Hedges is correct but the problem isn’t technology or science, Hedges seems to go down that road sometimes. These problems are solvable, at least in principle if not in fact. We require sane limits on population, wiser use of technology and resources and the willingness of those with far more than they need to have a little less so those with nothing can have a human existence.
These reforms are utopian to some extent because they require such a radical remaking of our social structure. They would require the elimination of the capitalist system of looting and exploitation, a communitarian ethic based on enlightened self interest and a governmental system that eliminates the monopoly of power that the elite currently have. This is especially Utopian because it can’t work if the vast majority of Humans remain ignorant and under the sway of religious superstition. The elite have worked hard to promote religious superstition and ignorance because it facilitates their grip on power, but in the long run, it’s the cancer that will destroy us. The analogy to the Mayans is especially appropriate, in many ways our current social structure under Capitalism is very close to the Mayans. We too must feed the priestly class who in our culture have their pyramids of sacrifice on Wall Street, the true capital of our country.We must give these priests more and more so that the rains will come and the crops will grow. But in reality they, like the Mayan priests, serve no useful function at all, they are parasites living off the toil of the peasant class. The rains won’t come and the crops won’t grow, our economy designed only to funnel most of the wealth produced to this priesthood will never “recover.” Bob Zannelli
As we politically fiddle, the planet burns. The estimates are that about 50 to 100 species of life go extinct every day, or about 20,000 a year. This means in another 50 years we will push a million species off the Darwinian table, and we pushed a million species off the table this last century. With this and the prospect we may change the climate and global environment of this planet into some other form it becomes all too apparent we are inducing a mass extinction, which could becomes the next and sixth great mass-extinction. It is clear our activities are on the level of a moderate extinction, of which there have been about 20 in natural history of this planet. With this is likely to be a loss of biological capacity we rely upon for our existence, in particular agriculture. A projection is that for every 1-deg C change in global warming there will be a 10% drop in agricultural output. This suggests that by the mid 21st century we may be faced with incredible difficulties with our populaton being around 10 billion and with a decline in food production by 10% or maybe 20% from today’s output. Interestingly the DOD or Pentagon is already interested in the problem of future “climate wars.”
It is impossible to know where the point of no return is, but doubtless it lies somewhere with a threshold of planetary entropy. The one thing Hedges has wrong is that we will not take down the planet. It is more that the planet will take us down. This planet will be doing just fine 25 or 50 million years from now. The biodiversity of life will be restored by evolution and speciation, ecosystems will be reintegrated together and this planet will be a rich oasis of abundant life. We will not be here. In fact it is questionable whether our species will be here a few thousand years from now. We are heading into some sort of collapse which will likely transpire this century, and the remnant human population will find themselves in a harsh and depleted environment they may not be able to adapt to. Our species is heading into a bottleneck, and it is likely the planetary bio-system will only restore itself once the bottleneck is clamped off —- extinction of Homo sapiens. Lawrence B. Crowell