“The most grim moment in human history.”: Past, Present, Future

I recently listened to a podcast called “Deconstructed,” hosted by Intercept Journalist Mendi Hasan featuring MIT professor and activist Noam Chomsky. Chomsky serves to give an analysis of our extremely unique moment in human history. Noting rising conflicts unsolved by past generations, Chomsky claims the escalation of environmental catastrophe has led us into “the most grim moment in human history.”

MH: (Intercept Journalist Mendi Hasan) : You’ve lived through and documented, analyzed the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the Reagan era, the Iraq War, the financial crisis. Given that, how unique, how toxic even, is this current political moment that we’re living through right now?
NC: (Noam Chomsky) The current moment, not just political, is the most grim moment in human history. We are now in a situation where this generation, in fact, in the next few years, is going to have to make a decision of cosmic significance which has never arisen before: Will organized human society survive? And there are two enormous threats. The threat of environmental catastrophe, which at least is getting some attention, not enough. The other is the threat of nuclear war, which is increasing sharply by the Trump administration, in fact. These have to be dealt with quickly. Otherwise, there’s nothing to talk about” -Noam Chomsky, Deconstructed Podcast, 10/31/19


(audio clip of interview)

The future of our species is more ambiguous now than it has ever been throughout human history. As they watch in jaded horror, the creep toward total economic, political and environmental collapse has destroyed the younger generations’ hope for future in a process of “mass-disillusionment” like we have never before seen in human history. If we desire a future for humanity, We will have to embark on a truly historically unprecedented international effort.

“Some months ago, maybe a year ago by now, one of the Trump bureaucracies, the National Transportation Administration, came out with what I think is the most astonishing document in the entire history of the human species. It got almost no attention. It was a long 500-page environmental assessment in which they tried to determine what the environment would be like at the end of the century. And they concluded, by the end of the century, temperatures will have risen seven degrees Fahrenheit, that’s about twice the level that scientists regard as feasible for organized human life. The World Bank describes it as cataclysmic. So what’s their conclusion? Conclusion is we should have no more constraints on automotive emissions. The reasoning is very solid. We’re going off the cliff anyway. So why not have fun? Has anything like that ever appeared in human history? There’s nothing like it.” (Chomsky)

(DOT Report: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/ld_cafe_my2021-26_deis_0.pdf)

This doctrine of cataclysmic apathy has led our generation down a road of disillusion, sparking socio-generational conflict        (See: OK Boomer) and distrust in society to deal with our cataclysm.

Out of greed and political inertia, the political processes and corporations have deemed it politically inconvenient and non-profitable to invest in the continued existence of humanity. It is not to be mistaken to be an individual problem, but rather a societal one. Even if a suddenly progressive JP Morgan banker wanted to stop investing millions into the fossil fuel, he would be quickly replaced by someone who would. Undoubtedly the CEOs and executives of such companies are intelligent enough to recognize the existential threat of climate change; they’ve already built walls around their beachfront property.

Impending crisis looms: political, social, economic, and environmental conditions appear to be converging in a time of increasing calls for political extremism.  The reverberations of this are felt in demonstrations of millions across the world in Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Chile, etc. The protests are based all around the world in vastly different conditions, yet with similarly outlined complaints: disenfranchisement and inequality.

Income inequality seems to have added an economic insecurity that helped lead to anger and protests. Lebanon, where the WhatsApp tax caused huge protests, is one of the world’s most unequal economies, with the richest 1 percent claiming 25 percent of the total national income between 2005 and 2014. Chile, in many ways a more stable and prosperous country than many of its neighbors, has the highest level of post-tax income inequality among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, some of the wealthiest nations in the world. Skewed demographics also make things worse. In Iraq, anger grows among a whole generation that seems to have poor economic prospects. According to data compiled by the World Bank last year, it’s estimated that unemployment is 36 percent among Iraqis who are 15 to 24 years old.
“They stole our futures, and now they’re killing us,” one young man said at a protest in Baghdad early this month.

These fights are minor in comparison to the extreme violence we will see if inaction is continued. As the effect of climate change makes huge swathes of land uninhabitable, mostly those in the already poor nations of the global South. The huddled masses of  the Earth made unlivable will embark mass-exodus to the North. The violence inevitably resulting from this movement already has a name: Climate Genocide. Where the global South meets the nations of the north, those advantaged in climatic geography and wealth create borders, which will become increasingly militarized and totalitarian. The escalation of climate change and reactionary political response will lead to violence.

“What has been called a genocidal level of warming is already our inevitable future. The question is how much worse than that it will get.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html

Image result for the walled world

The Walled World- 14% of the population that controls the vast majority of the world’s wealth – essentially the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea and Oceania – has walled itself off from the other 86% of humanity. Within these walls they keep the Top 50 Quality of Life cities safely enclosed.

A particularly disturbing trend in the direction of greater violence is that our political systems have already been working to build framework of justification for climate genocide. Just watch how Trump responds to Austrailia’s “Pacific Solution,” an immigration policy of extremist-isolationism endorsed by far-right parties all around the world,

The “Pacific Solution” today continues.
Recently deposed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told US President Donald Trump:
“If you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Nobel Prize-winning genius, we will not let you in.”
President Trumps response was damning for Australia:
“That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.”

Trump’s language referring to MS-13 criminals as “animals,”  or migrants being a “caravan” grooms our discourse for the political possibility of a genocide of migrants at our border. The increasing frequency of immigration-related infringement on human rights has primed our society for greater atrocity to come. The jaded helplessness with which we watch immigration news now prompts us to behave with complete inaction.

We are drip-fed tragedy to prepare us for worse.

Imagine reading the news headline: “Trump authorizes martial law, shots fired at border.” He cites “Immigration Emergency”, and a “Security Crisis.” People in the New York Post write op-eds about how there were several sides to the decision, and how Trump was acting ultimately in interest for America. Just like that in a seemingly plausible future, genocide has been normalized into the bounds of discourse, and its morality is controversial at best. The rapid erosion of moral immigration policy across the political parties through escalating conditions and ruling sentiment has served to ideologically and ethically prime us for real immigration violence.

“White nationalist and far right politicians understand that a climate change instigated refugee crisis is on the horizon and they are setting the terms for how the first world will react. Progressives and the broader public fail to see how there already exists a brutal infrastructure for dealing with the coming crisis.
It is estimated that in the next decade alone, climate change will create tens of millions of refugees. The current migrant crises across the world will look trivial in comparison to the havoc climate change will wreak. Over the next hundred years ecological catastrophe will uproot the lives of tens, if not hundreds, of millions most of whom live in the Global South.
The coming climate refugee crisis is the reason for the impetus for “The Wall” along the US Mexico border. It is the reason that India has put an armed fence around Bangladesh. It is the reason why Hungary has militarized its borders. It is the reason why billionaires are buying citizenship and property in New Zealand.” (Downing)

A lone immigrant is assaulted by an Australian mob during the 2005 Cronulla race riots (Andrew Meares)
“The world has a choice, we can save those hundreds of millions of potential refugees by restructuring the global economy in such a way that will mitigate the worst effects of climate change. In all likelihood restructuring the global economy will require massive raising of public revenue, the decommodification of markets and nationalizing of industry to fulfill supply and demand unable/unwilling to be provided by capital markets, the creation of comprehensive social safety nets, and the disempowerment of the massive carbon emitters who currently control the political economy. In short, restructuring the global will require redistribution and disarmament of the capital class.” (Downing)

To avoid extreme societal instability and violence, these issues must be seen for their true graveness and be responsibly dealt with our powers today. The greatest threats to our species, nuclear annihilation, and ecological collapse have been left to fester and worsen, and it is the youth right now that must correct the ills of our forefathers. If we have the choice to fight for the survival of humanity, then we have no choice. The future is in our hands, what will we choose? 

(Have a lovely day.)


“What has been called a genocidal level of warming is already our inevitable future. The question is how much worse than that it will get.” http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html