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 stage of tech. Once they get to the purpose the place they’d be capable of ship probes out throughout the galaxy, or talk on the pace of sunshine, they do not final lengthy in that stage. You have made a whole lot of technological advances, and with one thing like nuclear weapons or local weather change, you begin to have the ability to affect a planet as a complete. 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 situations, if we preserve going the best way we’re going, civilization will collapse. Giant components of the Earth will likely be unlivable. There are folks round now who’re going to expertise a really completely 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 sluggish course of. Entropy does its factor—it wins in the long run. 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 could be very brief.
For nuclear, at this second, if somebody—Biden or Putin—simply decides they’ve had sufficient, one individual, one individual decides, that is it. They will push a button. The way in which every little thing is structured, there is no strategy to countermand that, and it is completed. In half-hour, we’re all completed. One individual. What sort of civilization units that up, so one individual can wipe out everybody and take your entire planet down? All the pieces, all residing issues, every little thing. That is a little bit completely different from simply entropy and historic development.
I am not making an attempt to be miserable. It is a ravishing day right here in Chicago. It is simply very straightforward to get despondent. And then you definitely go and you’re employed on black holes, and it is uplifting in a really unusual method. They’re stunning. 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 type 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 by the bigger universe, there’s, I feel, a sure magnificence in realizing our insignificance. I feel the difficulty there’s the temptation to surrender—you get complacent.
I do know precisely what you are speaking about, as a result of I positively do the identical factor. It is really easy to get despondent. I do have this solace that it simply would not matter. It is nearly like I needn’t take it so personally. The universe goes to be positive.
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’d like enlightened company leaders. However we additionally want an enlightened citizenry that simply says: Sufficient is sufficient. We are able to see what’s taking place to the planet now. It is what the scientists stated would occur—they usually’re telling us it is simply going to worsen. This isn’t OK.