Dr. Mayer Hillman, the influential social scientist known for producing research that has successfully led to policy changes to improve road safety, has declared humanity "doomed" due to its reliance on the burning of fossil fuels and the capitalist economic system that ensures that dependence will continue.
"We're doomed," Hillman told the Guardian in a recent interview. "The outcome is death, and it's the end of most life on the planet because we're so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so."
While green campaigners and some politicians call for a reduced dependence on fossil fuels and a shift to sustainable energy, like wind or solar power, Hillman warned that such contributions by individual governments are essentially "minute."
"So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on." —Dr. Mayer Hillman"Even if the government were to go to zero carbon it would make almost no difference," Hillman said.
According to the Guardian, the only solution is moving "to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes—every aspect of our economy—and [reducing] our human population too."
But Hillman expressed grave doubts that this hope would be realized, as global leaders are unable or unwilling to lead a movement away from fossil fuels.
"I don't think they can because society isn't organized to enable them to do so," Hillman said. "Political parties' focus is on jobs and GDP, depending on the burning of fossil fuels."
The warning of the senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute comes as scientists raise alarm over the accelerated melting of the ice in Antarctica, driven by a "feedback loop" of warmer water melting glaciers, and as experts estimate that global warming has pushed one-third of the world's bird species closer to extinction.
"We've got to stop burning fossil fuels," he said. "So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on."
In his interview with the Guardian, Hillman indicated that he was giving his final word of warning to the world population, calling his statement his "last will and testament."
"I'm not going to write anymore because there's nothing more that can be said," he said.
For decades, Hillman's warnings to policy-makers have resulted in changes that many now take for granted. He urged British politicians to stop the spread of sprawling shopping centers outside city limits due to their environmental impact—eight years before planning rules were changed. He also pushed for energy-efficient ratings for buildings and homes—adopted in the U.K. in 2007—starting in 1984, and for 20 mile per hour speed limits in urban areas.
Now, Hillman is recommending world citizens think past 2100—the year when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns the Earth's temperature could rise up to 10.44 degrees Fahrenheit—when they think of the effects of the man-made climate crisis.
"Scientists warn that the temperature could rise to five degrees Celsius or eight degrees Celsius [nine degrees or 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit]. What, and stop there? What legacies are we leaving for future generations? In the early 21st century, we did as good as nothing in response to climate change. Our children and grandchildren are going to be extraordinarily critical," said Hillman.