HomeArticleIt’s Really Weird How Little We Talk About Humanity’s Imminent Doom

It’s Really Weird How Little We Talk About Humanity’s Imminent Doom

Listen to a reading of this article:

Did you know the insects are vanishing?

They are. Land-dwelling insects like butterflies, ants and grasshoppers are now half as common as they were 75 years ago; that’s why those of you who remember catching fireflies on summer nights as kids don’t see them much anymore, and why car windshields don’t get covered in dead bugs like they used to.

This is a part of the animal kingdom that the rest of the ecosystem is built upon, and it’s undergone a drastic plummet that we’ve personally witnessed in our own lifetimes. If you were a sapient insect watching it happen, you wouldn’t be thinking in terms of a future armageddon, you’d feel that you were currently witnessing it.

People bicker and argue about global warming and what should be done about it and if it even exists, but climate change is only one of the many ways our biosphere is moving toward death. There’s also been a shocking loss of two-thirds of Earth’s wildlife in the last 50 years, ecosystems dying offforests disappearing, soil becoming rapidly less fertile, mass extinctions, oceans gasping for oxygen and becoming lifeless deserts while continents of plastic form in their waters, and the aforementioned insect apocalypse. The way the debate fixates solely on temperature and carbon levels is like if someone had stage four cancer throughout their body and they were in a coma and their vital signs were dropping and the doctor said death is imminent, and everyone was stuck on arguing over whether or not low blood pressure is necessarily a bad thing.

And nothing’s being done about global warming anyway. Conspiracy types have been claiming for decades that it’s a hoax designed to advance this or that agenda, and during that time the only thing that’s advanced is the temperature of the planet and the ecocidal capitalist systems responsible for it. The 2021 UN Climate Change Conference has seen world leaders issue a non-binding pledge to achieve carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century” while taking naps and tossing coins into Rome’s Trevi Fountain for “luck” in addressing the issue they could all solve quickly if they actually wanted to. “Carbon neutrality” is itself a highly misleading and potentially completely worthless neoliberal sham designed to allow the continuation of carbon output but attempting to fix it with more consumption.

Meanwhile methane—a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon in the short term—has started hemorrhaging into the atmosphere from thawing arctic permafrost, and no one really knows what to do about it. This, like the albedo effect of polar ice loss and numerous other self-reinforcing warming effects that have been unlocking in recent years, can potentially cause the Earth to continue warming all on its own regardless of future human behavior.

That’s all on top of the western empire ramping up world-threatening aggressions against both nuclear-armed Russia and nuclear-armed China simultaneously, a multi-front cold war the likes of which we’ve never seen before and which is only just barely getting started. And if we don’t wipe ourselves out by climate collapse or nuclear war, we could still easily do it fairly soon with weaponized AI.

So our species is facing existential threats on myriad fronts which could easily lead to horrifying extinction-level events that we could easily see unfold in our own lifetimes.

And it’s just so very strange how we don’t talk about that more.

It’s like if you knew you had a deadly but treatable disease, and not only did you not pursue treatment, you also didn’t think about it much and didn’t talk about it with anyone. None of your friends even brought it up.

The way we’re just sitting around going about our lives like this isn’t happening reminds me of that experiment where participants sit in a waiting room that’s filling up with smoke without knowing that the experiment is already underway. If the participants are alone they’ll generally take action to do something about the problem, but if they’re in the waiting room with other people who are secretly in on the experiment and have been told to ignore the smoke, the participant will also ignore it. The smoke machine can be billowing into the waiting room at levels that would have killed everyone in it if it were real smoke, and they’ll still remain inactive.

We’re all kind of doing that right now with humanity’s impending doom. Nobody else seems to be worried about it, so why should we? If it were a big deal then surely the news would be talking about it, and surely our leaders would be doing more about it. It’s the bystander effect in action, on a worldwide scale.

It’s what Bo Burnham calls “that funny feeling“, that peculiar experience of watching the smoke pouring into the room while no one does anything, of knowing we’re hurtling toward our destruction while the media run headlines like “Elijah Wood touted a newly acquired NFT. A racism scandal ensued.

A funny feeling indeed.

But of course it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can help our species fight its way out of our waiting room stupor by taking action to spread awareness of the problems we face and their underlying causes, since spreading awareness is the only thing that ever makes any real difference in such matters anyway. Whether we’re on our way to our doom or not, and whether struggle is futile or not, working to help as a gratuitous act of love is still the sanest possible response to this glorious mess.

And even if we are all doomed and our fate is already sealed, it doesn’t have to be all bad. Some people with terminal diagnoses will tell you they’ve been living more in their last few months of life than in all their preceding decades combined. The fact that this could all end at any time is all the more reason to treasure it with all our hearts, to become big enough to let its beauty and majesty in so we can really appreciate it. To behold this miraculous place with eyes full of wonder. To pursue spiritual enlightenment and then laugh to the heavens when we realize it’s already here.

If you don’t succumb to doomerism and defeatism and really embrace this moment in history for what it is, this is the best possible time for a human to be alive.

____________________________

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Latest comments

  • Yes we are doomed. Yes, people are acting stupid. But I do not think an end to growth will happen soon. It’s going to hit hard eventually, but don’t expect us to stop using every last bit of fossil fuel before then. It just isn’t going to happen. For one without lots of energy how do we fix the stuff climate change breaks or keep our homes cool enough to survive in? The reason climate change and overpopulation are so fantastically hard to address is because the general population of the Earth doesn’t want to address them (not _really_). People love popping lots of kids, and they are ready to die for the US lifestyle. And so die they will, and once 95% of us are gone, maybe humanity can give it another go but limit baby popping and eliminate fossil fuel use as best we can.

    • Hooowee! I just have to say something about this. It so perfectly captures the neoMalthusian mentality behind the “climate” nonsense. As in: its all because the stupid poor people are having to many kids and wanting a decent standard of living.

      I am presently preparing a whole series of blog articles tracing this climate nonsense back to its origins. When I get it done I will brazenly use Cait’s comment box to promote links to them.

      By the way, thanks for the nice comment, ZenLizzie.

  • Why do all the climate change conferences fail and all the investments, hopes and efforts around the clock are wasted?
    There are many scientists, investors and world leaders, but each is pursuing its own goals.
    When they talk about (global warming, carbon, methane, fossil fuels, deforestation, forest fires, the destruction of the Amazon, investment in renewable energy, human food for the reasons they say, generous donations to countries They do not play a role in climate change), in fact, they did not talk about the main issue, which is the Earth’s natural suffocation cycle! As a result, they will still fail if they achieve all their goals. This is because the Earth’s natural suffocation cycle has very little to do with all of these factors!
    They do not even know that if the Earth gets ten degrees colder, it has no effect on the Earth’s natural suffocation cycle. Unfortunately, rainfall in many parts of the world (dried colloidal powder beds of wetlands) is very dangerous and accelerates the process of suffocation and extinction of living organisms.
    Finally, we all have to worry and look forward to catastrophic days because there is not a single scientist in the world who does have complete information about this natural suffocation cycle!

    https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Aerosols

  • The reason why all concerns are of no concern to the people on top is because they know a whole lot more of what is really going to happen.

    All of these issues are to keep you, i and everyone in the lower 99% occupied thinking about banal nonsense.

    Look at what the U.S. military is doing in Colorado, specifically Cheyenne mountain. Notice the geographical position. Look where the top 150 wealthiest humans are building megabunkers.

    Research:

    Rocky Mountain Navy. spaceweathernews.com
    suspiciousobservers on youtube
    Charles Hapgood expedition to the North Pole.
    The Adam and Eve Story by Chan Thomas (when it was published, it was banned by the CIA)
    Go see the evidence in southeastern Utah for yourself.

    Don’t get distracted with time wasting arguments.

    Do your research. Prepare for the worst, expect the best.

    • David, if the super wealthy families go to their bunkers,everything that made them super wealthy, oligarchs, will be gone. Money, gold, stocks and shares, property, art, and the legal system that enforced their privilege, all gone.
      They will need support staff to maintain their underground life support system, and servants, and security to keep the staff in line and stop the builders of their ark gatecrashing the party.
      The skills the oligarchs had on the surface are now obsolete. Will their staff even let them enter the bunker, when the time comes, would you?
      Many will resent that the wealthy caused the problem that wiped out many of their loved ones, I would.
      If I was one of the staff or security detail, their privilege would end abruptly.
      No one is in the drivers seat as we head towards the abyss.
      If there was a driver they would not have driven America and the collective West into the ground since the fall of the USSR. Neither China nor Russia nor anyone benefits from a destabilized America armed to the teeth with nukes.

      • You’re still thinking surface distractions and diversions. Do some research to what i offered. Pay attention to what the military is doing beyond posturing.

        Cheers

        • David, voters give authority to politicians, who give it to military brass, who pass it down the chain of command. With the voters gone, any authority goes with them. Who will follow orders from those who have so abjectly failed? there will be no shortage of ammunition. It will be used by whoever bests adjusts fastest to this new reality.

          • A little more research on your part would be more helpful than a kneejerk response. You’re still being distracted by surface diversion.

  • Great points in this article, thanks for articulating it Caitlin. I agree loss of biodiversity and ecosystem collapse is the actual issue climate chaos is being described as. The issue refocuses as landscape ecology becomes a check box for blotted out ecosystems as our current economic system externalizes the value of ecosystem services, and seeks to grind everything wild that represents the amazing resilience of life on earth into privately owned monoculture resource outputs. This is both intentional and a logical extension of the enclosure mentality which seeks to capture us in a hierarchical structure so billionaires can feel reassured they are measurably better than the rest of us. Cant have nature producing free lunches when the entire economy is organized against this principle that allowed life to flourish before greedy people invented ownership even at the cost of mass starvation, and deprivations caused by the complete failure of capitalism to distribute resources in any minimally just sense. I cant focus on things that make me angry for too long these days. Cant play the social media carnival of posing on the right side of history. I try to see past ideological differences in my personal interactions, and have no faith the system which has forced itself on all of us to be there for our needs in the future. So I try to grow food, medicine, save seeds, fix things where I can, and let my beliefs be spoken through actions instead of pompous pronouncements in service to an ideology. I get we all have something akin to an ideology to describe what we believe, but wouldnt it be so much better if people practiced it through actions? That said I do appreciate your writing so keep on keeping on with that.

  • Brilliant piece – thank you! Wondering if we could publish this on our Community Group website as a ‘guest blog’ by you? Thanks

  • Hi Caitlin, it’s weird how much my circle of friends have been talking about humanity’s imminent doom since the 1970s. It’s why none of us had children.
    Can’t turn the Titanic around, we can only rearrange the deck chairs.

    • Mary, there is a glimmer of hope, the Titanic is turning, whether it will be in time remains to be seen.
      America, Europe, China, Russia, Iran and others all have one thing in common.
      They all have around 60% female university graduates.
      Each generation of boys is becoming less assertive, girls more assertive.
      Who could deny it?
      Will humanity still be considered a patriarchal species in another generation?
      Once the current generations of men are gone, including me, females will promote females. The direction of travel will be dictated by women.
      There are many examples of strong capable women, ready for real authority to mold the world to their needs and desires.
      Caitlin Johnstone may share my highest pedestal with others, but I can think of no one who deserves a higher one.
      Given the chance, she and her sisters will systematically remove the existential risks we males have placed in humanities path, more through stupidity than malice.
      The iceberg is ahead, changing the crew rather than the deckchairs may be enough.

  • It’s madness. We’ve read about it, listened, talked, ranted for years now.
    Feck all happens. Same shit. Same news articles and chat forums.
    Same desparate attempt to find like minded people who also see it coming.
    Massive frustration with the lame-ass ruling elite blinded by their wealth.
    Huge disapointment with Mankind’s relentless obsession with violence.
    So easy to just say fuck it. Stupid humanity. Doomed anyway so wtf.

    But when I’m feeling happy and positive I think well maybe,
    when the shit has really hit home and people are dying in droves
    Some Genuine Honest Awesome Incredible People will somehow emerge like Alien Butterflies

    Evil Greedy Ruthless Selfish Bastard Scum who are currently holding the reins.

    But I’ll be dead by then so.
    Good Luck I say!
    Sincerely 🙂

  • Like this post form Cait. She is one of the climate changers who is slowly starting to get it. Has not understood yet that the “carbon” thing is nonsense and temperatures are actually falling. But is starting to get it that there are real dangers to the environment.

    People aren’t noticing them because their attention is focussed on… But the four things which do scare me are;
    1.Nuclear industry
    2.Insecticides/loss of pollinating insects
    3.Abuse of antibiotics
    4. Overfishing the oceans

    Many environment things are hogwash. Some are very real. It is really impossible for ordinary people to sort through it. The need is for an honest information system, not a “free press’. To make right decisions, people need right information.

    • By George, I think he’s got it. Thank you, Tim Rourke, for bringing up the very things that I believe are the scariest. I agree that most people are focused upon the wrong things…climate changes. I have been aware since the 60s and I see the planet cooling, not heating up. Granted it is unstable so there are times it appears warmer than normal in some places, but on the whole it is getting colder. We are the cause of the four things you list…these are things we can do something about, but only if people are aware, and put their minds to stopping them, and repairing the damages. I am not as concerned about the air, as I am about our earth, the soils, the waters, both fresh and salt. Our builders don’t seem to care, industry doesn’t seem to care, except about the almighty dollars. To me it is common sense what the problems actually are…and common sense is in short supply nowadays. But we have some very good minds out there, who can solve these problems…if they were allowed to.

  • We can still collectivize. if you can grow flowers, you can probably grow corn. If you can fix a Mustang, you can probably fix a tractor. We can also tax stock portfolios and nationalize energy and finance. Oh, and nobody has to starve.

    • John:

      Who’s “we”? My “we” wants nothing to do with blog parasites like “you”, and the empty agitprop “you” regurgitate cause “you’re” incapable of independent thought. Your “we” don’t speak for my “we.”

      • I guess you’re mad about something but can’t say what.

  • Just exactly WHAT do people do after they’re all woke up — pick up a gun; guillotine some VIPs; march hand in hand down Penn. Ave. forever and demand, demand, demand that the Elite behave better, or else?
     
    Here’s what you are eventually going to HAVE TO DO because
     
    there. is. no. other. way.
     
    If you do not want More Of The Same that you’ve gotten after every election in the past, do not vote for another R or D, ever, no matter what an R or D promises! Jimmy Dore explains EXACTLY why.

  • Oh oh. Looks like another winter locked inside. And here I thought the Magic Juice booster was going to save us!

  • Well, the guy who’s pushed off a cliff had better enjoy the flight, otherwise he just adds one last misery to the whole shit show. He might even think all the way down, like in the joke: “So far so good!” Besides they say that every coin has two sides and that the larger the head, the larger the tail. At least this will put an end to this horrible headache he’s had all day like Bruce Willis in Die Hard with a Vengeance.

  • Not sure if this is a fake but it does sound reasonable.
    The G20 coin tossers employed young men with ball-hanger swimsuits and snorkels to retrieve the coins right after the photo op.
    Also making the rounds, most of these folks have printed up personal toilet tissue that has their respective national constitution printed on it.
    It’s hard to know these days but if this is not true, it ought to be debunked!

  • Locking OUR victims out of COP 26 reminds all of us how DNC™ LLC locked us out of 2016’s Hillary Convention at Philly’s Wells Fargo Center by putting poor delegates into $700/night hotels, with ONLY Uber, in a city with GREAT transit, you couldn’t show up. Debbie, Robby & John installed Trump! Like 1964 (BUT Goldwater!) Convention refused to seat Black MS deligates. “Our” party is there to bail-out fracking, decaying Nuke plants, Tar Sand bitumen, carbon sequestration, Bayer’s GE monoculture agribusiness & geoengineering?

    https://fair.org/home/action-alert-the-new-climate-denial-dont-worry-do-nothing/

    https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-11-02/racial-justice-climate-justice-and-capitalism-in-the-u-s-a-contradiction-in-terms/

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/10/29/what-big-oil-knew-about-climate-change-in-its-own-words/

    https://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2021/10/13/wall-streets-takeover-of-nature-advances-with-launch-of-new-asset-class/

  • Dylan: The line it is drawn – The curse it is cast – The slow one now – Will later be fast –
    As the present now – Will later be past – The order is rapidly fadin’ – And the first one now will later be last – For the times they are a-changin’
    https://seaclearly.com/2020/11/21/the-times-they-are-a-changin

  • What I am about to say will likely sound really defeatist but please bear with me.

    I have an illness which my wife assures me is curable but I refuse to do anything about it for 2 key reasons. The first is that the treatment required is so painful that waiting to die with less pain seems a preferable route. I mention this because the pain required to dramatically change our lifestyles is probably why people are ignoring the end of the world messages. It’s a bit like holding a party using food and booze you paid for with a credit card when you were already up to your neck in debt…

    The second reason is I believe, rightly or wrongly, that those in power ARE doing something about the climate problem although for many, the solution is flying under their radar. I am, of course, referring to depopulation. We are witnessing that too but the MSM will never tell you about it. Again, given the world these parasites are in the process of creating, I would rather give it a pass. It’s just not for me.

    All very defeatist however, I leave you with a monstrous caveat for the globalists. I identified you as a cancer a long time ago and from time to time I voiced that unless you surgically remove a cancer it will grow and grow destroying everything in its path until it finally consumes its host. That is what we are seeing today. They think that by killing off 95% of the world’s population they will have everything for themselves. I think they are deluded. All they will achieve is the extermination of humanity itself and planet Earth will shake her back like a dog shakes off water and say “Nice knowing yers … NEXT!!!”

  • Not sure I buy into the overpopulation argument. It’s a value judgment. Who should not reproduce? White people? Brown people? The problem is that the population of the world cannot be sustained by the western lifestyle. It’s more about unrestrained corporations and capitalism. Lets also not forget the US military / one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Awareness and kindness are our only hope. I agree labeling others as stupid won’t help the situation, but I can also understand the frustration that comes from living next door to people with their heads in the sand. Until we can change course (if we ever will) I intend to continue loving my family, friends and neighbors as hard as I can, appreciating beauty always, and adopting more of a minimalist lifestyle. It has been heartbreaking to witness the loss of insects and birds in my lifetime. And to think Rachel Carson was aware of this decades ago! If only that awareness had not have been squished.

  • My number one criticism of any human I meet is based on how little or much they realize this.

    • Certainly this is crucial and necessary to know, that we’re well along in the process of killing the entire global ecosystem by the way we live. But I hesitate to criticize others for not understanding this, in light of the 24/7 narrative control, the Overton Window maintenance, which Caitlin constantly describes. As it was succinctly put a while back, the people are like sheep without a shepherd, knowing not what they do.

  • I’m sorry Caitlin, but it would appear you need to get out more, and if you miss the bug splatter on your windscreen, come to Australia at the right time of the year, (like now, Spring) and do some country driving, I can assure you, you will be very pleased with the result. If you’ve got a thing about bug splatters.

      • All are missing the point GOD IS OUR CREATOR OF ALL THINGS!! WE NEED TO GET BACK TO GOD! HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY HE DOESNTHINGS ON HIS TIME LINE NOT OUR TIME LINE.
        We all need to get back to our basic roots I don’t mean where we have to live back in the dooms stone but back to simpler things in life. Where we enjoyed each other, enjoy the environment. Yes some things are good thst has help but there is alot that has destroyed beautiful simple life, we are all rushing around to do this and thst, we are too busy working two or three jobs that we miss out on our children Nd for what?? TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONES!! WE NEED TO BE MORE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER. ALL TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.

      • The reason why all concerns are of no concern to the people on top is because they know a whole lot more of what is really going to happen.

        All of these issues are to keep you, i and everyone in the lower 99% occupied thinking about banal nonsense.

        Look at what the U.S. military is doing in Colorado, specifically Cheyenne mountain. Notice the geographical position. Look where the top 150 wealthiest humans are building megabunkers.

        Research:

        Rocky Mountain Navy. spaceweathernews.com
        suspiciousobservers on youtube
        Charles Hapgood expedition to the North Pole.
        The Adam and Eve Story by Chan Thomas (when it was published, it was banned by the CIA)
        Go see the evidence in southeastern Utah for yourself.

        Don’t get distracted with time wasting arguments.

        Do your research. Prepare for the worst, expect the best.

    • Here in Canada I’m old enough to remember having to scrape bugs off my windshield every time I stopped for gas on a road trip. In no longer need to do that, the bugs are gone. You must be asleep at the wheel.

  • Us over 50’s might die from old age, but those any younger are living on borrowed time.
    Look on the bright side, Stephen Jay Gould (palaeontologist) once stated that the Earth would probably recover in about 10,000 years.
    Better luck next time hey?

    • It has happened on a smaller scale already. After Columbus the population in the West plummeted by up to 98%. The abandoned gardens and fields went to weeds and then grasslands and forest. With the apex predator gone grazing animals proliferated. So much carbon was drawn down that temps dropped 1C worldwide causing the Little Ice Age.
      With the likely collapse of civilization and the disappearance of industrial agriculture the insects and birds and the other animals will rebound quickly. Humans will survive too. Remember humans traveled from Africa to populate the entire planet during at least two ice ages. When civilization is rebuilt we must not allow privately held corporations or banks. That is the source of almost all of the problems. It has never been we destroying the planet. It has always been corporations. GHGs are always compared to preindustrial levels. No industry. No GHGs. Rodale Institute determined that 70% of the GHGs came from plowing the soil which holds 3 times tje carbon than the air and above ground vegetation together. Build the soil microbiome and save the planet.

  • According to Automotive Age magazine, there are now more than 200 million SUVs on the planet. Who, besides a car salesman, thinks that is a good idea?

  • I’m afraid humans are too dam STUPID & BRAINWASHED by RELIGION & our LYING RULERS!
    I had noticed years ago the disapearance of the INSECTS, I no longer see or hear swallows, bats, kingfishers, swifts or MONARCHS, their GONE here.

    I still have the pictures I took years before to remind me of what is gone, gone FOREVER.

    People are so STUPID they actually BELIEVE we can replace declining RESOURCES with a RESOURCE DEPENDENT TECHNOLOGY!
    Their also too IGNORANT to see just how OVERPOPULATED WE ARE.

    There is now about 8 BILLION HUMANS on a planet that without OIL could support only about 500 MILLION!
    See the problem? 7.5 BILLION TOO MANY HUMANS, THEY ARE DOOMED!
    WE ARE DOOMED!
    Our RULERS are still pushing for more dam GROWTH, there are thousands of illegal migrants on their way here, hands out, expecting us to take care of them.
    Don’t we already have enough poor, needy, unskilled, homeless people, we do not need MORE!
    DEPORT THEM ALL!
    We are on our way to collapse, it’s already started, the # of homeless is growing, energy shortages are biting, prices on everything is rising & will continue to rise.

    There is no solution, there is no “fix”, praying to imaginary “gods” won’t help us, that has never helped anyone.
    Enjoy what time we have NOW, get out & see what’s left before it too is GONE FOREVER!

    • When you call people stupid, two things happen:
      You lift yourself above them, by claiming, you are qualified to judge and intellectually superior, thus giving yourself the right to decide above their head and automatically becoming a fascist.
      Second, you remove any realistic option of talking (meaning listening as well) to them in a meaningful way. I find that counterproductive.
      (Also i would argue, that you fail and refuse to understand their current position)
      The people coming to the global north are following the resources we stole from them and want their share of it, which i find totally reasonable.
      I agree, that overpopulation is a huge problem, there is only so much biomass the earth can sustain. In my lifetime the US population alone has grown by about 80 – 90 million people. Those are the kind of people that consume roughly 10 times more resources, than the average human. Therefore the population that needs to be cut most is the one living in the global north, so if immigrants were coming here to kill us (which they don’t) they would be doing mother earth a huge favor.
      I stick to Michael Jacksons advice and start with the man in the mirror.

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