Trump will let the world burn

The U.S. government has apparently conceded that the world will warm 4 degrees C (7 degrees F) by 2100. And that nothing will be done.

The assessment was provided in a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report concluded that these changes were inevitable. And since this warming was inevitable, the government report argued that carbon emissions should be loosened, the logic being, we’re all doomed any way, so let’s just extract while we can while the world is stable.

This report tells us a lot. About our world, about the U.S. government. About ourselves as a species.

1. The report confirms that it is the official policy of the U.S. government to do nothing as some of the worst predictions of climate change come to pass. This is actually something of a big deal. The government has mostly derided the science, claiming that climate change isn’t real. The report confirms that not only does the government know and acknowledge the reality of climate change, but it has no intention of doing anything about it.

2. A warming of 4 degrees C would be catastrophic to human civilization, and very likely could wipe out the species, as well as other life on Earth. Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography noted last year that warming of 1.5 degrees C (which seems assured in the next 10 years) would be “dangerous” to humanity; 3 degrees C would be “catastrophic”; and warming of 5 degrees C would lead to “unknown” consequences, including potential human extinction. If we are truly committed to 4 degrees C of warming, then the Earth, and human civilization, will be practically unrecognizable by 2100.

3. No one wants to admit the ugly reality that humanity is engaged in collective suicide. Amitav Ghosh has written of this era as The Great Derangement — how is it that a species endowed with so much logic can sit on its hands right at the moment where radical, collective action is required? Ghosh is not able to answer the question.

But it seems to me that those of us who are most able to do something about it are trapped in some bizarre, denial — hoping and waiting for “someone else” to take care of it.

But there is no one else.

4. Our leaders are committing ourselves to species suicide. This is perhaps the most perverse observation that be deduced from the government study. Our leaders are committing their own children and grandchildren, and the species at large, to tremendous destruction.

This is madness—true madness—that is difficult to most people to comprehend.

5. Does humanity deserve to survive? What does it say about our species that we seem so resigned not only to the death of our own species, but of other intelligent life on Earth?

As intelligent creatures endowed with consciousness, I believe we have an ethical duty to act as stewards for life on Earth. We have utterly failed in that duty. We are even going to fail the next generations of humans forever. And there appears to be little care or concern amongst intelligent people about this. It is a terrible observation to make. I wish it were different. I have dedicated my life now towards making people aware of these things, and fighting against our mutually shared flawed destiny. I don’t know if it will be enough. It may not be. But we have to try.