Initial version published in December 2019, this is new, expanded form.
Part 1. Niche crisis is caused by our cognitive dysfunction.
When the ship is sinking and there is water in its bottom we send crew to pump the water out. The more the water is pouring in, the more pumping is needed, right? Obviously, no. We need to find the hole in the hulk, repair it and it is how we save the ship and ourselves.
I believe that the ship is sinking and we are busy at the pumps.
When you look at your world you see your environment. But when you look from outside, as an observer, at any species, it has its niche – the resources, climate, food, other members of the species, predators, anything that influences its evolutionary fitness. It is why I prefer the term “niche crisis”.
We need this “observer” look, seeing ourselves as species, the last surviving of six other hominids. The one which got almost extinct several times, last one only 50 000 years ago ( if you forget 1962 ). And our niche, which pretty well fits Planet Earth, is getting weaker again. Even if population growth is slowing down- only 9 billions by 2050, the number of people pulled out of poverty/subsistence life into the “consumer’s circle” is growing rapidly and I hope will continue to grow. So, the resources like clean air, diverse forests, clean water, good soil, fish and plankton-rich oceans are dwindling, especially for these new consumers. And the just feeling of injustice and social conflicts fostered by our wonderful global brain gets worse.
So, the ship is sinking, for sure, even if some of my gloomy pictures might be controversial, but not all of them, for goodness sake. And there is no “time as usual” or chinese “wheel theory” as evidenced by millions and millions of good, young, smart people, who are “at the pumps”. Recycling, electric cars, solar panels, vegetarianism, planting trees, all these are heartwarming.
Let’s keep pumping, as a compromise, and to feel good and keep troops morale high, but we have to find and repair the hole. Find the crisis cause while trying to slow down the disastrous results.
For the last 30 years I have been studying evolution and for the last 10 years I have been studying people’s personal worldviews.
This part comes from a textbook of evolution, so if you don’t believe in evolution, you can switch to intelligent design text or just prey. Historically this maneuver has a lot of sense, but if you feel intellectually adventurous- here it is.
Every species survives by expanding its niche. More food sources, more diversity of the environment which the organisms can adapt to means more babies and more sex. The stronger the niche the more energy from the sun the species absorbs and utilises. This energy during the evolutionary mechanisms is transformed into complexity, creating stronger bodies, brains and stronger social life. You noticed very broad strokes, but the only difference for humans is that the complexity is called the culture or civilization and the animal’s urge to survive and to mate is called wanting to be happy.
And this is our ticket. We have to strengthen our niche otherwise we’ll get extinct.
Our ticket is our culture- we are conscious, thinking, observing our own demise.
We have to pivot and we can do it. We can’t keep attempting to be happy by getting complexity (strength of the niche)from consuming the planet’s dwindling resources. We can figure out how to be happy by getting different types of complexity. We can learn and teach our children- this is a matter of a generation, of a new curriculum.
People’s lives will improve. The improvement will involve more and more people and the resources will be spared. The economies will shrink materially, but the acces and the use of carbon neutral experiences will expand exponentially. This is the only way, otherwise the suffering of millions will ensue. The human capacity is apparent from my work on the worldviews. I read them, work with them and I am amazed: everybody writes about peace, meaningful relationships and love of nature and beauty. We have to follow our idealistic worldviews. We want this, we just need to be taught how to get it. What for Teilhard de Chardin was a nebulous Omega Point (literally pie in the sky) for us might be a desperate survival maneuver.
There will be two complementary essays – the sequels to this one.
Part 2 : Materialists and idealists. I will attempt to find them, find them now and find them in the past. Where did they come from and where did they go?
Part 3 : I will look into the future, into a new curriculum to build a new society. This utopia is unlike well known, worn and failed utopias of spiritual and moral perfection. We will teach our children,( and grass root movement sprouts already everywhere,) to be happy without abusing the planet. Their life, in contrast to the prediction for the year 2050, will be more exciting and rich than ours. They will have more than we have, but no more gadgets or power. They will have more love and friendship. More creativity, fun, discovery and beauty.
They will be idealists.