Is the human species suicidal?

Our two guests today believe we are showing suicidal tendencies. They argue that we now know that climate change will kill our species if we don’t stop it, but that we’re choosing not stop it fast enough. And they want to talk to you about why. Here are a series of questions that they’d like to discuss with you, and then some I’d like to ask you as well.

British documentary-maker Franny Armstrong. She, along with her producer Lizzie Gillett, are behind the docu-drama, The Age of Stupid.

The Age of Stupid imagines one man looking back at us in 2050 and wondering at the decisions we’re taking now. Do think we’ll live to regret how we’ve chosen to live?

As the lead actor Pete Postlethwaite’s character puts it, ‘We wouldn’t be the first life form to wipe itself out. But what would be unique about us, is that we did it knowingly”‘

They think the behaviour of some people suggests this is the case.

And if you, do you worry about its impact on the planet? And if you worry about the impact, why do you keep doing it? Would you take a plane just to save time or money, even if the train were an option?

Are you concerned about the amount of oil used to do that? The film is fiercely critical of our dependence on Chinese products and how we send much of our waste back of China. It’s also questions transporting food great distances.

Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillett aren’t convinced that things like reducing plastic bag usage or recycling your home waste will make very much difference. The situation is far too severe for that they argue, and it requires huge policy solutions. They don’t criticise everyone who does these things, but they do say too many people think this is enough, and it isn’t.

Are radical new environmental policies a make-or-break issue for you when you vote?

The film is dismissive of the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude which they say is holding up wind-power development in the UK and elsewhere.

The average amount of carbon those of you in America use is far in excess of any other nationality. Why then is there not a willingness to cut right back right away, they ask? What other option do those of you in America think the world has? We need you to stop this lifestyle right away is the message.

Are humans only able to respond to immediate threats?

They think so.


Are you not having a child because you fear for the future?
We keep finding people online saying this. I’d be interested to hear your story if you feel the same.

Do you feel like it’s too late? The Age of Stupid says we have until 2015 to take effective action. Do you despair of meeting any of the targets being talked about? Does that motivate or demotivate you?

Won’t technology and the market sort this out?
Just today the UK’s announced a major new push on electric cars. Won’t companies desire to make money matched to our desire for green options in the end produce the solution?

Why should the developing world care?
Don’t those of you there have every right to see your country do everything possible to raise the standard of living? Isn’t the environement a distance second to that?

That’s almost more questions than we have minutes in the show so I’ll leave it there.

This is a Channel 4 news feature about the film.

Here Franny Armstrong explains more about why she wanted to make the film. We’d like to hear if you’re persuaded by the message coming from her and her film.

132 Responses to “Is the human species suicidal?”

  1. 1 Rob (UK)
    April 14, 2009 at 19:46

    Saying that the human race is suicidal misses the point. People aren’t “knowingly” killing themselves. Do most alcoholics knowingly kill themselves? Self-damaging behaviour may well result from a denial of the very real effects, but it doesn’t have to be suicidal.

  2. 2 globalcomedy
    April 14, 2009 at 20:56

    I woudn’t say “suicidal.” Instead, try greedy.

    Look at all of the “experts” who say that global warming is normal. How many of them (a) work for a large oil corporation? Or (b), how many of them essentially sold out for corporate funding for their “research”?

    Another part of the problem is the MSM exploiting this for ratings. It’s always two guests at the “opposite ends” of the argument. But all the MSM cares about is screaming heads. Even if you agree with the other guy, get pissed at him. It’s GREAT TV!

    No, it’s not. Instead of an actual debate, it’s a waste of time.

  3. 3 gary
    April 14, 2009 at 21:03

    If by this question you mean will we drive ourselves to extinction, then the answer is “probably not.” I do believe a rather precipitous drop in population within the lifetimes of the youngest now living, or of their children’s, is possible and likely though.

  4. 4 Dale
    April 14, 2009 at 21:32

    Yes the human species is suicidal in a collective sense.

    However as individuals we always put our emotional needs first. Even though we have done research on the extinction of other species, we deceive ourselves that it can’t happen to us as a species. Humans are capable of almost anything and that’s one of the main reasons that people don’t take take their own collective demise too seriously.

    People generally believe someone will come up with a solution with minimum effort on the individuals part, or they alternatively believe that whatever happens is because it is in ‘Gods hands’ so they make no effort to change things. These people do not consider that we are ALL responsible for the environment, the world the planet, and the even the universe. Therefore when we co operate with each other we create an energy which could be described as ‘god’. Anything is possible.

  5. 5 Dale
    April 14, 2009 at 23:45

    Not only do we need to cooperate with each other but we also need to cooperate with nature. We need to consult the world’s dynamic cultures who have not forgotten ‘the old ways’ e.g Tibetan monks, Rawani people, the Elder Brothers, a group of Sierra Nevada Indians, indigenous people in Peru’s Amazon jungle, the Inuit people. All of these peoples hold unique answers for dealing with the challenges of the future because there are other ways of being, other possibilities.

  6. 6 ecotopian
    April 15, 2009 at 00:03

    We aren’t suicidal. We’re more like people who aren’t listening to our doctors who are telling us to lose weight and quit smoking or we’ll be dead soon. We’re myopic. And because we suffer from this myopia, we refuse to believe what is coming at us because we can’t see it. Since we can’t see it , it must not be all that dangerous and we can keep on with doing what we have always done. Yes, I know it’s twisted logic, but it makes more sense than the human race being suicidal.

    My brother committed suicide, so I have a hard time when people use that word. I view suicide as a short term solution to a long term problem. Global warming is a long term problem. I just don’t see us stabbing ourselves in the heart as a means of not dealing with it.

    What I see is inaction. I’m wondering if this inaction is a form a fatalism. We’re going to let this happen because we feel powerless to stop it. You accept what you think you can’t change.

    Which is worse? Accepting a fate you don’t think you can change? Or killing yourself because you don’t see an alternative? And which of those really explains what we’re doing?

  7. 7 ecotopian
    April 15, 2009 at 01:04

    Dang it! I hate it when I post typos. I meant to say a long term solution to a short term problem in paragraph two. Or to put another way, strike that. Reverse it. It’ll make more sense

  8. 8 Delphic Oracle of Oz
    April 15, 2009 at 02:10

    I wish we were more suicidal – there are too many of us which has lead to climate change. However, we are doing very well killing ourselves in wars (we need more), on the roads, binge drinking, by medication, and by being religious martyrs. The world needs more condoms and less condemnation on birth control from people who should know better. We will possibly all die of thirst because of politicians who only care about votes. It’s time to put KIND back into HUMANKIND!

  9. 9 Dennis Junior
    April 15, 2009 at 04:09

    Do you think we may all have to hang our heads in shame? (Yes)

    -Dennis Junior-

  10. 10 archibald in Oregon
    April 15, 2009 at 05:43

    Pass the hemlock, we are obsessed with our own deaths, give humanity a bed to sleep in and it will crap in it everytime. Modus operandi umanita’………..self destruction. All innovations and wonder of the species aside, the human race is a flawed force, bent on its own demise. Live as long as you let yourself, you can always find someone to kill you, so relax.

  11. 11 Jack Hughes
    April 15, 2009 at 07:16

    Hi Ros,

    Please ask Franny what kind of lifestyle she has in store for us.

    I don’t want to hear “more of this” or “less of that”. I want some specifics.

    Can we own and drive cars ?
    Can we eat meat ?
    Can we heat our homes in winter ?
    Can we buy new clothes and things for our homes ?

    Please try to pin her down and stop her from drifting off into vagueness or eco-babble.

    Finally ask her about her own lifestyle and how it matches up with her extreme beliefs. I hope she’s walking to the studio today.

    Your in common sense, Jack Hughes

  12. 12 Jack Hughes
    April 15, 2009 at 07:44

    The BBC-favoured Catlin Arctic Expedition has been BUSTED.

    Biometric data on their website has been exposed as fake by bloggers at the popular website WattsUpWithThat.com

    This casts a cold shadow over the rest of their reportage. Also interesting to read that Global Warming has caused frostbite in the team.

    Full story here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/14/catlin-artic-ice-survey-bio-telemetry-status-demonstrational/

  13. 13 VictorK
    April 15, 2009 at 11:23

    We’re in the world of Orwell’s 1984 when a piece of politically motivated fiction can be described as an ‘eco-documentary’.

    I don’t mind topics being framed in a way that leans to one side of the political spectrum, so long as the actual debate doesn’t proceed on the assumption that, for example, only ‘stupidity’ can explain the fact that not everybody subscribes to left-liberal positions (and man-made climate change is increasingly a political dogma of the left, to be disseminated through insult and propaganda, and less and less a matter of disinterested scientific investigation).

    I hope that you will give equal time to informed and credible ‘man-made climate change’ sceptics (like Christopher Booker) as you will to Gillett & Armstrong.

    The points about flying & plastic bags are irrelevant, so long as there isn’t agreement on the principal issue: whether human activity is mainly responsible for climate change. That debate will happen when both sides on the causes of climate change get an equal hearing, and we draw conclusions from the collision of alternative viewpoints.

  14. 14 Peter sc
    April 15, 2009 at 17:00

    To cope with the harsh reality of life we make ourselves feel invincible . Which may seem suicidal.

  15. 15 Bert
    April 15, 2009 at 17:24

    The frenzy about humans creating a cure for climate change is to the 2000s as the frenzy to build fallout shelters and crouching under desks was to the 1950s. It is one of those things that will seem strangely quaint before too long.

    Did anyone really think they would survive a nuclear holocaust by hiding in a hole for two weeks? Probably not, deep down. They just played along because that was “the thing to do.” These days, “the thing to do” is to make a show of our own virtue by talking the talk.

    I’ve taken public transportation to work every day for decades. Amazingly few of my co-workers and of my neighbors do, even as they spout their generic “green” nonsense to make themselves feel better. Eco-babble brings out the hypocrisy in most people, it seems.

  16. April 15, 2009 at 17:33

    I think we in the third world we have little to blame ourselves about just because the bigger population knows nothing about extinction out of our acts. Now, I feel the educated should lead the road if something reasonable is to be done… Anyway, what does it benefit me to be literate about some issues while I do the opposite?

    Look at the African governments battling with development in the name of industrialisation… Don’t they know of sustainable development or anything to do with impact assessment?

    Ask my continent…

  17. 17 Roberto
    April 15, 2009 at 19:52

    RE “” Do you think we may all have to hang our heads in shame? “”

    ———- Yes, the collective “we” should hang our heads in shame.

    The elite that compile history, promote business or advance science and engineering are always telling us how intelligent and clever we are are, IF we believe in a certain way, buy a certain product, or pass certain tests.

    IF we were intelligent, we would’ve done more with our garden of galactic eden we were born on than to deliberately exploit and destroy it and each other and make life miserable.

    Some of us have always been a positive force, but in every generation it seems like a losing battle as the forces of evil can wipe of millennias of ecosystems in less than a generation’s time these days.

  18. 18 Spencer Nyendwa
    April 16, 2009 at 05:54

    The whole discussion raises another equally important question: has humanity lost the ability to regulate itself? Can we still have faith in humanity to preserve itself? Yes, we can but the writing on the wall points to the fact that our capacity for self destruction is immense.

    Monze, Zambia

  19. 19 Bill
    April 16, 2009 at 09:57

    I think we are suicidal but not knowlingly so. If we were not, we would not be here to tell this story. It is our inate competetiveness that drives andvancement and strife. Survival of the fittest. Origin of species. The human ‘race’ (Instead of ‘species’), etc. ring any bells? One-upmanship. Americans instinctively outdoing each other based on the size of their Truck/Mansion/Gun/Belly/Tits . Academics Aiming for the best mark in class, or Trying their hardest to be the first to discover the next big (or tiny) thing, and to hell with the sheer volume of natural and artificial resources that are required to run the project!

    It is the force that drives advancement but also that which drives destruction.

    Until we overcome our desire to ‘Outdo’ each other we stand no chance.

    Look for George Price’s theory on this (for the mathemetician/scientists view).

    We must actively seek a more collective, co-operative and civilised approach.

  20. 20 steve
    April 16, 2009 at 13:53

    When are people going to realize that climate change happens with or without humans existing? Does your country have any large lakes? They’re most likely formed from retreating glaciers, because it got warmer, so the glaciers melted and retracted. There were no human beings alive when the Great Leaks in the US/Canada were formed this way, same with the Finger Lakes in NY state. Do people contribute to climate change? Probably, but we don’t cause it. It’s natural, the world periodically gets warmer, and it periodically gets colder. It’s time you accept reality.

  21. 21 Roy, Washington DC
    April 16, 2009 at 14:32

    “Suicidal” isn’t really the right word. “Selfish” would be more fitting, or perhaps “greedy”. We concern ourselves with what will benefit us in the short to medium term, rather than what is sustainable. Add to that the fact that the planet is quickly becoming overpopulated, and you have a recipe for disaster.

  22. April 16, 2009 at 14:32

    ‘Suicide’ is altogether the wrong expression. ‘Ignorant’ followed by ‘greedy’ are more to the point. When I moved from UK to USA only four years ago I felt as if I was the only person in America worried about climate change. I had been alerted in the mid nineties by New Scientist magazine, but whenever I raised the topic I encountered blank expressions and scant interest.

    Now it’s a big theme thanks to Al Gore, principally. But the developed world which contributes most to climate change, is reluctant to give up the luxury of air flights, fast cars, over-consumption on every level. Instead they worry about the Indians and Chinese being able to afford cars and industrial development..

    Obama announced today that train services would be developed to reduce air journeys, and he’s encouraging alternative energy such as wind turbines (turned down only this week in Virginia by people who fear it will spoil their view of the mountains. I believe that controversy happened in Wales too.) There is huge scope for redesigning our use of global resources, but it will take legislation to change behaviour. We urgently need global consensus and action to address this problem. One of the few advantages of the current financial meltdown is the stark illustration that all countries are interdependent and we compete at our peril.

    I fear deeply for the effect this will have on my grandchildren and future generations. But I don’t want to commit suicide – just fix it!

  23. April 16, 2009 at 14:33

    even GOD’S greatest prophets contemplated suicide when they looked into the depths of their broken sinful selfs. satan will do whatever he can can to destroy us and suicide is his ultimate triumph because it will eternally separate us from GOD. it is only through JESUS’ grace that we will be able find the love and forgiveness we need to resist the world and its destructiveness.

  24. 24 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    April 16, 2009 at 14:50

    I think our problem is ignorance, but the actions of an ignorant person are sometimes difficult to distinguish from those of a suicidal one. And if the ignorant person is a powerful world leader it might appear as if the whole world is suicidal. No, we are not suicidal at all. We may get brainwashed into being so (e.g. suicide bombers) but that is just an extreme form of ignorance.

  25. 25 Andrew in Australia
    April 16, 2009 at 14:52

    Perhaps not suicidal but definitely stupid, arrogant and above all else selfish.

    I wont really be affected by all this stuff and I want to be comfortable and enjoy my lifestyle in comfort so stuff it all I will do what I want, how I want, when I want as I wont be around to see the problems.

    Oh yeah I will change a lightglobe (regardless of whether it is more or just as polluting to produce) toss a newspaper in the recycling bin or drink an ‘ethical’ coffee to show I’m doing something to save the planet or at least say I am!

    At this rate unless we radically re think our lifestyle and how we view the world and other species we really are going to make this very difficult for ourselves or finish ourselves off for that matter. But with this mindset I really do think we don’t deserve to survive as we show utter contempt for the world and each other and do not appreciate what we have and our place within it.

  26. 26 Tom K in Mpls
    April 16, 2009 at 15:06

    Good subject, bad question. ‘Suicide’ requires intent. I think it is safe to say the intent does not exist on a global scale. Now for some small key points. steve had the most important general point on the global question. It is a geological fact that the planet is cooling and will continue to do so until the sun starts to expand. Now as for the nearly insignificant little portion we call the biosphere, it has been doing crazy things since it first formed.

    As for mans effect… we can’t be sure of the results of what we do. Predicting the weather is part of the same science and we all know how well that works. I know we did a lot to promote cooling when the US bison herds were slaughtered. Methane production was reduced dramatically. I know it is also wrong to produce the various pollutants if we have a choice. But face it, we all want certain things that requires certain technologies that produce unwanted byproducts.

    A message to the ecowarriors, you need to realize that you face economic inertia. The moral/guilt thing only strokes *your* ego. To change this you need to help science and industry to find an economically viable solution. Money talks. Good luck.

  27. 27 Kim Johnson
    April 16, 2009 at 15:07

    Your two guests are stupid and radicals. There is no climate change, it is all fake science and balony. No, we are not suicidal, we are smart not to listen to radicals like them, We love freedom, individual freedom and they are against it because of their stupid ideas.

  28. 28 Andre
    April 16, 2009 at 15:13

    In my humble opinion, humans are not suicidal, just shortsighted and greedy. The arguments over climate change remind me of the tobacco companies arguments over the health effects of cigarettes and nicotine on smokers and second-hand smokers in the 1970s. Essentially, parties who were profiting from the then contemporary situation did everything that they could to obscure the science that singled their products out as dangerous.

    The same thing is happening now with climate change. I have heard arguments that most of the world’s climate change is natural and that human emissions contribute a neglegible amount of greenhouse gases such as carbon and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. This position allows major polluters to charge that climate change is merely a worldwide governmental and environmental movement to take over more control over business. Greed and self-interest of the habitual polluters is making it very difficult to act quickly – irrespective of the politicians’ promises.

    In my opinion, climate change is the 2000s equivalent of the geopolitical situation of the late 1930s. Any honest statesperson then would have seen the danger of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan but many millions of people in the West were scared of what might happen and chose to do nothing until the storm broke. We are doing the same thing with the world’s environment at this time.

  29. 29 gary
    April 16, 2009 at 15:15

    Another thought: This question could be answered in the affirmative were it not extremely likely humanity will fail even to get this (suicide) correctly done. Some stubborn little bit of us would hang on and do it all over again. We are neither as powerful as we imagine, nor as weak as we fear.

  30. 30 Ogola Benard
    April 16, 2009 at 15:22

    When i was in school i read much of european history and various sciences of environment. my imagination was so in a mood that i thought “what really happened “at the time and what “would happen next” and here we are? I think its all about history repeating itself.
    I gree that the behavior of some people may not let this spicies survive for so long but this does not stop me from flying and seeing the clouds more closer.Actually to fly makes one understand the eating habits of inhabitant spicies and the question of thier live span.
    Meanwhile our politicians forget the value of the idea. An average politician should be able to understand various issues ,explain his negotiations and agreements to the benefit of the majority and its environment.
    Apparently that will tell the reason why human beings are able to respond to threats earlier but the question of who is to do what and whose responsibility is it and why me? becomes the barrier!

  31. 31 Cynthia Cramer
    April 16, 2009 at 15:23

    Electric cars are a great thought, but only as green as the electricity they run on!

    We in the US need desparately to turn our attentions to mass transit. We are the most selfish country on the planet, and is what it all boils down to: Humans that wish not to be uncomfortable or inconveinienced for one moment.

  32. April 16, 2009 at 15:26

    James from Kenya

    Humans suicidal that depends on where you are from. Here in Africa people have enough problems to even worry about consuming excess fat on food or global warming.

    Frankly I think the problems you have outlined are restricted to first world here in 3rd world people worry first about food family and shelter. The worries you have outline are too elite for real thirdworders to worry about Ros.

  33. 33 Ros Atkins
    April 16, 2009 at 15:27

    Here are some of the emails that have come in after I sent out the Daily Email:

    What a provocative way to ask the question!

    I think we are no more suicidal than the dodo bird. We simply have more press and a greater willingness to watch ourselves destroy ourselves. We may have just outlived our usefulness to the planet and our species, and the rest is our decline in action.

    We may have mistaken our communications capacity for greater intelligence than it actually represents. So our self-destruction, if that’s what it is, is horrifying to us. Mayhap, in the grand scheme of things, we’ve evolved to our logical end point.

    Oakland, CA

    Hi WHYS

    I think our problem is ignorance, but the actions of an ignorant person are sometimes difficult to distinguish from those of a suicidal one. And if the ignorant person is a powerful world leader it might appear as if the whole world is suicidal. No, we are not suicidal at all. We may get brainwashed into being so (e.g. suicide bombers) but that is just an extreme form of ignorance.

    Johannesburg, South Africa

    T.S. Elliott said, in one of his poems, that the world would end, not with a bang, but a whimper! As scientists look at ice cores and at tree ring information they are learning that the earth has undergone some dramatic and cataclysmic events. It will probably go through many more! If we believe that we evolved, then we are faced with a very grim future indeed. If, however, we believe in a divine creator, then my feeling is that the creator will not allow his creation to utterly self destruct. We may get close to the brink, but it will not be extinction.

    For the soul purpose of maintaining a level of sanity, I hold with the proactive divine creator theory!

    John Somers
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA

  34. 34 Reine
    April 16, 2009 at 15:34

    I wouldn’t say we’re suicidal because we know we’re killing the environment and it will eventually kill us. I just think it’s apathy! Most people know about the threats to the environment and they don’t do anything to stop it. They still contribute to these threats, but I wouldn’t call that “suicidal”, just “stupid” maybe.

  35. 35 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    April 16, 2009 at 15:41

    The very fact that humans are asking the question, “Is the human species suicidal” tells me that it is not. The greed of much of the species might lead to the end of the species (and many other life forms), but at least we are now aware of the problem and many of us are working to try to solve it.

    The first and most important thing humans can do to reduce their impact on the planet is to produce fewer humans.

    To answer but one of your many questions, yes, I fly, even though I detest everything about flying. I am Swiss-American. My daughter lives here, and I’ve remained here for her even though I am divorcing her Swiss father. My family lives in the USA and when they need me, I go. I do not fly for pleasure or business, and when traveling in Europe I always take a train. I fly only when a family member is ill or has died. As long as there are planes in the air, I’ll fly back to the States when my family there calls me to come.

  36. 36 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    April 16, 2009 at 15:42

    This bears repeating:

    The first and most important thing humans can do to reduce their impact on the planet is to produce fewer humans.

  37. 37 Ogola Benard
    April 16, 2009 at 15:44

    We care about seeing our under developed countires develop. In fact is my dream but the policies within the public sector and private sector take the developing brain offside. people are so ignorant about the right place to go to inorder to get a program or project through.The questions of who funds what still remains? what policies dont conflict and how to go about them? This is in view of private enterprises!
    I was looking at a chart showing the percentage of various african governments appreciation to local and foreign investment but most of them showed sometimes?

  38. April 16, 2009 at 15:53

    Hi gang!
    I dont like the suicidal terminology like most others. As a suicide survivor and awareness champion I find its casual use horrible. Irresponsible is a better word.

    On another point, won’t China overtake the worlds number one GHG producer spot this year (see the guardian.co.uk report from April) so I hope the entire time is not spent bashing us Americians and our excesses.

    Mandie in Cape Coral

  39. 39 Ron S. from Ft Myers Florida
    April 16, 2009 at 15:56

    I am agree with Steve-The Earth is evolving, with or without us here. I am SOOO sicj and tired of hearing people say how we are “destroying this or that”, “we are suicidal”. GET A GRIP WILL YA?!

    Let’s assume for a moment we changed everything for the climate…and still everything continued as it has. Would these “experts” STILL blame humans for its destruction? Or would they finally accept the fact that the earth has been evolving since day ONE?!

  40. April 16, 2009 at 16:13

    It is a vicious circle, no matter what we do to cut down the trend of climate change we may only succeed in reducing the trend in a small way, which means that climate change will continue regardless. The huge population growth over the past years which will continuein in future years will compound the difficulty in reducing climate change, its like a dog running in circles trying to catch its tail. An example of population explosion one will note the population of India in the 1950s was 350 million, today its more than a billion.
    In any country one can see the huge growth in the amount of cars and trucks on their roads. Unless we can find alternative sources of energy which would be economically and enviromental friendly there can be little hope to reduce climate change sufficiently.
    Organisations and people who work for the purpose of climate change are in fact in a huge industry and accordingly have their self interests in doing so.
    We explore the universe send men and machines into outer space at huge costs, when we cannot control several wars and people starving to death all over the world. There is little or no hope to eliminate or reduce climate change in the future.

  41. 41 Morf
    April 16, 2009 at 16:23

    A full bore analysis of these issues is available in the book Collapse by Jared Diamond.

    From the Amazon review : “Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, including the Anasazi of the American Southwest and the Viking colonies of Greenland, as well as modern ones such as Rwanda, have fallen apart. Not every collapse has an environmental origin, but an eco-meltdown is often the main catalyst, he argues, particularly when combined with society’s response to (or disregard for) the coming disaster.”

    Are we suicidal?

    Perhaps not as individuals, but as a collective entity we seem unable to refrain from near constant suicidal behavior. How else could we explain the enduring assaults on human life and dignity like war, slavery, abortion and drug and alcohol addiction?

  42. 42 Keith Moore
    April 16, 2009 at 16:41

    It’s just plain greed! “Money is the root of all evil”! Our leaders the so called “best and brightest” are more like the most greedy and the most stupid people on the earth! They seem to think the billions of dollors will save them from the results of climate change!

  43. 43 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 16:53


    Yes! Wind turbines are the Haute Couture (High Fashion) supermodels of the alternative energies and those tall slim beauties will eventually be loved and appreciated just like the iconic windmills of the Netherlands, Spain, etc.

  44. 44 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 17:03

    If you are interested in a history of civilizations that have grown themselves to death, and they pretty much all have, I recommend the book:

    “Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and The Transformation Of Nature” by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Oxford Historian.

  45. 45 Anthony
    April 16, 2009 at 17:13

    Has anyone ever watched an apple sitting somewhere with a little piece of mold on it? It multiplies and destroys the thing. Has anyone ever thought that maybe humans are SUPPOSED to destroy the earth, just like the mold destroyes the apple?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  46. 46 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 17:39

    Many years ago Thomas Malthus warned us about the dangers of population growth but he was countered with the idea that technology would save us, that technology would grow the food and provide everything else needed.

    I used to agree with the technology idea but now I have come to suspect that all technology has done is enable us to dig our human populations further into a hole than would have been possible without technology.

    Technology has brought us Global Warming, tech has enabled us to over-fish ocean fish populations to death, tech has enabled us to draw down our water aquifers far below sustainability, tech has brought us monoculture farming and we have only to look back to the Irish Potato Famine to see what happens when a monoculture farming system fails.

    I have come to believe that the constant demand for economic growth really ought to be seen as just like a malignant cancer growth in the human body, but economic growth is the malignant cancer in our body politic.

    Unregulated growth has always killed off the civilizations that practiced it and we ought to learn those lessons from the past.

  47. 47 Fungai
    April 16, 2009 at 17:50

    Africa always bears the brunt of other peoples actions. From Slavery, Colonialsim, Neo-colonialism, the economic crunch and know global warming is just knocking on the door of Africa. the poluting countries just turn a blind eye and pour aid to appease the powerless poor countires of Africa.

    This is just wrong, Prescribing Death for others!

  48. 48 Vijay
    April 16, 2009 at 17:56

    Get over yourself,what a hysterical response(nothing to do with you gender ,just your argument), there is climate change and there is man made climate change .
    Of course the worlds climate changes and has done quite dramatically of eons,what component human activity has on the rate of climate change is STILL A MATTER FOR DEBATE ,the book isn’t closed as far as I am concerned.

    I remember talking to an environmental Geographer in the UK who told me the only way to get funding for academic research is to say there is a problem ,there isnt an incentive for him to say everything is OK.

  49. 49 steve
    April 16, 2009 at 18:10

    This show is absolutely crazy. Humans only contribute to climate change, we don’t CAUSE it. Your guest describing the book or movie about looking back at the past and wondering why we didn’t do anything to stop climate change, is COMPLETELY misguided, becuase it’s IMPOSSIBLE to stop climate change. Climate change isn’t all dependent upon greenhouse gasses. It also has to do with our distance from the sun, the angle the sun hits the earth, sunspot activities, etc. There are so many variables, hence why the world his been both hotter and colder in the past, long before humans ever existed. Wonder why there’s oil in the middle east under desserts? Because the climate used to be different. Why are there huge freshwater lakes in the US? BEcause of climate change before people existed, the glaciers restracted because the world got warmer. This discussion is VERY Dishonest because it presumes humans cause climate change. The dinosaurs died out because of climate change, yet no humans existed either. Stop this lie! We can reduce our impact on climate change but we CANNOT STOP CLIMATE CHANGE because it’s a natural phenomenon.

  50. 50 Vic in singapore
    April 16, 2009 at 18:11

    Its amazing how greed starts with g so does green
    Its just greed and over use thats it

  51. 51 Jennifer
    April 16, 2009 at 18:14

    I DO think most humans are completly ignorant about the global crisis. We live in industrial societies, which is NEW to this world and has made a huge impact on the environment. Think of the changes in just the last 100 years! All the cars being driven, not to mention airplanes and trains. The number of factories has increased as well as the human population which contributes to human waste. I can’t believe there are people who double there is a global crisis. Where do they think all this pollution goes? Up into space?

  52. 52 Jim (USA)
    April 16, 2009 at 18:14

    Can the guests please detail to me a point in time when the climate of the earth was not changing? I understand the there is a good possibility that humans are accelerating the change, but why can’t we view the thawing of the polar regions as an opportunity for the expansion of our temperate environment? Typically, our climate spends more time in an ice age, is it not a possibility that instead of being suicidal we are actually working to prevent the onset of the next ice age? An ice age would be much more damaging than global warming. I guess I disagree with the general idea amongst most people that humans are not part of the “NATURAL” environment. We are no different than an other species on earth.

  53. 53 steve
    April 16, 2009 at 18:16

    I figured, there’s a marxist ideology behind this. The “there must be a transfer of wealth from rich to poor nations” makes this all very clear. how do you suggest this wealth transfer? Should wealth be confiscated and then shipped overseas??

    This is madness.

  54. 54 Paige in Oregon
    April 16, 2009 at 18:17

    I’ve noticed that people with certain ideologies believe there will be a coming apocalyptic judgment day. And people who follow that ideology seem unconcerned with bringing it about by polluting, having tons of kids, and being generally resistant to progress. They believe the apocalypse is coming and are doing everything in their power to make it so. (So they can win the argument and make it into heaven? Geez!)

    Of course we all need to change our footprint, but if we are going to save ourselves, those people especially need a wake up call!

  55. 55 Shane in Oregon, USA
    April 16, 2009 at 18:17

    I had a large family because religion convinced me it was the right thing to do. I now know it was wrong. I love my family, but my eyes have opened to realize that religion and population is the biggest problem, not politics.

  56. 56 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 18:18

    “Is the human species suicidal?”

    No, I don’t think so, I think that we are just too easily fooled into doing things that are ultimately bad for us.

    Some people make huge amounts of money by convincing other people to do self destructive things and when their conniving is finally exposed they are resistant to allowing people to change their ways. The Oil and Coal industries for example.

  57. 57 Dayna in Indiana
    April 16, 2009 at 18:19

    I recycle and try to live a more green lifestyle, but it seems like the Western lifestyle is hard to coincide with a greener existence. I would like to take public transportation to work, for example, but after work, I have to go to my university, and I may have to go somewhere else afterward. If the public transportation existed to keep up with what I have to do, I would use it. Yet, the transportation isn’t available, so I keep driving my car.

  58. 58 Eric
    April 16, 2009 at 18:20

    try- 7 BILLION people- – expected 2012- how is that sustainable? 7 billion! (never or rarely mentioned in Greenhouse gases discussion)

  59. 59 Melissa
    April 16, 2009 at 18:20

    We are morally disengaged. The wealthy countries are the most apathetic to these environmental problems. I live in San Francisco, one of the “greenest” cities in the country and even still I see how apathetic people are towards being green.

    It is very sad, we do seem to be a self destructive race.

  60. 60 patti in cape coral, FL
    April 16, 2009 at 18:20

    I’m not sure if climate change is caused by us or not, but because I think it is a good thing to do, I try to do my part to recycle, produce less waste, consume less, vote for officials who promise to do more for the environment, and teach my kids to do the same. When my car gives out, I will try to get a hybrid, if I can afford it. It’s disheartening to hear that this isn’t enough, because I don’t know what else I can do. Do your guests have any specific suggestions?

  61. 61 pallex
    April 16, 2009 at 18:21

    I still wonder why, if everyone is worried about climate change, are they having baby after baby after baby-give up having children its a big sacrifice but its the one thing that will make the biggest impact. The carbon footprint of each human is over the top…

  62. 62 Vijay
    April 16, 2009 at 18:24

    In India there are electric bicycles,scooters and cars as well as CNG (compressed Natural Gas)buses in New Delhi and LPG powered cars,wind farm and solar power investment. The government subsidises solar power lighting systems and water heaters.

    The Third World has the ability to leapfrog the west as far as green technology goes just as more people have mobile phone connections than landline telephone connections over here.

    Hey (David Attenborough) Population growth will take care of itself, once people become affluent,they automatically have fewer kids,it can very quickly.

  63. 63 Giselle in the Netherlands
    April 16, 2009 at 18:26

    Citizens of big-polluter nations cannot be asked to “green” their lifestyles if it means sacrificing and scaling back. It will never work. Are you going to tell every new member of China’s growing middle class that he can’t have a car or a TV or eat meat? A key solution will be for governments to provide hefty financial incentives for their dirtiest industries to produce radically cleaner technologies. I live a fairly green lifestyle (vegetarian for 17 years, using public transportation, recycling and composting vigilantly, etc.) but I will not stop flying. Instead I demand cleaner air travel and will reward the cleanest, most efficient airlines with my business.

  64. 64 Tom K in Mpls
    April 16, 2009 at 18:26

    I would like to point something out. Everyone seems to have the the belief that there is a perfect solution. All they seem to do is point out the flaws of what others are proposing. Nothing human is all good or bad. We have many imperfect options that will improve the situation to some degree. Some by postponing the problem or moving it to a more manageable area. Can we get anyone to admit to this so we can move to an ultimate success?

  65. 65 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 18:27

    I think that we ought to change our emphasis from defining a higher “standard of living” as having luxuries and consuming, to improving our “quality of life”.

    I think that we ought to change the goals of business from consumption and transfer of wealth from the workers to the wealthy, to better quality of life for all.

    We don’t need more things, we need better people!

  66. 66 Jenny
    April 16, 2009 at 18:27

    I think it’s undeniable that the climate crisis is real and requires addressing by the global community. I also think, however, that every generation thinks it is the last. Whether it’s religious war, monsters, plagues…every generation thinks that the foes of its’ day are going to be the end of life as we know it. Let’s all do our part without being overly dramatic about the fate of humanity.

  67. April 16, 2009 at 18:27

    Transfers of wealth from productive nations to under-producing nations? Access to the earth’s resources should be equal? Why does environmentalism always sound like Marxism under a green flag instead of a red flag?

    Here’s my idea for a “docu-drama”: It’s set in 2009. A man is reviewing propaganda from the 1970s population stabilization movement predicting mass famine, world wars, and a general devolution of society by the beginning of the millenium due to over population. The man looks around and sees a significantly increased world population as well as a much more widely distributed increased standard of living. The man is relieved that those who predict inevitable Armageddon, even of the humanist kind like Miss Armstrong and Miss Gillett, aren’t taken too seriously. It has a happy ending…

  68. 68 Anthony
    April 16, 2009 at 18:28

    No offense, but I may be sensing a bit of Megalomania from these women:


    I think that they’re trying to save a world from an ending that will never happen, no offense.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  69. 69 saad , Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 16, 2009 at 18:30

    The industrail world is responsible for contamination of environment. Now it is responsible of industrial world to take the world out of this crisis. If we failed to stop global warming then we will be shameful before our next generation. It is high time that we should take steps.

  70. 70 Tony from Singapura
    April 16, 2009 at 18:34

    With the current economic crisis, many companies have reduced travel budgets. This has forced increased use of videoconference technology. It has shown us that we can be equally effective over video conference as we can by traveling interstate or international.

    Hopefully after the economic recovery we can continue using videoconference in liu of travel. We certainly cant continue traveling as we have been with increasing population because the airports and skay space are already over-subscribed anyway.

  71. 71 saad , Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 16, 2009 at 18:35

    We are sucidal becasue we are indifferent to environment concerns.

  72. 72 lou okell
    April 16, 2009 at 18:35

    It is encouraging that the environment is finally being discussed so seriously on such a wide scale. My question is about electric cars:

    Are we being sold a car using our concern for the environment as a gimic?

    We bought a diesel several years ago when biofuels were a potention solution (burns cleaner, less impact to the environment) but the reality was not so rosy (questionable reduction in harmful fumes, huge negative impact to land use and food resources).

    Or Compact Fluorescent lightbulbs (which are hazardous waste when disposed of).

    I fear that the electric car will result in the same “slap in the face” – using our sincere concern for the environment to get us to buy items that may actually be worse.

  73. 73 Mona Westerberg
    April 16, 2009 at 18:35

    I dont think we are stupid, but as a species we tend to take the easy way out. Also, it is not productive to put the blame on either the west or the east. We all have to cooperate, but I suspect we need a very big jolt to get up and DO.

  74. 74 Christian
    April 16, 2009 at 18:36

    Jim has a point that we are just animals really. Animals try and make sure they have a safe place to nest and have offspring, and enough territory to find food and water etc. so their offspring survive. But he is wrong in saying we are no different from any other species. No other species would consciously do things that would destroy his main food supply (e.g. put mercury in the oceans).

  75. 75 MIGUEL (California)
    April 16, 2009 at 18:36

    Every one is talking about the electric car which to be effective requires a lot of infrastructure in the cities and consumes a lot of electricity.
    What about the nitrogen car which is in the marker I L. A. California by Honda?
    I think this is a better technology.

  76. 76 Vijay
    April 16, 2009 at 18:36

    The people who are going solve the perceived problem are scientists,engineers and geograhers

    Question ,who produces the worlds engineers? answer India and China not to mention thw worlds chemists, physicits and mathematicians.
    People in the West aren’t studying maths and the sciences even 20 years ago more than 50% of post graduate engineers in the USA were foreign.

  77. 77 Andrew in Australia
    April 16, 2009 at 18:37

    With regard to my earlier post – those AREN’T my beliefs, but a summary as I see it of how most people view the responsibilities towards this world, I was being sarcastic. And yes we do owe a responsibility to the world we live in and the other life it contains. Until we change this notion that we are somehow superior to all other forms of life and the environment that surrounds us and provides us with life for that matter, we will continue on a downward spiral until something drastic happens to us, be it population, contamination, war or overconsumption. As a wise chemistry lecturer once made the point to me (and I didn’t believe it at the time) that every civilisation has a peak and then the decline, and we have reached our peak.

  78. 78 Scott [M]
    April 16, 2009 at 18:38


    Nice heading/title and then it’s all downhill from there! You really could have talked about whether or why human life should continue in a deeper sense. Perhaps this is the natural evolution of life. Dinosaurs disappeared! Species have gone extinct without human interference. Perhaps this is natural, we should accept it and just enjoy the end.

    Perhaps humans are suicidal. It seems to be a large part of human nature. We constantly do what isn’t good for us, not just involving the environment, but in our personal lives as well. Why should we feel on a grand scale that things should be different? Why should we feel we ought to continue as a species? Sounds a bit sentimental to me.

    Realistically what is so “right” about US? Just that there is no alternative? Our cultures are a disaster. I mean really, we can’t even get rid of religion! Then we have these inane conversations trying to talk about the virtues or virtue-less cultures/religions trying to find the good in something bad. If we can’t even rid ourselves of the absolute unequivocal intellectual absurdity of religion, then we all deserve extinction. Maybe some other species can pop up that can get it right.

  79. April 16, 2009 at 18:38

    Representing The Green Village, I attended a local screening of The People’s Premiere of The Age of Stupid and was moved both by its message and the discussions at the live streaming following the premiere.

    Particularly striking was that The Maldives made their commitment to become the first carbon neutral country, and with a world filled with richer countries with more resources at hand, we wonder whether more developed countries should be embarrassed by the meagre attempts that their governments make towards serious action to combat climate change.

    Of course people should continue to do their bit, because lots of little actions should add together to make a bigger difference, but the big decisions always lie with the people in power, both governments and business corporations. Should they not be doing more?

  80. 80 Paige in Oregon
    April 16, 2009 at 18:39

    I would love to have kids someday but I refuse. People like the Duggar family who have 18 kids now, and growing, are taking away my ability to procreate. And the very fact that people who don’t realize they’re damaging the planet are the ones that are reproducing, means that each generation will get more and more destructive if they adhere to their given family values.

    Give me a chance to procreate, and keep your families down to 2 or 3 please!!

  81. April 16, 2009 at 18:40

    I’m interested in if the film contains a climate change denier character?

    This is still obviously a large barrier to action in the United States and I’m interested to know if the filmmaker tackles this idea.

  82. 82 Tony from Singapura
    April 16, 2009 at 18:42

    On the subject of population reduction, we need to think about and plan for economic effects of population aging.

    By reducing our reproductive rate, we will end up with a higher ratio of depedant (aged) to productive people.

    I agree with population reduction , it fits with my nature conservation oppinions, I say we need to do some critical thinking on how to organize ourselves socialy,politically and economically.

  83. 83 patti in cape coral, FL
    April 16, 2009 at 18:44

    p.s. I also limited myself to two kids, and my 19-year-old daughter is delaying having children, and my autistic son is not likely to have children. I am open to more suggestions as to what more can the average person do…

  84. 84 steve
    April 16, 2009 at 18:44

    You’re also stating as fact that humans cause climate change. You’re not allowing any commentary on the fact that the climate has change before humans even existed. Is anyone allowed to challenge their presumptions that only humans cause climate change and that it doesn’t happen naturally?

  85. 85 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 18:45

    I am confident that we humans can get together and mobilize ourselves to try and stop and reverse this climate change crisis.

    I was amazed when the US went to the moon, that all over the world the people said “we did it”, not “the US did” it but we the people of the world did it! When the time comes people join together and help each other out!

    I think that we can all get together and try to fix the problems we have now and we just need to tell our leaders to “lead, follow, or get out of the way”!

  86. 86 A.J.
    April 16, 2009 at 18:46

    Having grown-up in Oregon, I was made keenly aware, at a very early age, of environmental concerns effecting our world. My personal concerns were so great that I decided as a pre-teen that I would not bring children into a world that was clearly on it’s way to self-destruction and over-population. Now on the cusp of fifty I am even more sure of my decision. The clock on the environmental time bomb that is attached to our planet is not slowing down but instead speeding-up at an alarming pace. Some would say, “Well, perhaps it would be YOUR children that would find the solutions to these problems”. I say, there are plenty of people and too many children living in deplorable conditions around the world. Instead of continuing to have four, six, eight children, how about adopting some of the kids who need good homes and are suffering. I fear it’s becoming too late for our little blue marble. If the people already populating earth can’t find the answers, we’re already doomed.

  87. 87 Bert
    April 16, 2009 at 18:47

    I’m with Patti from Cape Coral. It’s not so hard to live a “greener” lifestyle, if only everyone would realize it comes at some cost. Often, the cost is a little incovenience. That’s usually enough to dissuade people. The “talkers,” as opposed to “doers.” The vast majority of people, including those who consider themselves aware.

    But by the way, I’m far from convinced that human CO2 production has anything to do with climate change. And I’m amazed at how people just accept this mantra, without question.

    The Al Gores of the world have one simple question to answer: what fraction of CO2 in the ecosystem is generated by all human activity combined? If the answer is tiny, on the order of 3 percent, then how can we keep harping on CO2?

  88. 88 Charley
    April 16, 2009 at 18:47

    As a American, I see here in the states a certain blindness on both the Right & the Left

    On the Right, We have both secular people in total denial (“climate change is a myth”) and religious people who think that climate change may be good, as it will bring on Armageddon and hence the “Second Coming”. The believers will be saved and nothing else matters.

    On the Left, the debates over climate change totally avoid population control as an issue. Fertility rates vary widely in the USA by race and ethnicity, so any discussion of limiting families triggers charges of Racism.

    I’m “child-free” and live alone, so I am condemned by the Right for shirking my “duty” to have children; and by the Left for living alone with no “credit” given for saving the planet those 25 tons of Carbon per year per child in America.

    I decided in 1973 (at age 14) that I didn’t want to bring a child into a “dying world”, and current trends are validating my decision.

  89. 89 knut
    April 16, 2009 at 18:47

    We should give up, there is no hope.
    Lie down and die

  90. April 16, 2009 at 18:47

    Rewrite the economic system! Aha! I’m comforted that Miss Armstrong and Miss Gillett have now stated their true intentions. It’s no longer Marxism dressed in green. It’s just Marxism. Now, that’s species suicide.

  91. 91 Andrew in Australia
    April 16, 2009 at 18:49

    I am not surprised Steve is a skeptic. After all it is to be expected from that side of the planet.

    So we might, probably, could, maybe be a cause. Well yes we are. Think of it, and it is tiresome how they bring the old chestnut of climate in the past. It is not the past anymore and with a stable orbit and sun what other factors are influencing CC?

    Think just one thing – Easter Island and how it was a lush forested land until man turned it into what it is today and how the population destroyed itself. Extrapolate that to the globe and it is just the same thing on a larger scale. Man cant influence the climate. Let’s see, the Amazon was a huge forest but look at imagery of that area and you see how it is now denuded. Who did that? Man did. When you see ancient sites in the Mid East and wonder how did those civilisations live in the middle of the desert. Well, before they were deserts they had water and flora until mam turned them into deserts. Just as we can make (with great effort) some parts of the desert bloom we can utterly devastate vast tracts of land. You remove the tree cover, you change the regional climate, you remove animal life, you kill off an area.

    Still don’t believe me? Lock yourself in an airtight room and think that you as a biological organism can’t change your environment. Think you wont suffocate yourself? What is the Earth if not a larger room. OH and did I fail to mention one other little fact?? How did we get such an oxygen rich atmosphere to breath and push through our vocal cords making denial sounds… microscopic organisms long ago turned the toxic skies into breathable air. Something as small as a bacteria can create an entire atmosphere – there is your proof that we can do much worse.

  92. 92 Trenton
    April 16, 2009 at 18:50

    I’m from the US and I do think the problem can be resolved, but only if the various governments exhibit the proper political will and impose the types of environmental regulations required to begin reducing pollution. The United States is certainly culpable for many of the environment issues being experienced around the world and we make a convenient target. However, the US cannot resolve climate change in isolation. For example, the US has outsourced much of its manufacturing to China. China has gladly accepted this industry with its financial benefit without taking responsibility for the pollution its antiquated factories produce. China hasn’t imposed environmental regulations on its factories because it doesn’t want to lose the financial benefit of producing cheap products. There has to be regulation all around and sanctions will have to be imposed against those countries that refuse to meet them.

    As an aside, there is no chicken and egg paradox. Birds (i.e. chickens) evolved from Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs laid eggs, which means the egg came first.

  93. 93 DaveW in Montreal
    April 16, 2009 at 18:50

    I wouldn’t say suicidal – I would say greedy, self-indulgent, and in a state of denial!

    We also have two serious impediments to progress in the necessary direction to establish a sustainable civilization on a global scale:

    1) Our (democratic) political system is not appropriate to make the aggressive moves needed – politicians are not leaders – they are followers – they follow the polls, and will only *RE-ACT* to public outcry – the will not *ACT* to impose needed reform.

    2) Our economic system is not well adapted to the needed adjustments required – to *REDUCE* our consumption – which means reducing production – which means a serious blow to an economic system based entirely on continuous growth.

    We can not expect decisive action from either political figures, or leaders in business.

  94. 94 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 18:51

    This is a “War Effort”, we just have not mobilized yet!

  95. 95 Jay Trolinger
    April 16, 2009 at 18:52

    I’m tired of hearing people say that we need to find a way to make climate change profitable to get things started. Is continued survival not a valuable commodity?

  96. 96 Jeremy
    April 16, 2009 at 18:52

    From my view, the issue of addressing global warming is drawn against generational lines. I make daily choices to live a lower impact live; living in a dense downtown, not driving a car and using only renewable energy in my home. My parents live in suburbs, have multi-car homes, and would rather save money by burning coal. I’m 27 years old and soon to be married, I want to have a world to pass on to my children.

  97. 97 Kelley Roy
    April 16, 2009 at 18:53

    are there any economic models not based on consumerism. this seems to be the big problem. the only relationship we have with others in the world is buy stuff from each other

  98. 98 Jenny
    April 16, 2009 at 18:53

    Carbon rations? Seriously? This is exactly what turns people off of any further progress towards rectifying climate change. The answer can’t be total sacrifice, spartan lifestyles, everyone give up your technology, your lifestyle and live carbon neutral off the land. This type of suggestion only adds to divisiveness between the green movement and the rest of the world.

    Too many people in the world fight and die for their freedom to be told what they can or can’t buy or do in this way.

  99. 99 Tom D Ford
    April 16, 2009 at 18:55

    “Is the human species suicidal?”

    That is just blaming the victims. Most humans are not, but some people are willing to kill off humans to make money and the killers need to be stopped.

  100. April 16, 2009 at 18:56

    The species isn’t suicidal. But we are ‘big-picture-stupid’.

    Large numbers have no meaning to us. Therefore we can’t make rational choices that involve long term projections, large numbers of people, things that happen too slowly or too fast, or extraordinary probabilities.

    This means something like climate change will not be intuitively believable, despite rationality. We will also not be able to coordinate our actions with every other member (or any more than maybe maybe a two-dozen members) of our species.

    In tiny groups, and in the short term, we are actually quite intelligent.

  101. April 16, 2009 at 18:57

    There seem to be a lot of climate naysayers that think the issue of climate change is just a ruse, ie. “Marxism under a green flag instead of a red flag” (@Chad). This is blatantly disingenuous because it pretends that the “green” movement has a defined center and a single motive. This simplifying of the “green movement” is merely a political tactic by those interests that ARE actually centralized and have a similar motive, ie. the accumulation of wealth via expanded industry. Follow the money, please.

    There are many different ideas being discussed and it seems that a good part of them are market-based solutions, and another part consists of public-private partnerships. The filmmaker obviously has her own ideas on the solutions but no single person can speak for the mass of climate change ideas that are under discussions right now.

  102. 102 Lindsay Jaroch
    April 16, 2009 at 18:58

    I don’t see the huge deal about flying. Yes it’s bad for the environment but a plane flying to California today is still going to take off whether I’m on it or not. And like callers have said, people all over the world are going to continue to fly even if I don’t. I don’t buy the fact that if you ever fly you might as well never recycle or do any other thing that could save energy. What ever happened to every little bit helping?

  103. 103 Fred in Portland OR
    April 16, 2009 at 19:00

    So, it’s hard to be green. I keep my house cool, recycle, compost, bike to work, bike to go shopping, bike to go camping (my holiday). I haven’t flown in years, i use low energy light bulbs, cut down on plastic, don’t drink bottled water, use canvas shopping bags and do the best i can, but I also don’t have enough money to insulate my house , buy better windows, maybe buy a hybrid for the times i need to drive or convert my old 70 beetle to electric! What more can i do, aside from laugh at people stuck in traffic and dumping good money into their gas tanks?

  104. 104 Julia
    April 16, 2009 at 19:01

    THANK YOU for pointing out how bad flying for travel is. I can’t stand celebrities who speak out constantly about all their “green” beliefs and advocate for saving the planet, preventing climate change, etc. when they are the WORST when it comes to travel, flying on a weekly basis, far more than the average person!

  105. 105 Scott [M]
    April 16, 2009 at 19:03

    We don’t even know why we are here (as human beings). How can we possibly propose that we should stay here. That human life shouldn’t come to an end. Eh?

  106. 106 al
    April 16, 2009 at 19:05

    I find it encouraging that the subject of climate change is so widely discussed with thoughtfulness and passion. Such talk can lead to useful actions that will preserve life for future generations. It is interesting that some would show limited views of the problem (perhaps difficult for the most aware and informed of us to fathom) and allow the argument to prevail over understanding. It may be useful for us all to know that this is a visceral issue, not an intellectual one. In other words, this is a matter of survival. We all must act in ways that mitigate a problem that may be beyond our ability to fix. We must begin from where we are to make the most of our personal resources for the effect of human survival and the survival of a vital ecosystem. We have a unique situation. We live in the open air on a planet exposed to a variety of pernicious influences. Nowhere else is there such a situation for us (within our awareness let alone our reach). Those who would not act in a way to promote the vitality of our ecosystem may be weak elements that nature will cull from the species. Like lemmings many may commit a type of suicide. Excessive thinking is an opiate that eases ones passing. The time is long passed for action. Ask yourself, if you are not acting towards your own well being, what are you doing? Those who are not acting with vital intent shall make room for those who are. I find myself attracted to those who act for survival and well being.

  107. 107 Sia Young
    April 16, 2009 at 19:14

    Hi my name is Sia Young from a Highschool student from Ohio. My family and I would like to say we are very environmentally aware. And I watched the trailer from the movie and I will go and see it . But I think you are discouraging people from the small things that they can do by scaring them and telling them if they fly there is no point to recycle and all the other little things that they can do to improve the world. I have done numerous reports and projects that try to persuade my peers to do the little things to help.I feel if they heard your theory they would not so the small things to help. Because the smallest things can help.

  108. 108 Rachael
    April 16, 2009 at 19:38

    Working class people in the U.S. are faced by many enormous problems, raising unemployment, lack of health care, the economy and global climate change. As a community organizer I have talked to thousands of Americans about these issues and for many people climate change is the least of their concerns right now. Millions of Americans are facing job loss, medical bankruptcy , and are watching their retirement savings disappear. There is a hierarchy of priorities at work here. If our two headed one party government is actually concerned with reducing our carbon output than they would immediately implement health care reform and take crippling financial burden off of individuals and business. Then average American’s would be able to take a deep breath, look at the bigger picture of our impact on the very real and desperate situation of climate change, and feel empower to do something about it.

  109. April 16, 2009 at 19:56

    What a silly and self-righteous pair these women are.

    People are starving, there are wars in the Middle East that just keep burning, half the women in the world are treated like objects, and these two gals are jumping up and down that THE WHOLE WORLD must unite and act like they think we should?

    Global warming is an absurd bugaboo.

  110. April 16, 2009 at 21:11

    Mankind are prey animals. Prey never plan ahead. Prey expend all their energy on not being caught. Why plan for the future when a lion might get you tomorrow. That is the way our brain is wired.

  111. 111 Jennifer
    April 16, 2009 at 21:37

    Re:Are you not having a child because you fear for the future?

    I would not say that I am putting off having a child because I fear the future but there are some things that really concern me. I think as a society; we are regressing. We have lost all sense of morals and values. It disturbs me greatly that I may bring children into a world that is growing more rampant with violence and persecution. It bothers me that we live in a world where the answer to getting out of a bind is spending, spending, and we focus more on being at one with trees than real issues. We are focusing more on “families” that are not really families in the true sense. It bothers me that I may have children that live to see the day when we have an Islamic president in the U.S. My children would then be forced to convert or face persecution like many Christians do all over the world every day at the hands of……I have talked with friends in GB who say so much has changed in such a short time there.

    Do you feel like it’s too late? The Age of Stupid says we have until 2015 to take effective action. Do you despair of meeting any of the targets being talked about? Does that motivate or demotivate you?

    Hope for the future motivates me! Things only get bad if you let them. Hey, there is always 2012! 🙂

  112. 112 Bert
    April 16, 2009 at 22:08

    Have you noticed how several people find it imperative that we all ACT, even if we aren’t sure what to act ON? It’s almost comical.

    The good news is, I am fairly certain that reducing CO2 emissions cannot hurt. At the very least, it will conserve non-renewable resources. And heaven only knows, people are wasteful beyond what should be tolerated.

    This exemplifies what I’m talking about:

    “It may be useful for us all to know that this is a visceral issue, not an intellectual one. In other words, this is a matter of survival. We all must act in ways that mitigate a problem that may be beyond our ability to fix.”

    Sort of a “come to Jesus” moment, it sounds like.

  113. 113 GEOLATO
    April 16, 2009 at 22:54

    It is shameful that the BBC allowed these two girls to hijack the program to whip up hysteria, and preach catastrophe, catastrophe etc. Their whole purpose was to promote their ‘stupid’ film and to then happily run all the way to the bank with the profits. There was not even a hint of objectivity.

    If there is indeed climate change happening, whether due to human activity or otherwise, then it will run its course. Even if it is due to high CO2_ and please remember that the so called science is far from proven ( in a strict scientific sense ), even then it will take a couple of hundred years to turn the ship around; even if places like America, China, India, Europe etc. stopped all emissions today! Realistically, can you see that happening? Or anything close?

    Adaptation is the keyword, not panic and hysteria.

  114. 114 Sia Young
    April 17, 2009 at 00:10

    I totally disagree with Mr. “King David”. I believe these women are pushing the population of the world to think about what they are doing and what the consequences for there actions might be! I under stand that the world is going through some tough times, but that does not mean we sould turn a blind eye to bigger things that could effect the next generations greatly! And I am sorry that “King David” thinks Global Warming is a “bugaboo”.

  115. 115 Neil
    April 17, 2009 at 00:43

    Ms Frannie Armstrong is I am sorry to say as stupid as one can get. Educating women has never put a cut in the population. I will challenge her to give one solid example where or when that happened. Don’t get me wrong I am not against women’s education, but i would appreciate when so called “Experts” give their opinions, they should be able to back it up with some figures or evidence. The moderator should not let people get away with lunatic remarks.

    But staying with the topic of discussion, humans like other species will bring about its own down fall. It is a natural as the earth revolving around the sun. Need I remind all of the petri dish experiment? Unless humans are able to find/explore more resources of all kinds, probably a new planet they are going to be extinct. Why is it such a big shock for people who believe themselves to be of a “scientific mindset”? Most species which have existed on the face of this earth are extinct. Why should humans be an exception?

  116. 116 Rick
    April 17, 2009 at 05:41

    David Attenborough recently came out and admitted that there are too many people.

    What took him so long?

  117. 117 John Hoehn
    April 17, 2009 at 07:32

    Dinosaurs did not commit suicide, but of something related to climate change.
    I hope and trust that we and our children can use our brains better than them in order to survive into the future

  118. 118 John Hoehn
    April 17, 2009 at 09:47

    I think we are cleverer than Dinosaurs.
    They did not die because they committed suicide, but because it was related to a climate change.
    Let’s hope we can use our brains to get out of this problem.

  119. April 17, 2009 at 11:57

    Kind David is right to point to starvation, wars and injustice as some other global problems, but wrong to dismiss action on the global problem of climate change. The bugaboo is the suicidal self-deception that allows us to ignore some problems and tinker with others. The bugaboo is our inclination for narrow thinking and our disinclination to attempt thinking on the scale of the problems. Einstein put it perfectly when he suggested we cannot solve today’s problems with the same thinking that causes them. The paradox is that the easy narrow thinking makes things increasingly difficult for everyone. If we want to hang around on this planet our challenge is to challenge our habits of thought. This is the hard part. Thinking about problems joined up not in rigid boxes. Reversing problems not just improving them. Helping everyone to help each other. Beyond these attitudes of thought the technical solutions are fairly simple (though not the ones commonly promoted).

    Here’s a link to published research showing how to reverse multiple global problems with little fuss. http://books.google.com/books?id=vnq5eBNf5-oC&pg=PA139

  120. 120 Lynn
    April 17, 2009 at 13:28

    I was born in 1948, married in 1970, and had our only child in 1980. To limit ourselves to one child was a conscious decision, one made for many reasons, chief among them our Planet’s resources and our personal contributions to the depletion of same.

    Over the course of my lifetime, it has become increasingly evident to me that mankind has not learned any lessons from it’s own history and is doomed to repeat the same mistakes that toppled previous civilizations. Do I fear for the future of humankind? Yes, definitely so. Do I think we as a species will survive? Yes, those who are forward thinking and able to adapt to the natural evolution of our planet will manage to evolve with it.

    As for the big “politically correct” and dare I say, “fashionable” focus on climate change, I find the whole debate bogus. Arguing over causes, and solutions does nothing to address humankind’s need to adapt to what seems to me is our Planet’s normal fluctuations and evolution. As more than one contributor has pointed out, when has the Earth’s climate NOT been changing?

    Finally, I’d like to know what years the makers of “The Age of Stupidity” think this “Age” spans. Personally, I fail to see when humankind as a general rule was “Smart” in the sense that these filmmakers are examining us as a species.

  121. 121 steve
    April 17, 2009 at 13:32

    @ Andrew

    Do you really expect me to believe that climate change only happens because of humans? That makes perfect sense if you ignore all the geological evidence that climate change has always been going on, for billions of years, most of which, humans didn’t even exist during…. Let’s just ignore all the massive fresh water lakes and how they were formed and hysterically shout “humans cause climate change!”.

  122. 122 steve
    April 17, 2009 at 13:35

    I agree with geolato, this was one of the most biased and one sided episodes of WHYS ever. Nobody was allowed to challenge their presumption that humans cause climate change, completely ignoring the fact that climate change has always happened. Remember the meteor that caused the extinction of dinasaurs? That’s climate change. The earth cooled down, blocked the sun, causing plants to die, (which releases CO2) which caused dinausaurs to die… There were also ice ages in the past. We just recently came out of the “little ice age”.. But if you want to be one sided, continue to not allow a debate. No doubt the climate is changing, but hysterically blaming it all on humans, and ignoring that it naturally happens, is being dishonest with the public.

  123. 123 Heather
    April 17, 2009 at 15:43

    The changes the WHYS guests were speaking of seemed very dramatic. I, as many of you, agree that we (human species) need to make a change in our daily lives in order to accommodate the environment. Like any social change that we begin to “fight” for, time becomes an essential component for it to take place.
    I am appreciative of our guests passion toward improving the environment, it seems as though guilt-tripping the livelihood of others is creating more bitterness toward the topic rather than effectively promoting the social and environmental changes that are needed to take place.

  124. 124 al
    April 17, 2009 at 17:38

    Bert, Funny how you see and miss the point all in one fell swoop. I’m happy that you can identify at least one thing you can do today to help our survival (cutting CO2 emissions). Sorry that you have to identify religion with this, although, perhaps that’s useful for many. Folks like Al Gore and his wife Tipper find religious fervor helpful in accomplishing their personal agenda, so it might not be worth discounting out of hand if applicable to a universal agenda. Like it or not, certain facts remain pressing. We as a species are in peril. Other species are also in peril. We have the awareness to do something about it. It would be irresponsible not to use the tools we have to rise to the challenges presented to us regardless of source or cause. Such lack of initiative precipitates death. It is a type of natural selection. Personally, I have more faith in the courage and compassion of our species than the makers of “The Age of Stupid” seem to. I welcome frank discussion with others of like mind. Bert, feel free to e-mail me on this and related subjects @ algalbiomass@gmail.com Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis.

  125. 125 James
    April 17, 2009 at 18:46

    @ Lynn

    That is amazing that you are interested in only producing one offspring knowing that it will take at least 2 offspring to replace you and your husband after your gone. I don’t know about anyone else but I want my kind to survive long after I’m gone. If the planet can’t accomodate my genes then I guess I have people like you to thank for giving me the room to continue to produce. Thanks Lynn.

  126. 126 di_laughing
    April 18, 2009 at 00:37

    Neil said

    It’s an interesting and complex subject, Neil, but there is plenty of evidence to show a negative correlation between women’s education and fertility rates. It is so well documented that I find it surprising that you didn’t learn about it in geography at school.
    Here is a reasonable summary, with graphs

    Here is one example study , where the author proposes some of the mechanisms at work in one developing country.

    It’s not at all straight forward, there are all the complex effects of women going out to work, and of increasing wealth and industrialisation, see for example this comprehensive article in Wikipedia, on the Demographic Transition model

    And this is a summary from the Science Summit on World Population in Dehli 1993

    “High fertility rates have historically been strongly correlated with poverty, high childhood mortality rates, low status and educational levels of women, deficiencies in reproductive health services, and inadequate availability and acceptance of contraceptives. Falling fertility rates and the demographic transition are generally associated with improved standards of living, such as increased per capita incomes, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, increased adult literacy, and higher rates of female education and employment.”

    I hope this helps. Please remember that the world is full of figures and evidence, it is the use you make of them that is most important. I am very glad to hear you are not against women’s education, that is very good to know, I hope that the women in your life appreciate this. 🙂

    A female demographer

  127. 127 di_laughing
    April 18, 2009 at 00:39

    Thi is what Neil said….
    Ms Frannie Armstrong is I am sorry to say as stupid as one can get. Educating women has never put a cut in the population. I will challenge her to give one solid example where or when that happened. Don’t get me wrong I am not against women’s education, but i would appreciate when so called “Experts” give their opinions, they should be able to back it up with some figures or evidence. The moderator should not let people get away with lunatic remarks.”

  128. 128 jillian
    April 18, 2009 at 01:35

    It seems to me that whether climate change is caused by humanity’s careless use of the planet’s resources or a natural climatic change is irrelevant. It’s happening and we are helping it along. If the population continues to increase at it’s current rate the planet will cull our species catastrophically, by starvation, disease, drought, flooding or worse. Refugees will crowd to the remaining more temporate zones making life in the already overcrowded cities intolerable. It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to write the next chapter but I do wonder whether our species is capable of thinking the unthinkable.

  129. 129 Jeff Minter
    April 20, 2009 at 17:50

    The reason why the West was, and shall always be, made guilty of climate change is because since the Industrial Revolutions, it is those countries that have emitted all the pollutants.

    A caller who pushed the blame on China and India based on population – well, they weren’t the countries living the developed lifestyle for centuries. His excuse seemed to be that because he and his ancestors had gotten used to the western lifestyle for ages, they shouldn’t have to alter it…implying that developing populations should take the hit for improving themselves just so they can stay where they are in the lifestyle ladder.

    But then, are they not entitled to the same rights that he and the millions of Westerners have had for centuries?

    The female guest had it right; x amount of CO2 emissions per person, regardless of who or where you are.

  130. 130 CH
    July 31, 2009 at 12:51

    I do think humans are suicidal. I’ve come to believe that the degree of neural reflexivity (known as “consciousness”) that has evolved in the human brain creates so much feedback that the organism cannot survive. Our “thinking” has become too abstract. We have philosophy and MSG and God and surgery and icons. We build crazy networks that look like our crazy brains, like virtual reality communities, capitalist markets, and highways. We are the end of the line for the consciousness experiment (life) on this planet – for now, at least.

  131. 131 Elias
    July 31, 2009 at 18:36

    Whatever we do will not be good enough, it will only slow the direction in the future, with regard to global warming.
    Human beings who may be suicidal is a result of of becoming destitute, such as starvation, desease not being able to cope financially or other inflictions they suffer from. Billions are spent on space research, yet nothing much can be done to stop the many wars all over the world, or feed the starving men, women and children who die from the lack of food.
    The key to the many industries that have gone bankcrupt is the simple reason that China because of its very low exchange rates and labour costs, unfairly manufacture and exports their goods on the world markets. One can go shopping to stores like Wallmart or anywher else. they will find around 90% of the goods on sale is made in China, resulting in the high increase in unemployment. Many companies are having their branded names exported to China because of the much cheaper costs in producing their goods which includes their transportation costs.
    Humans are always too late to respond to immediate threats.

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