It’s near unthinkable but some including with ‘emeritus’ and ‘professor’ ahead of their name, claim there is now no hope of avoiding extinction. One of these persons travels around the world telling all willing to listen that we have at most ten years before the last human falls flat dead. Imagine that, no one left to hand out the “last human on earth” award and worse still there will be nothing that will remember humans even existed. What a waste of time and effort every sacrifice made, battle fought, every act of self-denial for the betterment of the many, the billions of those who came before us who lived, suffered and struggled did all that for nothing and even our extinction itself will be for nothing because at least the last great extinction cleared the planet of over-sized lizards so mammals including our variant of primate could take over. In fact if we are indeed the only life-form able to look back at the Universe in wonder then our disappearance will make further existence of the Universe itself pointless. Of course there could be other planets where complex, self-aware life also exists but as probable as that is, we have no proof of it and should act accordingly.
I think all the emeritus’ are wrong. Not on climate change and its oncoming dire consequences but on human extinction. If we are alone in the Universe then that same Universe will not let it happen. The process will not be pretty, few of the current seven-billion-plus will survive and we may go back to population levels similar to the beginning of the AD which is estimated to have been as low as 150 million. We know the cause of climate change is consumption-based civilisation and we could wait for its inevitable collapse to be the starting point of recovery but that starting point could equally be more of us deciding to buy a bicycle rather than a gas-powered motorcar.
No hope? Of course there is hope and I believe that inevitable collapse of the present destructive civilisation will happen well before the planet becomes entirely uninhabitable even if we do nothing other than business as usual. The sudden lowering of CO2 output combined with the planet’s ability to reabsorb the excess CO2 faster than that lingering excess can further heat the planet to uninhabitable levels will guarantee a much reduced number of humans and an equally reduced number of other species will survive but in the case of humans, having learnt a very important lesson – you are not what you have. The choice is ours, we can let mother nature take care of the problem in which case a big Ouch!!! and few survive or, we can do it ourselves and lower CO2 levels even faster than we raised them and all will live on a healthy planet amongst a better, cleaner and fairer global community of humans.