Noam Chomsky on human extinction: The corporate elite are actively courting disaster
Climate change poses an imminent threat to human life, said political philosopher Noam Chomsky – and humans are drawing their own doom ever closer.
“This is the first time in human history that we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for decent survival, (and) it is already happening,” Chomsky told journalist Chris Hedges,
Chomsky said species destruction had reached the same level as 65 million years ago – when an asteroid hit the earth, ending the period of dinosaurs and wiping up many other species.
“It is the same level today, and we are the asteroid,” he said. “If anyone could see us from outer space they would be astonished.” The noted linguist said some sectors of the global population – such
as the First Nations in Canada, aboriginals in Australia, and tribal people in India – had tried to slow the march to catastrophe, while others were actively courting disaster.
“Who is accelerating it?” Chomsky said. “The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.”
He compared this phenomenon to a theory by Ernst Mayr, a 20th-century evolutionary biologist who speculated humans would never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms quickly force themselves into extinction.
“Mayr argued that the adaptive value of what is called ‘higher intelligence’ is very low,” Chomsky said. “Beetles and bacteria are much more adaptive than humans. We will find out if it is better to be smart than stupid. We may be a biological error, using the 100,000 years which Mayr gives [as] the life expectancy of a species to destroy ourselves and many other life forms on the planet.”
But Chomsky remained hopeful that the corporate elite could be
overthrown before they bring on environmental disaster, citing
historical examples of mass movements that returned power to autonomous
“In the 1920s the labor movement had been practically destroyed,” he
said. “This had been a very militant labor movement. In the 1930s it
changed, and it changed because of popular activism. There were
circumstances [the Great Depression] that led to the opportunity to do
something. We are living with that constantly. Take the last 30 years.
For a majority of the population it has been stagnation or worse. It is
not the deep Depression, but it is a semi-permanent depression for most
of the population. There is plenty of kindling out there that can be
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