Climate change, population growth and scarcity of resources – what options do we have to secure our existence?

We have only one planet – our Earth! Mathematically one could therefore say that we live in a “closed system”. There are therefore only limited options for climate protection and for securing our existence on this planet. What options do we actually have? An options check.

The option we are currently using: The displacement of other consumers

Animals and plants also consume the resources of our planet. We have already begun to massively displace them and could continue to reduce and decimate animal and plant habitats to remain viable.

However, this is not a permanent option, as can be demonstrated by the state of our seas:

In the European region, 88 percent of fish stocks are overfished. Particularly in the European Union, which often claims sustainability for itself at the political level, the oceans are under greater strain than anywhere else in the world.

Part of this sad balance is also the fact that about 40 percent of the fish catches are thrown into the waste as so-called useless “by-catch”. In the North Sea, about one million tons of it are thrown back into the sea every year, dying or already dead.

So the displacement of the other species we operate does not seem to be a solution. What other options do we have?

Fewer people, less consumption and fewer worries – we ourselves are becoming fewer!

Instead of decimating animals and plants, we can try to reduce our consumption by reducing ourselves. But at the moment we are holding it the other way around. How are we doing?

By 2050, many old people will be living in Europe, and a third of the population will be over 60 years old. According to UNO estimates, the population of developing countries will double. The majority of all people will live in the cities. Urbanization and population growth will add more than 2.5 billion people to the world’s cities. Around 90% of this growth will take place in Asia and Africa.

If all of us were to immediately cease producing offspring, so that the earthly consumption would in the long run be below the natural regeneration of the earth’s resources, this would be an option to save the earth and its climate.

Paradoxically, in order to bring prevention to developing countries, it may make sense to promote prosperity there, because children are considered to be a means of subsistence. Conversely, this would require a renunciation by consumers in developing countries who produce their wealth in these low-wage countries. Could be difficult – what do we have left?

Leave the closed system and find another home planet?

Those who do not live on the earth do not consume its resources. If we find another planet and a large part of us humans relocate, we will no longer consume the earthly and natural resources of our earth.

Our neighbouring planet, Mars, is like a cold and barren desert. But that could be changed, some scientists think – and are even making plans to colonise Mars. At least there are people who dream and believe in exactly that – in a life on Mars. “We can make Mars habitable,” says Christopher McKay, planetary scientist at the US aerospace agency NASA, for example. The question is, who wants to go there? Not me! What’s left?

Personal responsibility – We change our consumption and commit ourselves to minimalism

Humanity has the opportunity to voluntarily reduce the scope and quality of resource use. This would mean a massive departure from the luxury that large parts of humanity today understand by prosperity. Each individual could consume and consume only little – the minimalist movement stands for this approach.

But renunciation is just something that most of us don’t like at all. Can this – possibly formally – be regulated?

In this context, the author Dieter Birnbacher proposes to transfer the idea of emission certificates to humans: Each person receives an annual emission credit, so to speak. If he does not use this up, he can sell excess emissions on the world market to those who need more credits. Global emissions could thus be controlled and capped – including those of private individuals. It will probably be a while before that is enforced. Are there any other ideas for saving the climate?

Price as leverage – If you don’t want to listen, you have to pay!

Natural resources and their use could become so expensive that the use and consumption of water, soil, air, energy, plants and animals would be virtually unaffordable. Global added value would then be created mainly locally, because transport would also be expensive in line with consumption.

Bad news for globetrotters – long-distance travel would virtually no longer be affordable

Holidays elsewhere are then cancelled. It is obvious that this would once again fuel social injustice.

Surely all those who have money would then continue to indulge in luxury, consume resources and travel. So probably the 42 billionaires who already own as much as half the world today. I belong to the other half of the world – not a utopian vision for me! What else is there?

Research as a source of hope

There is always the possibility that a groundbreaking discovery will be made that changes the course of history.

Substitution for natural resources

In this vision, mankind substitutes natural resources for synthetic materials, including ecological needs for the production, transport, recycling and disposal of plastics. This also includes the possibility of producing synthetic food.

Many people who care about animal and climate protection hope, for example, that cultivated meat could represent a way out of industrialised animal husbandry.

Cradle to Cradle – Waste becomes a resource

A more intensive circular economy, i.e. a more efficient recycling of natural resources, could slow down the process of depletion of the earth’s natural environment.

If the product consumed becomes a resource itself, then more and more often we are no longer consuming natural

This approach is called “Cradle to Cradle” in research and is being researched in Germany by Prof. Michael Braungart, among others, who finds “sustainability” boring.

A success of this research would mean no less than abandoning the use of resources without the extreme coercion. Any consumption would be the creation of a new resource.

You can surely imagine that – as a collector of utopias – I like the latter version.

Since saving the world is an important utopia, my blog for the coming week is dedicated to the United Nations negotiations, the COP24.

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