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July 24, 2010

First Exploitation, then Hope?

As the human population of Planet Earth has increased to unprecedented levels, so have its demands on the environment. Thus meeting those demands for the entire species has gradually become humanity's major source of wealth and one of its more significant existential threats. Seen in that context, the greater the human population, the more money could be made from exploiting humans through various forms of slavery and the manipulation of essential markets.

Unfortunately, there are limits. Only recently have we learned that although different populations have different ecological footprints: the resources required to meet aggregate human needs in terms of energy, fresh water, and a growing list of resources extracted from the earth (and its oceans) have their own limits. The major factor both driving and meeting human needs over the past five centuries has become the increasing efficiency of the technology enabled by Empirical Science; particularly after the Industrial Revolution began a little over two hundred years ago.

All of which heightens the critical importance of government decisions in establishing rules; not only for populations under their direct control, but also affecting smaller, weaker nations either directly or indirectly. Given the spectacular increase in human population just since the Industrial Revolution began, one does not have to be a genius to understand that humanity is in a crisis it's still unable to recognize; one for which the old ways are proving (and will probably remain) completely inadequate.

Given that our species is the only one capable of our degree of cognition, it follows that aside from some uncontrollable catastrophe such as an impact or a seismic event, the greatest threat to human welfare is human cognitive activity.

Perhaps the best we can hope for is that the forced reduction in our numbers that now appears inevitable will leave an optimum number of survivors with enough residual technology for a fresh start.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at July 24, 2010 04:51 PM