World-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky joined Shippensburg University via Skype to discuss the major threats to our planet's future and human existence.
The Sociology and Anthropology department arranged the lecture, “The End of Humanity?” held on Monday, March 26, in SU’s Old Main Chapel which was open to all students and faculty.
Chomsky started the lecture by considering the first major threat being world peace and the increasing number of nuclear threats. He cited an international poll conducted by Gallup to determine which country was the biggest threat to world peace.
“The answer was the U.S., by a huge margin,” Chomsky said. “The question was never asked again.”
Chomsky also discussed the Doomsday Clock and the fact that it is creeping closer to midnight. The Doomsday Clock represents the probability of a man-made global catastrophe.
The first time the clock was published in 1947, it read seven minutes to midnight. In recent years, it has crept closer and currently sits at two minutes, the closest it has ever been to midnight.
The only other time it was this close was in 1953, the age of nuclear weapons. Chomsky believes, due to recent appointment of political positions, such as the National Security Advisor, specific actions can lead to horrendous consequences.
“Under any circumstances, particularly so, not because the consequences would be horrendous, but because there are clearer options,” Chomsky stated.
Chomsky’s second existential threat is global climate change. He discussed the expanding use of fossil fuels and other unprecedented changes will lead to severe ecological destruction. Even slightly warmer temperatures can accelerate the melting of ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost.
“It will also accelerate other margins like the rapid melting of the polar ice caps, it’s happening right now,” Chomsky said. “In West Antarctica alone contains enough ice to raise sea levels by ten feet.”
Chomsky brings up the question of ‘how are we reacting to this’? While many US states have taken some action, the federal government has the most power to make changes.
Chomsky refers to the lack of action taken by the federal government as outrageous.
“It should be a screaming headline on every newspaper,” Chomsky stated. “There’s been nothing like it in human history.”
Chomsky believes the U.S. withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and increasing the use of destructive fossil fuels and greenhouse gases, is a huge step backwards.
Multiple companies determined global climate change is a serious problem. Chomsky specifically discussed one of the companies, ExxonMobil, and the company’s continuous use of fossil fuels.
Towards the end of Chomsky’s lecture, he states this is a real problem and there is no case for global climate change deniers. Chomsky believes that without action, the human race is at the beginning of the end.
“Conscious decisions are driving the human race to disaster,” said Chomsky.