I’ve been thinking lately about the Fermi Paradox: the observation that if the conditions which gave rise to life on Earth are not unique (and there is no reason to suppose they are), then the galaxy should be rife with intelligent species, to the point that we probably ought to have seen evidence of one or more of them already. And that, as we have not done so, there must be some filter which limits the number of intelligent species. I suspect we are coming to an understanding of what that is. Given a probable prediction of a dismal future, we have two choices: accept that the science is probably true, and undertake reforms which may hurt in the short term but are completely reversible in the long term; or hope that the science is definitely wrong, enjoy our comforts in the short term, and take the risk that the consequences are completely irreversible in the long term. And we’re choosing Option B. To paraphrase Stephen Hawking, one wonders whether intelligent life exists anywhere.
What marks us apart from all the vague analogies, like Easter Island, is that for the first time in human history our knowledge of the natural world has progressed to the point that we actually know more or less what our fate will be. Contrary to popular imagination, indigenous environmental knowledge, while tremendously sophisticated, has never possessed that level of rational systemic understanding. Ironically, understanding how to prevent one’s fate and having the means to do so apparently is not sufficient grounds for survival. So much for the Fermi Paradox.
Here in Canada, I would happily concede any other policy front if the Harper Government™ indicated it intended to take the responsible course on climate change. I would happily trade away Canadian sovereignty, or universal healthcare, the rule of law, freedom of the press, and the supremacy of Parliament. All of those things can be reconstructed. It would be a hard choice, and unfortunately it is not one I will have to make. But as a first step, Harper could replace the current odious environment minister, Peter Kent, who I have been told regards juvenile idiot Ezra Levant’s screed Ethical Oil as a serious work of environmental scholarship.