Can humanity survive the 21st century?

September 19, 2016, Springer

Our civilisation faces the greatest challenge in the history of our species. It consists of ten huge, man-made threats, which are now coming together to imperil our future.

"Surviving the 21st Century" (Springer International Publishing 2017) is a powerful new book out this week which explores these risks – ecological collapse, resource depletion, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, global poisoning, , population and urban overexpansion, pandemic disease, dangerous new technologies and self-delusion – and what can and should be done to limit them.

Citing the world's latest and most authoritative science, author Julian Cribb explains clearly the focal issue of our time – and what humanity as a whole and we, as individuals, can do about it.

"In recent years I've met many well-educated, well-informed people – scientists, parents, grandparents and millennials especially – who are fearful that we may be entering the end game of human history. That civilisation, and maybe even our species, will not survive the compound dangers we are building for ourselves," the Australian science writer explains.

" 'Surviving the 21st Century' assesses this concern. It surveys the objective evidence for these ten mega-issues – and what we can and should do as a species and as individual citizens to overcome them," he says.

The third volume in Cribb's scientific trilogy about the human future, 'Surviving the 21st Century' explores in detail the scientific basis of the ten intersecting existential threats, and the importance of developing cross-cutting solutions that do not make matters worse.

"To take one example: many of the solutions proposed by industry and governments to sustain the world food supply also involve making the climate worse for agriculture, increasing drought, ruining more landscapes, extinguishing more species, throwing small farmers off their land and causing a worldwide consumer health crisis. In other words, they defeat their very purpose.

"However the good news is that there are ways to produce food that involve ameliorating the climate, repairing landscapes, saving water and endangered species, raising farmers' incomes and improving consumer health. It is cross-cutting solutions like these the world needs to discuss and pursue."

The book also probes two controversial themes. The first is whether our cherished beliefs in areas such as money, politics, religion and the human narrative now prevent our recognising the dangers that surround us and hinder their solution – and how these powerful human belief systems can be re-conceived for our survival.

The second questions whether our species, Homo sapiens (wise man) is fit to bear the title and whether or not our collective behaviour can be described as 'wise'.

Surviving the 21st Century also identifies uplifting and positive solutions, being developed around the world, to our most pressing problems. And it explores two paradigm-shattering developments in society – the evolution of the human ability to 'think as a ' through global connections made at lightspeed on the internet and social media, and the emergence of women as world leaders for a safer, more sustainable future.

Finally, it proposes a 'report card' which will enable everyone in the world to judge our collective progress towards a safer, cleaner, more sustainable future.

Explore further: Biological invasions threaten biodiversity, economy and human livelihood in developing countries

More information: Surviving the 21st Century: Humanity's Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them. www.springer.com/us/book/9783319412696

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EyeNStein
5 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2016
Of course we are screwed. The most obvious proof and indicator of this fact is that as a species we DONT CARE as long as REALITY doesn't affect the CHOICES we WANT to make.
Around the world we reproduce exponentially in an already overtaxed ecosystem.
Our 'reality' is defined as whatever maximises my wealth and power:- Selling cigarettes isn't harmful, Poison resistant and treated crops are safe to consume, palm oil is a beneficial additive.
We are so screwed and we don't care as long as it doesn't affect ME, and I have choice to avoid risks affecting someone else.
Hundreds of civilians can be killed by "collateral fire" but if one of our trained killers dies while conflicting with someone else's 'reality' it's front page news and so violence perpetuates.
How bad does it have to get before that someone else becomes me?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Sep 19, 2016
The first is whether our cherished beliefs in areas such as money, politics, religion and the human narrative now prevent our recognising the dangers that surround us

Good question. Do fictional beliefs (money, religion, politics) ready one for dealing with reality? Especially when they are at odds with reality?
After all: Reality wins out in the end no matter how fervently you hold your beliefs.

On the other hand: Can fictional beliefs inspire an effort to deal with reality? Surely. If those wielding these beliefs deal in reality and see these fictions as for what they are: Made-up BS to impress and direct the masses.
However, if they fall for their own delusions then it's really just blind luck if we survive.

whether our species, Homo sapiens (wise man) is fit to bear the title

Wisdom requires knowledge. As a strategy guide of one of my favorite games put it: "Read the rules. Carefully. Whatever you don't know can - and usually will - kill you"
Eikka
not rated yet Sep 19, 2016
then it's really just blind luck if we survive


Humans will survive. Humanity as we know it may not.

That's the fault of many of these "futurologists" - they're thinking in terms of keeping everything as they are right now and people in their places - but really, if Florida sinks under the sea and Canada's northern territories become accessible by sea all year round, is it a win or a loss?

leetennant
3 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2016
The first is whether our cherished beliefs in areas such as money, politics, religion and the human narrative now prevent our recognising the dangers that surround us

Good question. Do fictional beliefs (money, religion, politics) ready one for dealing with reality? Especially when they are at odds with reality?


The problem is that our 'fictional beliefs' are evolved mechanisms to help us survive as a group over time. In the last 100 to 200 years we have evolved new 'fictions' to help us deal with the modern world we have created but the pace and rate of change has been faster than the promulgation of these new frameworks for constructing and dealing with reality.

There is no such thing as a non-fictionalised version of reality. The question is whether the ones we're using are fit for purpose. They clearly aren't. Other beliefs are available but - as anyone who's hung out on climate change articles will tell you - they're not widely enough used.
Cave_Man
not rated yet Sep 19, 2016
Self delusion, y'all need to remember that one.

Dangerous Technologies, that's probably a close second.

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