The one factor that each one human civilizations have in frequent is that they finish. For 10,000 years or so, that is been the frequent issue.
You can also make an argument that civilizations have a tendency to not final very lengthy as soon as they get to a sure degree of tech. After they get to the purpose the place they’d have the ability to ship probes out throughout the galaxy, or talk on the velocity of sunshine, they do not final lengthy in that stage. You’ve got made a number of technological advances, and with one thing like nuclear weapons or local weather change, you begin to have the ability to influence a planet as an entire. And when you get there, dangerous issues begin to occur.
With nuclear weapons, we might actually wipe ourselves out. And with the local weather, anyplace near the worst-case eventualities, if we hold going the way in which we’re going, civilization will collapse. Massive elements of the Earth will likely be unlivable. There are folks round now who’re going to expertise a really totally different Earth. If they’re nonetheless alive, which within the nuclear case, they in all probability will not be.
The entropy of the universe signifies that it will get more and more disordered over lengthy spans of time. However for civilization on Earth, this isn’t a lot entropy as it’s simply collapse.
It isn’t a gradual course of. Entropy does its factor—it wins ultimately. However the time scales which are related for these processes, the bodily time scales are very lengthy. And what we’re speaking about right here may be very brief.
For nuclear, at this second, if somebody—Biden or Putin—simply decides they’ve had sufficient, one particular person, one particular person decides, that is it. They will push a button. The way in which every thing is structured, there isn’t any strategy to countermand that, and it is finished. In half-hour, we’re all finished. One particular person. What sort of civilization units that up, so one particular person can wipe out everybody and take your entire planet down? The whole lot, all dwelling issues, every thing. That is just a little totally different from simply entropy and historic development.
I am not making an attempt to be miserable. It is an attractive day right here in Chicago. It is simply very straightforward to get despondent. And you then go and you’re employed on black holes, and it is uplifting in a really unusual method. They’re lovely. As is the truth that we as a species can sit right here and ponder the age of the universe.
There appears to be a form of creeping nihilism, as a result of there’s a lot that is out of our management as people. I’ve tried to spin my very own model as a constructive nihilism. I’m very down about our planetary happenings. However in fascinated with the bigger universe, there may be, I feel, a sure magnificence in realizing our insignificance. I feel the difficulty there may be the temptation to surrender—you get complacent.
I do know precisely what you are speaking about, as a result of I undoubtedly do the identical factor. It is really easy to get despondent. I do have this solace that it simply does not matter. It is nearly like I needn’t take it so personally. The universe goes to be wonderful.
However the planet actually wants folks to be engaged—that is clear. And it isn’t going to occur from enlightened politicians, except everybody begins pushing for it. We do want enlightened politicians, we want enlightened company leaders. However we additionally want an enlightened citizenry that simply says: Sufficient is sufficient. We are able to see what’s occurring to the planet now. It is what the scientists mentioned would occur—and so they’re telling us it is simply going to worsen. This isn’t OK.