Sunday, 10 May 2009

We're All Doomed

In the current financial and economic climate, it is quite easy to think of ten things that will make the next 12 months a lot better. Things that will occur that we can look forward to and indeed wait in hope for.

But that was too easy, I could probably mention 100 things that will happen in the next year that will make our lives and our lifestyles much, much better.

But to be honest, these 100 things will come to nothing anyway. They will be nothing but short term comforters because in the long run, humanity has shot itself in the foot by living the way we do.

The dinosaurs roamed the earth for the best part of 500 million years, humanity will be lucky to survive for 10% of that. So who is more stupid?

Three things will finish us off:

1. Runaway climate change. The biggest question of the 21st century may be whether policies can catch up to the dangerous realities of a rapidly changing climate in time to avoid disaster. Will we come together to stabilize the climate? Or are we be the last generation to live on a planet that can support complex civilization?

2. Loose nukes. We are all in danger from loose nukes, the spread of nuclear materials around the world, and nuclear warfare between India and Pakistan or other nuclear-armed adversaries. Ridding the world of nuclear weapons may be the only way of avoiding a nuclear catastrophe; figures across the political spectrum support such proposals, including former Secretary of State George Shultz. Will we have the political will to rid ourselves of this danger?

3. Mad Max world. Disruption of life-as-usual could come from economic collapse, runaway climate change, war, peak oil, pandemics, or some unforeseen combination of these and other factors. What makes these prospects especially terrifying are potential human responses to them. We could see either societal breakdown—in which each person turns on others in a battle for dominance or survival—or fascism, in which people allow all-powerful leaders to run things out of fear of chaos.

So which will it be?

Are you hopeful or terrified by the coming year and by what we face in the coming decades?

What I keep coming back to is this: we humans have the free will to make choices that assure our collective survival, or to do otherwise. We do have the creativity, compassion, and intelligence to build on the best possibilities while averting the worst.

This historic moment will test everything we have built and everything our ancestors have passed down to us.

The answers are readily available, embedded in all the world’s spiritual traditions, in all the mothers and fathers who have sacrificed to make a good life for their children, and in all the peacemakers who have worked to build a better world for everyone.

Will we make the choices for a just and sustainable world?

We know, as Obama says, that, indeed, Yes! we can. But will we?

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