Am I an Alarmist?

Maybe I'm the one that's a fool. Do these people know something I don't know? Am I wrong to think human civilization is circling the drain?

Am I an Alarmist?

I never share my articles on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a circle-jerk of blind corporate optimism and virtue signaling. Between pointless meetings, political finagling and pseudo-intellectualism, there's no way these corporate vine-swingers want to hear that their very reason for existing is soon coming to an end.

Despite superficialities, many of these people are actually quite smart. But perhaps not smart enough to redirect their energy to something useful.

Who knows. Maybe I'm the one that's a fool. Do these people know something I don't know? Am I wrong to think human civilization is circling the drain?

Or, perhaps my assessment of the problem is correct but the techno-optimists are right that we'll eventually be saved by human ingenuity.

I wonder if I'm an alarmist.

I've always been this way. I picked up my anxiety from experience and my family. When was a small child I worried about war, destitution and the cruel world. As my consciousness matured during the height of the cold war, I fully expected to get nuked at any moment. That eventually wound down, but my existential angst violently resurfaced in 2001 when I learned about peak oil and the Olduvai Theory.

Meanwhile, the world was getting peppered with financial and medical calamities. Is it any wonder why I peer around the corner for the next disaster?

Yet, there are many others that are optimistic about the future and human ingenuity. Some even believe developments in AI will thrust humanity to a new era of abundance.

I wonder if I'm projecting my own anxieties onto my outlook for humanity. After all, there are plenty of other people who are equally convinced that I'm wrong.

Here's the thing. If I'm wrong, that would be the best possible outcome. I hope I'm wrong about our dystopian future. Just as I hope I don't crash next time I ride in a car.

Did you know: For every 1000 miles you drive, your chances of getting into a car accident are 1 in 366. That's lower than 1%, yet that doesn't stop me from wearing my seatbelt. I think most people do the same. However, decades ago it was considered alarmist to suggest people wear seatbelts. It became a debate over freedom. Some even argued it was safer to get thrown from a car during an accident.

If one feels the need to prepare for a car crash it certainly makes sense to prepare for crop failures, mass migration and broken supply chains.

Let's say there's only a 1% chance human civilization is wiped out. Even with such a low probability, the downside remains too great to ignore the possibility. People must prepare. I pulled the alarm, not because I'm an alarmist but because I want to warn people of what might be coming. If more people were alarmed, we might actually do something about it, reducing the cause for alarm in the first place.

With that said, I think the probability of civilizational collapse is much greater than 1%. There's a near certainty of collapse.

I've seen the research. Watched the trends. I've even observed the changes first-hand. The implications of a hotter climate - heat deaths, lower crop yields, rising seas - are obvious. The greenhouse effect has been known for about 200 years. Exxon itself forecasted everything we're seeing.

The big question is when and how?

Still, I must leave room for the possibility I'm missing something. Or that I'm underestimating human ingenuity, adaptability and technological advancement.

However, if I look at the evidence laid out in front of me, my predictions are well-supported by observable facts. Meanwhile, the counter argument is founded on unproven technologies and the crude extrapolation that civilization will continue to exist because it currently exists. The optimistic view is built on survivorship bias.

Unfortunately, the ghosts of failed past civilizations don't get a voice. If they did, there'd be a lot more alarmists.