Yesterday, I learned several terrifying facts. These facts alone are disturbing, but the wider context in which they sit, touched on below, is truly not for the faint of heart. I believe in sharing information widely, including the philosophical and ethical views I take on the world in which we live and the basis for these (perhaps increasingly controversial) opinions. But only read on if you are prepared to confront deeply uncomfortable truths...
1. The total number of living humans on this small planet ('world population') has now exceeded 8 billion! I remember when the world population hit the 7 billion milestone, which really wasn't that long ago (2011 in fact). So, the fact we've grown by another 1 billion people in such a short time is truly shocking, and scary. Remember, each human being requires huge amounts of fresh water, food and energy throughout their lifetime - the production of which has enormous implications for the environment. Indeed, just feeding this incredible population requires that vast swathes of natural habitat which would otherwise host a diverse array of species are instead destroyed and replaced with industrial-scale plant monocultures devoted entirely, and preserved exclusively, for the satiation of human appetite.
2. Of all the current living mammals on Earth, 96% are either humans, our domesticated pets or animal livestock enslaved for the likes of meat and dairy supply chains. Every non-human primate, from gorillas to lemurs, every giraffe and elephant, every dolphin, whale, and seal - along with every other non-human mammal neither a farm animal nor pet - all of them combine amount to just 4% of mammals living on this planet today! This alone is a perversion of nature, but especially so when remembering the horrific nature of the life experienced by most animals raised for slaughter, a brutal existence typically marked only by suffering, pain and then death at human hands. Nature can be cruel, but humans are - as a collective civilisation - far crueller and, for the most part, without mercy for their fellow sentient inhabitants of Earth.
3. The total amount of human-made, non-natural materials (e.g. concrete. steel, plastic, etc.) quite literally outweighs the total combined biomass of every living thing on this planet (including humans ourselves). Thus, without a long-term plan for the proper management of these materials, including their reuse, recycling or breaking down into their naturally occurring components at the end of their useful lives; no amount of green energy production will, on its own, create a sustainable civilisation living in harmony with the environment on which we all depend for our very lives. This is especially important to remember as the production of components needed for green technologies (everything from solar cells & panels to lithium-iron batteries) could itself lead to further catastrophic pollution of the natural environment if we don't take seriously the need for proper resource and waste management.
Just as our civilisation willingly, gleefully even, threw back into the atmosphere in just 250 years the amount of carbon it took countless millennia for ecological processes to take out; we are again failing to live up to the immense responsibility our great power over this Earth places upon us today. Our lack of empathy for non-human animals is truly grotesque. And we seem to have learned nothing from the grave mistakes of the recent past - with populations around the world continuing to elect climate deniers and those determined to preserve the privilege of today for a few more short years at the great expense of both future human generations and present non-human animal populations.
Of course, there is perhaps a somewhat poetic irony attached to all this. For if artificial intelligence has only humanity to learn from and is ultimately made in our own image; we ought to be very, very worried.