Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

15 01 2021

This is a mere excerpt from a very long and detailed article I won’t copy paste here. To read it all go to https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full?fbclid=IwAR1cRcW08r-m7w0t79bl2AhiNKLfVJGW5TsHOjiYL20QK3YaZmuEhreFSNc

Changing the Rules of the Game

While it is neither our intention nor capacity in this short Perspective to delve into the complexities and details of possible solutions to the human predicament, there is no shortage of evidence-based literature proposing ways to change human behavior for the benefit of all extant life. The remaining questions are less about what to do, and more about how, stimulating the genesis of many organizations devoted to these pursuits (e.g., ipbes.org, goodanthropocenes.net, overshootday.org, mahb.stanford.edu, populationmatters.org, clubofrome.org, steadystate.org, to name a few). The gravity of the situation requires fundamental changes to global capitalism, education, and equality, which include inter alia the abolition of perpetual economic growth, properly pricing externalities, a rapid exit from fossil-fuel use, strict regulation of markets and property acquisition, reigning in corporate lobbying, and the empowerment of women. These choices will necessarily entail difficult conversations about population growth and the necessity of dwindling but more equitable standards of living.


We have summarized predictions of a ghastly future of mass extinction, declining health, and climate-disruption upheavals (including looming massive migrations) and resource conflicts this century. Yet, our goal is not to present a fatalist perspective, because there are many examples of successful interventions to prevent extinctions, restore ecosystems, and encourage more sustainable economic activity at both local and regional scales. Instead, we contend that only a realistic appreciation of the colossal challenges facing the international community might allow it to chart a less-ravaged future. While there have been more recent calls for the scientific community in particular to be more vocal about their warnings to humanity (Ripple et al., 2017Cavicchioli et al., 2019Gardner and Wordley, 2019), these have been insufficiently foreboding to match the scale of the crisis. Given the existence of a human “optimism bias” that triggers some to underestimate the severity of a crisis and ignore expert warnings, a good communication strategy must ideally undercut this bias without inducing disproportionate feelings of fear and despair (Pyke, 2017Van Bavel et al., 2020). It is therefore incumbent on experts in any discipline that deals with the future of the biosphere and human well-being to eschew reticence, avoid sugar-coating the overwhelming challenges ahead and “tell it like it is.” Anything else is misleading at best, or negligent and potentially lethal for the human enterprise at worst.



2 responses

15 01 2021

This a great paper, here are some quotes that the MSM coverage left out:

“As of 2020, the overall material output of human endeavor exceeds the sum of all living biomass on Earth.”

“That we are already on the path of a sixth major extinction is now scientifically undeniable.”

“Regarding international climate-change accords”….”intended national determined contributions for post-2020 climate action have been utterly inadequate.”

This is my favourite:
“The predominant paradigm is still one of pegging ‘environment’ against ‘economy’; yet in reality, the choice is between exiting overshoot by design or disaster – because exiting overshoot is inevitable one way or another.”

“Even though climate change alone will incurr a vast economic burden possibly leading to war (nuclear, or otherwise) at a global scale, most of the world’s economies are predicated on the political idea that meaningful counteraction now is too costly to be politically palatable. Combined with financed disinformation campaigns in a bid to protect short-term profits, it is doubtful that any needed shift in economic investments of sufficient scale will be made in time.”

For some time now it has been commented that scientists are not warning us enough. Au contraire, they have been, but the media won’t mention it.

15 01 2021
SoundEagle 🦅ೋღஜஇ

Dear Mike Stasse and Mark Bevis,

Hello! In spite years of flashing out the (conceptual, philosophical, ethical, practical and/or social) framework in examining the possibility or plausibility of environmentalism meeting the needs and expectations of all humanity to help us to survive as a species, fundamental progress is still far too slow.

I am delighted that all three of us care about the Earth and the state of environmental degradation and global ecological crisis as well as our fellow human beings. There may be no hope for humanity on Earth as we continue our wasteful and non-sustainable existence plus over-population. As for the future of humanity and migrating to other extra-terrestrial world(s), I have the following to add. Let me quote just a paragraph from one of my fellow bloggers by the name of Robert Elessar as follows:

Of course, as physicist and pioneer of quantum computation David Deutsch argues beautifully in his book The Beginning of Infinity, we humans—and our descendants, whether biological or technological or both—have the potential really to become significant on a cosmic scale. As he also points out, there is no guarantee that we will do so, but there appears to be nothing in the laws of nature that prevents it. It’s up to us** to decide.

Furthermore, I would like to add that the culture of expansion and exploitation as well as the ever-burgeoning population seem to be both the crux of, and the bottleneck to, our becoming significant on a cosmic scale.

Since the human species has not (always, adequately and/or consistently) been a good custodian of the environment and the Earth (not to mention countless wars, atrocities, resource depletions, species extinctions, environmental degradations and so on, plus an area of rainforest as big as 100,000 football courts is being cleared or destroyed everyday), there is no assurance that once the human species migrates to another planet, the same problems would not again surface and plague us, perhaps at an even quickening and/or devastating pace as a result of better and greater expansion, production and technology. We would indeed export our baggage and problems to other worlds!

Another blogger, Matthew Wright, commented to SoundEagle on 16 July 2013 at 11:39 pm as follows:

I think if we went to Mars, we’d deal to it the same way we’re currently dealing to Earth. Richard Attenborough summed it up when he referred to us as the ‘scourge’ of the planet. Caused an outcry, but it seems to be true. Jared Diamond has published a good analysis of it, if a little deterministic for my liking. The reason would seem to be a faulty survival mechanism – hard-wired techniques for maximising resources that worked when we were on the ragged edge of extinction in the ice age, but now serve to create problems.

Perhaps we could also liken humans as cancer cells on the petri dish that is Earth.

Extinction is a euphemism for extermination, considering how many and the manner in which members of many endangered species have met their fate and untimely end.

More than 99% of all species that ever appear on Earth are already extinct since life began.

The average lifespan of a species is one million years. The human species (counting the early hominids) has lasted six million years. Extinction is the rule; survival is the exception.

Even if humanity were to survive and later conquer other planets, there will be no guarantee that humanity will not repeat its mistakes and export its problems to other extra-terrestrial worlds.

As you probably already know, we are already in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction. If you are interested, the main issue is twofold: speciesism and anthropocentricism. Until we critically deal with the main issue, even environmentalism in all its diversity may not suffice to turn things around, as discussed in my multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary post entitled “SoundEagle in Debating Animal Artistry and Musicality” at http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/soundeagle-in-debating-animal-artistry-and-musicality/

Being simultaneously witty and serious about a number of outstanding issues, the said post actually ventures far beyond whatever its title may suggest or mean to any reader, especially in the very long “Conclusions” section. Please note the ISEA Model that I have devised to analyse and describe the Instrumental, Spiritual, Pro-Environment and Pro-Animal/Plant perspectives.

Please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my blog, which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately.

Moreover, since my blog contains advanced styling and multimedia components plus animations, it is highly recommended to read my posts and pages directly in my blog so that you will be able to see and experience all of the refined and glorious details. Hence, it is prudent to refrain from viewing my blog in the WordPress Reader, which tends to ignore or strip away some styling and formatting components, and also fails to display animations, all of which are aplenty in my posts and pages, which will look very different and even improper or amiss in the WordPress Reader.

I would be delighted if you could kindly submit your comment to my said article, as I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of it.

May you find 2021 and the rest of the year very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, thinking and blogging!

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