We are destroying our planet, at a tipping point in climate change. But what if science can’t save us?

The world is at a turning point. From climate change to COVID to conflict, the future looks not only uncertain, but fraught with danger.

Surely every age has its own catastrophe or imminent death. The twentieth century was a bloodbath and the world lived in the shadow of the nuclear bomb throughout the Cold War.

However, this was also an age of endless horizons, new discoveries, journeys into space, and the computer revolution.

Yes, there were prophets of doom like Paul Ehrlich who half a century ago was warning of a population explosion. He said that the world could not live more than two billion people.

Now we’re approaching eight billion and Ehrlich is still predicting the collapse of civilization.

Paul Ehrlich said the “collapse of civilization” had become “almost certain” within decades.(Paul Ehrlich (Linda A. Cicero/Stanford News Service))

However, in the 1970s, the world could still ignore the worst. Progress cannot be stopped. We’d watch The Jetsons cartoons and dream about bundles of space planes and personal robots.

Since the steam engine and the industrial revolution, mankind has believed that it is the master of its own destiny. Nature had to be subdued. We wanted to get richer, live longer, and consume more.

But there was always a cost. Even as we thought we could delay the payment.

The waves are coming

In 1800 the world population exceeded one billion. Since 1861, Irish physicist John Tindall has spoken of the “global warming effect”.

A few years later, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius showed how burning coal would speed up global warming.

By 1960, the population had exceeded three billion; The US government was warning that the global warming effect was a real concern.

A decade later, the United Nations held its first climate conference. By that time, the phrase “global warming” had become in vogue.

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