A Big Picture Evolutionary Perspective and History to Help Offset All the Bad News about Climate Change and Global Warming
It is critical to also see the climate change and global warming emergency from biggest possible evolutionary perspective to prevent becoming demoralized by the near overwhelming size of the challenge before us...
By this time, the gargantuan challenges of the escalating global warming emergency have probably invaded your thoughts and life. You may discover as others have that it is considerably easier to live with and through this emergency once you see the bigger picture from an evolutionary perspective.
To understand our global warming emergency from this bigger-picture perspective, consider a short overview of evolutionary history and a few relevant evolutionary principles. This may at first seem a little complex, but you should glean enough to find significant relief and balance regarding the challenges of this emergency.
13.7 billion years of evolutionary success suggests we should be able to get through the global warming emergency
Life on Earth has successfully survived over 3.5 billion years of biological evolution. Through Earth’s five previous Great Extinctions and First Evolutionary Bottleneck life has survived, and it will most likely go on now as well!
When one sees our current trend toward irreversible or extinction-level global warming from the perspective of 13.7 billion years of successful universe evolution, 4.5 billion years of successful planetary evolution, 3.5 billion years of successful biological evolution, as well as 10,000 years of successful human civilization, it once again puts things into perspective. From this very long-term evolutionary perspective, encouraging facts, trends, and patterns emerge for dealing with the steep adaptive challenges of the global warming emergency.
In the previous Five Great Extinction Events, occurring long before the developing Climageddon Scenario extinction event depicted on the left in the illustration below, 50-90% of all the species that existed at the time became extinct. Yet, life and evolution still carried on by moving into new species, and some new species became the next dominant species
Some of these five previous Great Extinction Events occurred slowly, taking many thousands of years. The recovery of species density and population after each of the Five Great Extinction Events took an average of 10 million years.
Extinction, collapse, retrogression, and renewal are all built into the evolutionary processes. They are a natural and healthy part of normal evolution.
Looking at the wide sweep of our whole evolutionary history, we do have a few other valid big-picture reasons to offer hope that we can rise to overcome this great global warming adaptive challenge and evolutionary adventure:
a. What is unique today that did not exist in any of the previously mentioned Five Great Extinction Events is that our species can intelligently and rationally reflect upon its own behavior, as well as upon the evolutionary processes of the planet and universe it lives within. This species effectively gathers new knowledge and useful feedback from its environment and is highly adaptable in modifying its behavior once it perceives a real threat.
Over history, this species has also organized cooperation on larger and larger scales. It has evolved from small hunter-gatherer groups, to agrarian villages, to warrior city-states, to great nations, and now to international cooperative alliances of multiple nations, such as the European Union. This unique species, namely us, truly does have the best evolutionary advantage in resolving the current global warming emergency.
b. When one also looks at the evolution of the universe as a whole system, from its very beginning to the present, one sees recurring natural processes and patterns, which are also supportive of the idea that we as a species should be able to overcome the global warming challenge. Two of those reassuring deep evolutionary patterns are:
i. Evolution seems to most often work out for the good of the evolving whole, and
ii. In spite of how it looks right now, the progress of evolution is currently the best it's ever been! (At least from what we know in our little corner of the universe.)
This suggests that alignment with natural evolutionary processes themselves should also help to preserve at least enough of human and other species on the planet so that our evolutionary process can go on and we can learn from the global warming challenge. Because evolution has, in fact, progressed to “the best it's ever been” and produced an amazingly adaptable and intelligent species—humanity—we really do have the best chance of any species in all of evolutionary history to meet this global warming challenge and cooperate in new ways to resolve it.
“Evolution is science's greatest discovery, the most trial-and-error tested, time-proven sustainable success system that has ever existed, and it is the best-documented ‘theory of everything’ that currently exists.”
— Lawrence Wollersheim, Executive Director at Job One for Humanity
Evolution tends to do everything simultaneously.
Evolution tends to do everything simultaneously. In one place, it will move progressively forward; in another, it will be in a retrogression phase. In other places, it will appear to meander seemingly without aim.
In another place, it will be moving into a state of destructive creation. Destructive creation is defined as the breakdown and recycling of non-learning, non-adaptive or “non-cooperating" parts or wholes.
Nothing is wasted in universe evolution. This core meta-pattern of continuous breakdown and recycling allows evolutionary "failed experiments," retrogressions, or other failed adaptations, collapses, and extinctions to be reused later on in some other new evolutionary creativity and experiments—hence the term destructive creation.
In other places, evolution will appear to be holding a somewhat steady state. Elsewhere, it will appear to stop, stall, or fail (go extinct) in that line of evolutionary development.
Even though evolution is doing all of these things simultaneously, as a whole system, there is still a general and natural progression occurring within the whole universe system. Looking back over evolutionary history, evolution also appears to be naturally progressing in the direction of increased complexity, adaptability, learning, intelligence, and cooperation, etc.
All this leads to the following bit of good news. In what can initially appear to be failing or stalling activities within the natural progression of any of evolution’s processes, there also are silver linings. Here are some of those silver linings as they emerge from the different processes of evolution as it concerns global warming:
a. The destructive creation process of global warming can hasten and facilitate major structural and systemic changes that may not be possible by any other means than the complete destruction of non-adaptive parts or wholes.
b. The natural evolutionary compression and retrogression phases of escalating global warming can also facilitate or catalyze positive outcomes.
“Every adversity...carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
— Napoleon Hill, personal success author
The destructive creation process of global warming can hasten and facilitate necessary structural and systemic changes that may not be possible by any other means.
Destructive creation is one of the key processes of evolution. Once all “non-learning,” non-adaptive, and “non-cooperating” parts or wholes involved in the global warming emergency are recycled by natural evolutionary processes, their resources can be reused later in a new, more sustainable evolutionary experiments.
The following can seem a little complex and harsh, but there are practical applications and reasons for this time-tested evolutionary principle. For example, many individuals who have survived great catastrophes and collapses in their lives (periods of destructive creation) have said that the catastrophe or collapse gave them the chance to see aspects of their lives or their world that had been hidden behind veils of denial. They also said that their life catastrophe or collapse was absolutely essential at that time to finally give them the opportunity to change, restructure, and take more responsibility for what they had finally discovered behind the veils of denial.
Historically, great catastrophe or collapse (destructive creation) has often also preceded a period of great renewal, advancement, and growth. In the last Five Great Extinction Events occurring over the last 3 billion years on Earth, when 50-90% of all species died, some species always adapted and survived. A new apex species always evolved that was better equipped to deal with the new environment.
As a simple cultural example of this idea of how greater good can come out of catastrophic events, consider the Dark Ages and the Black Death—a combined millennium period ending in the 14th century. The great destructive creation of this bleak period was eventually followed by the great advances of the Enlightenment Age of human history where, among other wonderful advances, modern science was born.
If global warming continues to escalate unchecked, it will bring about its own natural period of evolutionary destructive creation. This destructive creation might be in the forms of a cleansing or re-aligning collection of superstorms, droughts, flooding, wildfires, soil degradation, changing growing seasons, and other global warming-related catastrophes. Maybe we will even enter into a new kind of temporary “Dark Ages” period.
After this destructive creation phase, it will be far more likely that whatever remains of humanity will finally be ready to pay attention and learn the hard global warming lessons humanity currently seems reluctant to face and learn. To say the least, these new lessons would include building green energy generation, good atmospheric stewardship, sustainability, and better global cooperation.
If we have to go through this “necessary” but painful destructive creation phase to resolve the global warming emergency, humanity will experience a simultaneous collective Holocaust-like “never again” trauma, but at a scale larger than any other in our history. This deep, excruciating collective trauma and memory would also act to help prevent such global warming-caused destabilization of the climate from ever occurring again.
Seeing life and evolution continuing on from a big-picture perspective is poignantly helpful in this situation. If our planetary civilization has become so fossilized in protecting the status quo that it has lost its ability to adapt and effectively resolve global warming, there is little doubt that a global catastrophe and meltdown of unprecedented scale will eventually occur, including the widespread ecological, social, economic, and political and biological collapses described in the later phases of the Climageddon Scenario.
If we do not pay attention and resolve the escalating global warming emergency soon, as a last resort to save the future, it may be necessary for human civilization to temporarily collapse under the weight of this unfolding, unresolved challenge. This then may finally allow a new and better civilization with adaptable political, economic, and social systems and values to emerge in the post-collapse, with remaining survivors now very willing to change to something new, less painful, and less dysfunctional.
Maybe only through a new and massive destructive creation episode in what is already being called the Sixth Great Extinction will we be able to bring about a restructured, realigned, and more sustainable global political, social, and economic order, as well as a new, more just, and appropriate way of living sustainably for all of Earth's inhabitants.
It is also reasonable to believe the destructive creation portended by our currently escalating global warming emergency will eventually also force us to resolve global warming's deepest underlying structural and systemic causes. In order to stop burning fossil fuels in time to prevent irreversible or near-extinction-level global warming, we will eventually have to face the structural and systemic roots supporting fossil fuel burning as well as our unsustainable paradigm of infinite economic growth.
A few of the deeply-rooted problems that continue to support the fossil fuel energy-generating paradigm are:
1. Rapidly rising population and overpopulation. We have far too many people for the Earth's carrying capacity. As our population escalates, so do our energy generation needs.
2. Unsustainable development in all its forms. As part of the long-term structural solution to global warming (as well as our other major current global challenges), we will eventually be forced to evolve sustainable development—more sustainable lifestyles, livelihoods, communities, and nations. We have already waited too long and we now need to activate a global warming emergency mobilization (GWEM) to enact far beyond Manhattan Project-scaled solutions in order to move rapidly from dirty fossil fuel energy generation to clean, green energy generation. Simultaneously, we will also need to quickly move away from our current unsustainable carbon/methane polluting associated with big agribusiness practices.
3. A lack of an empowered global government-backed by verifiable and enforceable international law that can effectively manage and regulate cross-border meta-challenges like global warming caused climate destabilization. The lack of effective global government represents a deep structural threat to the health, stability, and future of all of Earth's inhabitants and its future generations.
4. A global economic system and economic rules that do not work to support and sustain our critical human life-supporting ecosystems.136 The Job One for Humanity Plan and its principles of sustainable prosperity found in Appendix 3 already contain many specifics of what changes need to be made to the world's current lifestyle and livelihood systems to make the resolution of global warming permanent. We can still get ourselves out of this emergency, but eventually, we must also change the deepest structural causes of this emergency. Luckily we don't have to change all of these deep structural issues first to solve the global warming emergency.
To make these changes and adapt successfully, eventually, we will be forced to engage in a massive restructuring and realignment of our economic, social, and political systems. (Maybe even some of our religious systems as well to deal with overpopulation and the moral duties of environmental stewardship.) In their current state of evolutionary development, some of the conditions, rules, assumptions, and values of these economic, social, and political systems are among the fundamental underlying causes that have fueled global warming, sustain it, and allow it to expand without resolution.
The silver lining here is that even if we continue to ignore or move too slowly to restabilize the climate, eventually the natural evolutionary process of destructive creation will come to our aid and force us to change or perish.
Cause-and-effect consequences and unbearable calamities will eventually force better evolutionary adaption upon those individuals or groups not paying attention to problems in their environments. It wonderfully and naturally does this by increasing the levels of painful consequences until the pain of the increasing calamity finally gets the individual’s or group’s attention focused back onto the denied, ignored, or unhandled problem.
This helps to get these individuals or groups to begin resolving their denied or deferred problems. Evolution has wisely discovered that many individuals and groups will not evolve and resolve what is challenging them until they deeply feel that the pain of going forward is less than the pain of staying where they are.
The natural compression and retrogression periods of global warming will also facilitate moving toward positive outcomes.
Evolution has natural “compression and retrogression” periods. Compression and retrogression periods are those times when things get pushed together tightly, creating increased tension. Sometimes those tensions do not resolve and the inaction causes a kind of temporary centralizing effect, compression, or retrogression.
Whether you are aware of it and in spite of how it appears to most people, we are in one of those natural evolutionary compression/retrogression periods. This particular natural evolutionary compression/retrogression period is being fueled by our many unresolved current global challenges such as resource depletion, global warming, economic inequality and instability, poverty, overpopulation, other environmental pollution and ecological degradation not caused by global warming, terrorism conflicts and wars leading to political and social instability, and even growing pandemic risks like COVID-19.
Of our current global challenges, escalating global warming should be seen as the Job One keystone challenge humanity has to overcome to survive. While there is much to be deeply concerned about in all of our other global challenges, accelerating global warming consequences and crossing more tipping points are the largest immediate threat multiplier for almost all of the other global challenges mentioned.
It is also important to grasp that these natural evolutionary compressions and retrogressions can serve to produce silver linings. When things are not adapting well, natural evolutionary compression and retrogression periods intensify the adaptive challenge's pain or loss.
Evolution does this “instinctively” so that the building pressure and pent-up “energy” of the compression period can be released (like releasing a compressed spring) to help break the existing change-resistant inertia to “energize” and mobilize the needed critical change and adaptation. Again, an example of this normally recurring evolutionary compression and retrogression cycle in history would be how after the previously mentioned painful compression and retrogression period of the European Dark Ages, humanity once again surged forward into the great European Renaissance period.
Our current natural evolutionary compression and retrogression period is defined by:
i. How our global warming and other global challenges are still escalating and colliding into each other and potentially moving ever faster toward a catastrophic mega-convergence.
ii. How we still appear functionally unable to evolve the necessary effective global governance mechanisms with appropriate enforcement and verification powers to resolve our escalating cross-border global challenges.
If left unresolved, this natural, intensifying evolutionary compression and retrogression process acting upon all of our current converging global challenges will catastrophically destabilize and regress most, if not all, of the planet to some less developed state.
The silver linings in all this seemingly bad news are:
i. This hopefully should be a temporary compressive destabilization and retrogression period.
ii. It should also eventually lead to a great surge forward of positive growth for humanity.
iii. It’s just another natural adaptive challenge in the great transformational, evolutionary adventure, and progress of evolving life on this planet and in the universe. And
iv. Everything we have to do to restabilize the global climate on an urgent, first-things-first basis also directly or indirectly supports building more sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods and a sustainable prosperity for all. So none of our efforts in resolving global warming will ever be wasted!
There's a bit more helpful knowledge about evolutionary compressions and retrogressions. Sometimes, after a sudden or strong growth state, a natural evolutionary compression and retrogression will take place. If this compression/retrogression state is successfully adapted to, the compression lessens or stabilizes or even reverses itself into a new growth state. If the compression and retrogression state is not successfully adapted to, it usually results in a deeper secondary compression and retrogression period that may then finally have enough compressed and pent-up energy “coiled” within itself to spring forward out of the secondary deeper compression/retrogression to some new more optimal state.
How the cycles and phases of evolution relate to the current global warming compression/retrogression potentiality is telling for the future of humanity. If we do not adapt sufficiently to the global warming emergency, it is reasonable and probable to expect our various social, economic, and political systems will compress upon themselves, and possibly collapse and regress to some prior, less stable developmental state in an effort to re-establish a lower-level order for survival. Failing to resolve this natural evolutionary compression and retrogression and continuing on the current global warming trajectory leads to a global evolutionary compression and retrogression outcome that no rational human being would ever want to allow or experience. It would be similar to taking society into a dystopian Mad Max-like world.
To many of society’s thoughtful individuals, it appears our national and global cultures are entering one of those exciting and opportunity-rich destabilizing and retrogressing evolutionary periods—one that is also hopefully transitory. This period may develop into one, several or all of the following:
a. several natural compression and retrogression periods,
b. a second great evolutionary bottleneck,
c. a massive cataclysmic adaptive readjustment, or even possibly
d. a massive global systems collapse in an unfortunate and extreme act of self-induced destructive creation, resulting in an extinction-level event.
We have now entered into an age of potential destructive creation, a natural evolutionary compression and retrogression period, and a global mega-emergency far beyond the management capabilities of our fractionalized national interests and governments. This is a dangerous place. Hopefully, we will eventually adapt by evolving and ending the global warming emergency.
The following are additional and expanded positive perspectives on the global warming emergency
We can still enjoy our daily lives as we work together to resolve the escalating global warming emergency
To stay motivated while you do your part to help resolve our global warming challenge, you will need to preserve your psychological resilience and your emotional reserves. You can build and preserve this resilience and maintain these emotional reserves by taking time every day to do the normal things that you enjoy and that renew you.
As we move into greater global warming consequences and increasing climate destabilization, it is critical to take one day at a time and always make time to have fun, renewing experiences. The importance of taking one day at a time and doing whatever you can each day to fully enjoy the life that you have right now is that it will allow you to emotionally and physically survive, as well as effectively contribute toward the hopeful eventual resolution of the global warming emergency.
"The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much."
— William Hazlitt, English writer, philosopher and critic
Never forget that the scope of the task before us is daunting and unprecedented. If one fully understands how much has to change in the world in so little time, in such major ways within our lifestyles, livelihoods, and within our energy, political, economic, and social systems, one can get overwhelmed quickly. This is why it is important to embrace these perspectives of “one day at a time” and enjoy your normal life right now.
Because of the consequences looming over us and the fact that there are no guarantees we will resolve this emergency in time, another reason to enjoy each day now is that our current lives and conditions may in fact be the best they will ever be.
The global warming emergency will inevitably force us into new levels of local, national, and international cooperation
In the past, humanity has cooperated successfully on critical climate issues. We have successfully created international laws, treaties, and agreements regarding the pollution of the atmosphere caused by the gas/liquid refrigerant Freon®. Freon was formerly used in refrigeration and air conditioners. When it leaked out, it rapidly degraded the ozone layer of the atmosphere and created holes in it. Those rapidly-widening holes in the atmosphere’s protective layer of ozone would have greatly increased the incidence of skin cancer in the areas directly beneath them.
We acted quickly because of the escalating danger of a “hole in the ozone” that would have eventually harmed almost everyone on earth. If we did this successfully before with Freon’s pollution, we should be able to do it again with the fossil fuel industries toxic carbon and methane pollution!
The solution to reversing escalating global warming depends upon radical and immediate global changes in how we produce energy, how we pollute the atmosphere, and how we cooperate collectively as humans. These needed changes are far larger and needed far faster than any change of this scale has ever been previously achieved in human history. Consequently, resolving global warming will require more of Earth's inhabitants to mobilize and cooperatively work together than has ever occurred in the past.
The silver lining bonus for trying to survive escalating global warming is that human global cooperation itself will have to rise to a new and higher evolutionary level that has never been seen before!
To survive the threat of escalating global warming, which transcends national interests and national borders, we will be forced to create a new and greater international cooperative union of nations and peoples that will form an enforcement and verification-empowered global governance well beyond any existing international cooperative structures like the United Nations. This itself would also be a huge evolutionary advantage and advance for humanity!
“The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human cooperation—a force for construction and destruction.”
— Jonathan Haidt, social psychologist, professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University
We can work together and not make it a polarized battle of us versus them because we truly are all in the same sinking boat
If we hold a big-picture perspective and we are creative and smart, we really can work together and we really have to work together! We do not have to “polarize to mobilize.”
Here’s how addressing the global warming emergency can be inherently and ultimately non-polarizing:
a. Eventually, everyone will be adversely affected in one way or another. Some will be affected less in the beginning. Some will even experience a few benefits in early stages, but as global warming escalates toward irreversibility or it moves toward the Climageddon Scenario extinction levels, we will all suffer nearly equally, no matter how rich we are or how insulated we thought we could make ourselves. Whether we know it or not, at this moment all of our long-term global warming remedial self-interests are aligned. We all win together, or we all lose together.
b. With the motive of survival ultimately aligning our self-interests, it is now just a matter of
i. passing enforceable and verifiable laws or treaties to end global warming,
ii. conducting widespread education, and
Iii. then executing those new laws or treaties.
We do not have to play the “us vs. them” game or other win/lose games. We do not have to characterize those who do not understand the incredibly complex global warming information as bad, greedy, or evil people. We should also never forget that general ignorance of the climate system complexities is just where many people are now in their personal, corporate, or national evolution.
c. If we are tempted to polarize into us vs. them strategies, we need to remind ourselves that every person, every organization, and every nation is at a different level of evolutionary development and maturity. Evolutionary development or maturity depends upon physical, psychological, cultural, educational, and, if you are a spiritual person, even spiritual development and maturity.
No matter what position a seeming adversary may hold in resisting actions to end the escalating global warming emergency, they are just reflecting their current level of evolutionary development and maturity. Never forget that their current education, evolutionary development, and maturity level is also part of an ongoing process that is in constant change. Given the right information and circumstances, their positions can change just as your past positions on other issues may have changed.
The big silver lining here is that addressing global warming ignorance among our lawmakers and power brokers is a challenge that can actually be met if we are skillful and determined!
A sustainable prosperity for all
In the process of resolving global warming, we also can create the foundation for a long-term sustainable prosperity
It's not all bad news now that we know exactly where we are in the global warming emergency. This accurate knowledge will motivate rational and mature individuals to make the needed changes toward a more sustainable future.
By being forced toward a sustainable future, we will create tens of millions of new great paying jobs as we act to end the carbon and methane fossil fuel-related pollution that has been steadily added to the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution of the 1880s.
For added motivation, consider that by 2050 sea levels may rise 6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters) or more, depending on how many tipping points we cross. This sea-level rise will, of itself, help generate the greatest single construction project in human history. We will soon need to begin to move all coastal homes and businesses, as well as all essential water, electrical, transportation, and waste and sewage infrastructure at least 13-20 feet (3.9-6 meters) above the current sea level. This estimation is necessary after adding global warming sea level rise to the sometimes coincident storm and superstorm surges occurring at the same time as “king” high tide peaks. It also factors in an additional safety margin for crossing more known or unknown global warming tipping points.
“If there's a sustainable job that will create sustainable value, people will hire for it.”
— David Cunliffe, New Zealand Member of Parliament
There is also much new construction and reconstruction work that we will have to do for wildfire, drought, and inland lake and river flooding mitigation. For example, the superstorms that will be coming in nontraditional locations and at nontraditional times will require new infrastructure, water storage, and management facilities all over the world.
We will need to create a green Third Industrial Revolution83 that could, directly and indirectly, create millions more new green energy-related jobs worldwide. This green energy generation revolution will replace the preceding Second Industrial Revolution and the polluting fossil fuel energy generation that has powered it.
Going to green energy generation as rapidly as possible also has an important additional sustainability and resilience-building effect for surviving the growing consequences of escalating global warming. Solar and wind energy generation is often decentralized, which allows for it to be put on local homes and businesses. When climate catastrophes occur, power will come back up much faster because of this decentralization, with energy generation located right where the power is most needed and used.
In finally resolving escalating global warming, we will also be forced to create new, better, and more sustainable lifestyles, livelihoods, and community models. They will demonstrate the validity of sustainability principles to further guide us once we end the escalating global warming emergency and then need proven strategies to maintain our success.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.”
— Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Working together in these new sustainable prosperity lifestyles, livelihoods, and communities, we can also make our lives as good as possible. It is not difficult to envision how these new lifestyles, livelihoods, and communities will play an essential climate restabilization role. They will be a new sustainable prosperity model for the world in that they will also help create a long-term evolutionary future for today’s population and for generations to come.
“In the 21st century, I think the heroes will be the people who will improve the quality of life, fight poverty and introduce more sustainability.”
— Bertrand Piccard, Swiss psychiatrist; pioneering trans-global balloonist
There may be undiscovered positive wild cards that could help significantly slow, lessen, and eventually end global warming
The climate future is uncertain and full of both unpredictable negative and positive wild cards. We must remain open to exploring all possible natural decarbonization practices. We also need to be open to appropriate technological climate restabilization procedures, as well as all new green energy generation technologies that could be positive wild cards for our global warming future.
Technology’s greatest hope for helping to resolve this emergency lies mainly in its ability to more efficiently tap into the abundant sources of clean, green energy all around us (solar, wind, geothermal, etc). Right now, solar panel efficiency is doubling about every three years while at the same time, solar panel cost is rapidly and dramatically dropping.
This, coupled with new technologies for storage batteries, is helping us to resolve green energy battery storage and cost problems that could have significantly slowed our transition away from fossil fuel energy generation. The entrepreneur Elon Musk has stated that with 100 more new battery factories like his new Tesla Giga Factory, green energy generation should have all the battery storage capacity it needs to be able to meet all of the world’s energy needs.
There also could be a survival-critical point where we will have to be open to the possibilities of any existing or new technology, even if that technology seems improbable or far-fetched. Stating that we may have to use wise and appropriate technology solutions does not negate the serious warnings about an overly-optimistic or distorted over-reliance on new technology solutions as the main way we end the global warming emergency without first and also changing our polluting and destructive fossil fuel-consuming ways.
Among many new technology possibilities, we may even have to use distasteful or disruptive stopgap measures on the way to restabilizing the climate, provided that we have a high certainty these temporary measures will not have even worse side effects! For example, fourth-generation nuclear breeder reactors, if perfected, are supposed to use and burn the spent existing nuclear waste now being stored at great expense and risk. They will turn stored nuclear waste into a byproduct with a radioactive half-life of just 300 years instead of the average ~10,000 years for many kinds of existing nuclear reactor waste.
We can find the motivation
If there were a large extinction-level asteroid rapidly approaching the Earth, we would immediately come together as one human family to mobilize and share resources and intelligence to overcome this common global extinction threat. It would not matter what nation we came from, what religion we held, or what race, ethnicity, or gender we were. We would immediately pull together in hopes of resolving this shared extinction threat because of our mutual desire for self-preservation.
At this moment, escalating global warming is racing toward crossing more tipping points and irreversible global warming. Although global warming moves at a slower pace, it is just as big and as real of a threat as an extinction-level asteroid steadily approaching Earth.
When deeply felt and understood, our common global warming threat also offers the motivation and clarity needed to compel our coming together as one human family and mobilizing to do what is necessary to resolve it. Once we realize that:
a. this threat is imminent (if we miss the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets there will be mass extinction,) and
b. no one will survive unless we utilize the remaining years of meaningful control wisely,
it will be far easier to face the painful, costly, and radical changes together.
Another big-picture evolutionary perspective for success on the challenges before us
The escalating global warming crisis has become the greatest adaptive challenge and evolutionary adventure in human history. Paradoxically, while it is the greatest current challenge, if you step back and look at this crisis from the long evolutionary sweep of human history, this crisis is just another evolutionary challenge like the many we have overcome in the past.
The following Great Bottleneck story should help you better frame the difficult challenge in front of us.
The human species has almost gone extinct at least once before. This occurred about 72,000 years ago. This incident has been called the Great Evolutionary Bottleneck.
A super volcano called Toba erupted and blocked the sun for about 6 years. It also covered the earth with 6 inches of ash. Because of this supervolcano eruption and the resultant volcanic ash blocking the sunlight, global temperature was dramatically lowered. This volcano-related temperature lowering occurred on top of an already existing Ice Age.
Under the cold and darkened skies, humanity as a whole was reduced to as few as 1,000 mating pairs. Some research suggests even fewer survivors. Maybe as few as 200 mating pairs were all that survived of humanity.
This supervolcano eruption has been called an evolutionary bottleneck because during this time the total early global human population fell from an estimated 18-26,000 individuals with reproductive capabilities to 1,000 or fewer reproducing pairs. That was roughly a 90% reduction in total global population. If some other catastrophe had also occurred at the same time, humanity itself might have gone extinct.
Up until now, the Toba eruption has been the single greatest adaptive challenge to the survival of the whole of the human species. Unfortunately, today we are facing a new and far greater adaptive challenge.
This second great bottleneck is different, yet in some ways similar to the first great evolutionary bottleneck. This second bottleneck contains a global warming threat opposite to that of the colder temperatures of the first great evolutionary bottleneck. Unlike the first great bottleneck, which was caused by nature, the second is human-caused due to increasing carbon and methane atmospheric pollution and the steadily rising average global temperature.
This increasing global warming is causing a destabilization of our climate from its previously fairly stable temperature range level. This increasing destabilization will lead to some higher temperature range that may not be suitable for the survival of a majority of the 7 billion-plus people alive today. It may not be suitable for preserving any of the human species over time.
This means that together as a single human species, we are facing a new great adaptive challenge in the form of the second great evolutionary bottleneck namely the world's 13 critical systemic challenges. If we are going to come through this second evolutionary bottleneck, more will need to be done faster with more people cooperating on greater levels than has ever been achieved in human history.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the global warming challenge in front of us, never forget that humanity made it through the first great evolutionary bottleneck with far less cooperation, technology, and resources. Yes, today’s challenge will still be more difficult than any humanity has previously overcome. But, in the process of overcoming it, we will not only ensure our own future, but our effort will also provide each of us, both young and old, the opportunity to participate in the greatest evolutionary adventure in human history. Participating in such a challenge and adventure will create a deeply meaningful and purpose-filled life.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr., American civil rights leader
Humanity has entered a temporary evolutionary regression period as it has done so many times in the past. During this temporary regression, life as we usually know it will get worse for a while before it gets better.
In this period of temporary regression, humanity will learn the necessary hard new lessons about the real price of fossil fuel pollution, poor international cooperation, and the importance of maintaining healthy ecological systems. The great news here during this temporary regression is that if we are smart and work together, we can still have full, meaningful and enjoyable lives while we work to restore the critical climate balance to our life-supporting Earth systems and build a better world for when we make it through this mess.
Your faith provides a unique opportunity to help end global warming
i. Your spiritual faith will help you to endure the hardships and sacrifice as the global warming process escalates until it is finally resolved.
ii. There is a personal spiritual growth benefit in the evolutionary process itself whenever you overcome significant obstacles and challenges. You grow in both character and in spirit.
iii. Restabilizing our climate will give you a powerful opportunity to live your deepest faith in relation to what many refer to as the Great Mystery of Ultimate Reality (God, Buddha, Allah, etc.).
iv. You can demonstrate that ending global warming and being a good steward for the Earth is fully compatible with your best understanding of the Great Mystery and its intentions to sustain life on the planet (as believed in many faiths). As this happens, you will be demonstrating the power and influence of your faith and the world's religions.
The best and biggest silver lining here is that when most individuals of faith and most of the great religious groups of this world collectively demand we do what is necessary to stop catastrophic global warming, an unimaginably great moral leverage will be in place to help ensure we are successful.
Your strong personal faith shared with others will also help demonstrate that humanity is completely capable of lessening, slowing, and eventually resolving the global warming challenge if:
i. we are realistic about what is effective and what is not in the time we have left,
ii. we do the “first-things-first” on critical path actions,
iii. we cooperate together as a unified and coordinated force.
Together, faith and spirit communities can help extend the existence, stability, and quality of life for the present generation, as well as for future generations.
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
— Aldo Leopold, American author, ecologist, and environmentalist