No human civilization has ever consciously, successfully limited its net negative impact on the planet’s species and resources. Never, ever in our history, has our impact on the planet diminished, except perhaps during events out of our control or conscious intention: plagues, wars and similar situations which resulted in either a big economic recession or a decrease in global human population. Every time these events occurred, Earth breathed a brief sigh of relief.
Given that we’ve never succeeded then, why is it that so many humans still believe that “something” can be done to save Earth? Isn’t it strange that the species responsible for the destruction of Earth is also the one seriously contemplating how it can “save” it? Would you trust that species to find a “solution”? It seems that we have an issue here. The real problem is not saving the planet, but what to do about the species that is destroying it. The climate Armageddon is a human-induced Holocaust wiping out billions of life forms on Earth. The scale of this crime is as unfathomable as the scale of our arrogance. Many of those who still hope that “we”, the humans, can save the planet, are forgetting that we are the perpetrators. In order to save Earth from the climate apocalypse and ecological holocaust, we would first have to completely reinvent humanity. We are unfortunately arrogant enough to think that this is feasible by signing a few papers at those COP conventions where delegates from all over the world fly in on fossil-fueled planes just to have some croissants.
The summation of humanity’s arrogance and denial can be condensed in one word: “Hope”. The empty basket of hope is where our imploding, collapsing civilization has now placed all of its eggs. Not a smart, or rational choice, but a justified one. Only through false hope can the current capitalist system have a full license to continue to operate, to continue to destroy what is left of this planet. Hope is an important ingredient not in safeguarding the planet’s future, but in keeping the ridiculous game of charades going for just a little bit longer in the present. Hope is not about changing things or having a revolutionary vision, no; hope is about changing absolutely nothing and maintaining the current status quo and business as usual.
Hope is not what it seems. Hope is destructive. Hope is the opposite of pragmatism. Hope does not energise people. It makes them complacent. It makes them oblivious to the dark reality of how toxic all human civilisations have been to this planet. Hope is the ultimate gaslighting. Hope is telling the patient that they are not walking towards their death, but that they are taking a walk in the park in amongst the roses. Hope is equal to blindness. Hope is fucking bullshit.
If the current civilization ever had a sliver of a chance of surviving in the future in some form or other rather than spectacularly imploding, it would be if the planet’s survival was put first, and on equal par with the survival of the civilisation. And this can only happen if our civilisation looks around and surveys the desperation and hopelessness of mass extinction that humans have caused on Earth already. The era of optimism has expired long ago. We are in a post-era that needs reflection, contemplation, shame and grief for the biodiversity loss we have inflicted, now in its exponential phase. Human civilisation is a nightmare within a nightmare. The more you wake up to the reality of how we’ve put this house of cards together, the more you feel like screaming. This is the natural, healthy reaction to the monstrosity that have created on Earth. But it will only happen if the embarrassing delusion of hope stops at this minute. It will only happen if this civilisation wakes up from the hopium coma, looks through the fumes and realizes that nearly 40% of Earth’s land surface is subjugated to agriculture. We live on a dystopian planet where the harvesting robots are constantly going up and down fields of monoculture crops, killing the planet’s carbon sinks, its climate machine and its biodiversity. But this is also an intelligent planet: one that watches what we do, and updates its software accordingly. Those who fail to acknowledge the intelligence and wisdom of this planet sooner or later come face to face with it.
Doomers are often accused of hopelessness and pessimism. But I do have a lot of hope. I hope for a world almost devoid of humans, where a somewhat rich biodiversity can begin to thrive again. We could have still been a thriving civilization at much lower population numbers, but we just couldn’t settle for less. Our exponential trajectory on this planet leaves no room for doubt: we will be coming very close to the edge of extinction.
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books
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“There is no need to multiply Gods for man has only ever worshipped one God…Hope”. Gustave Le Bon