2014 is emerging as a pivotal year for risk. Not only is Climate Destabilization reaching an Arctic melting tipping point, but inequality has been rising fast enough to threaten a Civilization within decades. These risks are described by a NASA study and an AAAS paper, summarized here. At the same time, most people who are aware of these entwined risks find themselves paralyzed to act because there's no coherent response. Movements in the right direction are all piecemeal, nibbling at only a fragment of the interconnected systems pushing us toward doom. You can work against voter suppression, anonymous corporations, tar sands pipeline approvals, overpopulation, Citizen's United, excess military funding, union busting, institutional fossil fuel investments, etc. Each worthy endeavor ignores the larger threat, the scale of the threat.
There's no comprehensive vision toward which to strive, that addresses all dimensions of the threat at once: inequality/ global justice, Climate Destabilization and overpopulation.
I'm looking for suggestions. What platform might I use to start a conversation, for people to brainstorm together worldwide, sharing their ideas for such a vision?
I think the common root of these problems is our primitive hierarchical tendencies, expressed in corporate structure, law, religion, predatory finance, organized crime, and overpopulation. Taking from others and nature to increase one's own wealth, power, and reproduction is presupposed. We continue to act as if we were chimpanzees, channeling primitive drives into contemporary channels. I think that the only way we can reinvent ourselves as a cooperating species, capable of sustainable culture, is to invent social structures to manage these drives constructively.
For example on one issue, to limit the number of births to the carrying capacity of the planet, we could divide births for the year by the number of reproductive age adults, and let each adult choose a group in which those birth rights are divided according to values they embrace. Each group would select those to be parents in a unique way.
This kind of planning assumes universal participation, with an information network and negotiated social infrastructure for enforcement. I don't see how we can survive the degradation to Earth's carrying capacity without a global framework of some sort to coordinate human activity.
Most people can't even imagine allowing some sort of "world government" entity dictating when they can have a child. Only when the public faces the fact that we're spirally toward certain doom will they be ready to consider such an "alien" hope.
We must flesh out how cooperating with everyone else on Earth might work, for any chance at all. It has to include links between
We must admit that our instincts, our desires for personal advancement over "others", need some external structure in order to be channeled constructively. Inventing such structures that are fair and liveable for everyone isn't a job for one person. It's a job for the world community.
How might I initiate such brainstorming?
There is something formidable which stands in the way of your vision of an international social system and government. It's religion. There are billions and billions of Muslims, Catholics, Fundamentalists, Jews, Hindus and other religionists, further divided into separate countries, cultures and classes, repugnant to your vision.
We are chimpanzees. I mean, we are primates with our inherent nature and that will not change. We, as a species, are still incredibly stupid, believing in Gods which denies us rational free thought. It is a mathematical certainty that augmented population and it's associated problems with finite resources will lead to catastrophe. It is just a matter of time.
Our species eventual demise will be in the best interests of other surviving life on Earth. We have become parasites and as parasites we cannot be sustained indefinitely. It is time for us to go.
I hope that we human beings can and will take an active, adaptive role in our own evolution.
Yes, we're primates. We also have well-developed analytical, logical thought, which can (sometimes!) moderate our emotions and instincts.
There are powerful instincts that work against our survival, including hierarchical and tribal tendencies, and the desire to make lots of babies.
I believe that a crucial part of guiding our own evolution will be the converse of motivated reasoning: reasoned motivation, using stories, images, songs, even rituals, whatever it takes to get our "social and emotional brains" to buy in to the rational goals of managing our primitive drives constructively, to promote our survival as a species.
(That could even prompt new "revelations" among those who are still religious....)
Well put, Grinning Cat.
My vision of a possible path, where Partnership values are explicitly promoted as essential for all of us surviving together into the future, would initially focus on practical stuff like how people the developing countries might live in old age without having lots of kids, and how to be fair globally. It would only require participation in narrowly defined ways, which might be promoted as a superficial compromise among competing value systems. Ultimately, however, people would begin to grasp at an emotional level that their cherished religions are inherently obsolete because they're hierarchical. For example, Muslim women could continue to wear burkas. But the point of a burka is to make women sexual property of men, so alpha males can have tons of kids. If the burka makes no difference in how many offspring a woman or her husband can have, it would eventually become vestigial because it didn't work any more.
We don't have to get everybody to accept science or reason, to implement global organized behavior for survival. We only have to set up social structures that reward behavior differently, constructively for sustainability.
Think of the way cultures are gradually assimilated. The easiest things are people enjoying the taste of novel foods, fabrics, styles and music. Later their children are less threatened by other aspects of alien cultures. This transformation could be made palatable to religionists by allowing them to administer whatever rules are universally negotiated as they wished within their sub groups.
This is exactly what we need, brainstorming! You just started the brainstorming, and so here goes, these are preferred, not possible or probable :
Nationally: as a nation, get off fossil fuels as fast as possible. Make it a mandate that by the end of the decade USA has stopped all drilling, piping, importing, exporting or transporting all fossil fuels. Use only alternatives to fossil fuels that are sustainable and renewable.
Mass transit: Focus on creating a mass transit system for all communities, with the focus on getting people to their work, education, health care and governmental offices.
Population: stop population growth by stopping all financial support to those women who have more than one child. I talked to women in China about the one child per woman rule and they supported it because they could not afford more than one child. China made it an economic decision for women. China took away pensions and health care funds for a woman with more than one child. Sadly, that resulted in killing babies, usually female. There is now a glut of males without partners to sustain a monogamous lifestyle.
Corporations: stop all subsidies to corporations, including the industrial, financial, and transport of goods and services. Put a lid on CEO incomes in proportion to the paid work force. Why is the public paying for gambling losses? end that.
Agriculture: stop using pesticides shown to be harmful to farmers, water, soils, air and consumers. Stop monoculture of grains. Make meat more expensive or ration it and encourage protein from other sources.
Health care: provide universal health care, just think of all the jobs that will create!
Management of business and industry: renounce top-down management, create cooperatives as close as possible to markets. Support small, rather than large distribution centers. Get goods and services closer to markets. Restore family farms, goods and services.
Mission Statement: United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is a good model for USA Declaration of Human Rights.
Now, to be more practical, I will wait for others to respond. Thanks for the Discussion Ruth.
OK, let's start with appetite. Why do people eat sugar? Because it tastes good.
Why do people have too many babies? Because it feels good, and children take care of elders, and many children reflect manliness.
Why do we use so much fossil fuel? Because it is cheap, easy to get, and oil cartels want the business.
What happens with too much sugar? Diabetes.
What happens with too many babies? Overpopulation.
What happens with too much carbon dioxide? It smothers organic life.
Which one should we start with, or are their others to be addressed before these?
Starting with overpopulation:
Literature search of women, multiple births, population growth
Given that the world population is growing exponentially, given that feeding the poor increases population, what options do we have to get control of population, reduce poverty, increase health and education?
The 7th of November 2013, when The world might not be as bad as you might believe, was filmed after the beginning of the economic turn-down in 2007, however, the gap between rich and poor widened more since that time.