Ten facts humanity must face if it wants to survive on a livable planet
“Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, like when you find a trout in the milk” — Henry David Thoreau
I’ve had a gratifying response to my seven-part series on “the future of humanity”, but I’ve also had more than one request to boil it all down to a single post so all the tl;dr folks out there can absorb the basic argument without too many details getting in the way. Although anyone who knows me knows that brevity is not my strong suit, I’m going to give it a try.
What we have learned is reliably true about climate change and resource depletion
We can begin by asking where the scientific consensus is right now on fundamental questions about the evolving shape of our perilous future. Consensus is not unanimity, but on most questions about the future we are facing today, it is possible to assess a massive body of available evidence and pick a side. Personally, I believe our future will be determined by how well we accept and respond to ten key findings in the scientific literature, findings that are so thoroughly documented and validated that I’m going to suggest we call them facts.
Fact 1: We have built a massively unsustainable consumption-driven civilization on the backs of a uniquely powerful energy source — fossil fuels — that was discovered, exploited, and will be depleted within a nano-moment of planetary history: less than 300 years.
For me, the figure at the top of this post sums it all up. What we think of as “normal” is highly abnormal. We live in a time unlike any in the history of our species. And we know it is ending soon. That’s our context. We cannot deny it, avoid it, or outrun it. We have two jobs: (1) minimize the damage our energy binge is producing (mitigation), and (2) learn how to adapt to the dangerous new world we in the process of creating (adaptation) (source, source).