How To Avoid Extinction

Disclaimer. The measures recommended here won’t be easy, and I’m not sure we can make them happen. And even if we do make them happen, I can’t guarantee that they will suffice to avert near-term human extinction. But I’m pretty sure that if we don’t make them happen, we’re toast.

nukeNuclear war might seem the easiest apocalypse to avert. We just need to replace all the insane politicians with sane ones. But power makes people crazy (Zimbardo 1971), so we need to replace capitalism with sharing, and hierarchical “representative” democracy with horizontal networking.

global-warmingGlobal warming is worse than most people realize, because they don’t understand exponential growth. That starts slow but speeds up. It’s caused by feedback loops – for instance, warming melts Arctic ice; that releases methane and also lowers albedo; those both cause more warming, hence more melting. That loop will continue even if civilization collapses. The weather will grow more erratic, mostly hotter, killing all our crops. The rich will discover they can’t eat money.

There are remedies. There’s no certainty they’ll work, but they’re worth a try: Stop using all fossil fuels – not in 50 years, but in 2 years. Stop the industrial production of beef, a major source of methane. Plant lots more trees. Breed hardier phytoplanktons. Instead of spending lots of money on weapons and wars, spend it on researching how to suck carbon out of the air. Hire lots of scientists to figure out geo-engineering. Etc. In general, stop ignoring the climatologists.

arctic drillingBut doing those things would cut into Big Oil’s short-term profits. So our corporate governments, while promising to make things better, are actually making things worse. For instance, when the Arctic started melting, the politicians should have banned oil, but instead they divvied up Arctic oil rights. Obama claimed to be an environmentalist, but actually he approved lots of pipelines and fracking sites. So this problem too requires saner politicians, and ending capitalism and hierarchy.

mad-scientistGerm warfare is actually the apocalypse that is hardest to avoid. That’s because it’s not caused by huge and expensive equipment. It just requires knowledge, which grows more widely available every day. Soon some lone suicidal madman will build a germ warfare lab in his basement and kill us all. Avoiding that requires not just sane politicians, but sane everyone. That won’t happen while our society is based on authoritarian bullying and competition of all against all.

caring and sharingThe solution. We need a culture of caring and sharing that leaves no one behind, so no one wants to hurt us. That is possible – just look inside yourself and your friends. Why can’t we all be friends? The first step is to get more people talking about it.


2017 June 30, version 2.05. The leaflet fits on two sides of a half page.