Is This Our Future?

January 22, 2013

“If we fail in this great experiment,” author Ronald Wright told journalist Chris Hedges, “this experiment of apes becoming intelligent enough to take charge of their own destiny, nature will shrug and say it was fun for a while to let the apes run the laboratory, but in the end it was a bad idea.” Is humankind’s assault on its planetary home already past the point of no return?

In a harrowing article titled “The Myth of Human Progress,” (, Pulitzer-winning reporter Hedges samples the opinions of a stable of experts convinced that by our failure to heed the Malthusian warnings of half a century ago, we have already doomed our grandchildren to a worldscape far less inviting than the one we’re accustomed to. Is it already too late to stave off a future collapse? Does human nature doom us to play out the scenario of Easter Island, the Maya, and the Roman Empire one last time on a planetary scale? My own longstanding suspicions that this might be the case is one of the reasons I opted never to have children. Those of you who do “have a dog in this fight,” what do you think? Will Paul R. Ehrlich et. al. have the last laugh? Have we pushed the agenda of unsustainability too far? Comments encouraged!