Consider a number of the issues that humanity faces right now. Population growth. Increased resource use. Increased energy requirements. Increased food requirements. Increased water requirements.
Consider the context in which these requirements are being expressed. Increasing droughts and floods. Increasing corporate hegemony. Huge changes in global balances of power. Universal aspirations to the traditional American -way-of-life. A consumerist model, with an economic system that’s based on debt, both at an individual level and a national one. So growth is required just to pay the interest on the debt.
Where does all this reach some sort of equilibrium? Some real balance between supply and demand. Some state where people are happy with their lot.
Climate change is just one part of the dynamic that’s changing the world we live in. But why it’s significant s that it permeates all other aspects of our lives and our plans and our aspirations. It affects all of the processes that we rely upon to achieve our objectives. It causes disruptions to food supply. It causes floods and great storms. It fundamentally alters the physical context in which we operate. It changes our world. Therefore it has huge implications for the way our societies operate.
Climate Change is not the only issue that we face. There are a whole army of them. Most are caused or exacerbated by climate change but all are increasing in significance at exponential rates. Whilst climate change is a fundamental driver for many of these issues, we also have to deal with:
- Growing populations and their inherent increases in demand on resources.
- Simultaneous growing affluence and its resulting increase in demand on resources, such that this demand is accelerating.
- Microbial resistance to antibiotics and the consequent inherent threat of the undermining of many medical advances since the mid 20th century that are dependent upon antibiotics.
- Oil and energy resource shortage as demand increases and supplies become ever more hard to recover and ever more tenuous and unpredictable in their longevity.
- Increasing inequity between a small minority of people in the world, who increasingly control mote of its assets, and the vast majority who, on an average basis at least, have very little and who are powerless against a system where money is all powerful.
- The evolution of mega cities, where all of our problems become concentrated.
- The loss of biodiversity, the very aspect of the natural world that supports us that enables it to do so, and which allows for a flexible planet that’s able to accommodate typical crises.
- Competition between the need to use land to grow food, and the need to preserve natural environments and biodiversity that enables the ecological systems that support the production of plant and animal based food in the first place.
- Water shortage as more people use more, depleting underground aquifers, whilst climate change alters supply as rainfall patterns change, glaciers retreat and deplete dependent rivers, and precipitation that once fell as snow now falls as rain and runs away, causing floods.
- Accumulating waste as we continue to convert natural resources into short term material products that are discarded and thrown back into an environment that can’t break down their constituents quickly enough.
How the hell does all of this add up? The great challenge facing the people of the 21st century is how to reconcile their aspirations with what’s available to satisfy these aspirations. Never before has humanity been in such control. And never before has it been so hungry for more. How we deal with this conundrum over the next few decades will decided how we survive. Not whether or not we survive, because we will survive, but in what way we survive. We have reached a crux point, where we need to choose between different directions. For the first time we’re able to choose our own evolutionary path. And the worrying thing is that we don’t seem to realise that that’s the decision we’re in the process of making.
Consider all of this. Think about it. Look at the world about you. Research. Read. Think. And when you’ve realised for yourself what’s happening, take action. Join in. Rise and sing your own opera. For the sake of your children.