There is a strong likelihood that the current threats to the sustainability of Spaceship Earth, at least for civilised human occupation, are beyond solution, given the large number of accelerating dysfunctions brought about by human behaviour.
Natural World Threats
- Human population exceeds earth’s carrying capacity (ecological footprint)
- Climate disruption (global warming; extreme weather events)
- Sea level rise (melting of cryosphere on land & sea)
- Pollution of air, water and land (material and chemical waste products)
- Biodiversity and ecosystem losses (the planet’s 6th Great Extinction)
- Depletion – fossil energy and minerals
- Depletion – fisheries, forests, soils, water
- Global epidemics of disease
Machine’ World Threats
- Global debt-based financial system instability
- Increasing inequality in wealth & poverty (recently represented as the 1% and the 99%)
- Illegal migration & criminal global trafficking
- Regional ethnic, resource & religious conflicts
- Nuclear weapon proliferation
- Urbanization & mega-cities (31 cities with over 10 million population)
- Cyber-warfare and internet fragility
- Uncontrolled artificial intelligence (AI)
- Genetic engineering
- Ego-centric unpredictable political leaders
Nevertheless, for the sake of coming generations and the planet we cannot abandon the hope of finding solutions. Hope of progress and redemption arise from both religious and liberal humanistic beliefs, the ‘stories’ that give purpose to so many lives. Writers such as John Gray and Ronald Wright characterise ‘progress’ as a delusional myth, given the record of history and the exponential impact of human activity on the very systems that support life. But large numbers of people are still seeking solutions to many of these ‘systemic stressors’ or existential threats These hope-driven efforts seek to create a safe operating space for humanity within the limits (planetary boundaries) of the earth systems that sustains us.
Remedies needed – summary of threatening events and attempts at remedies;f car ownership globally. There are currently 1.2 billion vehicles on earth, 2 billion by 2035. Resilience – Post-Carbon Institute is a leading source of adaptive ideas; Ecology or catastrophe? – The root causes of the environmental crisis are social and lie in social relations of domination and exploitation.