How long do you think we humans have? This is the opening question in Michael Moore’s new movie, “Planet of the Humans,” free to watch on YouTube for a month.
He makes some really critical points.
The most important is exactly what Osho has been saying for decades:
The essential problem is not “out there.” We are the problem.
We can invent as many wonderful fixes to the external situation as we want, but if the human mind, with its insatiable demand for “more” is not addressed, nothing will change, except of course the climate!
As the film puts it: “The only way to take seriously the human toll on the planet is to talk about what humans do to it.”
Or, as one guy from the street they interviewed, who answered that initial question, sadi, “Being kind, I would say probably 10 years. Unless we can get to another planet. But then we’re going to fuck it up, just like we did Earth.”
Osho addresses this same issue, albeit a different perspective:
“This earth is our home. Unless we put ourselves right, we cannot put humanity right, we cannot put this earth in such a way as to live beautifully. There is no need of nations, there is no need of religions, there is no need of races. It is one earth, it is one world, it is one truth, it is one divinity.
“But one has first to search within oneself.” 1
The basic point the film makes is that if we continue in the direction we are going – even with all renewable energy we are likely to be able to produce – we can never solve the climate change problem.
Here is the best example of that you could ever want:
The New York Times published “Emissions Declines Will Set Records This Year. But It’s Not Good News” on April 30, 2020. Their opening sounded very positive:
“Global greenhouse gas emissions are on track to plunge nearly 8 percent this year, the largest drop ever recorded, as worldwide lockdowns to fight the coronavirus have triggered an ‘unprecedented’ decline in the use of fossil fuels, the International Energy Agency said in a new report on Thursday.”
At the same time the IMF was warning that the “Coronavirus Recession Could Be Worse Than Great Depression.” And people like Amartya Sen are saying how, in India, “Huge numbers may be pushed into dire poverty or even starvation….”
Clearly the current pandemic – which is the cause of this dramatic 8% drop in greenhouse gas emissions – is regarded as an economic disaster. No wonder everyone wants to get the economy up and running again as soon as possible. Obviously.
But wait. Now read another paragraph from that same New York Times article:
“The United Nations has said that global emissions would have to fall nearly 8 percent every single year between now and 2030 if countries hoped to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which world leaders have deemed necessary for avoiding catastrophic social, economic and environmental damage from climate change.”
So, let’s clarify this. In order to avoid the looming climate catastrophe, we need to reduce greenhouse emissions by the same amount that is happening right now as a result of the current Covid-19 economic slowdown, which is also a catastrophe.
Not just that, we have to continue this same level of slowdown as now, but it has to happen every single year for the next ten years!
If we spell this out, the evidence is the following: You have to do something unacceptably drastic to the economy, to reduce the emissions by 8% once. Then repeat that every year till 2030!
To put it mildly, we are jammed.
This is exactly Michael Moore’s point. The currently accepted approach to climate change is that we can reconfigure the existing economic model with renewable energy sources and keep the idea of permanent growth intact.
As we can now see, this is not possible. The reaction to today’s economic collapse is inevitable: everyone is clear that we urgently need to make sure that everything gets back to “normal” as quickly as possible so the economy revs up again and starts humming along as usual.
Osho would see this apparent dilemma from a wider angle:
“Humanity is suffering from too much power. Technology, science – they have given immense power to man, and man is insane. Man has no meditativeness, no silence, no peace within himself. He knows nothing of awareness – hence we are standing on the verge. Any moment the world can plunge into a suicidal act, global suicide is possible….
“For the first time humanity is in immense need of meditation, to balance what technology has given.” 2
It is obvious that without a fundamental shift in the way we look at “growth,” and the primary role of our own beliefs and attitudes – and in particular the human mind’s obsession with “more” – we are headed for a catastrophe much greater than the current pandemic.
Or, as Osho describes this situation:
“It is in our own hands because the end is not coming by any natural calamity, it is being caused by our stupidity!” 3
The environmentalists were outraged by this movie. No surprise there. It totally rocked their boat. Their objections are trivial compared with the main points the film is trying to raise.
As Salon, in a detailed review explains about this criticism from environmentalists, “But many critiques avoid engaging with the core issues raised in the film — a sign that the film has indeed struck a nerve in the green movement.”
The hypocrisy of many of the environmentalists – and, not surprisingly, also the fossil-fuel industry people – they interviewed was sickening. But as Osho sees it, we live in a hypocritical world.
The director, Jeff Gibbs, identifies exactly the source of this:
“The reason why we are not talking about population, consumption, and the suicide of economic growth, is that it would be bad for business, especially for the cancerous form of capitalism that rules the world now hiding under a cover of green.”
Aha! The ultimate contemporary sacred cow: the population.
Since Osho first raised this issue, the world population has tripled. Another five billion of us have been, almost incidentally, dropped off on Planet Earth with no thought at all about how such increased numbers can be expected to live off the same finite planet. Who listens?
That same mind, unconsciously greedy for more. Of everything!
As the film asks, “Why can’t we talk constructively about how to reduce the human footprint?”
Who is prepared to reduce their consumption? And who is ready to confront the issue of the total number of consumers? Above all, who is ready to even consider the role of the human mind at the root of the whole process?
As anthropologist professor Nina Jablonski says in the film:
“Population growth is not the elephant in the room that few climate activists are willing to address. It is a whole herd of elephants.”
Yes, how long do you think we humans have?
To read two of these complete OSHO Talks and see all available formats:
1 Osho, Christianity, the Deadliest Poison and Zen, the Antidote to All Poisons, Talk #1 – The Opium of the People
2 Osho, The Old Pond…Plop!, Talk #11 (Unpublished.)
2 Osho, The Golden Future, Talk #22 – The Time for Families Is Over