Will Homo Sapiens Survive? (2/52)

Illustration by Susanne Gold/ text by Ted Ganten

Reality

Let’s start by describing reality. What are our biggest problems? How will technology and humanity develop? Which of the developments can be influenced so that we can focus our energy on them? And in this new world, how should we distinguish good from evil? Are the laws of the market, the ten commandments or Kant’s categorical imperative enough for us? Only after these topics have at least been adressed do I introduce the new concept and ideas to help save the planet. A path that can help us to shape the great challenges of the future.

Growth and resources:

At the moment we are 7+ billion people and the number is growing every day. Forecasts predict 10 billion by 2055, and per capita consumption of energy continues to rise. The resources of energy, raw materials, food and water are limited. Of course, one could argue that we have a distribution problem in the first place. Currently. But projections over the next hundred years do not look rosy. Moreover, it is difficult to argue from the perspective of an industrialized nation that other people do not have the right to a comparable consumption of resources. Certainly, in addition to the number of people, the per capita consumption of energy will also multiply. It remains an irritating concept that pure coincidence of the place of birth and the legal invention of ownership determine when, how and why we use the resources of our planet that have been around for millions of years. The battle for water, rare earths and minerals has long since begun. We are only just beginning to discover air as a resource. We still live in a world of abundance. That will change.

War and peace:

We are an aggressive species. Although the last 70 years have been extremely peaceful, at least in larger parts of the world than ever before, the trend is currently moving in a critical direction again. Economic protectionism, as currently practiced by many eloquent or at least loud presidents and heads of state, is the prequel of nationalism. The UN is losing support. The EU is struggling with its first withdrawal. The legitimacy of supranational alliances, including NATO, is being publicly questioned. This destabilization, although often driven by ostensibly justified economic reasons, endangers peace in the medium term. Ironically, the lack of esteem for peace at present is probably the flip side of the actual midterm existence of peace. A large part of the present generation knows nothing else and takes peace for granted.

The search for happiness and religion:

A polarization is also taking place in the religious sphere. In the western industrialized nations, religious believes dissolve into a certain lack of interest. Consumption has risen from the ashes of religion as a “raison d’être”. The search for the increase of individual happiness, as it is offered in countless courses and workshops from yoga and meditation to NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), is becoming a spiritual business branch. I do not mean to be despictive. Many of these spiritual paths are embedded in a world view and encourage also ethical behavior. In other cases, however, these offers are not accepted because of their ethical component, but because they “do you good”. That is not wrong either. The search for individual happiness is an evolutionary given, but it does not help in the search for a social consensus and does not form a cross-border, common basic ethical understanding.

At the same time, there seems to be in other parts of the world a return to fundamental religious values, e.g. in the Muslim environment. In some regions, states and denominations, this goes so far as to lead to segregation between people of different faiths and ignorance of the findings of science. This tendency is not at all limited to Islam. The “intelligent design” movement of predominantly American Christians holds the view that man cannot descend from apes because God created us in his image and likeness. They mean that literally. This is not a small group of sectarians, but the predominant opinion in many southern states (the so-called “Bible Belt”). It is taught in public schools. Teachers believe in it- The influence of marginalized Christians in the USA who are oriented on the literal wording of the Bible – such as the “Family” – is also increasing. This has little to do with the Enlightenment or scientific education.

Summary:

All in all, one cannot help but notice that the population of our Planet Earth – despite all globalization and networking opportunities and despite education and scientific knowledge – is not on the best path to growing together. On the contrary: Political and religious forces that separate and strengthen borderlines seem to be popular everywhere. Even for environmental protection topics one must nowadays “fight” and point with fingers to the “others”.

So far so good with regard to the current challenges. Next week we will have a look into the future. Which developments are to be expected?

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