Julian Cribb: Earth System Treaty & Fixing Our Planet’s Future

Today’s podcast delves into a crucial topic: human survival on our planet. If you're feeling overwhelmed or disheartened, remember this: our collective voice holds immense power, and today we're rallying behind the Earth System Treaty.

Our guest, Julian Cribb, a foremost science writer, has penned incredible books like "Food or War," "Earth Detox," and the latest, "How to Fix a Broken Planet." His work, including "Surviving the 21st Century," inspired the Council for the Human Future at ANU, identifying ten existential threats – the focus of our discussion today.

Join us in this crucial conversation, where we explore how each of us can play a part, get involved, and together, make our voices heard.

Julian Cribb: Earth System Treaty & Fixing Our Planet’s Future Introduction

Our guest today is Julian Cribb, an Australian science communicator and author, leads Julian Cribb & Associates, offering global consultancy in science, agriculture, and the environment. Recognized as a Member of the Order of Australia, he has a diverse career, including roles as a scientific editor and director of national awareness for CSIRO.

Julian’s extensive work encompasses over 9000 articles, 3000 science media releases, and 12 books. Focused on existential risks, notable titles include The Coming Famine, Food or War, and How Fix a Broken Planet, He also wrote a book called Surviving the 21st Century, which prompted the Council for the Human Future at ANU. And it identifies ten existential threats, which we discussed today.

Julian’s commitment to raising awareness is underscored by numerous journalism awards, and he co-founded the Council for the Human Future. His career reflects a steadfast dedication to addressing critical global challenges.  I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Julian Cribb.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Unstress. I’d like to acknowledge two traditional custodians of the land on which I am recording this podcast, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. I believe we have so much to learn from our First Nations people about connection and respect.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:26] Well, today we are exploring a big subject. The subject is human survival on this planet. And if you are feeling powerless and you feel depressed by it all, well, reassure, be reassured that one thing we do have power of, and that is collectively having a voice and the voice that we are encouraging you to join and be part of is the Earth System Treaty. Our guest today is Julian Cribb, and Julian is one of the world’s leading science writers. Julian has written some fantastic books, Food or War, Earth Detox, his most recent book, How to Fix a Broken Planet. He wrote a book called Surviving the 21st Century, which prompted the Council for the Human Future at ANU. And it identifies ten existential threats, which we discussed today. But this is something we can all participate in, get involved with, and feel that we at least have a collective voice. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Julian Cribb.


Welcome to the show, Julian.


Julian Cribb [00:01:40] Thank you, Ron.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:41] Julian, we want to talk about your, the… I know you’ve just written this wonderful book, How to Fix a Broken Planet just came out in this year, but we’re really focusing on the Earth Systems treaty. What is the Earth System Treaty?


Julian Cribb [00:01:58] The Earth System Treaty is a global accord signed by all those who wish to work for a human-habitable planet. Basically, it’s an umbrella treaty. It covers all ten of the catastrophic risks that presently threaten our combined future, our existential emergency. And it recognises basically, that all of these ten threats are interconnected. They cannot be separated. They cannot be addressed one by one or piecemeal. So the idea is to propose this treaty through the United Nations, where parts of it, such as the ban on nuclear weapons, are already in place. Now, a really important aspect of this is that not only our nation is going to be asked to sign this treaty and to observe, you know, the legality that it proposes, but also corporations, organisations and individuals like you and me. In other words, individual human beings will, for the first time in human history, have an opportunity to vote for or pledge themselves to repairing the damage we’ve caused and securing a liveable world for our children.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:03:09] Yes. Well, I was going to ask you, why do we need it? But I think you’ve covered that well and truly. I know yet another one of you… One of your books, The Surviving the 21st Century, prompted the Council for the Human Future, and it outlines those ten existential threats to human flourishing and survival. I wondered if we might just you know, that’s what the treaty is about. Let’s spell it out. What are those ten existential threats?


Julian Cribb [00:03:37] Testing my memory. Well, first of all, we know about climate change. Everybody knows about climate change, but they don’t know so much about the other threats. Secondly, we’re looking at the disintegration of the environment in which we live in the Earth system that keeps us alive. The rivers, the waters, the air, the soil, you know, the oceans. All of those things are being worn down, degraded, destroyed by human activity. We’re talking about extinction rates, which are just quite out of the ordinary. Extinction rates are now faster than they were when the asteroid hit the dinosaurs, basically. So we’re destroying other forms of life even faster. We’re talking about food insecurity. Food insecurity from a number of causes. Loss of water, loss of topsoil, climate change, toxicity and so on. But the world food system is creaking and groaning. It’s very unstable. It’s likely to fall apart in the mid-century. Global poisoning, we’re producing so many chemicals that we are poisoning everybody every single day, including our children. We’re damaging their brains, we’re damaging their hormonal systems. We are causing new diseases that have never been seen by medicine before. So global poisoning is a much bigger threat even than climate change. It’s killing 13.7 million people every single year, which is one in four of all human deaths. Then we’ve got technology. Now technology is forever getting out of control. You know, so we’ve got all these new technologies, artificial intelligence, nanoscience, the house, universal surveillance, all sorts of things that are coming down the line over which we have absolutely no control. And they are quite open to being used maliciously and wickedly by wicked people. So we need to get control of technology before it does to us. What less lack of control, the coal. Coal is destroying the world through climate because we did not control our use of it. So we need to control our use of all the technologies. Pandemic diseases, now there’s a new pandemic popping up every two or three years. Diseases are skipping from wild animals into humans by various means, natural and unnatural, and we need to stop doing that. Basically, we need to stop sharing and spreading these diseases. All this travel we’re doing, all these human institutions we’ve created like schools and child minding centres and sporting arenas are great places to swap diseases. So we’ve got to learn a new way If we’re going to have 8 billion people living on the planet, we’ve got to stop exchanging diseases the way we do at the moment. So we’re going to have to control ourselves. It’s a matter of human behaviour really. Then we’re talking about misinformation. Misinformation is one of the most deadly threats to humanity because we’re simply lying to ourselves about the truth, the facts about these threats. If we do that, if you lie to yourself about a threat, you can’t possibly solve that threat. So lying to ourselves is no good. It’s very, very dangerous. So misinformation, untruths, propaganda by the oil companies and things like that, very deadly for humanity. We’ve got to get on top of it. I think that’s it.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:07:06] Oh, let’s give it a that’s a comprehensive enough list for us to go with. I mean, what’s standing in the way of this treaty? I mean, what’s standing in the way?


Julian Cribb [00:07:17] Well, primarily the fact that people haven’t realised that are in terrible danger, that is going to become more and more apparent. It’s already becoming apparent. You know, wise people are saying, look at the rate at which climate disasters are happening. Look at the rate at which food crises are arising. Look at the rate at which, you know, all of those problems are mentioned. New diseases and things like that. New pandemics are occurring. You know, you can if you look at that stuff, you realise that things are going wrong, but most people don’t. Most people look at their mortgage, their their pay packet, you know, their kids’ schooling. They’re looking at the short-term, narrow self-interest. They’re not aware of this big picture that is gradually building up all around them like a shroud of darkness.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:06] I think one of the issues about the treaty, the idea of the treaty is unquestionable. And you’ve mentioned our problem with government. And it’s so interesting to me that, for example, in 1961, Eisenhower warned of the undue or unsolicited influence of the industrial-military complex. And here we are in 2023, we could add quite a few other complex, you know, complexes the food industry, the media, social media, mass media. How do they… You know, how do we all do something about that? Because that’s a very powerful voice that constantly distracts us.


Julian Cribb [00:08:48] Well, basically, governments are now under the thumb of the giant corporations worldwide. They haven’t got the money because these corporations don’t pay tax and they don’t have the power any longer because these corporations have stolen it off them. So if the people of the world are going to have a habitable earth, then they’re going to have to do something about it themselves. They can’t rely on their governments taking their side, because we know for a fact that most governments take the side of large corporations against the interests of their people. I mean, for example, Britain, America, Australia are already are all opening new fossil fuels mines, which is against the interests of every human being, every thousand tons of coal or oil that gets mined kills one human being. Right. Australia alone is going to kill 5 million people with the 28 new coal mines that the Labour government is proposing to open. So that’s an example of how the power of the average person has been taken away from them and indeed their life is being taken away, you know, in a prodigious way. So people of the world have got to have some way of expressing their concern for their children and their grandchildren. And the Earth System Treaty is an umbrella legal document that allows them to do that, because it’s not only voted on in the UN by governments, it will also be, as I say, signed by you and me, by corporations, by companies, by, you know, social groups. Anyone who wants to sign it and pledge themselves to a sustainable world will be able to sign that document. And I think that’s going to be a very powerful expression of global democracy. So it doesn’t matter whether you live in a dictatorship or an autocracy, You have a right to sign this treaty. You have a right to express, to vote for your future, to express the kind of future you want for your children. And I think that that’s going to be a magical idea when it when it’s really starts to catch on. You know, the people as individuals, because we’ve got no power as individuals in living, whether we’re living in a democracy or an autocracy or a dictatorship. None of us have any power any longer. So we have to find a way of getting back the power that has been taken from us.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:11:12] Hmm. How do we access that? Let’s say yes. Okay. The listener is listening to this and saying, Yes, I want to commit to this. Tell us how we go about doing that.


Julian Cribb [00:11:23] We have the Council for the Human Future has a petition on Change.org at the moment just asking people whether or not they support an Earth system treaty. And it’s got links in there that explain what an Earth system treaty is. What it actually consists of and, you know, just supporting the idea that enough people support the idea, then the United Nations and the better nations of the world will have to listen. They will have to if enough people sign up. So, you know, it’s an expression of grassroots democracy is the fundamental genius of the ordinary rank-and-file human being that we’re invoking here. We’re not looking to start a political campaign or anything like that, because politics, frankly. Politics is a waste of time. It’s been trying to solve problems for 200 years and it hasn’t succeeded. But they’ve got worse. So, today’s politics is completely polluted and corrupted by these enormous corporations. So there’s absolutely no point in putting your faith in politics, you know, or in any other belief system, because beliefs, they won’t deliver real-life solutions to the ten massive problems that humans are now facing.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:12:44] Now you write… You touched on a few of those, and I know one of your books, Surviving the 21st Century, led to the Council for the Human Future, and I think there is so much they’re worth unpacking because the Council for the Human Future. Tell us about that, because your book, Surviving the 21st Century. I think if I’m not wrong, Julian inspired a great many people to this. Tell us a little bit about the Council for the Human Future.


Julian Cribb [00:13:14] Well, let me explain first how I came to write that book. I mean, I’ve been writing about science for most of my working career as a journalist since the 1970s. And I’ve been talking to scientists, you know, practically daily. Tens of thousands of scientists over that time. And they’ve all been telling me whatever branch of science they came from, whether it was climate or agriculture or water or whatever it was, they’ve all been telling me things as crook. You know, things are getting worse and we’re measuring it every day. We go to work and we measure how dirty the river is becoming or how polluted the atmosphere is becoming or how contaminated the food supply is coming. They’re measuring this stuff. It is absolutely undeniable. They’re measurements are checked and double-checked by other scientists. So this is not somebody’s opinion. This is real-life science. It’s fact that cannot be denied. And that’s you know, I mean, I wrote my first climate story in 1976. Can you believe, you know, when I started talking to science Climate scientists, atmospheric scientist at CSIRO who said, look, things are changing in the atmosphere and if we don’t look out, they’re going to change in a very unfavourable way, especially for growing food. So, you know, I started writing about that, but as I went along, I gradually came to perceive that these problems were occurring in ten separate areas, ten massive threats, and that they were all integrated, they were joined up and you can’t tackle them one at a time. That’s the essential problem here. We cannot tackle these threats one at a time because, I mean, it’s going to take us 50 years to fix climate if indeed we ever do. And before then we will probably have a collapse of civilisation.


Julian Cribb [00:15:00] So, you know, we need to address all of them as a matter of urgency straight away. The Council for the Human Future, which is chaired by John Hewson and contains a number of eminent academics and they basically saw this problem, they could see that the difficulty that humanity had got itself in the hole that we dug for ourselves was a complicated hole. It wasn’t a simple one problem. Let’s fix that problem one at a time issue. Everything had to be fixed at once, else nothing would be fixed. So, you know, the council identified for itself basically two jobs, one to wake people up to this fact that we have this very complicated, massive problem affecting every single aspect of our lives, every aspect. No human being is untouched by this. In fact, no living organism is untouched by this. And, you know, the council then said, well, we also want to start dreaming up some solutions or working up some solutions. And that’s why they got me to write How to Fix a Broken Planet. And what I basically did was I went round to the best scientists I could find in the world, and I’ve been talking to these guys on and off for, you know, 20, 30 years. So I knew who to find. And asking them what their solutions are. So the solutions in how to fix a broken planet are not my solutions. They are the solutions of the best scientists in the world based upon the world’s best science. So, you know, and there’s 200 of them. You know, there’s lots of things that you can do in your own life. This is the important thing. Just like you can fix your health by living in, you know, a sensible lifestyle, having a proper diet, taking the right amount of exercise, etc., etc.. The organism that is planet Earth can also be repaired by adopting more or less the same principles, you know, in respect of these threats. Because now what we’re doing is we’re just toxifying that entire system.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:17:07] But again, you know, sometimes an example of a problem that we as individuals can fix just to whet our appetite and say, yeah, that’s something. I’m going to read this book, I’m going to read this treaty, I’m going to sign up. What’s an example of something that’s a big… That’s an existential threat that we can make a difference as individuals?


Julian Cribb [00:17:27] Well, well, as you know, you can have a healthy diet or an unhealthy diet. Every day. You go to the shop and you make a decision whether you’re going to buy some of that shitty, very industrial processed food or whether you’re going to buy some fresh vegetables and things like that, organic vegetables that have not been soaked in pesticide. So you’re making a decision, you know, every day what sort of a healthy diet you’re going to have. Now, every day you spend a dollar on whatever it is, whether it’s on your food, on your clothing, on your car or on your home, you know, that dollar is actually a vote for the future of the planet that you are going to be living on and your grandchildren are going to be living on. That dollar is a vote. You know, you are determining whether that planet is going to be sustainable or unsustainable by the choice you made in the supermarket, in the shops. You know that the lifestyle choices you made. Did you decide to go on holiday to the opposite side of the world? Are you going to burn all that carbon and wreck your kids future just so you can have a two-week break in Thailand or somewhere? You know, honestly, people need to start thinking about those kind of things. Every dollar you spend is a vote on whether you want a habitable or an uninhabitable earth. And so, I mean, that’s a very simple piece of advice to follow. And there’s lots of explanation in there for how you can find out whether this food is sustainable or that food is unsustainable. That kind of information is becoming more and more available on the Internet. There are huge numbers of groups on social media and elsewhere now, you know, that will tell you, you know, whether this food is safe to eat or not, whether this clothing is organic and sustainable or whether it’s toxic and spreads pesticide everywhere. You know, whether you’ve got carcinogens coming out of your living room, carpet and lounge, as most people do. You know, either you got carcinogens coming out of your motorcar, as most people do. Everybody thinks an electric car is a great thing and it is in respect of climate, but it’s full of plastic and plastic emits carcinogens. So it’s not so great for your health or for the environment, is it? We need this information in order to change the direction consumers are going because consumers are the only people who can change the direction that corporations go. We are the only ones who can change the behaviour of gigantic corporations by telling them that we don’t want that toxic climate-destroying products. We want this safe, clean, green, healthy, organic products. Thank you.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:20:20] Yes. I think one of the frustrations and is… I know the technique has now been referred to as the tobacco playbook because, of course, we knew that tobacco was a problem back in the 1940s or 1950s. But of course, the narrative that was coming from one could say the industrial complex was to continue the uncertainty. The science isn’t really settled on whether tobacco is a problem or isn’t a problem. And there were no shortage of scientists to support that view. And so add to the confusion, isn’t that part of… I know this goes on in health care all the time. I know it goes on in the you know, it’s going on constantly. And this has been a very effective way of creating confusion and uncertainty. I mean, I know in health care, I’ve said that our current system is a great economic model. It’s just not a very good health model. And the same could be said for the planet.


Julian Cribb [00:21:22] Yeah, well, the one thing we need to bear in mind is that money doesn’t exist. Money is a figment of the human imagination. So our economic model exists only in the human mind. It doesn’t exist in the mind of my dog or my goldfish or any other creature that’s ever lived on this planet. The human economic system is a total invention, but we’re using it to destroy the planet, okay? We’re using it to justify the cutting down of the Amazon. We’re using it to justify the pollution of the river. We’re using it to justify the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef so that we can make more money out of coal, etc… So, you know, the economic system because it’s a fiction, you know, this is the problem. The world is real, but humans have constructed this incredible fiction for themselves. But let me just talk about tobacco and that kind of misinformation, which the corporate sector tends to churn out. First of all, in a way, it’s hard to say what causes cancer in a cigarette smoke because there’s 7000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, which ones? We probably know half a dozen that cause cancer, but there’s probably several thousand that cause cancer. In fact, we just we just haven’t done all the experiments to find out. What we do know is that if you smoke consistently, you’ve got a 50% chance of dying of lung cancer. And the epidemiology, in other words, is what convinces us that you ought not to smoke if you don’t want to die of lung cancer because you’re just taking too big of a risk by smoking. And this is information that everybody wishes they had when they were 18 and they started smoking. It was a cool thing to do. Anyway, what happened was that the playbook from the tobacco industry was taken up by the oil and the coal sector. Now, oil, coal and petrochemicals is a $7 trillion industry. It is the third-largest economy on Earth. It is slightly smaller than the United States and China. That’s how big fossil fuels are in economic terms. And they are spending billions of dollars, billions of dollars a year messing with our heads, misinforming us, lying to us, bribing politicians, you know, to keep digging up coal and oil. So you’ve got Joe Biden in America exploring the Arctic for more oil, for God’s sake. On the one hand, while saying, Oh, we’ve got to fix climate. So he’s is digging up more and more stuff that’s going to ruin the climate. And the same thing in Australia and the same thing in Britain, the same everywhere you look, humans are doing exactly the same dishonest thing. And behind it all is this absolute torrent of gold from the fossil fuel sector.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:24:15] You know, it’s such an interesting point about the fossil fuel industry because I read an IMF report, many… Five at least five years ago, which outlined that the fossil fuel industry receives $5 trillion a year in subsidies, which equates to, you know, $10 million a minute, you know. I mean, I found that, that was an IMF report. Am I misreading that, I thought it was.


Julian Cribb [00:24:44] The numbers sound a little high to me. The actual turnover of the fossil fuels industry is about $7 trillion per year. I’ve read… There was a BBC study that calculated that they were getting $400 billion. From governments as subsidies but here’s the point that they were actually spending about $20 billion to bribe politicians. So they were spending 20 to get 400. It’s a pretty good game if you can get it. And so it is rising…Audacious criminal act in world history. In many ways, they’re stealing that money. They’re taking your money and my money to spend wrecking the earth. So you spend more wrecking the earth and its and destroying our grandchildren’s future. So, yeah, the fossil fuels industry are very bad and they’re creating all of this misinformation, not all that. There’s a fair bit of that that comes from other places as well. But the world is absolutely awash now in a torrent of lies. Lies that are being told by large corporations, by governments, because they just want to get themselves re-elected by conspiracy theorists and nutcases and people who are defending all sorts of causes, good and bad. But people are lying like there’s no tomorrow at the moment. And the difficulty with this is if you… If people are immersed in a torrent of lies, how do they know who to vote for? I mean, how do they know which politician is telling the truth? There is no way to do this. So in my book, I recommend we establish a World Truth Commission, which is basically a fact-finding mission. And any politician who says anything questionable can be reported to this commission and they can have their statement fact-checked. I mean, here in Australia we have the ABC and RMIT University have a fact-checking thing and any politician tells a lie in Australia they will ultimately be exposed by these fact-checkers in Melbourne. So if we establish a world one of those. They can inspect the claims and the statements by Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, you know, Ritchie, whatever his name is from England, you know, all of these different… If they’re lying and to be honest with you, if you go right back through human history, the the best form of treatment for a liar is public shaming and ridicule. You know, if that person is held up as being just totally untrustworthy, don’t believe a word they say, you know, until like he apologised and corrected themselves. So, at the moment, politicians are getting away with an enormous lies. The referendum on the voice, for example, is full of lies, especially the no case. So, you know, the politicians are getting away with murder. But we need to fact-check the world’s politicians on these issues where human survival is at stake. And I believe you could for not very much money establish a fact-checking body that scrutinises the most powerful people in the world and it… And the most powerful corporations and determines whether or not they’re lying. And that means to Exxon and companies like that.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:28:11] Yeah. I mean, that whole word fact checker has been bandied around over this period around the pandemic. And I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of the pandemic and how it was managed and how it unfolded. But it was… Whatever you can… Whatever you say about the way facts were presented and checked, you know, it was a very it was a huge business success. I had one estimation that during the pandemic, the top 20, the people with… The richest 20 people in the world got more money returned in the two or three years of the pandemic than in the 20 years previously. And when you look at sales on online and on social media, on, you know, it’s not hard to imagine that. And certainly, I know in the pharmaceutical industry, a blockbuster drug is if you can get something like $1,000,000,000 worth of sales in one year. And I think Pfizer got $120 billion. And, you know, you we could go on about about how that was handled and how fact-checking. I think part of the problem is when the fact-checkers are the corporations themselves, that word gets bastardised again.


Julian Cribb [00:29:30] Yeah, well, I will go down the rabbit hole a little way with you there.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:29:36] Okay. I’m happy to.


Julian Cribb [00:29:37] Because as you know, that there is at least one good, well, evidence hypothesis that COVID began in a laboratory in China, and it began with American research. American scientists doing offshore research in a cheap laboratory in China that wasn’t up to biosecurity standards. Now, how do we know this? They published It’s in Nature, for heaven’s sake. You can read about it. They were taking wild bat viruses and tinkering with them to make them more deadly. One version and… They were teaching those viruses to infect humanised mice, which is teaching them to infect human beings basically because humanised mice are genetically similar to humans. So, you know, if they’re producing strains of a completely unknown pathogen that can infect human beings, it’s a pretty bloody dangerous thing to do. Now, why were they doing it? Why were they doing this stuff? Well, this goes all the way back to Fauci and a lot of people in America and Britain who were behind this particular science. Chinese were doing the hard yards, but the people who were actually paid for the research, according to the scientists themselves, the purpose for genetically transforming wild bat viruses was, in fact, to create a model for the next pathogen, a pandemic pathogen. And they were then going to go away and invent a cure, a vaccine. So the object of the whole exercise was to make buckets of money by coming up with a cure for the next pandemic. Unfortunately, they just caused the next pandemic. Well, that’s what the evidence suggests, at any rate…


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:31:24] But arguably, Julian, the rewards were beyond even their wildest dreams.


Julian Cribb [00:31:31] Surely they were. But they had never anticipated the escape of this particular virus. So, yeah, the point about it was that the whole thing was… It wasn’t science. It was motivated by greed, pure and simple. It was not science or medicine. They were trying to create a deadly virus and they were trying to develop a countermeasure for that virus, which would then make them bucket loads of money, as I say. Now… So, you know, it was a very cynical, very, very cynical piece of research from them. And as I say, that’s all been published by them. It’s not secret. But the problem we’ve now got is that there is egg on everyone’s face. There is egg on the American face. There is egg on the Chinese face. Both governments are lying like Ilio because they don’t want to be accused of starting COVID, you know?


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:32:31] But it’s not a narrative that we are hearing in the mainstream media. I mean, there are one or two newspapers that will carry that story and bring it to public attention. But a good many newspapers who I had previously. Well, I’ve got to stop calling them newspapers. They are media outlets. I used to think I used to think a narrative was a story that was told. I didn’t realise it was part of the news that a narrative was part of the news. So, I mean, I don’t think I know that’s been out there in nature, and I know that has that is a well-established fact that the virus came from exactly, as you said, a laboratory in Wuhan that was being paid by the NIH or the CDC or whoever it was. And, you know, I don’t believe it was malicious, but I believe the intent was, as you said, to make money. And it actually did make more money much quicker than they had anticipated. But, you know…


Julian Cribb [00:33:34] The people who are doing the science weren’t ready for it when it escaped. And so they didn’t make any money for it. Other people made money off the vaccines, but the actual people who were doing it, who were doing the dangerous genetic modification didn’t make an awful lot of money. But look, they had $80 million in grants from the US government to do all this stuff. And the US government on notice has pulled right back from funding that kind of research. So the US government clearly thinks it made a mistake.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:34:09] Yeah, well, I mean, I think if I’m not mistaken, when Obama was president he made gain of function research illegal in America. So this was why I found she moved it into Wuhan where it could continue.


Julian Cribb [00:34:26] Yeah, I don’t think it was illegal in America, but it was regulated much more strictly. And look, that’s the same behaviour as the petrochemical companies. You know, if you stop prosecuting a petrochemical factory, all they do is they upped stakes and they move to China or India or somewhere where they can pursue their old, dirty, polluting ways without, you know, a supervision from the government. So in this case, I would imagine both the Chinese and the US government know that they stuffed up, but they’re not saying so on the record because they deny it. It makes them look completely incompetent and corrupt and they are. You know, but the point is gain of function is a very stupid and deadly form of science, and it should be completely outlawed. And anybody who does it ought to be prosecuted for conspiring to code for manslaughter, basically. I mean, they killed how many? 20 million people? You know, it’s a big bloody crime. You know, even compared to the Holocaust, it’s just three or four times the size of the World War two Holocaust, you know. So anyone who commits a crime like that, you know, needs the book thrown at them. And this is why it’s annoying that the Chinese and the American governments won’t tell us the truth about this, but it’s gradually coming out. It’s coming out in the US Congress. Lots of papers, you know, places like The New York Times and so on are starting to cover it. And yeah, it’s trickling out basically. And eventually we, the world will know that we started this particular pandemic that was an act of gross stupidity. And, you know, like you, I don’t think there was a conspiracy involved at all. I think it was a total cock up, actually.


Julian Cribb [00:36:15] Yes. I don’t think we should ever underestimate the incompetence of human beings sometimes.


Julian Cribb [00:36:20] It reminds me of the little submarine that imploded. You know, there was complete technological arrogance on the part of the developers of that submarine to do something, just take a risk. That was insane. And unfortunately, the people who are monkeying around with that viruses were taking a similar risk and not telling us about it. And, you know, they used to be great laboratories to do it in, which is totally stupid. So really, you know, we got what we deserved. You know…


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:36:54] Julian, you mentioned in your book back in when you. Writing, surviving the 21st century that AI was a potential, you know, there was potential within AI and of course, the last six or 12 months of that has gone up exponentially. What’s going on there? How are you viewing that is… I mean, that was once upon a time. I’ll look in the next 10-20 years AI’s. Well, here it is on our doorstep. What do you see as some of the challenges there?


Julian Cribb [00:37:22] Well, you know, people like the late Stephen Hawking, you know, said that I was going to destroy humanity if we didn’t watch out. Because once it develops its own intelligence and it doesn’t need us any longer, you know, it’ll go ahead and do its own thing. Life always does that, right? You know, that’s that’s how life behaves. And if you create artificial life, it will consult its own interests first and our interests second. Even if you try to teach it to love human beings and look after them, you know, like the Asimov robot rules, it won’t. It’ll do what it needs to do to get the resources it needs to perpetuate itself. That’s what life does. Life is the perpetuation of DNA. Okay, now, this is a new DNA, So and it’s using maybe silicon and other minerals instead of instead of carbon and hydrogen and oxygen and so forth. So basically, we don’t know where it’s going to go, but we do know this. It’s creating killer robots. Okay. So there are now drones. There are nuclear-armed flying around the world. What could possibly go wrong with nuclear drones know we are now through AI able to spy on every member of the human species, you know, and with the TV cameras in the newsagent and in the sports ground and the school, we’re going to be able to spy on people 24 seven and that and all that stuff can be archived with the new quantum computers that are going to come online in the next five years. So all of the film that they’ve taken of you, all your financial transactions, all your keystrokes on the keyboard, all your phone calls, private conversations, all of that stuff, your television is listening to you right now, you know, recording, which is if it wants to, they can use the TV to listen to everything you say. So basically, by the time you’ve done this, you’ve got the entire Earth being basically enslaved. Our freedom is gone. Every single human being will be the tool, the slave of this enormous process. And who’s going to wield that process? Heaven knows. You know, governments maybe, corporations maybe, a bit of both, really, but that means they can control everybody because they will have the dirt on everybody. So, you know, what are we going to do? So we’ve got AI, we’ve got nanotechnology. We could talk exactly the same about how these minute minor, tiny weeny particles are getting into our brains, you know, and causing whole new diseases that we’ve never seen before.


Julian Cribb [00:40:04] So there’s a whole new branch of chemistry that’s opened up there that is that is deadly and nothing is being done to control it. So you got AI, you got nano chemistry, you’ve got biotech. We just talked about pandemics and we’re going to see more of them. So there’s all of these super sciences which they could be quite harmless and benign, as their makers insist. But they’re going to be used by nasty people, and they’re not going to be harmless and benign. It’s all technology. Ultimately, it’s neutral. It can be used for good purposes or bad purposes, like coal. Coal is a very benign technology that was just overused by 8 billion people. You know, that’s why it’s destroying the planet. It’s not the coal that’s at fault. It’s the people. It says the overuse of technology. So what we need is a World Technology Commission and this is a body that supervises all of the new technologies. If we try to deal with these things one technology at a time. It will take us hundreds of thousands of years before we’ve solved each of the problems. You know, they queuing up. So we need we need to address all technologies at once. We need to ask the question, not only is it good for us, but we need to ask the question, is it bad for us? What… Will it kill babies, you know? What harm could this technology possibly do? And scientists who aren’t funded to develop the technology, but they’re not funded to answer the will it kill us question need to be asked, the will it kill us question. You know, and they need to look at the bad science. There needs to be some ethical oversight of science and technology worldwide. And again, we need a World Technology Commission to do that.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:53] Well, we’ve got to… With you suggesting a World Truth Commission, World Technology Commission, and I’m with you on both of those. I know that one of my favourite. I’m sure you have heard of Alan Savoury, who has done a whole story on regenerative agriculture, but more about holistic management. And I remember him saying to me two things that stuck in my mind. We need to make every decision that governments, corporations or individuals make need to have an overriding holistic context. What is every decision designed to do? And if every if… The holistic context was it’s got to be good for the health of the individual and the planet. That’s it. Statement. There it is. Every decision needs to comply to that holistic context. That is a very appealing way of things to go. And the other thing he said was if you’re waiting for the change to come from above, you were going to be waiting a very long time. And I don’t think and he wasn’t talking about God there. He was talking about, well, you could be waiting a lot longer. But the government. So exactly what you’re talking about is really reinforced.


Julian Cribb [00:43:01] All of these things are the solutions to the problems. And they’re in How to Fix a Broken Planet. And they occur under the umbrella of the proposed Earth system treaty. So in this system, treaty would have a misinformation commission, a truth commission, it would have a technology commission, it would have a ban on all nuclear weapons. It would have a world ban on toxic chemistry. It would have, you know, a whole bunch of these things. It would have a plan for fixing the climate. It would have a plan for securing the food supply so that people aren’t going to starve. So that’s what this is. It is the big look. Now, we’re not going to be able to supervise every decision taken by every human being. No way. But by having a treaty, you at least make people aware of the problem, the scale of the problem, and you invite them to cooperate in its solution. And the answer is basically that if we don’t do this, then according to you, I can challenge whoever the head of the Potsdam Institute. There will be less than 1 billion people left on this planet by the latter part of the century. So that’s 9 billion of us are going to die basically in the chaos that an uncontrolled climate, uncontrolled poisoning, uncontrolled nuclear war, all of these things happening which will compound on one another. That’s the bad side. If we don’t have this treaty, if we don’t have an agreement to fix these problems, that’s as bad as it could possibly get with humans right on the edge of extinction. And, you know, if the planet goes above four degrees, then you probably are talking about the extinction of all large animals, including human beings. Well, we’re certainly on track for two, two and a half degrees at the moment, where we’re at two and a half degrees. The world food supply collapses because it’s based on a Stone Age technology called agriculture. For agriculture, you have to do it outdoors. It relies on rainfall, it relies on soil, etc., etc… If the climate goes haywire, you won’t have any agriculture in large swaths of the earth. So, you know, when food supplies fail, that’s when governments fail as well. So we saw what happened in 2012 when the… They didn’t have enough to eat in Egypt and Tripoli, people just all of the governments down. So the first thing that happens when the food supply gives out, starving people rip down the government and then, you know, it’s chaos. You can’t fix the problem. So if there’s likely to be a period as we approach the mid-century when this kind of chaos is compounding and we’re already seeing it, we’re seeing the floods, the fires, you know, we’re seeing the symptoms. Of this impending collapse that we’re not reading the smoke signals, we’re putting our heads down and just hoping it doesn’t happen, Hoping for the best. Well, the best ain’t going to happen because there’s 8 billion of us over-consuming and over-polluting, and that’s what’s driving it all. So we need a world agreement that we’re going to fix it. Else we’re going down that path whether we like it or not. It’s pure physics. There is nothing between us and disaster except our own voluntary will.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:46:27] Well, you know that that is a very compelling story and a very compelling argument. And you’ve done that over the many books that you’ve written. I know the very first book I read from yours was The Poisoned Planet, which was quite a few years ago. And I… But let’s point people now because I think we have their attention and I’m sure many of our listeners will want to contribute. You mentioned where it was. Let’s just mention it again, where people should go to learn more about the Earth Systems Treaty and then sign and support it. More importantly, moving forward.


Julian Cribb [00:47:02] Well, the easy thing is to go to the Council for the Human Future home page.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:08] And we’ll have links to that.


Julian Cribb [00:47:10] Yes, I’ll send you all the links to that, because we’ve got some links there explaining what the Earth System Treaty is all about. And alternatively to that, you know, you can buy a copy of How to Fix a Broken Planet, and that’s got lots of handy advice in it for what you can do in your own home, on your own dinner table, in your own life, your own choices that will help make ours a safer, healthier world.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:37] Well, Julian, thank you not only for joining us here today but thank you for all of the amazing and inspiring work you have been doing over the last 20, 30-plus years. So thank you so much.


Julian Cribb [00:47:51] Thank you, Ron. I’m a granddad. That’s why I’m doing it. It’s for my grandchildren.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:56] Me too. We’ll talk about that afterwards. Well, we may feel powerless, so we only get to vote once every three or four years. And one might question what difference that makes. But we do have power in the decisions we make each and every day. I mean, it’s said that money talks and the way we choose to spend our dollar, the way we choose to spend our time has tremendous power. And when we collectively exercise that power, it is potentially even more powerful. And it is certainly important. So we will have links to the site which will give you access to the Earth Systems Treaty. The Council for the Human Future is another place you can go and visit Change.org as well. But this is something to get involved with and very proud to champion this whole cause. I’d also encourage you to join our unstress health community. There are just so many benefits about that, about community, a community focussed on the health of the individual and the health of the planet. Independent of industry. Very important. We have live Q&A’s… regular live Q&A’s, lots of resources and also a curated podcast series. We’ve done over 400 podcasts, all of them fantastic, all of them worth listening to. But if you haven’t, well, we’ve taken the trouble to go back over those 400 and on specific topics, pick out the best of and curated editorials so that you get the best information you possibly can. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:49:43] This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. This content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences and conclusions.