The world we know is ending . . . and no-one in charge appears to be noticing

Modern humans, risibly termed homo sapiens by Carolus Linneas in 1758, only emerged as a separate human species about 300,000 years ago. (1) (2)

All our recorded history has happened in the last 10,000 years. This flowering of  homo sapiens activity could only happen in the benign climate of the Holocene, this most recent epoch being a mere blip in the 2.5 million-year history of all human species. (3) (4)

Since then, we’ve thrived and multiplied, resulting in the population explosion we now have.

We’ve invented diverse technologies, from language to our ever-innovative manipulation of physical matter.

Both our huge population and its impact on the environment have directly led to the potentially existential challenges we’re facing.

Little wonder scientists have named the epoch we’re now living through the Anthropocene.

As we stated in our Note for the National Preparedness Commission, this means:

No-one knows the answer to the question about the carrying capacity of Earth. Without radical action David Miliband’s 2.2 billion feels far too high — even if the Holocene hadn’t come to an end. (5)

The upcoming generations will find out, probably brutally, what the new Earth carrying capacity is . . .

Unless we face the nightmare and begin to think in radically different ways. (6)

At this point, it’s worth quoting Bill McGuire in his book Hothouse Earth and the last sentence in the paper Climate Endgame by Luke Kemp et al:

Optimism means facing ‘worst case scenarios’. For only by grasping the scale of what’s needed, can radical thinking begin to to happen.

And that is exactly what The Game encourages Players to do.

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(1) A reminder that, although we call ourselves human, there were until comparatively recently several other human species roaming the planet, as in this Wikpedia page on Hominidae, aka Great Apes explains.

(2) For an account of the different human species who’ve lived on Earth, see: https://www.science.org/content/article/world-s-oldest-homo-sapiens-fossils-found-morocco

(3) A blip in human history? 99.5% of humans’ history happened before the Holocene. And almost infinitely smaller blip in the history of the Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago.

(4) The pre-Holocene epoch, the Pleistocene began around the time of the first human species; see this chart from https://humanorigins.si.edu/research/age-humans-evolutionary-perspectives-anthropocene#

(5) The last time the global population was 2.2 billion was 1937. It had hit 2.5 billion by 1950.

(6) It’s the speed of the warming up of the planet in the last few decades that is so terrifying. Moreover, the pace of warming is accelerating rapidly. Over the last 800,000 years, there have been 11 interglacial periods, typically lasting 10,ooo-30,000 years; see this article: https://eos.org/research-spotlights/characterizing-interglacial-periods-over-the-past-800000-years.

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The featured image of the Headquarters of the United Nations, New York is used under a Creative Commons Licence

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