Many competent people underestimate the environmental crisis and are overly optimistic. Researchers say that global policy-making is far from addressing these existential threats. Securing the future of the Earth requires prudent and long-term decisions. However, short-term interests and an economic system that focuses on a few individuals’ wealth prevent this. Right-wing populist leaders with anti-environmental programs are on the rise. In many countries, protest groups pointing to the alarming state of the environment are considered terrorists. Environmentalism has become a weapon that serves more as a political ideology than as a universal way of self-preservation. Financial disinformation campaigns, such as those against climate action and forest protection, protect short-term gains and say that meaningful environmental measures are too costly. However, the higher costs of inaction are ignored. Thus, business investment is unlikely to slow down and prevent an ecological catastrophe.
The current stage of global economic development is characterized by an aggravation of the main dialectical contradiction – between man and nature, humankind and the Earth’s resources – the natural, material basis of crises. Population growth, followed by an increase in global consumption, increases pressure on natural resources and habitats. Science and new technologies, giving rise to new solutions leading to an increase in global productivity, have to a large extent removed the problem of imbalances and also facilitated progress. At the same time, the negative effects of this progress are increasingly revealed. The most serious problem is the resource supply of the world economy.
Scarcity of raw materials, energy, and food and a lack of solutions – resource depletion occurs faster than finding them and ways of compensating for them. Unprecedented changes resulting from fifty years of human activity aimed at meeting food, water, and energy needs have improved living standards for millions of people. However, most of the existing ecosystem services supporting life on Earth have been degraded. The negative impacts are likely to intensify in the coming decades.
Bulletin of the Nuclear Scientists’ project at the University of Chicago, where the first American nuclear bomb was developed by 1945, became known as the Doomsday Clock. Frightened by the monstrous consequences of the invention, since 1947, the American nuclear scientists have annually published an image of a dial with the hands approaching midnight on the cover of their university magazine. The hands’ position on the dial is determined by a group of international scientists specializing in nuclear physics, climate research, information technology, etc. And by the time remaining until midnight as a symbol of total global catastrophe, it was proposed to judge the level of international tension and the risk that an irreparable disaster will happen.
The magazine’s experts used to assess only the nuclear threat. They have begun to consider other risks in recent years, such as the risk of an irreversible environmental catastrophe. In January 2020, the minute hand moved 20 seconds forward; since then, it has been indicating 100 seconds to twelve. It has never been so close to midnight. This move was partly due to insufficient action by the authorities to prevent dangerous climate change. Also, the development of events in the virtual space – a sharp and uncontrolled spread of various kinds of lies and provocations on the Internet, conscious distortion of information – impacts the hands’ approach to midnight.
The problem is that for one person, a lovely small house, few technologies, and nature around is enough, and another person needs a yacht with a heliport and ten houses around the world. The world may already have enough resources for all its population but doesn’t have resources for even one greedy person. We have to learn to sober our appetite and consume much less than we are doing now. Even so, the crisis that we will overpopulate the planet is pretty high; that’s why we need to act faster.
For a while, let’s forget the ego, personal hopes, and business expectations and forget everything that surrounds you these days. Let’s think in a bit pessimistic way about the world we live in. Let’s imagine that we have already over-consumed the resources, impacting the stability of the Earth’s ecosystem sustainability. Following this, we need a more invasive transformation of how humans survive and focus on faster development of knowledge rather than consumption. I am sure that I am not the first who collected and expressed the survival scenarios. Most probably, many running agendas are covering part of my thoughts.
Despite that, I would like to highlight the scenario that can make sense to process better, deeper, and more sustainable. We often discussed the optimal business system, top management, and hierarchy settings with many audiences and political systems, and global logistics processes during my professional career. Many systems can work, all of them have some strengths and weaknesses. Despite the existing global division, we agreed that the only working system would be with a wise king focused on the long-term global agenda supported by congress (50% women/50% men). Global development needs to be organized from one place, one head, one administrative, to secure the same quality of life for everyone as a kind of socialistic system.
Authority of the smart king/queen, as well as tradition, should be used to curb the elemental forces that have gone out of social control. And offer an individual a set of values, emotional orientations, rules, and standards of behavior that can become the means of achieving social peace. A true smart king professes the concept of the creator. How the ancient Romans thought and acted under a similar sign of creation, where the main component was the idea of creation, the energy of foundation in the sense of laying the foundations for the joint life of a city, a state. It is wise not to dismiss such a form as a relic of the distant past or some deviant form in a world where liberal democracy is supposed to prevail. Neither should such a smart king/queen system be idealized and taken as a panacea for the complex problems of the present. But the question remains: who has the right to decide for the whole society?
The smart king/queen can be considered the one who has a surplus of the most essential vital resources such as time, energy, status, and money. Between the excess of ideas and energy, there has to be some mechanism that would bring these two factors into balance and be useful in the three fields of human activity: usefulness for oneself, usefulness for society, and usefulness for Heaven (God-given value). It isn’t easy to achieve all three types of usefulness, but this would be the privilege that would give the key to a long-term smart king/queen status.
In any case, the supposed political system implies a unification of nations with the smart king/queen in charge and a fundamental basis for a socialist economy. So that the basic economic law of socialism, consisting of the maximum satisfaction of the growing material and spiritual needs of citizens, would shift towards spiritual needs and education. An idea based on equal distribution, with a general agreement of such a distribution. The standard level determined by common consent must be proportional to the level of remuneration. For someone who already has a high level of education, the pleasure of reward does not lie in increased consumption but in the possibility of grasping deeper knowledge and the accessibility of the sources of that knowledge. That is, the reorientation of education towards higher goals will lead to the final goal of the economy. Yes, at the moment, there is no well-defined answer to this problem for such a massive change in people’s minds. But it may take a relatively short period of time, about 30 or 50 years, to change people’s approach to this subject.
The method that helps transform the general consciousness is propaganda. The propaganda is bearing the information directed on the increase of education of the person which opens other aspects of social relations, namely to think not about oneself, but other people, the environment, creation, and creativity instead of dull consumption. Morality and ethics towards other people become necessary conditions of social relations. In this, you can see a parallel with the way mafia structures were built at their very beginnings. It was they who, in addition to domination and exploitation, brought to their activities meaningful things from private life such as friendship, unconditional trust, and helping the weak.
Of course, nobody would propose that economic activity should be disrupted catastrophically in response to the climate crisis. However, the emergency response initiated so rapidly by governments across the world has shown what is truly possible when people face what they recognize as a crisis. The Covid-19 response can now be held out as an icon of what is possible when people’s lives are at stake. In the case of the climate, the stakes are even greater—the future survival of our civilization. We now know the world can respond as needed once political will is engaged and societies enter emergency mode.
One of the defining characteristics of the Neoliberal Era has been corrosive globalization based on free-market norms. Transnational corporations have dictated terms to countries in choosing where to locate their operations, leading nations to compete against each other to reduce worker protections in a “race to the bottom.” The use of cheap fossil fuels has caused wasteful misuse of resources as products are transported worldwide to meet consumer demand stoked by manipulative advertising. This globalization of markets has been a major cause of the Neoliberal Era’s massive increase in consumption that threatens civilization’s future. The effects of Covid-19 could lead to an inversion of these neoliberal norms. As supply lines break down, communities will turn to local and regional producers for their daily needs.
When a consumer appliance breaks, people will try to get it repaired rather than buy a new one. Workers, newly unemployed, may turn increasingly to local jobs in smaller companies that serve their community directly. At the same time, people will increasingly get used to connecting with others through video meetings over the internet, where someone on the other side of the world feels as close as someone across town. This could be a defining characteristic of the new era. Even while production goes local, we may see a dramatic increase in the globalization of new ideas and ways of thinking—a phenomenon known as “glocalization.”
Rebecca Solnit’s 2009 book, A Paradise Built in Hell, documents how, contrary to popular belief, disasters frequently bring out the best in people as they reach out and help those in need around them. Many people are rediscovering that they are far stronger as a community than as isolated individuals in the face of disaster. The phrase “social distancing” is helpfully recast as “physical distancing” since Covid-19 brings people closer together in solidarity than ever before. This rediscovery of the value of community can be the most important factor of all in shaping the trajectory of the next era. New ideas and political possibilities are critically important, but ultimately an era is defined by its underlying values, on which everything else is built.
The Neoliberal Era was constructed on a myth of the selfish individual as the foundation for values. As Margaret Thatcher famously declared, “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.” This belief in the selfish individual has not just been destructive of the community, but it’s plain wrong. In fact, from an evolutionary perspective, a defining characteristic of humanity is our set of pro-social impulses as fairness, altruism, and compassion, which cause us to identify with something larger than our individual needs.
The compassionate responses that have arisen in the wake of the pandemic are heartwarming but not surprising—they are the expected, natural human response to others in need. It must be an era where the core human values of fairness, mutual aid, and compassion are paramount, extending beyond the local neighborhood to state and national government, to the global community of humans, and ultimately to the community of all life. Suppose we can change the basis of our global civilization from wealth-affirming to one that is life-affirming. In that case, we have a chance to create a flourishing future for humanity and the living Earth.
Britain’s MI6 intelligence service started « green spying » on developed industrialized countries to see if they met their climate commitments. And it came out saying that people are signing up to climate change commitments, and it’s probably MI6’s job to make sure that what they sign up to is actually reflected in what they do. It’s their job to shed light on places where people might not want them to. The head of MI6 sees climate issues as the most important point of Britain’s international foreign policy. Therefore, it needs a “trust, but verify” approach similar to the one Britain applies to arms control. Such words from MI6 come shortly after the US warned world leaders that the world is in a “crucial decade” for addressing the climate crisis.