Not The Start Of A Science-Fiction Story…

One of the comforts I had growing up as a bookish nerd was the steady stream of science fiction available –the books and short stories that explored what if? What if in the future X or Y happened? What if there were threats to the continued existence of humans? What if the Earth became uninhabitable? What if there really are aliens “out there”? What if they’re not friendly? What if they are?

These scenarios triggered all sorts of speculation–especially about what an “evolved” future might look like.  (There was a reason that, when the Star Trek franchise came on the scene modeling such a future, so many of us enthusiastically embraced it.)

Unfortunately, when a recent speech by the chief of the UN described not-theoretical existential threats faced by humans on planet Earth, I looked in vain for a Jean-Luc Picard-like figure able  to lead a bunch of not-so evolved humans from chaos into a satisfactory future.

In an alarming assessment, the head of the United Nations warned world leaders Tuesday that nations are “gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction” and aren’t ready or willing to tackle the challenges that threaten humanity’s future — and the planet’s. “Our world is in peril — and paralyzed,” he said.

Speaking at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made sure to emphasize that hope remained. But his remarks reflected a tense and worried world. He cited the war in Ukraine and multiplying conflicts around the world, the climate emergency, the dire financial situation of developing countries and setbacks in U.N. goals for 2030 including an end to extreme poverty and quality education for all children.

He also warned of what he called “a forest of red flags” around new technologies despite promising advances to heal diseases and connect people. Guterres said social media platforms are based on a model “that monetizes outrage, anger and negativity” and buys and sells data “to influence our behavior.” Artificial intelligence he said, “is compromising the integrity of information systems, the media, and indeed democracy itself.”

The world lacks even the beginning of “a global architecture” to deal with the ripples caused by these new technologies because of “geopolitical tensions,” Guterres said.

It’s hard to dispute his analysis.

As Guterres accurately pointed out, geopolitical divisions are steadily undermining the efforts of the U.N. Security Council–not to mention international law, trust in democratic institutions and most forms of international cooperation.

“The divergence between developed and developing countries, between North and South, between the privileged and the rest, is becoming more dangerous by the day,” the secretary-general said. “It is at the root of the geopolitical tensions and lack of trust that poison every area of global cooperation, from vaccines to sanctions to trade

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine not only unleashed a global food crisis–it has worsened divisions among major powers in a way not seen since the Cold War and raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe, either due to accidental mishaps at nuclear plants or (as Putin becomes cornered) via weaponry. Inflation is worldwide. Diseases and pandemics are proliferating.

And looming above every other threat is climate change, and the almost daily reports of  extreme weather it is triggering.

In those long-ago stories I read, this confluence of emergencies would either be countered with scientific innovations, or human ingenuity would allow some portion of humanity to escape our doomed planet and find a new (class M) home.

I hate to be negative, but at least in the short term, I don’t see either of those things happening.

I should hasten to say that I do see evidence that the threat of environmental disaster has incentivized some truly impressive science. Whether those breakthroughs will ameliorate some of the worst of the crisis or are “too little, too late” remains to be seen.

It’s also too early to tell just how much the fat cats who have been massively profiting from fossil fuels (and the legal advantages they’ve managed to buy for themselves) will slow adoption of those breakthroughs….

Science also is producing enormous progress in automation, which–at least in the short term–will displace millions of people from the tasks they are currently performing; that displacement will only add to the existing grievances that are increasingly being expressed through violence, as people unable to cope productively with enormous social, technological and climate change look for someone or some group to blame.

And while we face these and multiple other challenges, our governing institutions are gridlocked by obsolete mechanisms that  empower corrupt and wildly incompetent lawmakers.

The term “a world of hurt” has never been more apt.

Unfortunately, there’s no Federation to come to our rescue….we will have to rescue ourselves.


  1. We are much too self-centered as a species to save the other species on our planet, and thus ourselves. Much talk but very little action. Perhaps that is the nature of life and why we haven’t yet been contacted by life from another planet. Like we seem intent on doing, they’ve all committed “species-cide”.

  2. Not only is a Federation not coming to our rescue, but there is no “the right man”, some king or leader or president, nor a Savior, or some imagined god. It’s just we folk out here, some stumbling about trying to change and adapt while others run headlong into escapism by consuming and wasting and ignoring all warnings.
    I’m glad I’m old.

  3. “At the heart of the problem is a loss of faith in traditional forms of government and democratic solutions. Fascism in the 1930s succeeded, as Peter Drucker observed, not because people believed its conspiracy theories and lies but in spite of the fact that they saw through them. Fascism thrived in the face of “a hostile press, a hostile radio, a hostile cinema, a hostile church, and a hostile government which untiringly pointed out the Nazi lies, the Nazi inconsistency, the unattainability of their promises, and the dangers and folly of their course.” He added, “nobody would have been a Nazi if rational belief in the Nazi promises had been a prerequisite.”

    As in the past, these new fascist parties cater to emotional yearnings. They give vent to feelings of abandonment, worthlessness, despair and alienation. They promise unattainable miracles. They too peddle bizarre conspiracy theories including QAnon. But most of all, they promise vengeance against a ruling class that betrayed the nation.

    Hett defines the Nazis as “a nationalist protest movement against globalization.” The rise of the new fascism has its roots in a similar exploitation by global corporations and oligarchs. More than anything else, people want to regain control over their lives, if only to punish those blamed and scapegoated for their misery. ”

    ~ Chris Hedges, 9/26/22

  4. We seem to be stubbornly adhered to old arguments that prevent higher level discussion how humans will develop a sustainable life in the current Anthropocene Epoch that began in the 1950’s. If interstellar resettlement is realistically considered for a very select few, the livable ecosystems among the multiverses are likely already inhabited. Rest assured these interstellar civilizations will have no need for our level of intelligence and we can expect to be greeted by more sophisticated defense than bows and arrows. The alternative is underground with a limited future. Then we should discuss what nations and states control the world’s largest caverns with access to potable water reserves. These scenarios require a collapse of the Capitalcene system wherein, for example, the current currencies become useless and irrelevant. Now you know why such discussion is suppressed. 🤔

  5. If there is a “savior” out there, we’ll most likely hang him from the highest tree (if there are any trees left). We each have to focus on what we can do to minimize our own impact on the environment. Imagine what might happen if 90% of humanity did just that.

    I am one of those who thinks that it is the height of hubris to believe that, in all of the vast universe, we are the only intelligent(?) form of life. If there are species who have traveled here in the past, it’s a good bet they’ve determined we’re not ready to join them in interstellar flights.

    Todd, which religion did Mr. Drucker point to as being a “hostile church”? In my reading of history, too many of the “Christian” churches turned a blind eye to what was happening to the Jews and the Catholic Church actually aided and abetted the flight of Nazis from Europe as the war was ending. That doesn’t seem particularly hostile to me.

  6. Most, if not all of us, on this blog are unable to comprehend how those who are extremely wealthy seem to never be satisfied with the massive wealth and power that they have. Their main goal is to obtain even more wealth and power as they strive to buy/own the government officials that are willing to sell their souls and sellout the citizens they are supposed to represent. I am speaking not only about U.S. citizens, but wealthy people everywhere.

    We commoners also cannot comprehend how those at the top of the food chain in energy production don’t lose a bit of sleep while they are actively destroying the planet that their children, grandchildren, etc. need for survival. Money and power is all they care about and as long as there are politicians willing to prostitute themselves to the highest corporate bidders I believe we are doomed.

  7. Humanity is facing the worst imaginable threat, the threat of absolutely necessary, existential, substantial change. This comes at the worst possible time when we are riled by the need for small changes as well and flunking that course too.

    Our problem is that we are defined by the individual cultures that result from what we each were born with and into and what that led to in experiences since. Our individual cultures can be combined and summarized as family, community, state, region, national, and finally human cultures that all reluctantly change with the times.

    What Cultural Anthropology has figured out is that the evolutionary advantage of cultural species is that it mitigates trivial, fashion changes and reinforces doing what you’ve been taught to do sameness. But, nowadays at times when all of that is at odds with our numbers and the speed of technological change.

    Who we are culturally is at odds with who we must be to adapt to the world that, paradoxically, we created and are still creating.

    For sure the next few decades will be interesting but we could choose to also make them more tragic in consequences to us, by us.

  8. Michio Kaku enlightenly tells us that all physics are local to the part of the universe we would live in.

    I do not agree with all of his opinions or theories, but I really like the guy. The physics that we see here on this planet could be unique to this planet.

    But getting to how bad things are and the inability of humanity to solve its problems, and prevent itself from destroying itself, there are a lot of things to consider.

    As it states in Jeremiah at 10:23, mankind is unable to direct his own steps.

    Of course, that’s a biblical quote and most people do not like biblical quotes, but they will take the quotes of men, which is a conundrum considering as mentioned in this thread, mankind is at gridlock, they can’t come to a natural agreement on anything! So the Earth slides further and further towards the inhabitable.

    Like I said, we can criticize and ridicule scripture, but we can embrace theoretical physicists, such as Kaku or Tyson?

    If humanity has evolved from apes or chimpanzees, doesn’t that denote improving? Doesn’t that denote advancement? Doesn’t it denote enlightenment? Had apes and chimpanzees had actually brought the world to the precipice of disaster? Then in the grand scheme, did evolution save the day? Evolved those apes into men which could then make better decisions and save the planet? Lol, not hardly!

    Heck, a single-celled organism seems to have better sense than complicated humanity!

    Constant wars and conflict, reflect man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. The lack of concern for his brother, no mask wearing, no caution concerning intimate relations spreading disease, predators prey on women and children, to the point where women and children end up being so damaged they become predators themselves!

    The embracing of conspiratorial theories, and unsubstantiated alternate routes and realities…

    The criticizing and belittling of anything that is not from men, in other words, somehow man still knows the answer and be able to rectify his guidance and direction.

    What is the inclination of the human heart? Well, the inclination is usually bad all the time. Rational thinking is non-existent, humanity has been reinventing the wheel since the beginning. Unfortunately because of greed, selfishness, self-agrandizement, narcissism, power seeking, and the desire for perverse and deadly moral standards, wealth, these things have become the gods humanity worships, not a god of compassion or empathy!

    When humanity points the way towards leaders like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Donald Trump, Richard Nixon, Adolfo mussolini, emperor Constantine, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Papa Doc, I mean the list can go on forever, why were these individuals allowed to breathe the air? Or as they say today, good guys with a gun could prevent this evil, but it didn’t. That’s a fantasy!

    Through propaganda and fear, any of those who recognize the futility of resisting these evil men, will fall in line, will go along to get along! They will even sacrifice their own children to God’s that they have invented themselves to bring about control of the masses. And most of the masses are too ignorant to prevent the impending doom.

    Humans need to see what they worship, regardless of the message. And, what you see, is what you get! Throughout the millennia, nothing good has ever come from it.

    In Acts 17:24 it talks about that God does not dwell in handmade temples!

    Ephesians 2:12 discusses those who were led to pray to idols, idols that were carved from wood and the shavings used to cook the food or heat the home.

    As a matter of fact, ancient Israel went against their Prophets by building a calf and worshiping it as it states in Exodus. Later on, Solomon’s son actually passed his children through the fire of Moloch and Baal.

    It didn’t do him much good!

    Today, the gods who are worshiped are not in religious temples, they are the wealthy, they are the famous, athletes, reality stars, singers, actors, you can go on and on! People would rather hang on to the simple minded that know nothing at all, then to focus on a better way, a way that’s been discussed for millennia and rejected for millennia.

    Just this past weekend, there were some school shootings in the united states, also, there was a mass school shooting in russia, they’re also was military recruiters executed in Russia. Things are going from bad to work and it will seem that there is no way out, then, look a little more promising! Unfortunately it’ll just be an illusion, and, nothing will have changed! This is pointing towards the end of modern human rule!

    Humanity does not have the answer for his own direction, you never has! He’s rejected it! Now, it’s time to pay the piper!

    Jesus Christ said to “continue to love your enemies and do good,” Luke 6:35.

    After all, it has to start somewhere, unfortunately, it won’t!

    Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you Matthew 5:44, and, Matthew 5:17, Exodus 22:21, 23:4, 5; Leviticus 19:33, 34; Deuteronomy 10:19. Which discusses kindly treatment of foreigners or foreign residents.

    There are also many scriptures that discuss kindly treating orphans and widows, also, the poor and ill! Christ parable of the Good Samaritan was an excellent example of that, also, his recollection of the wealthy man who asked Christ how to be his follower. Christ told him to sell his goods and give it to the poor, he went away sad because he was very wealthy. That’s the recollection of the wealthy man coming into the kingdom of God is like a camel going through the eye of a needle!

  9. Though without the means of communication we now have, I’m sure some philosophers among “The End is Nearing” crowd during the heydey of the Holy Roman Empire, the Black Plague, the Hundred Years’ War and other such debacles foresaw the end of human civilization as we see it now with the end of democracy, atomic possibilities, poisoning of our air and water etc. While right wing governments in Italy and now even Sweden along with the regimes of Putin and Xi are the order of the day, I do not see such a drab future as some of those responding to Sheila’s offering today.

    We have had difficult futures to face before without prospects of successfully facing them (see, for example, Reconstruction Days in the wake of an assassinated president), and we hung in
    and faced them successfully. I think, speaking of wakes, that in the wake of a strong win for Democrats in six weeks or so we will face down the current threats to our democracy and other underpinnings of our constitutional republic.

    Unwarranted optimism? Let’s let history be the judge. The variable in my equation? A strong Democratic win. Let’s make that happen – or all bets are off.

  10. Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them. -T.S. Eliot,

  11. Tactical nukes, first step on the escalator.
    Got your iodine pills?
    The devil here quoting scripture.
    Is Ian punishment for electing De Santis?
    Evolution is always a response to change.
    Sheila Kennedy would be a nice turn for evolution.
    Hope she has lots of offspring.
    Intelligence is genetic.

  12. This is a problem with globalization. Each country or union of countries needs to be self sustaining or not rely on one source for anything. The US gave up its energy independence for the sake of a global unity of change with the climate in mind. The real problem is that it turned out certain leaders that warned European countries to not be dependent on Russia.
    The Us dollar is transionedcaway from being the world currency and our current leaders are not taking the right steps to solidify its status in the world.
    They are very ignorant of the situation or believe they aee in control while they are not

  13. That “extreme weather” is happening more today than ever, just isn’t backed up by stats, at least not yet. The number of tornadoes and hurricanes are, in fact, down. Yes, we’re absolutely seeing more of it on our televisions and other media than ever before. But much of that is due to the changing nature of the media (24 hour, nationwide coverage). If we had CNN in the 1960s and 1970s, we probably would have thought there was plenty of extreme weather back then.

    I think we should stick to the stats, not rely on anecdotes when it comes to our changing climate.

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