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Archive for the ‘Resource depletion/exhaustion’ Category

If we do not begin to change course within the coming decades and start taking better care of our Earth, we might face problems which may eventually become insurmountable and or even fatal to our species. Some areas or regions could be forced to confront a full or partial environmental/ecological collapse, which may trigger even more widespread chaos outside of the affected area(s) as people flee the desolation they have wrought in search of new habitats.

Resource depletion/exhaustion is another distinct possibility, with humanity eventually running out of resources with which to ‘keep the motors of civilization running’ so to speak. This would surely cause human culture as we have come to know it to grind mostly to a halt as we find ourselves mostly stranded or marooned in our local areas which may not provide all that is needed to maintain life. Rising nationalistic and/or ethnic-racial tensions will likely reach a fever-pitch as different groups fight non-stop for the scraps of a gradually more resource-scarce planet. Regional, continental, or even worldwide wars over scant resources could also break out, leading to further interruptions of human civilization.

In the worst of all scenarios, a major population crash could occur, causing the death of untold millions or billions of humans and thus the utter decimation of our evolutionary success as an advanced species on Earth. Even the near-total extinction of humanity might result from this catastrophic chain-of-events, meaning all of what we humans worked so hard for in the last few hundred thousand years of evolution might all come to naught. This is clearly unacceptable and must be prevented. Therefore, as stated, we must start now in order to build a more secure and sustainable future for humanity on planet Earth.

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Many obstacles, hurdles, and setbacks will confront humankind in our quest to build a better world. Foremost among these is going to be social, political, and economic disorganization, which is obviously no surprise considering it was/is rampant disorganization that has likely contributed the most to the modern socio-environmental crisis. We are going to have to do much better in this regard – no more excuses or dissimulation, no more procrastination or lollygagging, no more avoidance of difficult decisions, no more arguing and disagreeing over petty and ultimately inconsequential issues. In some respects we are going to have to force change upon ourselves whether we are willing to accept it or not. We must realize that the environmental future of Earth is at stake, and thus to continue to delay the inevitable changes we must make could spell the end of modern human civilization.

Removing language-related hurtles would help to expedite the processes of planning and enactment of the agreed-to plans – a universal world language or global lingua franca (likely English given its current international ubiquity) will need to be utilized as much as is achievable so that as many people as possible can remain on the same linguistic wavelength in terms of the widely accepted vision, as well as stay united during the planning and enactment stages. This would in no way necessitate people abandoning their local language(s) or dialect(s), only supplementing them with a universally-recognized global language so that all can listen as well as speak and be heard during the planning and enactment/execution stages.

We must not let political, economic, religious, and/or other socio-cultural complications stand in the way of ultimate success. All people must be made to understand that the health of our planet, which is so vital to the continued existence of the human species, depends on accepting the non-debatable primacy of our environmental requirements, i.e. the maintaining of a stable, clean, and sustainable Earth capable of supporting and nourishing the permanent survival of our species. All must accept the fact that without a livable Earth to support a healthy humanity no other issues matter…not cultural beliefs, or political opinions, nor even religious doctrines – for who will be on Earth to support various political parties or follow certain religions if we eventually render the Earth uninhabitable?

Humankind must come to the blunt realization that nothing else matters if we do not have a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in which to live and thrive – to repeat: without a decent/habitable environment in which to live nothing else matters because without the environment humanity has nothing. Must it be stated again? To wit: all of the secondary and/or tertiary issues which so preoccupy us will not mean anything unless we have an environment in which to live because our environment (the Earth) contains all other things.

A major complication is that humans seem to have not yet to evolved quickly enough (both mentally and possibly even physiologically) to cope with the radically different living conditions we now find ourselves in ever since the dawn of the Industrial Age and the spread of its associated socio-environmental shifts. Many of us in the most technologically ‘advanced’ nations have become little more than over-consuming automatons almost completely dependent upon the hyperindustrial and hypertechnological system for our most basic/everyday needs. This overdependency clearly reveals a major weakness of these most ‘advanced’ nations, for we have slowly become too far too reliant on unsustainable forms of technology to support and maintain our way of life. It is still going to take quite a bit more time for humans to evolve the necessary skills and coping-mechanisms that will help us to better deal with our drastically changed world.

Over-competitiveness, non-cooperation, and the ongoing tensions/ belligerence between all of the various peoples, groups, regions, and nations will have to be minimized as much as possible in order for humanity to move forward and work fruitfully together in the formation of a better world for everyone. As stated, the spread of a universal or near-universal language will likely assist in bringing people together much closer than they have ever been before and should help to resolve many of the issues which will arise between all of the groups and nations which inhabit the world. We should have faith that the creativity, resourcefulness, hardiness, and intelligence of our species will help to lead us through these problems.

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I.    Working Toward a More Sustainable and Stable Future
a.  Must start NOW or else we’ll likely enter in to a very unstable period of civilizational decline

II.   Obstacles Likely to be Encountered Along the Way To a Better World
a.  Social/political/economic disorganization
b.  Over-competitiveness, non-cooperation, and ongoing belligerence between various groups, regions, or nations
c.  Rising nationalistic and/or ethnic-racial tensions: the never-ending competition for resources
d.  Unknown variables

III.  The Dire Consequences for Humanity and the Earth if We Do Not Begin to Change Course
a.  Partial ecological collapse?
b.  Resource exhaustion?  Worldwide wars over scarce resources?
c.  Population crash?  Near-total human extinction?

IV.  Utopian Visions: Humanity’s Innate Willpower, Idealism, and Intelligence Will Hopefully Persevere in the Future

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Despite the dire need to de-centralize and re-localize many aspects of modern human life, we must work together on a macro-level in order to implement national (or even global) programs and form organizations that would work assiduously to conserve, preserve, clean-up, and reverse the environmental damage that we have already inflicted upon our Earth.  We need everyone to begin working in some capacity toward combating the widespread degradation of our water, soil, air, forests, and so forth.  Organizations working toward these goals should be created first in local/regional communities, and then later linked up with others at the national as well as international level in order to better coordinate their activities.

We need to train many more people in ‘green-collar’ fields like sustainable/organic agriculture, soil science/erosion control, water conservation and protection, sustainable forestry, landscape/ecosystem protection and restoration, sustainable animal husbandry, protection of air quality, and so on.  If everyone was allowed adequate time/opportunity to educate themselves in one or more of the aforementioned fields and then encouraged to constantly apply the valuable skills and knowledge that they have gained therein, not only would environmental awareness be much higher in general amongst everyday people but we would all be demanding a better, cleaner, and sustainable environment and working together toward that goal.

We obviously must continue to press and work for major initiatives in energy conservation, waste reduction, and recycling.  Many countries have already made huge strides toward those goals in recent decades, and this is an encouraging development.  However, much remains to be done.  We should begin to retrofit as many old buildings as possible to be much more energy efficient; additionally, all new buildings should be constructed to be very energy-efficient and eco-friendly.  Reducing the amount of everyday waste we create can be massively reduced simply by reusing things more than once (if at all possible).  The overpackaging of goods (which is all too common in modern times) should be majorly reduced, and all packaging should be made to be recyclable.  In fact, everything should be made or manufactured with the goal in mind that it could eventually be recycled or reused in some capacity.  The amount of waste that occurs in all modern industrially-advanced nations is incredibly irresponsible and unsustainable, and it must be reversed.

In terms of the use of oil as an energy source, incredible waste is evident there as well.  A rather simple and quick (yet only temporary) solution to this problem could be to mass-manufacture very energy-efficient small ‘smart cars’ or ‘greencars.’  The widespread adoption of these very energy-efficient automobiles by a large percentage of the population would lead to a huge and almost instantaneous slashing of the overall consumption of ‘dirty energy’ like oil until cleaner transportation technologies can be invented and utilized down the road.  This would immediately improve our air quality as well as partially end the horrible environmental destruction wrought by the constant pumping of oil out of our Earth.  These small cars could quite easily be mass-manufactured cheaply and quickly using current technologies, and thus they would be simple and very inexpensive for nearly anyone (even the poorest people) to obtain and use.  However, even this would not be enough solve the energy crisis in the long-term and thus we will have to constantly keep working toward finding cleaner energy alternatives.

Learning to better utilize different forms of solar power is surely our best hope due to the fact that all forms of energy found on Earth originally came from the Sun to begin with.

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I. Yearning for Solutions: Either Change or Decline

II.  Getting More Socially, Economically, and Politically Organized
a.  The internet (plus other modern forms of communication) offers amazing new possibilities for social organization and community coordination
b.  Re-activating and re-connecting local/regional communities – better city/county/state planning; much more community involvement

III.  Re-Localization, Re-Regionalization, De-Centralization, and Possibly Even Partial De-Industrialization/De-Urbanization
a. Scaling down life – much simpler/slower living, less commuting, less consumerism, etc – this would leave much more time for constructive leisure time activities like socializing with family/friends/neighbors, learning/reading/research, creating art, landscaping/gardening, and other pleasurable activities/ hobbies
b. The ‘ecovillage,’ ecotown,’ or ‘ecocity’ option – living much more locally
c.  Relearning many useful/practical skills which have been lost (ending the so-called ‘division of labor’)
d.  Getting closer to food production, building construction and maintenance, making clothing; more efficient local transportation networks; the ‘Blue Zones,’ etc.
e.  Using the landscape more intelligently and sustainably; ‘ecodensity’ and New Urbanism; shared greenspace, gardenspace/farmland, pastureland, fishing and hunting areas, etc.
f.  Ending the insecurity of “economic nomadism” and forced economic rootlessness by encouraging people to work more in their immediate local area(s)
g.  Undoing the overconcentration of wealth/power/influence in certain areas

IV. Implementing Major Environmental Improvement/Conservation Programs
a. Widespread water/soil/air improvement: locally, regionally, and nationally
b. Training many more people/workers in ‘green-collar’ fields like sustainable/organic agriculture, soil science, sustainable forestry, water conservation/protection, landscape/ecosystem restoration, sustainable animal husbandry, etc.
c.  Retrofitting old buildings to be much more energy efficient and building new buildings to be very eco-friendly and energy efficient
d.  Major initiatives in energy conservation and waste reduction/recycling
e.  Temporary transportation solution = mass-production of very energy-efficient small ‘smart cars’ will immediately slash overall consumption of ‘dirty energy’ until new cleaner transportation technologies can be invented

V.  Controlling Population Growth
a. Making birth-control options much more easily available (entirely free of cost and/or very inexpensive) and educating people on the extreme importance of maintaining healthy/sustainable/stable population levels

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Is it not at all possible to accurately predict (or even roughly formulate) an exact timeline and/or likely scenario as to when all of the socio-environmental problems facing us will become too much for humanity to bear and thus threaten the continued existence of our species here on Earth.  Attempting to merely synthesize or systematize all of the problems we currently face is a daunting task unto itself, never-mind trying to actually get enough people to work together toward solving them.

However, one issue that sorely needs to be dealt with is the question of globalization.  We need to have brutally honest discussions and debates as to whether globalization and internationalization is sustainable and in the best interests of humanity and the global environment as a whole.  Far too many unanswered questions and perplexing problems have popped-up ever since the world started to become economically globalized, and thus far no adequate answers or solutions have been forthcoming – in fact, the problems and questions keep piling up deeper and higher as a result of the staggering mega-complexity of our current globalized economy, gnarled transportation systems, confusing supply chains, overtaxed communication networks, and so on.  This ‘massification’ of the world economy, while a major advantage for some nations and/or regions, has left others far behind.  Moreover, the seemingly never-ending shipment of resources, raw materials, and finished goods around the world has contributed to near planet-wide degradation of the environment on a scale never before seen.  As such, globalization is a major unresolved issue that deserves far more critical examination.

The danger of over-contentment, procrastination, neglecting to act in time, and general human laziness also present major problems which will likely delay our adoption of a better and more sustainable socio-environmental system.  Too many in the most ‘advanced’ industrialized countries are suffering from a rather severe epidemic of over-contentment due to our recent material successes and seeming triumph over much of nature.  Many have clearly forgotten how to best live in balanced harmony with our environment (neither asking nor taking too much from it without putting enough back in to it).  We have been led astray from the path of sustainability.  Socio-environmental harmony must be restored lest we slowly start to lose the very environment which has allowed us to progress so far and on so many different levels.

Though it is very unnerving to ponder, humanity could eventually be confronted by sudden environmental catastrophes and/or slow-motion ecological disasters that could possibly lead to the wholesale environmental/ecological collapse of certain ecosystems, various regions, specific nations, or even the entire world if the degradation went deep or far enough.  The collapse of varied cultures and societies have of course happened numerous times throughout human history, but what sets the current possible collapse scenario(s) apart from all the others is the sheer scale and size of the modern world as compared to the comparatively sparsely-populated civilizations of times past.  A socio-environmental collapse/dissolution in modern times has the horrific potential to be incalculably more destructive, disruptive, and unsettling to human civilization overall than those which occurred in the past.  The stakes are clearly so much greater nowadays due to the sheer interconnectedness as well as dense settlement of the world.

It is tempting to think that there is likely no hope of a bright future for humanity on Earth, that the problems are just too great, too unfathomable, too convoluted, and almost entirely insurmountable.  However, humans are an extremely intelligent and adaptable species that has proven itself able to survive (or sometimes thrive) in even the most difficult of environments and circumstances.  The raw human will to survive, combined with our collective intellect as well as the ingenuity and resourcefulness that stems from that intellect, will likely see humankind through even the harshest of times.  The next section will offer some possible solutions to the current socio-environmental crisis.

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Dealing with the ever more flimsy food-supply chain(s) as well as the problem of energy availability and usage, the overall transportation system of the present era is increasingly obsolete, chaotic, primitive, and inadequate.  The current (and still growing) world population, as well as the compounding levels of complexity and sophistication which it takes to run our modern world, are making the problems related to transportation even more acute.

The flawed and unsustainable makeup of the current transportation network(s) in many countries is evident simply by observing only one busy intersection and/or highway in a single city, which is located in only one county, which is found in one state, in one country, on one continent, etc.  By taking the time to observe one single hectic, polluted, crowded, and frenzied intersection and/or highway, and then multiplying that by hundreds of thousands of not millions of similar intersections/highways located around the world in virtually every other area of dense human habitation, you can get a sense of the exceedingly unsound, unhinged, and frankly broken transportation situation that we currently find ourselves in.

An astonishingly large number of people in countries around the world are now finding themselves permanently stranded at home; an increasing number are nowadays either unable to afford a mode of transportation and its many associated expenses or they are stuck in an undeveloped/developing nation where the needed transportation infrastructure has not yet been built up to accommodate the rapidly increasing demand and use.  As a result of the oil-dependent transportation systems which so many countries currently rely on, many of these people are unable to participate at all in the socio-cultural, economic, and/or political lives of their own country or even their native region.  This of course leaves many destined to a life of poverty, alienation, and dispossession because they are unable to get where they need to go in order to try and secure a decent existence for themselves and their families.  This dire situation is already causing a great deal of economic, political, and general social unrest in many areas, and it is likely to get much worse before it gets any better.

It is clear that the many issues and problems related to transportation loom menacingly large in almost every area, region, state, and country, and unless many drastic, sweeping, and all-encompassing steps are taken fairly soon the chaotic gridlock will regrettably continue to deepen and spread.

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