This is a website for you to explore the challenges humanity faces…and their solutions.

What’s the take home message, if you ask me? Because elevated atmospheric carbon from fossil fuel burning is the trigger mechanism poking the climate dragon. The trajectory we’re on is to awaken a runaway climate heating that will ravage global agricultural systems leading to mass famine, conflict. Sea level rise will be a small problem by comparison. We simply MUST lower atmospheric carbon emissions. This should start with limiting the burning of fossil fuels from conventional sources; chiefly coal, followed by tar sands [block the pipeline]; reduce fossil fuel use elsewhere for example in liquid transportation fuels; engage in a massive reforestation program to have side benefits of sustainable timber, reduced desertification, animal habitat, aquaculture; and redirect fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy subsidies. This is an all hands on deck moment. We’re in the age of consequences. – Jason Box, Cryosphere researcher, founder of Dark Snow open source science project

Never before has human civilization faced so many simultaneous challenges. While the human mind and our ability to manipulate the environment has made life better in so many measurable ways, the rapid pace of development means technology scales both solutions and unforeseen problems very quickly. Technological time is growing exponentially shorter than evolutionary time and his means that each time we discover unintended consequences, we have increasingly shorter time periods to recover from them.

Humanities prized properties of science and technology, which are responsible for our higher standard of living are also the very things bringing about our resource and pollution problems. Population explosion only exasperates this, straining the very limits of our global earth systems.

We are in a catch 22 situation. The global infrastructure we all vitally depend on has become the very thing poisoning us and the planet. The price of survival in our modern lifestyle is the destruction of our own future survivability.

The reasons for our “success” as a species are also ultimately, the root of its most fundamental problem and the potential root of our civilization’s downfall. Knowledge is a double-edged sword because it is always accompanied by ignorance. Just as a form always exists in the context of the space it is within, knowledge always exist in the space of many more things we do not know. Consequently, every decision based upon knowledge is also based upon ignorance. Because the universe is infinitely interdependent and our human knowledge is always only of a finite number of those interdependent links, we are doomed to make decisions based upon limited knowledge. Unintended consequences and progress traps are hence, unavoidable. But knowing our decisions are made within lack of knowledge, the only wisdom we can exercise is to act within these constraints. This means far more expense added to R+D phase of development that would stretch research from years to decades and from decades to centuries. The impulse of greed and its accompanying status quo financial worldview of shortermism, however makes this prudent path impossible.

 
 

  
  
    

As a result of ongoing, accelerating climate change, I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this planet beyond 2030. I’m letting go of the notion that Homo sapiens will inhabit this verdant little valley at the edge of American Empire after it turns to dust within a very few years. I’m letting go of the notion that, within a few short years, there will remain any habitat for humans in the interior of any large continent in the northern hemisphere. I’m letting go of the notion we’ll retain even a fraction of one percent of the species currently on Earth beyond 2050. But I’m not letting go of the notion of resistance, which is a moral imperative.Dr. Guy McPherson

The problem that faces our societies is that we have developed industries and policies that were appropriate at a certain moment, but now start to reduce human welfare, like for example the oil and car industry. Their political and financial power is so great and they can prevent change. It is my expectation that they will succeed. This means that we are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.– Dennis Meadows, Author, Limits to Growth

More than any other species, human beings are gifted with the power to manipulate our environment, and the ability to accumulate and transmit knowledge across generations. The first of these gifts we call technology; the other we call culture. They are central to our humanity. Accumulating over thousands of years, culture and technology have brought us into a separate human realm. We live, more than any animal, surrounded by our own artifacts. Among these are works of surpassing beauty, complexity, and power, human creations that could not have existed—could not even have been conceived—in the times of our forebears. Seldom do we pause to appreciate the audacity of our achievements: objects as mundane as a compact disc, a video cellphone, an airplane would have seemed fantastical only a few centuries ago. We have created a realm of magic and miracles.

At the same time, it is quite easy to see technology and culture not as gifts but as a curse. After millennia of development, the power to manipulate the environment has become the power to destroy it, while the ability to transmit knowledge transmits as well a legacy of hatred, injustice, and violence. Today, as both the destruction and the violence reach a feverish crescendo, few can deny that the world is in a state of crisis. Opinions vary as to its exact nature: some people say it is primarily ecological; others say it is a moral crisis, a social, economic, or political crisis, a health crisis, even a spiritual crisis. There is, however, little disagreement that the crisis is of human origin. Hence, despair: is the present ruination of the world built in to our humanity? – Charles Eisenstein, Author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity