Political leaders have known since the late 1960s that humanity was facing an existential crisis. They did nothing. Now, with extreme geophysical events occurring more frequently, a growing segment of the public is belatedly demanding remedy. All they may hope to see is “too little too late.”
Two powers have propelled civilization: technology and plutocracy. Both relentlessly advanced. Looking at them shows that humanity’s fate was decided millennia ago.
Any technology that provided convenience was adopted. Only a very few technologies that were deemed more destructive than helpful were banned, and then only when a substitute was available.
The world is teeming with unsustainable technologies. There is no public discussion of banning technologies, only of finding substitutes that do not lessen convenience too much.
Paved roads are an environmental affront. Yet no proposals to get rid of roads are made. Instead, the conversation is on how quickly petrol cars may be replaced by an alternate which offers only an imagined lessening of Nature’s desecration. Electric cars are mere substitute to petrol ones, not an improvement environmentally (especially considering that petrol cars could be more emissions-free and fuel-efficient than they are).
Industrialization nearly 3 centuries ago allowed plutocracy to institutionalize its grip into a vice.
In the age of modern democracy, holding political office is merely a matter of salesmanship. Like every commercial campaign, money makes the critical difference in getting elected. Given that, plutocracy is the lifeblood of democracy. By that, democracy poisoned our future.
The election of USA presidents this century highlights the power of plutocracy in politics. The most recent nitwits put into the presidency were sorely incompetent but dyed-in-the-wool plutocrats Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump cared not a whit about preserving Nature or “Making America Great Again” – just about making himself feel great about himself. Duplicitous Biden wrings his hands over global warming while granting more oil drilling on federal lands.
Countries that elect left-wing leaders who strive to constrain growth and move toward sustainable practices are punished by global financial markets, who damn such nations financially and thereby make reform impractical. Recent experience in Latin America illustrates the sovereign need to kowtow to plutocracy.
The only country in the world serious about self-preservation is China, which has been vilified in the plutocratic USA (Trump & Biden) for that very aspiration.
Civilization has been a continuum. Without collective resolve to break that continuity, there was never any possibility of saving humanity from its own decided self-extinction. Besides, the powers that be, wed to plutocracy, were never going to let long-term survival triumph over short-term profits.
Now it is too late. The end times are now. Only those ignorant of history imagine otherwise.
For the full saga of the human experience, read The Story of Humanity: Ecology & Consequence.
Ishi Nobu, The Story of Humanity: Ecology & Consequence (2022).
“Latin America’s left-wing experiment is a warning to the world,” The Economist (18 May 2023).
Libby Cathey, “Infuriating climate activists, Biden expands oil drilling on public land,” ABC News (18 May 2022).
Ishi Nobu, “Electric vehicles” (23 August 2020).