Is This Our Future?

January 22, 2013

“If we fail in this great experiment," author Ronald Wright told journalist Chris Hedges, "this experiment of apes becoming intelligent enough to take charge of their own destiny, nature will shrug and say it was fun for a while to let the apes run the laboratory, but in the end it was a bad idea.” Is humankind's assault on its planetary home already past the point of no return?

In a harrowing article titled "The Myth of Human Progress," (, Pulitzer-winning reporter Hedges samples the opinions of a stable of experts convinced that by our failure to heed the Malthusian warnings of half a century ago, we have already doomed our grandchildren to a worldscape far less inviting than the one we're accustomed to. Is it already too late to stave off a future collapse? Does human nature doom us to play out the scenario of Easter Island, the Maya, and the Roman Empire one last time on a planetary scale? My own longstanding suspicions that this might be the case is one of the reasons I opted never to have children. Those of you who do "have a dog in this fight," what do you think? Will Paul R. Ehrlich et. al. have the last laugh? Have we pushed the agenda of unsustainability too far? Comments encouraged!


#1 Brian Wood (Guest) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 at 1:11pm

I fear we’ve waited too long.  The earth and the universe, however, don’t care, and, as I am old and ill, I’ll be dead before the really horrible stuff (famine, disease, wars for water) begins, I think.

I hope my kids and grandkids don’t experience horrors, but as a stone-cold atheist since 1954, I sincerely believe that when I’m dead, I won’t give a damn.

#2 comtek (Guest) on Tuesday January 22, 2013 at 10:00pm

The prospects for humanity’s future are bleak indeed, even while the solution is straightforward.  Understanding the problem doesn’t even require advanced mathematics – merely grade-school arithmetic – and the most amazing thing is that, even among otherwise educated environmentalists, progressives, and humanists, the subject of overpopulation is now largely off-limits, despite being the ‘elephant in the room’.  Can it be that the denial of overpopulation is just another manifestation of the same psychological anomaly that fosters denial of climate change?  Or has the issue of reproductive freedom for women been so conflated with infanticide, that any effort to limit human population growth is considered tantamount to crimes against humanity?

The rabid ‘right-to-life’ movement, characterized by a fetus-fetish so ethically perverse that it would impose lifetimes of suffering rather than terminate a pregnancy, is incapable of even acknowledging the threat of overpopulation, let alone embracing effective solutions to it.  And many in the environmental movement, endowed with an overabundance of optimism, believe that if we could somehow convince enough people to ‘go green’, we could avoid the impending collapse of the biosphere.  The simple fact is that the planet will not be able to sustain nine billion people, even if they are all environmentalists.

For all our self-serving drivel about being the only animal on earth capable of reason, we seem oblivious to the fact that we have been utterly incapable of self-restraint when it comes to consumption and procreation.  We are apparently so enamored with ourselves – and by extension, our species – that we have come to regard human protoplasm as the most precious substance in the universe, and see no problem with filling every habitable space on earth with it.

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