(the picture is generated with DALL-E 2023)
Conflicts are on the rise. The world is descending into increasing chaos. It is becoming increasingly clear that humanity, with its current way of operating or governing, is not capable of living together in a balanced or sensible manner, neither with each other nor with the surrounding nature. It seems that while humanity has made great technological leaps, governing humanity itself is turning into an increasingly larger tragedy. There is no single country or institution, such as the UN, that can steer discussions on major issues in the right direction and has enough authority to arrive at acceptable solutions. On the contrary, conflicts are escalating, the natural environment is deteriorating rapidly, and there is less and less visibility on adequate solutions. As a result, numerous activist groups are emerging in various fields, attempting to compel governments to take different paths. There are now hundreds of these groups focusing on areas such as degrowth, sustainability, sustainable population, climate action, etc. However, this has not yet led to a significant shift in society’s overall course.
In addition to conflicts, the depletion of the Earth.The world has long held the assumption (Francis Fukuyama: The End of History) that the best societal form had been achieved with a capitalist system embedded in democratic frameworks. It appeared that countries governed autocratically would convert to capitalism and steer towards a more democratic course. Globalization erupted with full force. Everyone was set to collaborate with one another; technology knew no bounds, and hunger was on the decline. This fairy tale has turned into a nightmare. Democracies are desperately trying to uphold international legal standards, while countries with autocratic governments, such as Russia, China, and Iran, are demanding a different world order and attempting to enforce it with necessary violence. While this situation is already dire enough, the world is increasingly plagued by climate disasters, which, according to scientists, will only worsen in the coming years. Meanwhile, large multinational corporations are siphoning resources from less developed countries by clearing rainforests, depleting fishing grounds, practicing deep mining in the seas for minerals, and engaging in a space race to explore usable resources on other planets. Biodiversity is under immense pressure; numerous interconnected ecosystems are collapsing, and many animal species are currently facing extinction. This era is referred to as the sixth mass extinction, given the staggering number of species lost in recent years. World leaders are currently overwhelmed by various conflicts, leaving insufficient attention to climate issues and related problems. Consequently, the situation is poised to spiral out of control in the coming years.
World Trapped in Economic Growth Model. One of the biggest problems is that the world is trapped in an economic system that essentially assumes the Earth is an infinite and free source of energy, resources, food, and water. However, it is now abundantly clear that the Earth is finite. This was not a problem when the total population was around 2 billion people, as it was after the Second World War. However, with approximately 8 billion people today, who also consume multiples per person of what was typical after the war, the Earth is being depleted at a rapid pace. Inevitably, the current economic system will have to be overhauled. Despite this, there is a lack of widespread acknowledgment, and major countries, institutions, and corporations are hardly making any moves in this regard. Apparently, the importance of short-term profits continues to outweigh the long-term interests of creating a sustainable Earth. Nature, however, is increasingly issuing warnings that human greed is pushing its adaptability to its limits. This deadlock cannot last much longer. If humanity attempts to undermine nature, nature will undoubtedly undermine humanity.
Can Humanity Solve Its Own Problem? The question arises: Is humanity still capable of finding solutions to this self-inflicted dire situation? Technically speaking, much is still possible. Those who have read David Attenborough’s latest book (A Life on Our Planet) can see numerous examples of how nature can be restored, how population growth can be controlled, and how seemingly lost situations can be reversed with the necessary efforts. Many scientists have expressed ideas about restoring nature, the ecological environment, energy transition, making society more sustainable, and limiting the Earth’s population. But where are the actions? Why aren’t the climate goals of Paris being met? Why are there constantly elaborate plans that are not followed through? It all has to do with the flawed governing systems humanity employs.
Current Governance Systems Offer No Solution. Neither the democratic model nor the autocratic model is currently capable of finding solutions to the numerous global problems. Democracy was never designed to collectively address global issues but rather to establish acceptable cooperation among different population groups within a country. It is now bogged down in inertia because the model cannot handle the problems at hand. The autocratic model, on the other hand, is solely designed to grant power to a select group within a population and does not concern itself with finding solutions for the world. The result of these faltering governance systems is that instead of establishing a global structure to address global problems collaboratively, there is an increasing trend of conflicts between countries to seize the dwindling quantities of food, resources, water, and space. Superpowers and wealthy nations will do everything possible in the coming years to secure the best outcomes for themselves, regardless of the consequences. Poorer countries on one hand and nature on the other will undoubtedly be the major victims of the escalating conflicts. Humanity is collectively entering a survival mode of the fittest, a trend we are witnessing the beginnings of right now. No power is capable of stopping it.
Livability on Earth is at Stake. In the coming years, humanity will face profound challenges, undoubtedly resulting in millions of casualties, as predicted by numerous climate and biodiversity scientists. However, substantial groups of people will likely survive the situation. Unless, of course, the air and water on Earth become so contaminated or polluted that all current life forms can no longer exist. While this possibility may be small, it is not entirely excluded. It is known that plants cannot survive above certain temperatures, and at present, many plants are dying in regions where temperatures have become extremely high. Overly warm oceans will eventually cause marine life to perish. We do not yet know how rapidly temperatures will rise in the coming years, but we have already experienced several consecutive months of the warmest temperatures ever recorded. It could become extremely severe. Pesticides have significantly reduced insect populations, while insects are fundamental food sources for many animals (birds, reptiles) and essential for pollination (bees). If plant and animal life starts to die off abruptly in the coming decades, it will be challenging for humanity. In the worst-case scenario, humans could be the cause of creating a situation on Earth that resembles Mars.
A New World Order is Necessary. Assuming the situation does not become so dire that all humans perish during the ongoing sixth mass extinction, the question arises of how the surviving humanity must organize itself to establish a sustainable way of life on Earth for both themselves and the surrounding environment. Humanity will need to establish a different world order that is sustainable, acknowledging the finite nature of the Earth. This new order should include an economic system (for instance Doughnut Economics as proposed by the British economist Kate Raworth) that embraces a harmonious relationship with the surrounding nature. In this system, humanity no longer behaves as superior but instead shows respect and provides space for other life forms. One asset that can greatly aid future humans in this endeavour is the vast arsenal of technological knowledge and tools that humanity has amassed. These resources will prove invaluable in constructing a future world order.
A Sustainable World. Key aspects of a new world order will involve reducing meat consumption and achieving sustainable population growth. Current meat consumption stands as one of the major contributors to significant CO2 emissions. The majority of agricultural land worldwide is used for livestock feed production, putting unnecessary pressure on available agricultural space and leading to the destruction of many animals’ habitats. Furthermore, reducing the global population size is crucial for a more sustainable world. A sustainable population size, tailored to what a country or region can ecologically support, is essential. Currently, companies and politicians have economic interests in a large population: companies for revenue and profit, politicians for the number of voters, power, and economic growth. It is evident that, from a sustainability standpoint, a smaller population is preferable. There are increasing numbers of activist groups working to debunk the misconceptions propagated by politicians and companies in this area. Calculations have shown that merely preventing unwanted pregnancies worldwide would halt the growth of the global population. This is a simple yet incredibly valuable step that could be taken.
Contradictions Must Disappear. In summary, the conclusion is that humanity must work towards a new world order. The existing governance systems have reached an impasse, are irreparable, and are currently contributing to increasing chaos. International collaboration and coordination are the only viable path forward. For the new world order, it is crucial that the contrasts between countries, cultures, and religions diminish as much as possible. Historical tensions between population groups are understandable, but in a new world order, we must move beyond these unnecessary conflicts. Thanks to modern technology, people can collaborate and communicate globally, with factors like origin, religion, and nationality playing diminishing roles. This digital collaboration is increasingly taking place across a wide range of disciplines and locations. It fosters mutual understanding, knowledge exchange, and ultimately, world peace. However, various nationalities and fiscal systems still significantly hinder this mode of collaboration.
Awareness of One Humanity, One Nature, One Earth. We need to transition, particularly on an international level, to a different way of interacting with each other. We must move towards a society where people are no longer, as they are now, confined within their own cultures, countries, or religions, essentially frozen in different ice cubes. It’s essential for a collective understanding to emerge that as a global population, we all inhabit one world with one nature, and we must share this world with our fellow inhabitants (humans, animals, plants) in a respectful manner. The realization that the Earth is fragile, and that we must handle the thin crust of the Earth’s surface, where all life occurs, with care, is vital. Consequently, we need to gradually progress towards a world where everyone can move and live and work wherever they wish, much like how animals and plants can move freely across the Earth, albeit within certain boundaries. For plants and animals, this free movement is determined by natural factors such as climate and nutrients. For the global elite, this situation already exists: scientists, artists, and many businesspeople can effortlessly reside and work in different parts of the world, provided they adhere to certain legal regulations. This situation should become more normal for everyone. National governments should progressively synchronize their laws to make this possible, as is already happening to some extent within Europe. There is an urgent need for international legal frameworks, rather than national ones, so that both businesses can operate more easily internationally, and people can more readily live elsewhere. As mentioned, all of this within certain restrictions, as regions are not benefited if conflicts or problems in specific areas burden other regions with migration problems or conflicts.
International Collaboration. In numerous policy areas, worldwide collaboration could be more effective and efficient, leading to significant cost savings and promoting international cooperation. This requires international governing frameworks, of course. Europe serves as a strong example of international collaboration, where intensive cooperation occurs across various policy domains. The repercussions of turning away from the European Community of values are evident in the case of Brexit. Countries, to some extent, relinquish sovereignty but gain significantly in terms of more efficient work processes, reduced bureaucracy, solidarity, and international understanding. It’s no coincidence that more countries want to join the European Community or collaborate with it. The new sustainable world order, operating in harmony with nature, where people collaborate and coexist globally in a fluid manner, whether digitally or physically, is what I refer to as the fluid society (www.thefluidsociety.com).