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Reblogged:Unintentional Irony in 'Great Filter' Piece

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A short post at Big Think speculates on why we haven't found any evidence of other intelligent life in the universe, ending as follows:
filter.jpg
Image by Jacek, via Unsplash, license.
These possibilities assume that the Great Filter is behind us -- that humanity is a lucky species that overcame a hurdle almost all other life fails to pass. This might not be the case, however; life might evolve to our level all the time but get wiped out by some unknowable catastrophe. Discovering nuclear power is a likely event for any advanced society, but it also has the potential to destroy such a society. Utilizing a planet's resources to build an advanced civilization also destroys the planet: the current process of climate change serves as an example. Or, it could be something entirely unknown, a major threat that we can't see and won't see until it's too late. [bold added]
For most who read the article, the specter of humanity destroying its home will indeed seem like a good example of this Great Filter at work. Leave it in the ground! Now! they might even exclaim.

But what if the opposite is true?

Those who fear a climate change apocalypse would have us "leave it in the ground" sooner rather than later, often failing to consider (or outright wishing away) the problem of how we would survive without cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy. For example, many if not most anti-fossil fuel activists also oppose nuclear power, which is the only energy technology remotely close to being ready to replace fossil fuels as an energy source.

But it's worse than that: There is bad thinking behind climate change catastrophism, and that's what is leading our headlong rush into outlawing the energy sources we currently need to survive.

Energy advocate Alex Epstein wrote about this back in early 2016:
Those who believe in the ideal of human nonimpact tend to endow nature with godlike status, as an entity that nurtures us if only we will live in harmony with the other species and not demand so much for ourselves.

But nature gives us very few directly usable machine energy resources. Resources are not taken from nature, but created from nature. What applies to the raw materials of coal, oil and gas also applies to every raw material in nature -- they are all potential resources, with unlimited potential to be rendered valuable by the human mind.

Ultimately, a resource is just matter and energy transformed via human ingenuity to meet human needs. Well, the planet we live on is 100% matter and energy, 100% potential resource for energy and anything else we would want. To say we've only scratched the surface is to significantly understate how little of this planet's potential we've unlocked. We already know that we have enough of a combination of fossil fuels and nuclear power to last thousands and thousands of years, and by then, hopefully, we'll have fusion (a potential, far superior form of nuclear power) or even some hyper-efficient form of solar power.

The amount of raw matter and energy on this planet is so incomprehensibly vast that it is nonsensical to speculate about running out of it. Telling us that there is only so much matter and energy to create resources from is like telling us that there is only so much galaxy to visit for the first time. True, but irrelevant. [bold added]
So much for the old, tired idea of resource depletion.

As for climate change, Epstein argues elsewhere, chiefly in The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels that the ill effects of climate change are wildly exaggerated and some beneficial effects are ignored altogether -- along with many compelling arguments in favor of continuing and increasing fossil fuel use, at least for the immediate future.

So, returning to the idea of an intelligent species succumbing to an as yet unseen threat: It might behoove any global warming catastrophist who cherishes his own life -- and who isn't hoping, as David Graber does, "for the right virus to come along" -- to consider the following idea: Might global warming alarmism be wrong? And might implementing the policies allegedly required to save the world in fact be a "great filter?"

Might our intelligent species be on the verge of snuffing itself out by acting precipitously to prevent what another author might rightly call a "fake invisible catastrophe?"

-- CAV

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