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Are We Doomed? Let’s Have a Talk


Are We Doomed? Let’s Have a Talk.

Richard Heinberg

My most recent essay, in which I discussed a highly publicized controversy over the efficacy of plans for a comprehensive transition to an all-renewable energy future, garnered some strong responses. “If you are right,” one Facebook commenter opined, “we are doomed. Fortunately you are not right.” (The commenter didn’t explain why.) What had I said to provoke an expectation of cataclysmic oblivion?


Limiting our population growth is KEY to the answer to 99% of our problems, and this should be shouted from the rooftops! Unfortunately, for some reason, this solution has been ignored by almost everyone. I remember that population control was a big issue 70’s (yeah, I’m THAT old), but now it seems to be the last thing suggested.

We can do pretty much anything we want as long as we have a population that the Earth can handle. But lately birth control, for reasons that baffle me, is being denied to the majority of countries around the world. When will people finally realize that we are doomed if we don’t keep our numbers controlled?


I sometimes wonder if those in power are trying to do a similar tactic when there is a rat infestation, let them breed and devour the resources and when there are none left they will cannibalize themselves and cull their own numbers.


I am older than you then because we discussing it in the 60’s and people were listening. I had one child born in late 60’s but my brother had four and now 12 grandchildren. I can’t help but love them all but for Earth’s Sake please limit the number of children. Right now the younger generation is doing it out of necessity of no work and heavy debt.


Admittedly I did not read much of the article because it became another opinion piece and while it is worth reading a few they generally break down into one of three categories. One is the hoax theory which really makes no sense on any level except in the White House and there anything goes. Another is that it is a real threat, the biggest our species has ever faced, and if we get serious about doing something Now we can probably come out of this pretty much OK. The third which seems to be growing in popularity is this one where the climate will soon make it impossible to feed the existing population and chaos will ensue. I tend to be between two and three with my position sliding toward the cultural abyss with every wasted day. The time for learned or foolish writings are over, the bait is all cut, it is time for some serious fishing. Sadly with the currant lack of effective leadership America will pass the lead to others. Maybe that is for the best.


The more births the more pepsi, stereos, clothes, shoes, religious membership, schools, factories, etc are needed. Many Jews during WW 2 were warned that they were going to concentration and death camps. They refused to believe this even though they were warned. People warned the world about Trump, Bush, etc but they drank the cool aid anyway. Best way to do anything is to join like minded members of your community and work together. The history of capitalist is that killing, plundering, steling, lying is okay as long as you get the miney. Don’t expect moral decisions from governments. Organize with like minded people and just do one little thing for humanity. Remember cooperation is the key.


I am an Engineer. No one cares about Engineers. - even though I provided Basic Industrial Ecosystems to China long ago. And Common Dreams lately stayed with Politics.I gave up until I saw this article. Thank you.

Based on Hurricane Katrina, I designed a proposal called “Disaster, Rescue, Relief and Recovery”. Our Government did not care.

I also proposed Heavy Duty Power systems for India. The high end Government people in the USA and India ignored it. So, there you have it…


In past 5 extinction periods how did the most dominate environment altering species fare? Might that not be a good starting point for our talk? We definitely do need not only a conversation but some very serious concrete action on turning the trajectory that we are on.


A most excellent article - Thank You Richard Heinberg !!

I can’t see that leaving the ‘old’ way of life behind is a problem. It was always toxic - it felt toxic - even when I was eleven - and it has has become ever more toxic fifty-six years later.

The sooner we ditch this anchor the better.

Human nature being what it is - we’ll hang on to the past for awhile yet, I imagine.

But when we have all seen for ourselves, unambiguously, the results of our present folly - when we have all suffered and struggled to survive - which is where we are going - we will have an authentic story on a planetary scale - which transcends national and tribal borders - religious belief systems and metaphysical outlooks.

We will have both feet on the ground.

If we can get to that point.


From the article:

“Our best hope at this point would seem to be a controlled crash that enables partial recovery at a lower level of population and resource use, and that therefore doesn’t lead to complete and utter oblivion (human extinction or close to it).”

Personally, I’m not against human extinction. We had a good run. Then we overdid it. Now we’re screwed.


Your loss for not reading much of the article then as Heinberg is one of the most informed and practical thinkers and writers on this topic.


The difference between then and now is that humans are sapient beings. Unfortunately such sapience can just as much doom us as it can save us.


I love humanity with all its flaws. I don’t want to see us go extinct, especially in my lifetime. I want us to somehow get through this but even I think we very much might be screwed. Hopefully whatever next sapient life succeeds us has better luck to avoid self destruction.


Dr. Guy McPherson, is a Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, and an expert on Human Extinction; that is, he is knowledgeable about the habitat necessary for human survival. As the global average temperature rises above a certain point, it’s not that human beings can’t live at higher temperatures, but that the plants that we and other animals depend upon for food cannot adapt fast enough and they die out.

Based on these facts, and the abrupt rise in global average temperatures due to the predicted 50 Gigaton bursts or “burps” of methane in the Arctic Ocean this year or within the next two years, Dr. McPherson has written an article which includes a timeline for virtual Human Extinction within 9-33 months from now:



Here is another intelligent essay with a related focus, but more of a personal meditation on the approaching chaos:

The essay refers to Kingsnorth but unfortunately does not offer a link to the Dark Mountain Project or to its manifesto. Here’s the link:



We probably should not be surprised that the industrial revolution led to this. There is nothing in human history anything like what is going on now. The discovery of antibiotics has resulted in the explosion of the human population worldwide. Add to this the burning of fossil fuels for most energy, the growing amount of plastics and various chemical in the environment, the widespread use of farming methods the are productive in the short-term but harmful in the long term and things certainly seem to be moving toward some kind of collapse. And all of this has momentum, particularly the need for economic growth. Nobody knows how do create a steady state advanced economy. We really can’t prepare for what is going to happen since there is not way of being sure. The most important priority at this time appears to be imiting global warming. We have reached a critical stage where it could really take off and the earth could warm by several degrees Celsius. Nobody really knows what that would do to ecological systems if it occurred over only a few decades. Limiting global warming to 2C is probably very unlikely but staying under 4C is an absolute must.


I could not help think as I read Heinberg that this collapse he foresees, managed or not, resembles in some ways the collapse of societies brought about by our predator drones and predator corporations: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya.


Population is not the problem. In the early 1800’s a justification to pay workers subsistance (poverty) wages was that, if the ‘workers’ were paid more than they need to survive, they would then keep on having sex and make more children - that’s the origin - Multhaus. This ‘too many people’ idea is being applied to climate change, which is wrong, misleading and diverts attention to the only solution: a planned economy


In the abstract, but more so on deeply personal levels, I also love humanity. I love polar bears too.

Problem is, it’s coming down to one or the other. That wasn’t the polar bears’ fault.


I seriously want to know why birth control is not given to the whole world. The government does everything it can to stop it everywhere