cities”. But there is a critical and crucial difference. Charles Dickens gave the reader an option we do not have. He gave us two cities. We only have one planet. The sum of our combined actions will determine our universal outcome for better or worse.
The only way all the bad stuff of global warming and climate change happens is because we want it to. Every day, the cumulative, collective, and continuous impact of every choice we all make moves us towards the path of a future where our children thrive and prosper or keeps us on our current path towards catastrophic climate change – which will also lead to the end of civilization as we know it as our social infrastructures and life support systems collapse.
There is an ever-shrinking window of time to avoid the worse. The key step is more philosophical than physical. It is a change in focus and consciousness. It is understanding that life is more important than economics – after all, without people and without natural resources, there is no economy or even a need for one.
The dinosaurs did not go extinct the day the asteroid impacted the earth. It took generations for dinosaurs to die off and be replaced by new/different species. But the fate of the dinosaurs was sealed the day the asteroid struck. The dinosaurs’ survival problem was that they did not initiate the climate change that would cause their demise and they had no way to alter the chain of events that would lead to their disappearance.
We are experiencing a very different scenario. We, humanity, are the cause. We released the gases that have triggered global warming. We are aiding and abetting climate change by continuing to take habitats away, by reducing biodiversity by over-harvesting, hunting, and poaching, by accelerating our need, want and desire of natural resources as well as our continuous stoking of global warming and our misguided belief that rates the value of life, all life, lower than growth of GDP.
We may deserve our fate.
But our children don’t. And their children even less so.