Suppose a respected scientific magazine would have written in October 1962 during the Cuba missile crisis, that a blow-up was inevitable, or even that the rockets were already in the air. Would the public just shrug it off and go about their business?
But this is not the 1960s. In our “information” age, the intensity (as measured by our reaction to it) of information is inversely proportional to its quantity. Which is to say: diminishing. Our most respected magazines can write about impending doom as much as they want, we just shrug it off and go about our business.
So why don’t we call it a day?
We can even prepare something similar to a time capsule containing elementary mathematical proofs, human shapes, the structure of our DNA, Bach’s cantatas, and some other paraphernalia to demonstrate that we have been quite a smart bunch.
Maybe in a few hundred million years, our capsule is found by Orks. Let’s assume they will be more robust as a species than we have been, and will keep their consumption and resource exploitation levels below invisible limits (for when these limits become visible, it’s already too late). This implies, if you follow me, that our Orks will be Green.
Let’s picture them, having a picnic in the safe and finite enclosure of a green valley, trying to figure out what they found in the capsule. We can imagine them humming Bach, or copying voluptuous Greek shapes we call perfect, or grasping Gödel’s Theorem with their eighteen fingers. It cracks them up, they do their Ork dance and feast on the delicious fruits they brought to their picnic. Bear in mind that far below this valley lie layers upon layers of fossil fuels, and they know it. They have invented a process that extracts them at about the same rate as they are replenished, creating buffers, redundancies, and solving the energy problem for far-future generations of Orks. Oh by the way, those fossil fuels – that’s us.
Recommended reading: Stephen Emmott – ten billion. Be aware that the last sentence of this book is this one: “We’re fucked” (but don’t worry: I linked to a very critical review that tears this little apocalyptic paperback apart)