We have passed the climax of human evolution. The “peak” of availability of all necessary resources for our existence was overreached and from now on, human beings, in less good health, will have to try to maintain their standard of living with less and less energy and raw materials and under the constraints of a more and more hostile environment, by means of less and less successful and stable infrastructures, due to the lack of means of maintenance.
In spite of our hopes and our greatest talents, we do not succeed in modifying the course of our evolution. And time’s run out to cowardly get slack: even if we defend ourselves from it we remain all actors of the coming decline, whether we are powerful decision-makers or simple citizens.
If we cannot claim obviously any more to exceed our condition, we therefore have to anticipate – at best we can – the future difficulties.
In 1970 the Club of Rome, a think tank regrouping scientists, economists, national and international officials, ordered to the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) a report having for objective to estimate potentialities for the development of Humanity on Earth, by taking into account limiting factors (resources availability, demography, pollution, agricultural yields). Published in 1972, “Limits To Growth” also called “Meadows report”, announces the end of Humanity such as we know it in the course of the 21st century. The 1993 and 2004 revisions (based on comparisons between past predictions and current observations) came to confirm this forecast, and even to notice that the risk had been underestimated.
Although the Meadows report, taking into account in particular the political and economic choices that nations could operate, proposed at first several scenarios for the future of Humanity, a “date” appeared as marking a transition: the accumulated factors of the end of easily removable resources, of pollution increase and damages operated on the environment would imply the stop of the human development before a decline inevitably goes on.
Today (in March 2014), it is a new report, partially funded by the NASA, which comes to confirm these somber predictions (references at the bottom of page).
Some people will retort that the worst is never sure or that evolution of complex systems is difficult to anticipate. But, on one hand, the unpredictability of phenomena does not mean at all that these are not strictly determined, potentially at our disadvantage, and besides there is a convergent beam of reliable models, analyses and measures (every day more precise) which gives evidence of this evolutionary determinism overtaking us and on which we have only the illusion to be able to exercise an influence:
– The physical principles of the thermodynamics, which imply in a totally verifiable way that the human development cannot be eternal and that environmental protection is impossible for us:
- First principle: anything appears out of nothing, all which is consumed in a finished system exhausts it.
- Second principle: phenomena are irreversible, we cannot repair Nature and damages accumulate strictly.
– The Meadows report evoked above and from now on other scientific studies completing and confirming the results of this report.
– Observation: we already live a worldwide systematic crisis (economic, financial, social, and ecological) which nobody succeeds in solving.
– Common sense: when the reserves are empty, the reserves are empty and strict accumulation of pollution in a closed environment (atmospheric, marine, but also farmlands pollutions) can only entail eventually the self-poisoning.
To be able to still deny, but this time rationally, the decline to come, it will be necessary to contradict models and arguments evoked here and first of all the thermodynamic principles from which ensue naturally at the same time reality and truth.
The date precision which will mark the beginning of the human decline doesn’t matter. It is necessary to retain that the process which will lead to this decline is already going on and that the outcome is sure: while some of us already begin to lose of their advantages (salaries, pensions, healthcare access), tomorrow even the richest won’t be able to maintain their level of comfort and safety and the whole humanity will enter in global decline for the first and maybe last time.
Accepting that Humanity is not all powerful, but submitted to overtaking principles which will oblige, in spite of denial, a profound and certainly painful transformation, Adrastia doesn’t envisages to release grip and proposes to those who will wish it to anticipate at best the systematic degradation of our living environments.
If common sense and science make us admit from now on that we cannot avoid this pitfall, some questionings remain unsettled we suggest thinking:
- How exactly are we not going to succeed in avoiding our decline?
- How are we going to approach not only our individual death, but probably a collective, large-scale death?
- If the current, already questioned political systems, are not more relevant tomorrow, which ones will replace them? How to protect freedom and democracy when the range of possibilities, our choice of opportunities, is reduced for all?
- How shall we avoid or manage the relocation conflicts when fear and hunger will make us eager for the goods of our neighbor, once a friend?
- Who will still have means to mitigate the suffering inherent to his comfort loss, to his health degradation, to his security reduction?
- In the longer term, if the decline of the human race does not come along with a whirlpool of ecological collapse entailing its total disappearance, who will be the ones who will succeed us?
The asserted and assumed choice to consider decline as inevitable, offers the possibility to discuss composedly and reasonably these questions.
For example, even if the recommendation will always be to have a minimal impact on the vital ecological balance, it will not be wished to discuss within the Association the problem of environmental protection, as we admit it incompatible with human existence. (Whatever is the considered human being, whatever is his behavior, its environmental impact is never neutral – even less positive – and the damages inherent to his existence have strictly cumulative global effects). As long as the possibilities for the human being to protect the environment or to succeed in an energy transition will not have been demonstrated, they will stay of the register of unfounded and imaginary hope, even belief, what Adrastia is anxious to abandon.
Any responsibility discharge on others will be also avoided as far as possible. If every human being impacts negatively on the vital ecological balance, he cannot honestly off-load the weight of his noxious action on another human being arbitrarily appointed guiltier. Speech honesty will be a first objective.
Finally, the possibility of a free will and the possibility for Humanity to influence its evolution beyond an overtaking determinism, which weren’t object of a scientific demonstration, will be rejected for the establishment of rational speeches and models. We have to understand and accept that our greatest talents, our greatest pleasures and our capacity to think the world are presents which have a price, which we shall have to pay for, whether we like it or not, whether we are ready for it or not.
There is no contrition in the Adrastia initiative, no guilt making, and no moralizing. We can prepare together to what we don’t wish, and we can do it not only by minimizing the suffering, but also certainly by maintaining possible our quest for satisfaction and pleasure. If life makes us dread the outcome, there is no reason to not love it and to not love ourselves any more. There is no reason to not remain deserving and proud. There would be nothing worse in particular than our fears, our illusions and our other weaknesses to make us prepare, in spite of us, these ultimate conflicts that we have been afraid of for so long.
Our world is dying of a not held promise, the one that we made to ourselves because we had the vanity to believe that we could take the place of our gods and of the evolution principles that govern our lives. As the worst events do not inevitably have to lead to the worst feelings, we can become reconciled with what made us and with ourselves, to calm our fears and live at best, for the best, as long as possible.
- Selective bibliography
- Qu’y a-t-il donc dans le “Rapport du Club de Rome” ? by Jean-Marc Jancovici
- “Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse”, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute
- “A Minimal Model for Human and Nature Interaction”, study co-financed by the NASA