Last week's SOS Memo focused on six of our "cultural norms" that could lead to our ultimate demise as a species. In case you missed it,
here is a link
This week, I want to focus on the positive: the
cultural norms of the future that could enable us to survive and thrive indefinitely on this planet. It is my firm belief that those future
cultural norms that could save our species will require a vast amount of thinking differently about every single aspect of the way we live.
As we carefully examine all aspects of how we live on this planet, aiming to maximize our chances for longterm survival of our species, we should keep one rule of thumb in mind: Err on the side of living even greener than nature demands. That means when in
doubt, take it
is all about.
The final chapter of
is entitled, "Jolted Into Thinking Differently" and Covid-19 has triggered much of that jolting. Hopefully, we have been jolted enough to start thinking about what our lives might look like in a fully-sustainable society where we can joyfully co-exist with nature.
It may take a century or more to reach the ultimate of living in complete harmony with nature as described below -- but we will never get there if we don't start talking about the overarching parameters soon. How about now?
Here is how I see it: my own top-ten list for how we might be living in complete harmony with nature by 2100.
Envisioned Sustainable Living by 2100 and Beyond
Food, Shelter, Clothing and Healthcare for All. Every human on the planet will have a clean and comfortable place to live, will enjoy a delicious and healthy way of eating, will enjoy the same high level of healthcare and will have access to suitable clothing and home furnishings.
2. Almost all humans will live in beautiful and enjoyable cities that feature lots of entertainment and career choices for everyone. As such, most people will never wish that they could return to the highly stressful conditions that were endured by their ancestors in the last two centuries.
3. The cities of the future will be designed and built over the next fifty years, a period during which we will figure out just how many humans can live on this planet in a manner that does not interfere with the natural world.
4. Once we figure out how many humans can live comfortably and sustainably on this planet, there will be a fair and just "system" in place for ensuring that the optimal level of human population is maintained indefinitely. As for how many humans this planet can support -- with a dramatically greener way of living -- I suspect that number will turn out being less than half of what we have now.
5. There is another ultra-delicate subject today that will hardly be remembered 100 years from now. That subject is related to how have we have interfered with the natural world for the past 10,000 years as we have "created" hundreds of other species of animals for our food, companionship and entertainment. Those billions of animals that were bred for the sole purpose of serving humanity will be allowed to naturally pass away with dignity.
That will leave Homo sapiens as the ONLY species of animal in the world that is not living in the wild. That said, we must all ensure that the way of life we choose to live in our ultra-green mega cities -- will enable us to inflict a net positive impact on that natural world that sustains us. We must learn to give more than we take.
7. As for joy in our lives, we will figure out totally new and exciting ways to have fun, interact with each other, and pursue joyful and satisfying careers. With the aid of AI and virtual reality, the possibilities are endless. There will be a transition period during which we will gradually walk away from our previous forms of entertainment -- activities that became popular long before we realized that we had a sustainability crisis and that there would someday be up to ten billion humans living on this planet.
8. On the topic of the future pecking order among humans. If we are to achieve longterm sustainability with the natural world, there will need to be incentives to reward those people and those nations who contribute the most to the health of the biosphere -- and punishments for those who continue to negatively impact the natural world.
9. Obviously, the never-ending-growth economy that we have today will no longer exist. It will be replaced by a way of "keeping score" that will be based on how each individual and each country contributes to the health of our biosphere. It's like the aircraft carrier analogy in Outcry,
with everyone on board sharing the #1 priority of keeping their vessel afloat and out of harm's way. Planet Earth is our
and we have seriously compromised her ability to sustain us indefinitely -- yet I choose to believe that we still have time to make things right.
10. World peace and joy, along with meaningful and stress-free lives for all humans, is a theoretically reachable goal and artificial intelligence can help us get there. But there is one segment of today's population that will not be happy with that new set of living arrangements -- and that is the one percent that controls the majority of wealth and power in today's world. It is almost certain that they will not embrace the changes that we are suggesting -- hence, significant systemic change will not begin to happen until the global conversation on this topic is deafening.
The Bottom Line. Collectively, we have the wherewithal to create a virtual paradise on Earth for all humans -- but we are running out of time.
In our book, Outcry, we described a vision of how we might begin to move from today's highly inefficient way of living to a sustainable nirvana for all humans. That vision was intended to help spark a global conversation regarding the need for sweeping systemic change as we totally re-think our unsustainable cultural norms of the past one hundred years.
Hopefully that essential conversation will begin in earnest soon. Otherwise, what shall we be leaving for our children? Sadly, we might be leaving them an epitaph for the modern human civilization that only lasted four hundred years.
An Epitaph for a Short-Lived Species*