Post Truth delivers Dumb and Dumber
Few planets support life and the Earth is actually a unique and fragile entity that took over 4.5 billion years to reach its current form. The ecosystems that support life and determine the health and sustainability of our world are dependent on complex inter-relationships. One small change to the balance of these relationships can have catastrophic consequences.
Modern humans have existed for 200,000 years and the last 200 have seen global industrialisation and massively growing consumption and competition for the world's natural resources. It took 700 years for the human population to grow from 370 million to 1.5 billion, but less than 100 years to explode to 7.5 billion.
We are living on a finite planet with an exploding population of human animals who are increasingly demanding a greater share of the remaining resources. Our activity and consumption has caused much of our forests to disappear, 1.3 million square kilometres since 1990 (or an area larger than South Africa). We are currently experiencing a mass extinction of species with dozens disappearing every day because of human causes (1-5 are lost a year through natural causes).
Our dependence on fossil fuels to drive our global economy is affecting our atmosphere and having a severe impact on the world's climate. What were once 100 year extreme weather events, now occur every 5-10 years. The severe storms, the floods and the droughts are regularly destroying important infrastructure and food production. If the current trends in climate change and sea level rise continue, many of the places where populations are currently concentrated will become uninhabitable in our children's lifetime.
We have minimal time to turn around the human juggernaut carrying us to the brink of extinction. We need to elect the best possible world leaders who can then use their superior knowledge and diplomacy to lead us in the right direction. The measures of economic success need to have environmental sustainability at their core and we will need a massive investment into the science and technology that will shift us from our current dependence on fossil fuel and unsustainable systems of food production. This leadership has to come from the world's dominant economies.
Sadly, this post truth era is ensuring that the leaders of our most powerful democracies are populist rather than prophetic. Our future is being determined by people like Trump and Boris who rely on ideological whim and "alternative facts" as a basis for major decisions. At the same time scientists are being under-resourced and silenced.
Watching the news each night is like watching a sequel for Dumb and Dumber and, like the movie, it isn't very funny.