IEET > GlobalDemocracySecurity > Vision > Futurism > Eco-gov > SciTech > Resilience
Evolving Our Way Past Extinction

From Big Think and the Nantucket Project

What are the ways our civilization might collapse, and how might the human race become extinct?

According to sociobiologist Rebecca Costa, the answers are all staring us straight in the face. Just look at current events. Costa writes in her book The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction that human existence is threatened by “a global recession, powerful pandemic viruses, terrorism, rising crime, climate change, rapid depletion of the earth’s resources, nuclear proliferation, and failing education.”

Fortunately, Costa argues we are remarkably equipped to counter these threats today, due to our current understanding of the “biological reasons for the ascension and decline of civilizations.” The problem, as Costa describes it, is that humans are governed by two clocks: the very slow-ticking clock of human evolution and the fast-accelerating clock of technological progress. The result of these two clocks not synching up is the human brain (and the public policy our brains generate) is unable to keep up with the complex environment around us. According to Costa, we’re then left with “paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology.” Put all those in the blender, and look out!

So how do we stave off our collapse? The solution involves what Costa calls the most (surprisingly) controversial word in the English language: evolution. Costa asks why, if Charles Darwin’s theory is “the most important scientific principle governing life on earth,” we don’t utilize it as a relevant tool to solve our problems today? In other words, why is evolution “the greatest discovery you’ve never heard of?”




COMMENTS
Petition Presentation, Town of Chapel Hill, NC, November 21, 2011.

Opening remarks…….

In Chapel Hill and around the world, it is all the same: many too many people can be found in too many places destroying the natural world for personal economic gain. Many human-induced pressures on Earth’s finite resources and its frangible ecology, that directly result from the unbridled global growth of overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities by the human species, put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future for children, not only in Chapel Hill but elsewhere on the surface of our planetary home. If we are to halt the reckless destruction of Earth as a viable resource base as well as the irreversible degradation of an already polluted environment and a warming climate, we must accept limits to growth.

We must start somewhere soon to chart a sustainable course. Endless economic and population growth appear to be unsustainable. Let us consider now and here ways we can humanely, fairly, equitably and realistically define limits to economic and population growth in Chapel Hill, while there is still time to do so. Once the comfortable and friendly size of Chapel Hill is lost due to economic and population growth pressures, Chapel Hill’s quality of life and special characteristics will be impossible to regain.

Perhaps we can “think globally” about the predicament seven billion human beings present to the viability of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. Then we choose to"act locally" in ways that move us in the direction of a sustainable future for children everywhere and for life as we know it. Thank you.

TO MAYOR MARK KLEINSCHMIDT, MEMBERS OF THE TOWN COUNCIL, TOWN MANAGER ROGER STANCIL AND WHOMEVER ELSE THIS MAY CONCERN on Monday, November 21, 2011:

A Petition to Define Limits to Economic and Population Growth in the Town of Chapel Hill, NC

Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill appears to be outgrowing the comfortable and friendly size that has made it a wonderful place to live, raise children, work and retire; and
Whereas increasing traffic congestion, crime and other social ills are presenting worrisome trends that result from human population growth which will eventually degrade Chapel Hill’s eco-friendly environs, deplete its limited natural resources and conceivably ruin what makes our town beautiful and special; and
Whereas the Town of Chapel Hill has established limits and the Great State of North Carolina has boundary lines that separate it from adjacent states; and
Whereas the USA has borders that confirm the limits of authorized human activity under its regulations and laws as well as distinguish itself as a separate nation; and
Whereas Earth is round, bounded and finite with frangible environs not flat, unbounded and unperturbed by human production, consumption and population activities of the human species worldwide; and
Whereas there are well-known biological and physical “rules of the house” in our planetary home that are categorically different from the manmade laws which regulate day to day production, consumption and population activities of human species, but are no less important to citizens of Chapel Hill, the State of NC and the USA as well as to the global citizenry of the human family, precisely because the biophysical reality of God’s Creation places immutable limits on the unbridled global growth of human overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities; and
Whereas a billion human beings were added to family of humanity worldwide in the last dozen years (1999 to 2011); and
Whereas in the month of October 2011 the seven billionth human being joined the human community; and
Whereas there are more human beings in November 2011 existing on resources valued at less than two dollars per day globally than were alive on Earth in the year of my birth (2.3+ billion in March 1945); and
Whereas we have heard many times, understood well enough, and can reasonably be expected to at least consider acting in a morally responsible way upon a shibboleth of humanity that goes like this, “Think globally, act locally,”

Now, Therefore, It appears appropriate to Propose and Present this brief Summary of a Program for Action.

As a part of the town-wide envisioning process to consciously and deliberately manage economic and population growth in the Town of Chapel Hill between now and 2020, leaders, planners and stakeholders will assure that the maintenance of the unique character and the quality of life in Chapel Hill, as we enjoy it now, is protected and preserved for the children and future generations. To accomplish this goal, various scenarios or different elements of a single scenario will be developed with the hope that the following steps will be examined for their efficacy.

Because overpopulation is ultimately a local issue, set an optimum/maximum population size for the Town of Chapel Hill in 2020. This goal can be fulfilled by adopting growth-management policies related to limits on the number of new residential dwelling units and to additional eco-friendly curbs on commercial developments per year between now and 2020. Zoning regulations can be promulgated to further restrict the size of residential, commercial and industrial buildings within the town limits. The reality-oriented adoption of “soft caps” on economic and population growth will make it possible for the Town of Chapel Hill to sensibly acknowledge and adequately address the considerable and potentially unsustainable growth pressures that are readily visible on our watch.

Steven Earl Salmony
Great argument for congitive enhancement.
YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: The Case for Moral Enhancement

Previous entry: The Intersection of Mormonism and Transhumanism