With population pressure mounting, environmental degradation increasing, and the precipice of "peak oil" just ahead, it's easy to lose hope for our future. Will we end up like yeast trapped in a sealed bottle of grape juice, eating all the sugar until our own waste renders our environment toxic to us and kills us? Or are we smart and adaptable enough to face this challenge and build a sustainable society?
It won't be easy, and it will require some real global cooperation. I've just finished a series of posts to outline some basic ideas and strategy:
First, people are far more willing to cooperate with others and plan for the future when they have enough resources to ensure their own health and the health of their children. In fertility, mortality I talked about how lowering infant/child mortality leads to parents choosing to have only a few children and investing an enormous amount of effort on each one. In is religion the problem? I argued that people of all nationalities, ethnicities, and religions will increase their racist element and find excuses for war when competition for resources becomes critical (and by contrast will be better off cooperating/trading with different groups when they're doing okay). Then in stand by your home-grown tyrant I discussed the fact that people will often side with a local leader -- even an obvious bad guy -- over a foreign invader if the foreign force's motives are tainted (by desire to control and take resources).
Second, we all need to get serious about limiting our own waste and excess consumption. The biggest, simplest strategy is to move towards low-to-no car urbanism. In living downtown and car-free I talked about how it's not just a question of saving the planet -- it can make your life simpler and more convenient in tons of ways. In European dream I argued that urban living can decrease racism (as kids grow up familiar with kids of all different backgrounds) which increases willingness to cooperate with other nations to save our planet. Finally, in earning admiration in today's world I discussed how our human values are starting to change in the right direction so that reducing wasteful consumption -- thinking of the future -- is seen as the highest virtue.