In order not to tire readers with too many details and explanations I will be short. But whatever technologies I will mention in this article are existing technologies in different stages of maturity.
Disclaimer: predictions are difficult, especially about the future.
Below are my attempts to figure out where the existing trends and technologies will lead humanity.
Some experts predict gloom and doom while others are full of optimism. Who is right? Maybe both. It depends on how you look at life, civilization and progress. And what is “progress”?
Is the end of dinosaurs and rise of mammals progress? Not from the dinosaur's point of view! Is the beginning of the industrial revolution progress? Not for our planet.
So what is progress?
Is growth and consumption-based economy progress?
Is global climate change caused by humans progress?
Science, our understanding of the universe, our technological advancements are impressive.
But what about weapons of war? Nuclear and thermonuclear weapons of mass distraction? Is that progress?
So when I predict a major crisis of Western civilization, is this progress? I guess it depends on your point of view. So you be the judge.
The major crisis of our civilization.
- Consumption and growth-based economy is nearing a crisis.
Our economy in my opinion is unsustainable.
“If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows- were-nearing-collapse
- Hamster cage economic model.
Here is the question: Productivity keeps increasing for a hundred years and yet we are busier than ever! Please think about it. Where did the results of our high productivity go if we have to work harder and produce more? Is it because we consume more and more stuff and services?
Following this logic what is the logical conclusion? The more we produce, the more we consume and we have to work even harder so we will be able to consume more to “grow our economy”.
- The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on its impact to society (as a measure of devastation) and the # 8 global risk based on likelihood (likelihood of occurring within 10 years) as announced by the World Economic Forum, January 2015. http://water.org/water- crisis/water-facts/water/
- Food shortages.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world is less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments, according to a top scientist at the U.S. Agency for International development. http://today.agrilife.org/2014/04/18/food-shortages-could-be-most-critical-world-issue-by-mid- century/
- Global shortage of raw materials is an increasingly pressing issue leading to instability in the world and wars. http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/wereldwijde-schaarste-aan-materialen- steeds-nijpender-kwestie/
- Russia and China are gearing for global war for natural resources. And so is the US.
“The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion—a crisis that goes beyond “peak oil” to encompass shortages of coal and uranium, copper and lithium, water and arable land.” The global pursuit of vital natural resources has long shaped human history, providing the impetus for campaigns of exploration and conquest across the millennia. http://www.globalforesightbooks.org/Book-of-the-Month/michael-t-klare-the-race-for-whats-left.html
- Effects of global warming.
Floods will affect the crops and destroy human habitats.
Droughts affect the food supply and will force human migrations.
Wars for natural resources, caused by human migration.
"..powerful evidence backing up the Pentagon and intelligence community’s assessments that climate change is likely to play the role of a “threat multiplier” in coming decades, pushing countries that are already vulnerable to upheaval over the edge and into open conflict.” http://mashable.com/2015/03/02/global-warming-syria-civil-war/
- Mass extinction of life:
Warming temperatures of water bodies, decertification and deforestation can all contribute to the irreversible impact on our natural habitat and thus threaten endangerment and even extinction of plant and animal life. http://listdose.com/top-10-effects-global-warming/
- Fragility of globalization.
"The presence of globalization can thus create a domino effect which means that if a country is affected , several other countries are bound to get affected too even if they might be on the other side of the globe." http://listdose.com/top-10-effects-global-warming/
- Population growth and a centralized economy model.
Waste and overhead due to centralized global infrastructure: huge expenses and losses to warehouse and deliver products to the stores.
- Industrial agriculture. Mono agriculture may cause global crops sickness.
Large, homogeneous crops enable parasites -- bacteria, viruses, fungi and insects --- to specialize on one specific host, increasing the chance they will mutate into a more pathogenic form. http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=6882
- Genetically engineered crops and it's side effects. Super weeds and super bugs.
The ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops is by now well known:
- over 10 million acres of super-weeds resistant to Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp;
- farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pig-weed thick as a baseball bat; - - Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ herbicides;
- a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older and more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. http://www.panna.org/blog/monsantos-superweeds-superbugs
- Fragility of the centralized infrastructure.
Domino effect. Just by hacking into a grid, one can create a catastrophic failure of the grid. Not just a power grid. Any grid.
Air traffic, computerized Walmart logistics, cell phone grids and so on.
Global financial system is vulnerable. The so called Cloud: “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”
- Cyber war is coming.
Another aspect of the decentralization issue is a cyber war. The most lethal weapon is not a bomb. It is a cyber attack on the country infrastructure. A country “smart” power grid can be disabled not with bombs, but much easier and cheaper - by hacking into a grid and disabling the power distribution in the country. That will end civilization as we know it.
“We’re not prepared. If the nightmare scenario becomes suddenly real. If hackers shut down much of the electrical grid and the rest of the critical infrastructure goes with it. If we are plunged into chaos and suffer more physical destruction than 50 monster hurricanes and economic damage that dwarfs the Great Depression.” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/21/u-s-not-ready-for-cyber-war-hostile-hackers- could-launch.html
We go about our daily routine. We get up; go to work and complain about traffic. Sometimes, we like our jobs, sometimes we hate them. We sit in traffic coming home. Not that we like it, but many of us are comfortably miserable with this daily grind. Of course, we complain, but do we have a choice? Got to make a living! It's a job. We have dinner - if we have time, it'll be homemade, but often it's precooked, frozen and microwavable. Then a little TV, followed by some restless sleep. Morning: and the routine repeats itself - day after day. People are creatures of habit. We accept it and get used to it.
We don't think much about how what we do affects our world. We just live as everybody lives. It's always been like that, and always will be. Right?
We watch the news. At last, the economy is recovering, more jobs are available and unemployment is decreasing. Hooray, we can afford to buy more stuff.
Some of us watch the History Channel - Mystery of the Lost Civilizations . Cool stuff! Of course, it could never happen to us. We are smarter and know a lot more than these ancient civilizations. We are here to stay
Yes, finally, we can afford it; it's time to go shopping. We are surrounded by wondrous shopping malls, and more are being built all the time. Life is good.
Rarely do we think where the stuff comes from or what becomes of all that garbage we take out every day. It's simple: the truck comes and takes it away.
Apparently we have the mentality of a Thanksgiving Turkey!
“Researchers at one of the world’s leading think tanks have developed a computer model that predicts serious implications for our way of life as a result of our incessant need to consume resources like oil, food, and fresh water. According to a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the breaking point will come no later than 2030, and when it does, we can expect a paradigm shift unlike any we have seen before in human history – one that will not only collapse the economies of the world, but will cause food and energy production to decrease so significantly that it will lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the process.” A renowned Australian research scientist says a study from researchers at MIT claiming the world could suffer from a "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" if people continue to consume the world's resources at the current pace is still on track, nearly 40 years after it was first produced. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/next-great-depression-mit-researchers-predict-global-economic-190352944.html
A giant Ponzi scheme.
GENEVA (Reuters) - The global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million people this year, the International Labour Organization said in its annual report on Tuesday, repeating a warning it has made at the start of each of the last six years. http://news.yahoo.com/global-jobless-hit-record-200-million-ilo-230617257--business.html
Question: What do we need to live and be happy? Answer: We need food, water, a place to live, fellow human beings, family, friends and a livable climate. Additionally in order to have fulfilled lives, we need to do something that we love, whether it be growing a garden, reading a book, appreciating a painting or traveling the world. Doing keeps us alive.
Our society, our way of life, our economic model are all in trouble. A portion the world's population is experiencing food and water shortages. We are dependent upon non-renewable energy sources. Human population grows , resources decline, and now climate change is upon us.
Why is it that in order to make a living, you must waste fuel idling in traffic? Why do we waste precious resources producing things totally unnecessary and sometimes harmful to our own health. Is there a rational reason why our economy produces and distributes junk food? Instead of producing healthy food, we use our scarce, depleted land, and draw mega-gallons of the water from our ever-shrinking aquifer.to make junk food. Why must we squander our land, water, and energy to produce and consume useless crap.
We are busy, so busy that there is little time to enjoy our family and friends. Is the really the way to go? Do you really need all this stuff? How can this be? Why do we need to make and consume more and more in order to “make a living”?
The answer is simple : Our Western economic model is a Ponzi scheme, a pyramid scheme.
Ponzi scheme: “A fraudulent moneymaking scheme in which people are recruited to make payments to others above them in a hierarchy while expecting to receive payments from people recruited below them. Eventually the number of new recruits fails to sustain the payment structure, and the scheme collapses with most people losing the money they paid in.” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Ponzi+scheme
The Western World's Ponzi economy: in order to sustain itself for itself, it must have consumers with insatiable appetites, and those appetites must be continually stimulated by producing more goods. Thus using more limited resources. Of course, the scheme must and will collapse when resources are not available. No resources equals no goods which equals no consumers and thus no economy ... game over! Countries around the world are rushing to adopt and implement this Western economic model. They are happily joining the crowd running toward the cliff.
Food and land shortages are growing. Arable land and food production are intrinsically locked together. Land suitable for food production is declining every year. The implications of a food crisis are closely linked to another issue that has the potential to further threaten global food security. Building more factories and cities turns potential life giving crop land into concrete. That concrete may result in stronger GDP numbers, but the urbanization, rising disposable income and population growth contributes to rising demand for food. "Up to 30 million hectares of farmland are lost annually due to environmental degradation, conversion to industrial use or urbanization,"notes Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in a report. China is one of the best examples of this. The country's population is set to level out slightly by the middle of the century, but its accelerating economic expansion is increasingly destabilizing the food balance.” http://www.sott.net/article/255795-Why-Chinas-explosive-economic-growth-could-trigger-a-global-food-crisis
An infinitely growing economy is dependent on an infinitely growing population, a population that is already placing inordinate burdens on the finite resources of a finite planet. Unrestrained growth, like any cancer, will kill us, and it could happen quicker than we think. It's time we seriously think about these problems, and seek solutions. We are heading towards catastrophe, an inevitable catastrophe, unless we humans recognize the problem and change our ways. Our future is ours to build or to destroy.
Economists and politicians are talking about the need to "grow our economy" This blind addiction to growth remind me of hoards of locusts dying after devouring their food supply until their is nothing left for their sustainability.
I hope eventually humanity will come to it's senses. I hope.
But recent events dashed whatever remains of my optimism. In a radio interview with Voice of Christian Youth America, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) argued that his belief that global warming is a hoax is biblically inspired. Promoting his bookThe Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, Inhofe told interviewer Vic Eliason on Wednesday that only God can change the climate, and the idea that manmade pollution could affect the seasons is “arrogance“
Lately we are witnessing a disturbing trend around the world. Western economies are in trouble. Financial problems plague most of the “developed world”. Unemployment is high. Energy costs are rising. These problems are not limited to Western societies. There are global problems: food and water shortages, disillusioned populations, social upheaval and deforestation. In my opinion, the underlying roots of the problem are deeper and much more serious than we are led to believe. The problem is our worldwide
Problems that I see with our lifestyle
Food: mono-culture; chemicals; genetically-modified food
Raw materials: open-ended consumption of non-renewable resources; waste - a substantial percentage of products manufactured is simply useless junk, wastefully squandering energy and natural resources.
Unemployment Causes: lack of skills; inferior education; expensive higher education; failing schools make for an unemployable workforce; constant productivity increases, decreasing the need for workers; corporations can do more with less to generate bigger profits; people buy less (general population has less money to spend); in its desire for greater profit, the corporations are dedicated to reduce overhead by laying off employees.