• xraymike79
    I first discovered the writings of meteorologist/geoscientist Nick Humphrey with his brutally honest essay 'The Conversation No One Knows How To Have' and since then have followed his posts and comments. He has been featured or quoted in a number of publications such as Mother Jones, New York Times, Washington Post, and Science Alert. Few scientists will publicly tell you how dire things are, but Nick Humphrey is not one to shy away from the truth. What follows is a Q&A interview I held with him on a variety of questions concerning humanity’s future...

    Full interview here:

    (What are the ethical ramifications of such a future?)
  • BC
    'The Conversation No One Knows How To Have'xraymike79

    Why would we be skilled at discussing our demise as a species? Talking about our own individual dying and death is hard enough, and there has never been any doubt about it happening, eventually. Extinctions happen to other species, certainly not us!

    In short, no, I do not think it is possible to transition to a net-zero carbon emission civilization within a decade. The idea itself is simply absurd because it would require basically returning to a pre-industrial society with none of the benefits which came from building the society provided by fossil fuels.

    Well yes, it's absurd. Major social-industrial changes just can't be executed that fast. We should abandon individual auto transportation for mass transit. Building the mass transit systems required to replace personal cars (buses, light rail, trollies, trains, etc.) would take 30 to 40 years in a crash-building drive (Never mind how long it will take to convince the population that it was a do-or-die proposition.)

    Then there is the carbon produced in the process of conversion: melting down 125 million cars and building a national transit system is a heavy-industry project. The end result might be clean and green, but getting there would be pretty dirty.

    Then there is the pre-industrial angle. We can't have the benefits of industrialization without the industry. Really low carbon transportation means walking, and maybe bicycling. But bicycles require at least some heavy industry. Get a horse? Horses are more ecological than automobiles, but back in their hay day (so to speak) of horse power, at least 20% of agriculture was devoted to feeding horses hay and oats, and that was for a MUCH smaller population (31 million in 1860).

    Pre-industrial means pre-oil, pre-plastic, pre-natural gas, pre-wood/coal powered steam engines, pre-nuclear, pre-solar cells, pre lots of things. A remnant of the species might be forced back into pre-industrial conditions, but nobody is going to willingly buy admission.

    In short, we are screwed. I don't think we will go extinct, but I don't see the world sustaining 7.5 billion people in 100 years, either. Somewhere along the line, Mother Nature is going to cull the herd. Yes, it's hard to think about being part of the culled population, dying by the millions.
  • Tzeentch
    Humanity is obsessed with its own extinction. The end of days has been prophesied countless times in the past and yet here we are. I suppose this kind of doomsday-thinking is an outlet for the existential angst that many of us feel. How puny we are, and how one of the universe's farts could wipe us out in an instant.

    So far humans have survived, and humans will continue to survive.

    If you find your old home is now in the ocean, move to dry land. If things are getting too cold, move to a warmer area. If things are getting too windy, move to an area that doesn't get flattened by hurricanes every few years, etc.

    People will be amazed at how flexible they can be when push comes to shove.
  • T Clark
    (What are the ethical ramifications of such a future?)xraymike79

    The thing that jumps out to me from the interview was Nick Humphrey's comment that the Earth could only support millions of people effectively. If that's really true, we've been screwed since 1800.
  • xraymike79
    This guy says the same thing(and he's right)....

Add a Comment