Just Admit It: There's a 0% Chance We'll Save the Planet In Time
Climate change is far too profitable for our corporate overlords
There are people who genuinely believe humanity is on track to wipe itself out completely thanks to our endless pollution of the land, sea, and sky.
On the other hand, there are also people — some of my right-wing family members included — who genuinely believe humans cannot make a negative impact on the planet.
I don’t like extremist thinking.
This radical false dichotomy is an important reminder of one of my main life dictums: When given two bad modes of thinking, choose neither.
To be sure, there are plenty of ways humanity could wipe itself out — nuclear holocaust, some sort of new biological weapon, mass sterility due to our poisonous corporate diet, an AI revolt a few centuries from now.
But the death of all 8 billion homo sapiens due to climate change? That’s a tall order. A yearlong deep-freeze? A few thousand would survive underground. A series of unprecedented hurricanes? Surely millions living on inland mountains would be fine. A multi-year drought? People can always eat people.
Even the long-overdue eruption of Yellowstone isn’t expected to wipe out everybody.
It would require something of the magnitude of a runaway greenhouse gas effect where the Earth gets so hot it evaporates the oceans.
But even then, a few astronauts might survive long enough to come back and re-populate.
The end of humanity full-stop is a fun Hollywood subject, but it’s not very realistic.
What is realistic is what our descendants are almost certain to face:
a far hotter world, thanks to the roasting greenhouse gas effect. (France and Spain will become deserts. Scotland’s peat bogs will dry out and that’ll be the end of Laphroaig scotch.)
a far more expensive world, due to increased population paired with resource depletion
far more compound-interest-bearing debt to pay for that more expensive world, along with price inflation, chased rapidly by depression, drug addiction, homelessness, and suicide
far more hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and extreme weather events
far more force migration, legal or otherwise (they’re predicted up to 1 billion people.) Expect poverty and racism and terrorism and nationalism to follow.
far less freedom as corporate tyrants complete their economic and political stranglehold on democracies, and sheeple turn to strongman tyrants to “protect” them from all perceived threats
far more conflict, war, and violence in the global struggle for resources. It’s possible to live without oil — when the fight is over food and water, all bets are off.
No, technology won’t save us.
Because technology isn’t owned by the commons.
It’s monopolized by the techno-elites who will reap ever more wealth and power from humanity’s descent, just as they’ve been doing since the Industrial Revolution.
Corporate elites were never going to save the planet in time.
As humanity goes down, profits go up.
Case in point: As we speak, Big Oil is on a buying spree.
Exxon just announced it’s buying Pioneer for a cool $60 billion.
Chevron just bought Hess for $53 billion.
Where are the anti-monopoly politicians?
Oh right, they’re accepting money from Big Oil, and when they retire from politics, they will go to work for the oil companies.
And Exxon can afford to pay them, too, having just set an industry record of $56 billion in profits.
That’s $153,424,657.53 per day for destroying our children’s planet.
Meanwhile, British Cons are back-pedaling on their net zero targets (they work for Shell, after all), and GM is back-pedaling on its electric vehicle targets.
Emissions are still rising. (Up 321 mega-tons last year)
Oil and gas exploration and investment in dirty energy are still rising. (+10%)
Oil demand is still rising (+3%)
Gas demand is still rising (+3.5%)
Humanity keeps setting new coal emissions records year after year.
America is currently building its largest oil export terminal.
Qatar just signed a deal with China to provide them with natural gas for the next 27 years.
What part of this gives you any hope that tomorrow’s environment will be better than today’s?
I’m getting tired of scientists telling us we’re “on the brink” of climate catastrophe.
It’s already here.
Halting the climate crisis is possible
The Covid lockdowns proved it.
When we all stopped driving, the bird population grew.
There were wild boars in the streets of Barcelona.
There were dolphins swimming in Venice again.
150,000 flamingos visited Mumbai during the lockdown.
Seriously, let’s be seriously silly for a minute: If we wanted to, we could theoretically stop nearly all emissions today. The UN could agree that anyone who drives, starts a fire, turns on the lights, or even farts gets the death penalty.
My point: Emissions are overwhelmingly a human choice.
And every choice has costs and benefits.
We could curtail emissions by 90+% by Christmas — shutting down all oil and gas operations, shutting down all factories, grounding all planes, parking all cars, turning off the power grid — but it would freeze millions to death, heatstroke millions more, and grind the global economy to a halt. Mass starvation would quickly follow.
So clearly, the short-term costs of eliminating all emissions overnight far outweigh the long-term benefits.
No matter what teenagers scream, it’s not as simple as “Just Stop Oil.”
This is the trickiest balancing act humanity has ever faced.
And humans were never any good at balance.
Humanity needs to balance human welfare with planetary sustainability.
But the corporations who rule our nations are trying to balance corporate profits with the prevention of an uprising against their wicked way of life.
They’re purposefully trying to balance the wrong thing.
There’s an obvious way to proceed
After World War II, the Allies enacted the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. But it couldn’t bring back the 60 million dead.
In the same way, we can’t reverse much of the damage the elites have already done. But we could enact a Marshall Plan to prevent any more pain, saving trillions of dollars, and preventing the loss of tens of millions of lives.
It will take massive amounts of money. (That’s not a bad thing.) Governments could and should create tens of trillions of dollars of debt-free money, invest it in creating new deflationary assets like eco-cities and clean energy — evaporating joblessness — then tax the money back from the rich and destroy it.
$100 trillion in new net-zero assets + net-zero money creation = glorious price deflation, commons wealth, and planetary well-being for all.
But it’s not going to happen, of course, because central banks are controlled by politicians, who are controlled by corporations. (America is the exception — the Federal Reserve is directly owned by corporate banks.)
Elites could save us from environmental suffering, but they won’t.
They’ll figure out more ways to monetize the doom spiral.
Everyone expects the world to end like a Hollywood movie, where everyone dies all at once, or is magically rescued by a deus ex machina.
Expect the opposite.
Polluting corporations and the banks that support them will continue to kill us off slowly until they find some sort of miserable equilibrium where corporations can pollute as much as they want, the planet remains alive but on life support, people suffer, and the private profits keep flowing. Everything must die on the altar of corporate profit.
The great blood-letting has already begun.
T.S. Eliot was right:
“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
Surviving Tomorrow is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.