Suicide of Humanity

For many decades now environmentalists have warned that governments and people in general have not given sufficient consideration and care to the natural world. In recent years it has become quite obvious to anyone with even moderate intelligence and an open mind that our shared planet is suffering badly for this neglect and ill-treatment.

Due to the ignorant behaviour of voters, the wealthy effectively run the world and they seem to care more for tomorrows' share prices than how damaging their actions will be to the world in ten years time.

I started writing this page 2019/05/19, it was last edited 2024/06/22
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

The situation

In the Australian election of 2019/05/18 a coalition of political parties that had refused to take action on reducing greenhouse emissions for the previous six years was returned to government. This was a demonstration of human stupidity, the shortsighted selfishness of a great many of the Australian people and in the international context it was a small milestone along the way to mass human suicide.



The primary problems

Selfishness, greed, lust for power, apathy, stupidity, laziness.

Secondary problems

Overpopulation, climate change and associated problems, degradation of our shared environment.

Subsidiary factors

Delusions including religion and other superstitions, the corruption of governments and democracy permitted by voters who vote stupidly, selfishly and lazily and don't look into the consequences of their voting and the other voting options available to them.

Some symptoms

Trump and the Republicans who support him.
The big political parties in Australia have been corrupted by political donations and the lobbying of the fossil fuel industry. They are effectively controlled by these donations and the perceived profits, employment and votes involved in coal and gas. Many voters support coal mining and exporting because they see jobs or the possibility of jobs; fewer seem able to see the far greater potential of the renewable energy industry. Of course the disinformation campaign about climate change carried out over the last couple of decades by the fossil fuel industry with the assistance of the Murdoch media empire has also been a big factor.

There is no reason to believe that the Australian people are more stupid, short-sighted, apathetic, selfish or susceptible to harbouring delusions than the remainder of the world's people, so the long-term outlook is not promising.

My greatest concerns

Climate change, together with the closely related threats of ocean acidification, sea level rise, ocean warming and the air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, coal in particular, that kills millions of people each year, have long been my greatest concerns.



"The only two things that are infinite in size are the universe, and human stupidity. And I'm not completely sure about the universe."
Albert Einstein
I have especially been occupied in debunking the lies of those who oppose the desperately needed transition to renewable energy (particularly wind power) for about the last 16 years. This has not been because I have felt that wind power was of the greatest importance, but because much of the wind power development in this period in Australia was in my region (Mid North South Australia) and there was a huge amount of ill-informed or downright dishonest opposition to this form of renewable energy.

Direct culpability

The fossil fuel industry in Australia is run by people like Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer who protect their investment in coal mining and exporting by political interference. Both can reasonably be accused of exporting death due to the thousands who die each year from the air pollution resulting when their coal is burned.

Wattle Point Wind Farm, South Australia
Wattle Point
Renewable energy installations such as this are essential if Mankind is to phase out the burning of fossil fuels that are the main cause of the progressive destruction of the Earth as we have known it.

The environment must be put first

What can be more obvious than that if we destroy our environment we will have nothing?

If our grandchildren are to have a world to live in that is not greatly inferior to the one my generation has enjoyed we will have to start prioritising the environment above all else. Environmental considerations must come before profits, environmental considerations must come before jobs.

A job in the fossil fuel industries is now more to be despised than a job in the tobacco industry. Tobacco harms people's health, the burning of fossil fuels is a big factor in seriously damaging the planetary environment. There is no longer any doubt about this.

But it seems that humanity is unable to see this.
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Few people care enough to place the environment ahead of their own immediate wants

Small car sales in Australia 2014-2023
Small car sales in Australia 2014-2023
Graph credit, Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia, Horizons (member's magazine), Winter 2024

Bigger cars

As shown on the graph on the right Australians are buying fewer small cars. Instead they are buying more big, heavier cars, especially SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) and utes (utilities).

This, of course, means that more CO2 is emitted per kilometre travelled.

See Why are Ausies 'supersizing' their cars? in the Royal Automobile Club article on the subject.

An obvious conclusion that one can draw from this is that Australians at least don't care enough to make changes to reduce their emissions - quite the opposite, they are making changes toward increasing their emissions. They may be aware of climate change, but they don't care enough about it to change their behaviour.

Not using public transport

If people were to use public transport rather than private cars they would reduce their emissions.

As I've written on another page on this site, if seems that many more people could use public transport, but they are choosing to use their cars instead, presumably because it is more convenient.

Not prioritising climate action

At the time of my writing this section the seriousness of climate change was obvious to anyone but the intentionally blind. Yet the majority of Australians were placing things like the cost of living, the prices and availability of housing and interest rates higher on their list of priorities than action on reducing emissions.

This is not surprising considering the two items above (size of cars and heavy use of private cars).

How has it happened that Mankind is destroying the world?

Our intelligence allows us to consider the big picture but our evolution fitted us out for looking after ourselves.

Perhaps no organism will ever evolve in such a way as to place the greater good first?

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The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change

The response around the world to the pandemic in early 2020, while sometimes bumbling and incompetent, was generally swift and decisive, certainly when compared to the lack of response to climate change. Far more human and economic effort has been put into the pandemic in just the first half of 2020 than has been put into the almost infinitely greater threat of climate change, ocean acidification and fossil fuel related pollution in the previous four decades.

I have discussed the reasons for the difference on another page on this site.

Scientists, those of the general population who appreciate science and even a great many of our school children see the way the world is going, but one of the main problems seems to be that those who are controlling the world, the wealthy and the politicians, are often ignorant of science or even dismissive of the value of science.

Many of the wealthy (in Australia for example, Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer) seem to care only for making more money and not to care how they do it.

Politics is dominated by people having a background in law or economics; few politicians have a science background. Many on the conservative side of politics choose to ignore those sciences that do not fit in with their preconceptions.

Capitalism is the dominant system running commerce; it does not take into account environmental damage or ethical considerations. These matters need to be protected by governments, but governments are failing in this duty.

Contributing factors in humanity's suicide

Nation states

A strong thirst for power is needed for a leader or a leading group to obtain control of a nation. The desire for retaining power overrides any desire to protect the long-term good of the nation controlled, even more it overrides the long-term good of the whole planet.

Unethical governments

In 2018 Donald Trump, an habitual liar and probably the US president with the lowest ethical standards in history, decided that the USA should make no effort to lower its greenhouse emissions. It is among the nations with the highest per-capita greenhouse emissions.

In Australia the The Howard and Rudd governments failed to treat Australia's greenhouse emissions with anything like the urgency that the problem required. The Gillard government did better, bringing in an effective emissions trading scheme and carbon tax, but Prime Minister Gillard was replaced by Rudd in a come-back and then he soon lost an election to the Liberal/National coalition. The Abbott Government repealed the emissions trading scheme and carbon tax, the Turnbull Government was a great disappointment and the Morrison Government (still in power at the time of writing) was perhaps the worst of them all.

I've written more on Australia's culpability below.

Australia's part in humanity's suicide

My nation, Australia, is in the important measure, its per-capita figures, one of the worst greenhouse gas emitters in the world. This fact means that Australia, and Australians, have a higher ethical responsibility to reduce our emissions than most other peoples and nations.

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A great criminal is rewarded!

In what must be one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in history Australia's ex prime minister, Tony Abbott, the man who has done more than any other to slow Australia's response to climate change, received the nation's top honour in yesterday's Queen's Birthday list.
In this Australia is failing on many counts, at the time of writing, May 2019:

  • Australia ranks 53rd in the world in population, but sixth in the world in the CO2 produced by its electricity industry;
  • Australia has 0.3% of the world's population, but produces 1.2% of the world's greenhouse gasses;
  • Australia's per-capita greenhouse gas emission rate is about 17 tonnes per annum, more than three times the world average, which is about 5 tonnes per annum.
  • If Australia's fossil fuel exports are taken into consideration the nation is responsible for about 3.6% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. (Deaths due to air pollution when Australian coal is burned overseas must be many thousands, if not millions, each year - see Galilee Basin on another page on this site.)
Australia has an ethical obligation to bring its greenhouse gas emission rate down at least to the world average. Not only is the Australian government failing to fulfil it ethical responsibilities, it is doing practically nothing to combat climate change.

I've written on another page on this site about being ashamed of being Australian because of Australia's abysmal record on climate action.

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What does the presidency of Donald Trump suggest about the sustainability of human civilisation?

As of the time of writing United States President Donal Trump has been documented in the making of over 20,000 false statements during the four years of his presidency. That such an habitually dishonest person can be in any position of power in any democracy is shocking, but what should worry us in relation to the future of human civilisation is the fact that, again at the time of writing, Trump was the preferred presidential candidate to 43% of US voters. To add to this, based on the 2016 election it is likely that 45% of eligible US voters will be too apathetic to bother voting.

To this must be added the insistence from Trump that climate change is 'fake news' and his refusal to do anything to lower the USA's very high greenhouse gas emissions, as mentioned above.

The fact that Trump's behaviour is acceptable to such a large proportion of the people of one of the world's great nations is surely an indication that democracy as a form of government is not credible. Yet, as I have argued elsewhere, democracy is the only form of government that can be called legitimate because it is the only form of government that the people of a nation choose for themselves. Any other form of government is one that is imposed upon the people by some individual or group.

All together it seems that the Trump phenomenon is only further evidence that humanity is incapable of sustainable occupancy of planet Earth.