Note: this is an unfinished work, comments welcome alpert (at) skil.org
On St Matthew Island in the Bering Sea, the US Coast Guard brought 29 reindeer to graze on the island’s moss, to provide an emergency food source for men stationed there. Several years later the men left, leaving the reindeer. The herd grew too large for their natural moss food supply, ate it to destruction, and perished.
Humans on earth are about to share that reindeer experience. We are consuming our supporting resources to exhaustion.
We are too big for our ecological niche on Earth. We are consuming our renewing resources like clean water and soil to destruction. We are consuming fossil and uranium energy to exhaustion. The solar and wind renewable energy sources won’t be able to replace them. And we are dispersing to the point of lost utility our non renewing supports like phosphorus and rare earths.
Barring some technological breakthrough, the Earth at the end of this century will support far fewer people. Our population, according to UN projections, might rise to 9 or 10 billion persons by 2050, after which, according to my calculations, our numbers might descend to 600 million — who will live like 17th century serfs. This decline, without extreme restrictions on births, will result from starvation or conflict deaths.
Few want to believe my scenario. Most want to believe technology will make ‘tomorrow better than today‘. When previous civilizations overshot regional and technological limitations and collapsed, they rebuilt themselves better than before. People believe they and their children will slip through this century’s bottleneck and be the survivors in the next even better civilization.
My computations suggest only radical changes in human behavior resulting from a change in social organization can reduce overshoot to zero, avoid the tragedy, and implement an ever improving civilization. However, these changes appear too difficult to implement. Our genes are against them. Parts of our evolved brain are against them. Our culture is against them. Our institutions are against them. Most people see my proposed changes as expensive extravagances that obtain nothing of value — specifically they see them avoiding no meaningful liabilities.
Thus humankind continues to muddle forward. When the media presents:
a) views of ongoing and projected human and environmental injury
for example, climate change, or species extinction, and
b) thousands of proposed projects to address them,
the viewer fails to see that:
none of these issues reflect the full gravity of our predicament and that
even if all these issues are successfully addressed,
most injuries I project for this century will not be avoided.
Little is going to change unless:
a) autocratic action or
b) a ground swell of new learning among billions of individuals,
implements a civilization that modulates what is considered normal, and approved, personal behavior.
For example, we need collective human behavior which:
a) lowers the human footprint below earthly supports. And,
b) maintains these conditions thereafter.
If this change is to depend on collective will, rather than autocratic rule, billions of individuals have to know/ believe:
- injuries exist on our civilization’s path that are worth avoiding See Part 1 of 6
- an alternate design of civilization exists that does not create these extreme injuries See Part 2 of 6
- forces exist that produce and maintain this design See Part 3 of 6
- a social contract exists that creates these forces See Part 4 of 6
- a global constituency can implement this social contract See Part 5 of 6
- there is a process for creating the individuals that fill this constituency See Part 6 of 6
There is more to this… much more. Visit the SKIL.org website for more information — perhaps starting here.