I’ve spoken about apocalypticism before, but I didn’t mention a form of this thinking which has been captivating in our generation, that is Environmental Apocalypticism. Many of my generation of liberal minded youth are captivated by the notion that the environment will inevitably wreak destruction on us because of the damage we’ve done to it in our ignorance. There are, of course, many indications that the global climate is changing, and that suffering is already occurring because of this, but I think that these problem are not insurmountable, especially if we actually put our minds toward helping these people and making the earth hospitable.
My problem with environmental apocalypse is that it wreaks of morality and therefore contradictions. There is this notion that we must pay for our sins to learn and work with the environment. I’ve heard many activists tell me that the apocalypse is necessary to bring humans to address the problems we’re causing, and it makes me wonder why these activists are spending their time trying to delay this apocalypse. Meanwhile, Freakonomics gets published with a chapter on Geoengineering, and environmentalists hate it. Granted, we only have one planet and we can’t know what all the effects of trying to effect change in the environment will be, but this is not really the issue people have. The issue is it circumvents the morality of the issue, and thus people don’t learn that what they were doing was wrong.
All of this moral environmentalism is epitomized by Deep Ecology. Deep Ecology is a proposed paradigm shift, to bring us to value ourselves equally to other life, and value the inherent worth of other living things. I think this is well and good, because we truly don’t have more value than other plants and animals, because none of us have any value whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. What is valuable to us is what will help us achieve a goal, and we certainly need other plants and animals to survive, so they are valuable. However, intrinsic worth has little meaning. It’s a great ideal, but a completely unreasonable expectation from us. Let’s get real for a moment: the only reason people care about global climate change is because it threatens us. If we could survive without other living things, we’d feel bad for killing all of them, but we wouldn’t feel the need to acknowledge their “intrinsic worth.”
The way I see it, climate change sucks, and it’s going to cause suffering, but we can’t possibly imagine how good we’ll be at producing food and protecting ourselves from the environment in 100 years. Exponential progress is powerful. A time will come sooner than you expect that the human race will be able to be self reliant, and even if all other life is extinguished on this planet we will persist. It sucks that we may be the cause of a mass extinction, but are we to blame for our ignorance? is a comet to blame for killing the dinosaurs? I feel bad that the human race is so destructive, but death is an unavoidable fact of life. creation is an act of destruction, and all new life is built on the decaying matter of what was previously there. We have destroyed life but we will create it once more when the time comes.
update: I’ve written a newer post about a possible breakthrough in energy technology which could abolish our need of fossil fuels. Too good to be true? perhaps by today’s standards, but maybe not tomorrow’s.
I’ve also written on the topic of jobs and unemployment in relation to Post-Scarcity