• Phil Tanny
    This post was inspired by an article on the American Philosophical Association blog by professor Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin. His article is entitled How Climate Change Threatens Meaning in Life.


    Can I suggest a companion article?

    How Nuclear Weapons Threaten Meaning in Life

    Such an article can also address the psychological shockwave referenced in Mitchell-Yellin's article.

    To tie the two threats together we should consider that the use nuclear weapons could very well be the end game of a failure to manage climate change.

    Long before our lives are substantially changed by climate change, and certainly before human extinction, we're going to see geo-political instability.


    No major world power is going to simply lie down and die as it's ability to serve it's population, and thus stay in power, is threatened by climate change driven threats like mass migration, agriculture failures, cascading natural calamities and so on. All these pressures will destabilize the global power structures and bring nation states in to conflict with one another in ways that are impossible to predict today.

    Climate change and nuclear weapons are not two different issues. Both of these threats arise from the same source, our outdated "more is better" relationship with knowledge.

    If we could wave a magic wand and get rid of both climate change and nuclear weapons today, an ever accelerating knowledge explosion will continue to generate new existential threats tomorrow. As just one example, the migration of genetic engineering technologies like CRISPR out of the professional class and in to the broader public, where effective governance of such game changing technologies will become impossible.

    The fate of modern civilization at least, and perhaps humanity as well, will be decided by how we manage our relationship with knowledge in this century. This century is already 20% over, we don't have unlimited time to bring our attention to the deciding factor. Who could possibly be a better group of people to focus on that fundamental relationship with knowledge than philosophers?


    Nuclear weapons have so much to teach us about ourselves. The problem is that most of what they have to say to us is not very flattering. They can for example teach us that we don't really care about each other and our children anywhere near as much as we like to believe. And they can teach us that human beings typically don't really learn by reason, but through pain.

    The current generation in power in the ivory tower doesn't understand any of this, and probably never will. And those who will now try to tell us otherwise should start by showing us their articles on nuclear weapons.

    The failures of the current intellectual generation in charge creates an opportunity for younger 21st century philosophers to push the 20th century philosophers aside and take over leadership of the field. This is how nature works, the young and strong take over from the old and weak.

    It's your world now early career philosophers, you had best grab it, while there is still time. If you wait for the old people "experts" to fix this for you, you are doomed.
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