To survive the climate catastrophe “we” must create Humanity.
Who are “we”? I call “we”, humankind [the social/societal system composed of human persons interacting with each other and living/working/playing/loving on/in/with “humankind constructed things” and Gaia].
Humanity is a term I reserve for the human system when most humans are functioning in harmony in analogy with how all the diverse cells in our bodies function as components of an viable organism. Humanity as organism, is but one, of many, analogies (or metaphors) for Humanity. Humanity doesn’t map completely onto any analogy; and each analogy will have features not represented in Humanity. We can’t fully describe Humanity today anymore than our primate ancestors could have imagined “civilization”.
Another analogy would view humankind as a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly called Humanity. One feature of the caterpillar/butterfly analogy that doesn’t map to Humanity is the fact that butterflies don’t grow or change. The Humanity we will create is more like a new born baby, with a long future ahead and with no plans as to who it will grow/develop/evolve to.
The time we have to create Humanity is determined by the time we have before the climate catastrophe blocks our efforts to create Humanity. My first estimate is two decades – when the state-of-Humanity’s-emergence is competent to initiate the beginning of a decrease in the rate of global heating such that runaway global heating won’t occur. It may then take centuries for Humanity to lower the temperature and assist Gaia’s recovery.
In a sense, the first and most essential attributes of Humanity are those that enable it to stop runaway global heating. If these criteria are not met, all else is moot – humankind goes extinct and there is no Humanity.
It is critically important to distinguish collapse and extinction. Even if there were no climate threat at all, humankind is strongly trending to global and deep societal collapse, with a collapse of many life supporting infrastructures. When all the information is examined without ideology, societal collapse is probably as scientifically sound a forecast as climate catastrophe.
Unfortunately, both trends feed of each other. Climate induced disasters destabilize societies and destabilized societies are unable to curb the causes of climate change. The progress towards extinction could be called an ecological collapse, but it is quite different from economic and governance collapse. Societal collapse, on it own, is not likely to lead to extinction. Historically, a better society often emerged from the ashes of a collapsed society – but it has taken centuries and more.
The concept of Disruptive Innovations is gaining traction in dialog. This concept acknowledges that successfully seafed innovations result in shifts in human behavior, often to the extent as to disrupt traditional patterns. This is viewed as positive today by entrepreneurs, who focus on their gain and let those who lose fall into the bin of Social Darwinism. Humane societies would assist those disrupted by innovations, so there is no loss of living standard as they transit to new life/work styles. Such a policy would greatly enhance societal progress as obsolete and inefficient practices could be quickly phased out. Much of the current resistance to Green Energy comes from the loss of employment (and profits) by those working in of dependent on the fossil fuel sector.
It is important to make other distinctions, between
1) the threat of runaway global heating, leading to massive extinctions;
2) climate change, with associated weather turbulence, and their effects on the biosphere and humankind, short of extinction;
3) other damage to the biosphere by human action, not directly due to climate change, which also has an effect on humankind; and
4) what damages humankind has done to itself, such a obesity and war.
How must we humans be LIVING so as to dodge climate catastrophe?
Please hold off in imagining how we might get from here&now (humankind) to there&when (Humanity). There may be more than one model for Humanity that meets this minimal criteria.
Let me first cite a model that might meet the criteria, but which I would not want to label with the term, Humanity.
The elites of humankind come to accept the threat of climate catastrophe. In addition to stopping runaway global heating, they also require that “they” will be “in control” and be “living well” on into the future. From a practical perspective, “they” realize that the dominant ideologies they have employed may have to be abandoned. A quick and dirty way of quickly reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be to significantly reduce the human population. This, alone, may not stop runaway global heating; but it would be a big step. They were all going to die anyway if global heating isn’t stopped. With the new high tech advancements (AI, robotics, 3D printers, GMO, etc.) “they” no longer need a large population of “average” consumers and workers as part of their new economy. This resolves the problem of a future with vastly insufficient jobs for “average” workers. For the some hundred million elites (and some slaves), they can construct self-contained artificial biospheres, like space colonies – but on Earth – and means of transportation between them. These could withstand any changes in the Earth’s atmosphere and water due to global heating. Think 21st Century Noah’s Ark.
Soon we might be watching a TV series or read books that explores fictional scenarios on this theme; some already come close.
There may be some logistic difficulties with this model.
1) Many humans will be needed to construct the domed cities and all the infrastructure systems necessary for food, water, and air for survival over indefinite periods. This labor may be difficult to control, especially when the labor force witnesses what is happening to others. The population reduction may not run smoothly and revolts may interfere with the elites plans, or even topple them from their thrones (in some regions).
2) It is unlikely that the different elites within humankind could find unity of action. Warfare between different survival projects may well derail the whole endeavor.
3) The exponentially accelerating disasters due to global heating may be so disruptive of societies as to make the construction of survival biospheres impossible.
4) I firmly believe that these strategies are being explored in deep/dark agencies at different locations on Earth, today. In this document I don’t want to speculate further on this negative scenario. Rather, I want to explore other models for Humanity, that will be an attractive opportunity for the whole of humankind.
Let us attempt to list some essential characteristics of humans as they work creating Humanity.
… to be continued