A prominent British social scientist has warned that climate change will decimate life on earth, and although the trend could theoretically be reversed, it will not be, because society is too dependent on the fossil fuels it would need to eliminate.
Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute, told the Guardian newspaper that what humanity should be doing is focusing on music, love, education and happiness.
“We’re doomed,” Hillman said of carbon emissions pushing up global temperatures. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”
Hillman, 86, was born in northwest London and raised in a Jewish family. Over the past decades, he has criticized out-of-town shopping centers, policies on railway branch lines, and proposed energy ratings for houses — all concepts that have been adopted by the UK government in one form or another.
“We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels,” Hillman said in an interview published Thursday. “So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on.”
As temperatures rise, “the world’s population will head to regions of the planet such as northern Europe which will be temporarily spared the extreme effects of climate change,” he said. “How are these regions going to respond? We see it now. Migrants will be prevented from arriving. We will let them drown.”
World leaders, including scientists and religious figures, are not addressing the problem because society is not structured to enable them to do so, he said.
“Political parties’ focus is on jobs and GDP, depending on the burning of fossil fuels,” he said. “Even if the world went zero-carbon today, that would not save us because we’ve gone past the point of no return.”
Hillman has not traveled by air in over 20 years as a commitment to reducing his carbon footprint; however, he admitted that such individual action is “as good as futile.”
The answer, he said, is to cut all emission across the economy from travel to agriculture and heating alongside a reduction in the human population. But, he doubted such a development is realistically possible.
“Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying? Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan? Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families?”
Hillman said that rather than trying to be optimistic about the future, humanity should be accept its impending doom, as it may encourage us to seek what can be done to delay it, similar to those suffering a terminal disease.
Action to alter the disastrous change in climate must overcome the obstacle of capitalism, he warned.
“Standing in the way is capitalism,” Hillman said. “Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”