The Philosophy of Global Warming


If you are interested in the relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth, individual and collective human purpose, evolution, cosmology, the nature of reality, astrology, spirituality, and how all of this relates to global warming & the environmental crisis of modernity, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming





Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Two Paths Facing Humanity


Here is an excerpt from my book  'The Philosophy of Global Warming'


We are living at an exceptionally important time, a unique moment in the evolution of the planet. Humanity stands at a crossroads and the future is uncertain. There are two possible paths that we can take. One path leads to a glorious and wonderful future, the other leads to death and destruction. Which path will we tread?

Many people know that we are at a crossroads; they see the two paths stretching into the future. They know that one path leads to a glorious and wonderful future and that the other leads to death and destruction. However, the paths are not transparently labelled; they are not labelled ‘path to a wonderful future’ and ‘path to destruction’; if they were the choice of path would be extremely easy. Is it obvious which path leads to which destination? Many people believe that it is. A great many people are certain that one particular path is the path to a glorious and wonderful future; these people are passionately attempting to convince us to walk along this path. This is why I am concerned about the future. We should remember that all that glistens is not gold; what seems obvious at first sight can be wrong, fatally wrong. It is clear to me that the path these people seek actually leads to death and destruction.

What is one to do when one sees good-intentioned people seeking to shepherd humanity along a path which leads to the death and destruction not only of the human species, but of all life on Earth? One could just sit back and do nothing. Alternatively, one can seek to illuminate the true nature of the two paths so that destruction can be avoided and the path to a glorious future can be trodden. Let us seek this illumination.


The Two Paths

What is the nature of these two paths? The two paths represent different ways in which humanity can interact with the Earth in the future. The choice of path is a very serious affair. There is little more serious than the issue of whether one’s species goes extinct and one’s planetary home becomes lifeless. Let us choose our path with extreme care.

The two paths are characterised by the amount of involvement humanity has with the rest of the Earth. The first path involves minimalizing involvement. This path has many aspects such as restricting the size of the human population, restricting the human appropriation of the Earth’s resources and restricting the deployment of human technology. Those who urge us to tread this path believe that human involvement with the Earth is already too high. These people believe that a high level of future human involvement is a negative thing, both for the human species itself and for the non-human life-forms which we share the planet with. This view is underpinned by the belief that the optimum state of the Earth is one in which human involvement is minimised because humans are fundamentally destructive. Through their greed, their appropriation of the Earth’s resources, their technology, humans are seen as a danger to both themselves and to the non-human life-forms of the Earth. Let us refer to this path as the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path. The extreme advocates of this view seek absolute minimization – the voluntary extinction of the human species for the good of the Earth. However, the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path more typically involves calls for restrictions, and a general pulling back of human involvement with the ‘non-human’, rather than absolute minimization. I refer to this path as ‘minimalizing involvement’ because minimization is the underpinning ideal. In reality, very few advocates of this path think that involvement should actually be absolutely minimized through the voluntary self-extinction of the human species. All advocates of the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path believe that significantly reducing human involvement with the Earth would be a good thing. In the specific realm of global warming this ‘wide’ path is enshrined in the narrower Path 1 which we identified in the Introduction and Chapter One.

The second path is obviously very different; it involves much more human involvement with the Earth. However, it does not involve ‘maximizing involvement’. Absolute maximization would entail humans actively and intentionally utilising, manipulating and moulding every single part of the Earth. Whilst there are those who advocate absolute minimization, I am not aware of anyone who advocates absolute maximization. Indeed, the notion barely even makes any sense (humans would need to be moulding and manipulating every life-form, every ocean, every part of every ocean, volcanoes, the inner core of the planet, etc.). The second path does not entail either absolute maximization or any weaker type of maximization; maximization is not an ideal underpinning the view. The second path involves significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth, but this is a far cry from maximization.

There are two reasons why one might advocate treading this path. Firstly, one might tread this path with regret because one believes that humanity has perturbed the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth to such an extent that our future survival depends on deepening our involvement. For instance, one might love to tread the first ‘minimalizing involvement’ path, but one believes that human-induced global warming is a serious threat to the future survival of the human species and that it can only be dealt with by geoengineering the temperature of the atmosphere; so, one decides to tread the second path with regret; given the reality of the situation we face, this is the best path to take. Secondly, one might joyously skip and jump along the second path. In other words, one believes that significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth is actually a good thing, a positive event which benefits not only the human species but also the totality that is life on Earth. Let us refer to this path as the ‘increasing involvement’ path. The advocates of this path believe that significantly increasing human involvement with the Earth would be a good thing – either good solely for humanity or good for the totality of life on Earth. In the specific realm of global warming this ‘wide’ path is enshrined in the narrower Path 2 which we identified in the Introduction and Chapter One.

Which of the two paths should we tread?


The Crossroads

Before one can see the true nature of the two paths one needs to clearly see the journey that has led to the crossroads. If one is at the crossroads and is unable to see the entire journey which has led to the crossroads – the journey of the Earth and the journey of the Solar System – then it is unlikely that one will make a good choice of path: ‘minimalizing involvement’ or ‘increasing involvement’. One could
get lucky and just happen to pick the right path, the path to a wonderful future rather than the path to death and destruction. However, if one cannot see the entire journey which has led to the crossroads then one will not have the tools with which to make a properly informed decision. This means that one could easily select the wrong path, and given the seriousness of the choice this would be a terrible outcome. Furthermore, and worryingly, given the nature of the two paths, it is likely that one’s lack of backwards vision will result in one choosing what I believe to be the wrong path. As we saw in the Introduction there is a simplistic instinctive response that Path 1 – the ‘minimalizing involvement’ path – is the path to a glorious and wonderful future. A little knowledge can clearly be a dangerous thing. Let us expand our knowledge; let us move beyond the simplistic instinctive response; let us consider the journey that led to the crossroads.

Understanding the past will help us to select the right path in the present.


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