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“You Can’t Handle the Truth!”


“You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

Richard Heinberg

Movie buffs will recognize this title as the most memorable line from “A Few Good Men” (1992), spoken by the character Colonel Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson (“You can’t handle the truth!” is #29 in the American Film Institute’s list of 100 top movie quotes).

I hereby propose it as the subtext of the recently concluded Republican and Democratic national conventions.


Excellent outline of the synergistic mega-crises that now face humanity and the Earth.

And excellent call for blunt truth from “leaders” who show no leadership. Thanks Richard Heinberg for this trumpet call, and thanks CD for posting it here.

We all are called on to be truth-tellers. First telling the truth to ourselves, and looking it in the eye. Then, and for the rest of our lives, telling these truths to everyone we love, everyone we live with, and everyone we work with.


And now, i await the arrival in this thread of CD’s resident Heinberg basher…


i agree that population is a hugely significant factor. But i’m more with Heinberg here, that population is synergistic with other root factors, like agriculture, industrialism, and fossil fuels. i do not see population as “the root cause” of ecological catastrophe. The roots are intertwined.


“Democrats are the party of hope” Richard ? More like they are the party of faux hope.

Obama’s 2008 hope and change mantra confirmed that hope plus two bucks (three in high rent areas) buys a cup of coffee, and change is what goes into the barista’s tip jar.



91 percent of Americans polled do not want Trump or Clinton as President according to this article.

The truth is the 10 percent at the top do not care and will force on the rest one of these two candidates. This is in no way shape or form a Democracy.

Again Putin has more support In Russia.

I suggest the American people have a better grip as to what goes on than is being suggested in this article . It just not being reported on as the media simply repeats the 1 percent narrative.


Well done.


Well, the manner in which Homo sapiens has affected the environment has grown in severity with the growth in numbers, so in a way you can say that population is the driver.


As with most complicated issues, you are both right and wrong. To be a bit more precise, it is possible to argue that the vast majority of the ecological damage done to date is due to a relatively small but affluent slice of the population, particularly over the last 50 years. It is undeniable, however, that fixing or at least limiting the damage going forward is going to be made vastly more difficult by our large and still rapidly growing population. Especially if some level of economical equality on the international scale is one of your goals, for the simple reason that we really do not know how to offer everyone on earth a level of affluence even approaching European standards while at the same time reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero. I’m not saying it can’t be done, only that it’s never been done before and it will only get harder as our population grows. Reducing population by increasing female education and social status, by comparison, is really easy and cheap. If only the world could summon the political will to do so rather than searching for boogymen behind every curtain, as Heinberg has pointed out.


Unfortunately, the currently most likely “solution” to all this is nuclear war. I wish I were wrong …


Just a small correction is due, but right on with your post. “Limits to Growth” was published in the early '70’s and Jimmy Carter started warning us in the late '70’s. Ronnie the “soap man” washed the slate clean in the '80’s. So we have been warned for at least the past 35 to 40 years!


Right on! Until there is a substantial decrease in human population, we will face world-wide catastrophe. And as the author suggests glumly, it’s probably too late by now.
It’s the old “doubling time” problem. We don’t realize there’'s an ecological disaster looming until a generation before the full catastrophe is upon us. And by then (now) it’s too late. I’m afraid that only the catastrophe itself will have the power to decrease the human population. To get an idea of what that world might be and feel like, folks should read some of the WWII concentration-camp and prison-camp literature written by survivors. There’s lots of it out there.


“All of this constitutes a fairly simple and obvious truth. But evidently our leaders believe that most people simply can’t handle this truth. Either that or our leaders are, themselves, clueless. (I’m not sure which is worse.)”

The above sentiment has had me wondering for over 40 years. What don’t the elites know or not know. I know Nixon was clued in by many ecologists, but I see no indication that any politician since has had much of a clue except for Al Gore. The crash in population that is coming is too scary for public viewing and discussion, but one would think that more awareness and action on population would be forthcoming to keep starvation to a minimum. However as the author points out we seem to be addicted to the poison of perpetual growth on a finite planet. Not going to work out well. It would only take a few billion dollars to provide the necessary education and contraception to stabilize population. The longer we procrastinate the more calamitous the bust.


In a similar way of the truth behind 100-story buildings all coming down freefall into their own footprint (one not being hit by a plane).


In the list of gripes, I would add:
> Corrupted democracy, and current rule by oligarchs
If reich-wingers can’t handle human-caused global warming, no, no, no way can they handle the ideas in this article.


Excellent analysis! The problem isn’t people. It’s their/our consumption patterns. and, it is entirely possible (but far from likely) to alter those consumption patterns to live in harmony with nature. Buckminster Fuller’s work showed that we have the resources and the technology to have all of humanity living at a higher standard of living than most Americans now enjoy…IF we valued nature and designed and built our civilization based on biological and ecological principles of nature. Unfortunately, we humans only seem to think about what’s needed only after experiencing catastrophic consequences. And even then, we don’t always make the right choices. With current consumption patterns the earth will not be able to sustain even 1 billion people. But using all the technologies currently available to humanity to preserve, protect and restore nature, earth could sustain 20 billion or more. Female education, ensuring child survival, women’s economic and political empowerment, is key if we hope to reverse population growth rates without repressive human rights policies or undesirable catastrophic consequences. Blaming our predicament on population numbers won’t get us anywhere. Being pro people (especially pro women) will.


“…though his eventual foreign policies are currently about as easy to read as a Rorschach ink blot.”
Admire the author (his “Afterburn” is excellent), but this is a non sequitur (“eventual” vs. “currently”).

Has D’rump or his team produced any foreign policy position papers? Will he/they bother?

In addition, It may be that obvious, but i don’t hear or read anyone suggesting that D’rump’s total lack of experience at any level of government just might disqualify him as a candidate.


I look forward to this view becoming commonplace. Then, we can all handle the truth together.


Thank you for mentioning Bucky!


And yet the population projections (above my pay grade) indicate that it will continue to rise, no matter what.