I generally don’t blog or even tweet about climate change for the same reason why I don’t blog about gamma-ray bursts.
For at least a couple of decades, establishment media outlets and climate researchers run their climate-change articles specifically with the agenda to push the ruling class to make changes. The hook of nearly all pieces on climate change running in mass media is the reporter waving their arms and yelling, “Somebody, do something!” From a random assortment from the last 24 hours alone, we have: “How limiting greenhouse gases would substantially benefit the US economy” (The Guardian); “…but Chinowsky said there is a real opportunity to start the conversation, for state leaders and agencies to enact change…” (a Denver ABC affiliate); “Wake up, Australia.” (news.com.au).
They even tipped their hand to this intentional massaging of climate articles after NY Mag ran a piece last year that didn’t hew to the usual cliches, drawing tut-tutting from some of the usual names. Don’t stray off the reservation, they said. Stay laser-focused on influencing people to change, to cut carbon emissions, to beat climate change.
Which is, and always has been, quite hilarious.
To claim humans can beat human-induced climate change is to claim you’ve never met a human.
You see, every one of these articles places the burden of fixing the climate on someone else. That’s the issue. Nobody wants to put the bell on the cat. A reporter can claim he or she has no real power, and maybe not; but are they personally going to give up their car or their air conditioner? Governments run by your standard-issue liberals organize enough commissions and blue-ribbon panels to rival your average Soviet regime, producing documents and conclusions by the thousands — all recommending changes in the passive voice and/or using the generic “we,” surely to be done by some future person or persons. Al Gore barely mentioned the environment when he was actually in a position of authority; but as a private citizen, he’s spent the past 18 years flying the globe in gas-guzzling private jets to push the “somebody do something” trope. The writers of even the weak-tea Paris climate accords were timid enough (or, perhaps, cognizant enough of human nature) to offload most of the work involved onto future years and future presidencies and premierships.
And even the limp-wristed “talk climate change until it goes away” approach, let alone Paris, has been enough to trigger backlashes by voters, and here’s where we get down to the brass tacks of human nature. Human beings are, to put it mildly, hardly motivated by logic. They believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories about vaccines, about pizza-gate, about QAnon, about vast and yet somehow invisible world conspiracies. The slice of humanity able to even take climate change seriously is narrow at best, let alone act on it beyond the “lol you other people better change things quick” kabuki routine.
Does anyone really think over seven billion people can possibly give up their easy, carbon-burning ways? Including, for instance, cheap and abundant food at a level unheard of in human history? To sacrifice for the future and wholly unite as a society to fight a threat that, unlike the threat of Nazi armies, is difficult to explain and impossible to see with their own eyes? Goddamn Al Gore can’t give up his planes and his luxury, air-conditioned mansions. Does he really expect the average rube in Kansas or Brazil to make sacrifices? If he had any questions to the matter, he was answered when the rubes in those places elected tyrannical, anti-science, authoritarian morons specifically to give the middle finger to elites and their environmentalism.
The climate establishment may be helped by taking a step back and realizing they’re dealing with real-life human beings and their deeply flawed institutions, not a utopian United Federation of Planets or something. They may be helped by considering that the human condition essentially prohibits people putting aside self-interest to combat an invisible force acting too slow to trigger obvious changes over a single day. Or as Thanos — and we’ll get back to him shortly — would tell climate scientists: “I know what it’s like to lose. To feel so desperately that you’re right, yet to fail nonetheless. It’s frightening. Turns the legs to jelly. I ask you, to what end? Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now, it’s here.”
How can homo sapiens avoid extinction within the next few centuries?
I’ve been noodling this can think of only a few realistic scenarios (well, if one allows some leeway with the term “realistic” anyway).
1. Find a new home. This one is a bit… tricky, to put it mildly. The number of known exoplanets possibly within a habital range continually grows, but that leaves out the sticky problem of how to even get a ship or probe of some kind to explore them. Achieving FTL travel may be the holy grail of sci-fi nerds but nobody in the real world is making any headway — in fact, nobody in the real world even knows where to begin. (Warp drive? Wormholes? Hyperspace? Is it even possible at all? Your guess is as good as NASA’s!) Even if we do find a way to reliably beat the lightspeed barrier, and even if we somehow locate an Earthlike world able to sustain life without slowly poisoning us off via any number of ways — trace chemicals in the atmosphere, alien microbes, etc — there remains the problem of transporting billions of people to the new site before their hellscape of an Earth consumes them. I don’t know, but as NASA seems to have given up on manned spaceflight entirely, and the private sector is more interested in putting Teslas in orbit than anything else, I don’t foresee anyone designing the USS Enterprise anytime soon.
2. Colonize the Earth. Some people talk about colonizing Mars. How about building the domed cities right here instead? If nothing else, it saves time on the ol’ commute! Even in the face of choking carbon dioxide loads, hellish hurricanes, and acidic, nutrient-depleted soil only able to grow the hardiest, roughest of crops, it’s still orders of magnitude more survivable than any other rock in the solar system. Put in some air filter systems, artificially enhanced soil, and a grim acceptance that you’ll never grill a steak again, and a few hundred thousand people may be able to persist around the globe. Look up what conditions were like in the Early Triassic to get a sense of what we’ll be facing — while not exactly a spring night in Aruba, it sure sounds more inviting than the surface of Mars. The problem here is that everyone outside the domes — i.e., the vast majority of our billions of people — must eventually perish, leading to a nightmare pandemonium of the outsiders storming or eventually destroying the colonies in desperation and/or rage. I don’t see how humanity survives the chaos and wars of the initial phase of “colonization” absent a prior great emptying of the planet, which brings us to…
3. Quick and massive depopulation. Climate scientists like to bring up the same few shopworn examples of global warmers — private vehicles, coal-burning power plants, methane-farting cows — without bringing up the one thing these things have in common: their humans. Cut down on humans, and you cut down on car drivers, electricity consumption, and cheeseburgers — and more importantly, their related carbon emissions. After ol’ Grimace there snaps his fingers, the futures market for fracked oil would absolutely crater, I tell ya. The issue, though — well, beyond the slight morality question of whether wiping out billions of people is exactly WWJD — is that no method of “quick and massive depopulation” could be as relatively painless in real life as what happened to poor Spider-man. A massive nuclear war, for instance, is not really the recommended approach for healing the planet’s environment. A global, possibly bioengineered plague seems more likely, if the mad scientists can devise a virus that kills most but not all of the population — but then, as all post-apocalyptic movies and shows tell us, the real struggle begins afterwards among the survivors. But the biggest problem of the Thanos gambit: even if humanity survives the disaster, even if we pick up the pieces and live in harmony afterwards, the problem will just rear its head once again within a few centuries after we repopulate the planet. Unless humanity has the unity and foresight to build the domed cities from the entry above ahead of time — and the wisdom of this species has already been discussed — than we’ll be right back at square 1.
4. Forced disuse of all fossil fuels. The whole point is, there is no agency, no government, no media campaign that can stop people from mining, fracking, and burning carbon-based fuels. The experts can come up with perfect plans to wind-down carbon emissions all they want — humanity just ain’t buyin’. American conservatism, as an example, has only two tenets these days — worship of Donald Trump, and owning the libs — and nothing owns the libs harder than burning coal and chopping down forests. It’s like how owning guns is less about guns and more about triggering them-thar’ big-city lib’rals, which is related to why the NRA now features lengthy diatribes raging about liberal Americans from Dana Loesch that don’t even mention guns once. Anyway, if you want a West Virginian’s lump of coal, you’ll have to pry it from his cold, dead hands — or otherwise convince him to give it up. One idea I’ve seen is a bio-engineered “coal miner’s disease.” Basically, we go back to the global-pandemic well, only this time it’s a retrovirus that is harmless other than causing an intense and possibly lethal allergy to coal and coal smoke. That’s literally what it would take to convince humanity to save itself, and the outright silliness of a “bio-engineered coal allergy” is making the colonization of alien worlds seem feasible by alternative. (And even that might be beatable. Picture moon-suited workers handling coal like it were plutonium.) I once hoped we would at least run out of oil before climate catastrophe set in; but thanks to a fracking revolution that’s only just getting started, no dice.
5. Fusion power. Conventional nuclear power would have been a perfect source of electricity if it weren’t for that whole “meltdown” thing or that bothersome “terrorist bait” issue. That’s the problem with opening new nuke plants: even if you could convince someone to allow a plant in their back yard, the safeguards to prevent disaster — including expensive, elite, military-level armed teams on alert 24/7 to deal with terrorists, no mere rent-a-cops allowed — render nukes as one of the most expensive options around. Enter the fusion power plant. Zero emissions, no meltdowns, no spent fuel rods, and as long as your chief engineer isn’t Doc Ock, quite safe and with no dirty-bomb fuel to tempt terrorists. But the problem is that fusion power just might be even more of a pipe dream than FTL. For one thing, scientists believe that the fusion process can only occur in temperatures even hotter than the sun, as we do not have its intense gravity and pressure to aid the process. Unlike FTL, scientists have actually come up with two alternative models; however, both appear to be complete dead-ends, and the only self-sustaining going on at this point are the budgets of various government boondoggle projects. Fusion-powered reactors on Earth look impossible due to the fundamental laws of physics, which means our only option just might be to…
6. Cheat the fundamental laws of physics. Ok, so if this is one of the straws we wind up grasping at to save humanity, we’ll really be up a creek. Anyway, I don’t have any real basis or expertise for what I’m about to write, which means by the rules of the internet I absolutely should be spouting off about it, so here goes. I have a strange feeling that the key to getting out of our current jam… the key to everything, really… is figuring out how to cheat a rule of reality that we so take for granted that violating it makes as much sense as the computer monitor I’m looking at transforming into a giant puffer fish singing the refrain from “thank u, next.” I’m not even talking about the speed of light; I’m talking about causality. If one were to violate causality so that the effect could trigger the cause, then all sorts of crazy forbidden solutions open right up. And from what I can tell, this actually isn’t quite forbidden. Suppose I wished the effect that mug from across the room were to be uplifted by a draft and land perfectly in the palm of my hand, liquid intact. Now suppose, by forces generally understood in particle physics, the various subatomic particles in and around the bottom of the mug all sync’ed up in such a way that they “randomly” move… if “move” is the right word to use… and cause the mug to indeed lift off– ok, look, I have no idea how one would go about this. But for one thing, the speed of light would suddenly become trivial to deal with, and a galaxy of potentially inhabitable worlds open up. For another, I imagine fusion reactor scientists would have a lot more to work with if an event could predate its cause, wouldn’t they? Too bad such a thing is as insane as allowing division by zero. Also too bad that one of the only ways out of this jam is by cheating the fundamental laws of physics.
That’s all I’ve come up with.
The realistic scenario, though? We’re toast. Humans come up with ineffectual little carbon plans that are more than offset by some “burn, baby, burn” asshole in another country; the climate careens toward becoming incompatible with life; by the time people in general decide to finally shut off the engines, it’s way too late; the final humans will enjoy last moments defined by heat, acid, starvation, disease, and vermin. Their only solace that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have gotten sufficiently high as to render many higher-order brain functions impossible and thus, they hopefully won’t even really know what’s going on.
The biggest reason why I feel this way is not because of the hysterics of your average liberal media outlet or brainwashing by some kind of Gore/Soros-funded disinformation campaign. I feel that this human, sentient-being experiment has to end in such a dramatic collapse as to trigger the birth of a new geologic era simply because this has all happened before. Part II of this is going to be even more bonkers than the “cheat physics” section from above, so let’s strap in, guys.