Skip to main content

Choosing to Save Humanity

Mount Everest
Image via Wikipedia


The battle to prevent the effects of climate change have been compared to the Apollo space mission of the 60’s. A recent report and various articles around the web have picked this idea up again, this from Joseph Romm, writing at Salon.com…

Goodnight, moon travel | Salon

Kennedy ended his speech with an appeal to the universal human spirit to conquer the unknown

Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory, who was to die on Mount Everest, was asked why did he want to climb it. He said, “Because it is there.” Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.

Today, we know that the most hazardous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked is the transition to a carbon-free economic and energy system that’s capable of sustaining and expanding prosperity for 9 billion people. The alternative is, as a new 6,700-page report by world leaders concludes, catastrophic climate changes whereby “billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilization will collapse.”

Humanity has only two paths forward. We voluntarily switch to a low-carbon economy over the next two decades, or the reality of catastrophic climate change and peak oil forces us to desperately start doing so by the end of the 2020s. The only difference between the two paths is that the first one spares our children and grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren, untold misery. It creates a sustainable future where activities like manned space travel can be contemplated again.

Somehow, I doubt that the space race would have been so universally accepted as a project for mankind if the alternative was catastrophic climate changes whereby ‘billions of people will be condemned to poverty and much of civilization will collapse.'”. It wasn’t a choice between a current lifestyle leading to a bleak future or an unknown, possibly less wealthy, definitely tougher future.

[ad#468]

The planet’s future: Climate change ‘will cause civilisation to collapse’ – Climate Change, Environment – The Independent

Although government and business leaders are responding more seriously to the global environmental situation, it continues to get worse, according to the report. It calls on governments to work to 10-year plans to tackle growing threats to human survival, targeting particularly the US and China, which need to apply the sort of effort and resources that put men on the Moon.

“This is not only important for the environment; it is also a strategy to increase the likelihood of international peace. Without some agreement, it will be difficult to get the kind of global coherence needed to address climate change seriously.”

But seriously, “international peace”? Is it possible that as resources dwindle, the planet gets hotter and food shortages are more likely that we’ll be holding hands singing “We are One” or “We are the World” just because we decided to work together at fixing the problem?

[ad#200-left]An un- (or minimally) regulated, capitalist economy created the wealth that permitted the US Space Race Program while the population basked in new technologies fueled by cheap fossil fuels. Back then, exploring space was seen as an adventure, a sign of progress, hope for the future, of course the dream could be sold to the American Public, the world stood in awe as these manmade machines blasted into space, carrying a few brave souls into the deep unknown.

This same economy is sputtering along now in fits and starts, climate change is less of an adventure than a battle, there is no glittering prize at the end of the battle – those who survive the confrontation with climate change and peak oil will face a world very different from today – not filled with greater wealth,  technological promise or ever increasing convenience. These are the bastions of our current economy and society. What will force us to change our path? What will prompt us to choose to save humanity rather than please ourselves?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

One thought on “Choosing to Save Humanity

  1. I agree with your opinion. what is knowing more about the outer space as compared to sustaining our own place to live, planet Earth.

Comments are closed.