An uneducated child understands that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible. Yet economic growth is the top priority for every leader in the world and the majority of citizens.
The short-term solution to our problems is the long-term cause of our problems: economic growth. The long-term solution to our problems is the short-term cause of our problems: reduced consumption. Why do we not discuss this obvious and rather important paradox?
The key resource (oil) that created and maintains our civilization will be mostly gone in 15 years. There is not one country or political party anywhere in the world that has this at the top of their priority list.
In addition to climate change and its sea level rise and ocean acidification offspring, we have many other serious overshoot problems such as species extinction, fisheries collapse, resource depletion, nitrogen imbalance, and ozone pollution harming trees and other plants. We don’t acknowledge, discuss, or act on any of them. Overshoot issues are not even whispered about in elections.
Most parents consider care of their offspring a priority. Yet the actions of most parents that impact overshoot are not consistent with caring for their offspring.
There is not one leader, from any country, on any continent, that discusses what is actually going on and what we should be doing at this time. Not even after they leave office.
Climate scientists are a highly educated group of professionals with the best understanding of our peril. Most have not yet given up and call for aggressive reductions in carbon emissions. Yet the majority of climate scientists do not set good examples by living low-carbon lifestyles.
Leaders who seem to be genuinely concerned about climate change do not set good lifestyle examples.
Climate models used to predict the future consider different scenarios to reflect different possible human responses. None of these models consider economic collapse, despite collapse being the most probable outcome, even if you do not believe low-cost oil depletion is a problem, because history shows that our current debt to GDP ratio always ends in collapse. Why do climate scientists not model the most probable scenario? It’s an important question because living with a permanent economic depression may be preferable to the climate trajectory we are currently on.
Despite overwhelming scientific and common sense evidence, the richest and most powerful country in the world elected someone who denies climate change.
At the last climate change conference our leaders and climate scientists changed the goal from an already impossible 2 degrees to a more impossible 1.5 degrees (denial of where we are) and never discussed the only thing that might make climate change less bad: shrinking the economy (denial of what we must do).
A powerful brain with an extended theory of mind is clearly a useful adaptation for an intelligent social species because it has permitted humans to take over the planet. What has prevented other intelligent social species like chimpanzees, elephants, crows, and dolphins from evolving brains similar to humans? Varki makes a persuasive case that a rare mutation for denial of reality is required.
Every known human society and tribe has had a religion. There are good and easy to understand evolutionary reasons for the success of religion. What is not easy to explain is why does every religion have a life after death story? And why are humans the only species that have religions? Varki explains that belief in life after death originates from a mutation to deny the reality of mortality and this improbable mutation has occurred so far in only one species.