Humanity must survive. Human civilization must survive. Our primary goal as a species should be to survive. Preferably in such a way that each individual human gets to live a long life which is happy or fulfilling or both. But if we can’t have that, we should at least avoid extinction.
Yesterday I turned 42. I should let this coming year of my life be a year which is about life, the universe and everything.
Today I read “The Uninhabitable Earth” a text about how global warming may destroy the permafrost, the rainforests and the seas, plunging the biosphere into a bad circle which may eventually extinguish all life. Nothing new. I knew this already. But what can we do about it?
Faith and belief cannot save us: While our prayers and rituals of penance and other magic may help us feel better for the moment, they do not truly change the course of the climate.
Biology cannot save us. This is about technology. (Including, of course, biotech.)
Technology alone cannot save us. This is about not only how we develop technology, but also about how we use it.
Choices made and actions taken at the individual level cannot save us. Neither can choices made and actions taken at the group level, community level, or national level. This is a global issue for all of humanity to solve together.
We cannot be saved by “strong leaders”, as any leader is unavoidably stuck in endless power struggles. Democracy gives us a far better chance, and it requires us all to be reasonably sensible. We must all bear the responsibilities together.
Every single human being is a part of humanity and of the human civilization. Each of us is part of this biosphere, and also a part of what I like to call the culosphere. Just like every biological lifeform on this planet is part of the biosphere, so to is every sentient mind part of the culosphere. Just like all biotopes are part of the same biosphere, so too are all cultures and subcultures part of the same culosphere.
Every single human being is a part of humanity, a part of the biosphere, a part of the culosphere. Each of us has a responsibility and a duty to humanity. Each of us has a responsibility and a duty to the biosphere. Each of us has a responsibility and a duty to the culosphere. This may sound heavy, which may in turn mislead us to navelgazing and magical thinking. Beware of identities and narratives which offer a sense of salvation. Beware of meaningless acts of penance which make us feel that we are doing our part. The duty which we the humans have is to actually fix the problems we are causing. Not to uphold any set of beliefs, identities or rituals.
The article “The Uninhabitable Earth” has been “criticized for being overly pessimistic and for scaring people. We should do well to remember that it is neither pure speculation nor pure fact: It is speculation based on facts, and should be taken as a warning about real dangers rather than as any kind of sealing of doom. The battle for the climate is not yet lost, and will not yet be lost for as long humanity still survives.
My expertise is not within natural science, my contributions are not about developing new technologies. A big part in saving this world is STEM people improving our current technologies and developing new ones. Most of us will not be part of this particular struggle, and we don’t have to. Our civilization need to have a lot of STEM people, but to certainly doesn’t need everyone to be into STEM.
The one truth I wish to fight for is that humanity’s core problem is our own ignorance and conceit, not any category of people. I have dedicated my life to trying improve my own understanding, and to help others improve theirs. This is the field in which I hope to make my main contributions, as a thinker and as a teacher.
A few weeks ago, huge forest fires swept through the nordic countries. This happened because the summer was so hot, and the fact that the last few summers have been so very hot is of course connected to climate change. As these forest fires raged, I happened to be living in Jakarta with my girlfriend who happens to be a Muslim. On facebook I could read about supporters of the political party “Sverigedemokraterna” (a party known for not taking climate change seriously, as well as for having strong racist and fascist tendencies) spreading the idea that the forest fires would somehow be caused by “the Muslims”. While the targets shift, this basic mentality is an error that humans has been doing throughout history, and just keeps doing: Divide the world into us versus them, and lull yourself into believing that you are somehow solving the problems by identifying “the enemy”. This doesn’t really solve any problems, not for real.
I think it is right to be scared about climate change, but only as long as we handle the fear in a meaningful manner. We don’t need apathy or angst. Apathy and angst are useless. We don’t need ritualism and finger-pointing. Those are also useless. What we need is to struggle together to overcome our ignorance and conceits. We need to try our best to understand, and we need to try our best to help each other understand. To understand ourselves, to understand each other, and to understand our world. We must reduce the time, energy and resources we waste on counterproductive nonsense such as hating each other. There is only one humanity, and it is us.
To have a good biosphere, we must have a good culosphere. We all build our global society together, each of us can contribute to steering it in good directions.