Humanity Can Have a Future

Julian Cribb | April 2, 2019 | Leave a Comment

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Science writer Julian Cribb looks at how humans thinking as a species can overcome existential threats.

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  • stevenearlsalmony
  • Geoffrey Holland

    Powerful video. Embracing our common humanity and a common purpose of planetary stewardship is a must. Women with an equal place at the table, and in leadership roles at all levels is a must. We need millions of Jacinda Ardern types to step up all over the world.

  • Arnold Byron

    Mr. Cribb almost got to the salient point. He spoke effectively about the problems, how sharing information may be an engine to solving the problems and the importance of women actually tqking charge. I

    • Julian Cribb

      Not enough time on the video, I’m sorry, Arnold! Wd like to discuss this with you at some stage. I don’t feel the outdated ‘nation state’ model converts very readily to global governance. It is too competition-based and too contaminated by old left/right politics (which solve nothing). The ‘democracy’ I see emerging however is a global consensus via social media about what to do, how to live, what products to buy. Can one have a democracy without votes? I don’t know, but I suspect so. If all (or most) humans agreed to eat sustainably, for example, it would dramatically alter a number of existential threats such as resource depletion, climate change, global poisoning, extinction etc.

  • Greeley Miklashek

    Thoughtful video, if very general, and perhaps overly optimistic. The rise of women worldwide is clearly central to any hope of human species’ survival and the best element of this video. Unfortunately, Mr. Cribb has not considered the exploding rates of the “diseases of civilization” in all Western societies and developed Asian societies. Were it not for all of our heroic medical care, we would already be a tiny fraction of our current 7.6B, let alone speeding along at 230,000/d toward 9.3B by 2050. Americans already take 4.3B Rx annually! 1/3 entering US college freshmen are already taking anti-depressants, and 1/4 adult women! And none of these diseases can be found in remote traditional living hunter-gatherer bands/clans! We have created a physical/social environment that is literally killing us! Now, that is a real “existential threat”! Stress R Us

    • Julian Cribb

      I do consider modern health conditions in my book (Surviving the 21st Century) but not enough time in this video, I’m afraid. The fact that modern food is the main killer. That global toxicity is poisoning everyone and killing 7-9 million a year (ie more than WWII), also causing widespread neurotoxicity (eg depression, maybe Alzheimers, Parkinsons, autism, ADHD). That life expectancies are now showing signs of peaking is demonstrated by the US, where they are actually falling (under Trump). They will probably peak out in Africa and Asia shortly too, owing to globaltox. The existential issue is that pandemic mental disability is arriving at the same time as climate change, resource scarcity, robot WMDs, globaltox, food insecurity etc etc – in other words the very time we really need our brains, we are losing them….

      • Greeley Miklashek

        Fascinating perspective! I’ve ordered your book. However, my 42 year medical career revealed that population density stress (my term) is killing us through neuro-endocrine mechanisms, primarily due to exhaustion of stress hormones and elevated levels of the natural catabolic cytotoxin/neurotoxin cortisol. High cortisol blood levels inhibit the immune system and make us vulnerable to external toxins/bacteria/viruses/etc., which matches-up with your increasing environmental toxin hypothesis (theory?). I have written “Stress R Us”, which is available as a free PDF online, or a PB/Kindle on Amazon Books. You might find it very interesting indeed. I look forward to receiving and reading your book. Cheers!

        • Julian Cribb

          I look forward to reading this very much. It supports my views on the metropolis and the stresses it imposes on a highly competitive animal designed for a life on the savannah! However I think environmental toxins are a vastly underrated source of brain and nerve damage given their vast quantity and the fact that many are cumulative (both in people and in the environment). My estimate is that human chemical emissions are around 250Gt/year, which is five times our carbon emissions. However nobody in science has yet produced a formal assessment of this massive impact.

          • Greeley Miklashek

            Hi Julian! I just finished reading your wonderful “Surviving the 21st Century” and I’m impressed as hell! However, you did not mention the rest of the findings from 70 years worth of animal crowding researches: at maximum densities/populations all further species’ survival ceases. John B. Calhoun (at NIMH) and Charles Southwick (here at the Univ. of Wisconsin in the early 1950’s) both concluded that the collapse of the family structure was the ultimate cause of extinction, but another group led by J. J. Christian (then at the Penrose Lab. in Phila.) and confirmed by Geo. Chrousos (at NIMH) demonstrated neuro-endocrine mechanisms turning off reproduction in crowded populations. No matter the exact cause (I favor both), the entire population collapses and becomes extinct in every iteration. You might want to consider adding this as an 11th chapter to your otherwise thorough and insightful thesis. I see this same process accelerating in modern society, from the perspective of my 42 year medical practice. Let me know what you think of the book and recommend a publisher if you are so disposed. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of humanity and the biosphere! Stress R Us

          • Julian Cribb

            Very interesting indeed. Have you a particular favourite citation you can refer me to? I look forward to reading the book. It is observable that the women of the world have already turned off reproduction voluntarily, reducing fertility from 4.4 to 2.4 babies/woman over the past half century, and there are strong signs that this trend is continuing (esp in China where it is down to 1.6, well below replacement). This is undoubtedly due in part to urbanisation. However it also would seem to have a build-in self-correcting mechanism: when populations get too low, fertility rises again. Eg post WWII baby boom. In the present case suspect it will be a combination of climate famine, nuclear war, ecocollapse and global toxicity that will cut population back to a level that may prove sustainable in the long run (eg 2bn). But that is an uncomfortable thought to contemplate…

          • Greeley Miklashek

            So, we have a built-in population regulation mechanism as a function of the stress response/limbic, endocrine system. Jeffrey Gray wrote an iconic chapter on this mechanism in “The Psychology of Fear and Stress”, 1987, 2nd ed., pp 79-91. Geo. Chrousos has written papers available online when he was at NIMH. Elevated stress hormone levels turn off the reproductive hormones. Look at “infertility” rather than “fertility” to see this effect. Infertility in the US has increased 100% in 34 years, while sperm counts have fallen 59% in 38 years. We generate our own “toxic chemicals” in response to crowding stress. The infertility business is booming everywhere in crowded developed countries. Each IVF treatment costs $18,000 and several are needed for one induced pregnancy. The book goes into detail and it includes a “Topic List” (table of contents) that makes navigating the 623 pages pretty easy. It has over 100 references that are extensively quoted. Good Luck!