The dying of the light
Following on my exploration of consciousness, I wanted to continue on the theme by expanding it to include our consciousness as a species — could such a thing possibly exist? As I considered in my last piece, it’s unlikely that we can truly understand the consciousness of other species and our understanding of our own is limited by the theory of mind. If these be the facts, then global consciousness is almost certainly a fiction.
This is an essential tragedy for us and the planet on which we live. The facts are undeniable — the model for modern life is rapacious and the supply chains that lash the planet with such grim efficiency are only accelerating the process of consumption and destruction of the resources upon which our species depends.
Take the example of plastic — that lovable byproduct of the oil industry. We survived without it for millennia and in the space of 100 years or so, it has become so prevalent that it chokes landfills everywhere, forms vast ugly gyres in oceans, destroys marine life and has even entered into the food chain in fish and, more alarmingly, at the end of the food chain in our very bodies.
Are we really incapable of doing better than this?
Even in light of the facts, there seems to be little political will to change this situation of our own making as plastic in the oceans is set to triple in the next decade. Why can we not stop this progression now knowing the facts or has ecocide become a pure spectator sport?
But then again, politics in the form we have it today has been subverted by the rich and powerful to their advantage, to the point where they manufacture consent on a global psy-ops scale unimagined in the golden days of mass media. And like the oil industry, other equally powerful lobbies exist everywhere to ensure business as usual in spite of the fact that we are perched on the edge of a climate abyss.
I recently read a futurist piece that suggested that governments would ultimately be replaced by AIs to counter the venal corruption and lust for power we humans fall so easily prey to. This would necessarily lead to a more utilitarian approach to world problems, but I suspect any super AI thinking forwards and backwards would reason that the best solution would be to upload human consciousness and all its cultural and intellectual capital into a Cloud-based Akashic record and then unleash a deadly engineered virus into the upper atmosphere that obliterated us in our entirety.
Or, if it had any sense of irony, having rebooted the planet without us, take it all back to the book of Genesis, produce two perfectly-engineered but sterile versions of Adam and Eve and create a walled Garden of Eden surrounded on all sides by the scorched earth.
Without sounding too nihilistic or misanthropic, this would probably be a better fate for the human race than our present alternative, which is a slow painful civilization collapse witnessed from Mars by a select band of those wealthy enough to break the escape velocity of this dying planet. I’m skeptical about that too though — just like cryogenically-freezing your body for reanimation later, it sounds dangerously much like a technologically-elevated form of snake oil salesmanship.
None of us are exempt from the consequences of our actions on this pale blue dot: climate collapse encompasses everyone, except those that die before it happens. But then, what about salvation from an advanced species of aliens?
Is that a possibility?
As the late Stephen Hawkins himself posited, it is unlikely that aliens, should they exist would do anything less than asset strip this earth. This is not a new thought: HG Wells wrote in his work War of the Worlds (albeit laced with the crude racist theories of his day):
‘We must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its own inferior races. The Tasmanians . . . were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space if fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?’
If Global Consciousness existed in us as a species, our salvation and that of the planet we depend on would be first priority. Present facts suggest that it is not. We are blinded by human exceptionalism and the echo chambers we have created for ourselves. It is our fate in this century and that of every other creature on this planet to bear the consequences of our actions — and it won’t be cinematic.