Monday, May 27, 2024

What Kind of World Will We Leave Behind?

I have been personally examining the possibilities that may lie ahead for the human species in the years ahead by attempting to extrapolate the more immediate impact of the kind of communal decisions and choices being made throughout the world during the current era. In this examination, I have chosen to look at what I consider to be a so-called “worst case scenario.”

From the perspective of the global political environment, I see some disturbing tendencies. There seems to be an unsettling rise in the popularity of autocratic rulers who have openly expressed a blatant attraction to fascistic principles even within the Western-style democracies. Important examples of this trend are evident in the policies and pronouncements of such leaders as Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Vladimir Putin of Russia. These leaders are currently involved in brutal and ongoing wars against avowed enemies that barely disguise an effort to expand their dominion.

These wars are taking such horrendous tolls on the lives of their powerless foes – the Palestinians in the case of Israel and the Ukrainians in the case of Russia. The toll of this savage aggression endured by ordinary citizens in each instance is sadly reminiscent of the behavior of the Third Reich during World War II. In addition, the popularity of Donal Trump in the United States as the 2024 Presidential election approaches is surprising and notable especially in regard to his often-stated affinity towards autocratic rule in place of adherence to the rule of law, and political democracy.

The underling reasons for the popular support for autocratic rulers and repressive policies and political agendas is complex and multi-faceted. However, it is my contention, that the essential driver for such tendencies is fear, and that fear arises from an internal sense of instability and uncertainty regarding the future for those who have assumed that they hold dominant positions within the social order.

In many ways this unfolding of events is terribly reminiscent of the cycle of the rise and fall of human civilizations that echo throughout human history. The unfortunate tragedy of these kinds of historic events in the present technological era is that so much is at stake in regard to the immediate future of the human species.

Autocratic rule does not bode well for the future state of humanity for a variety of reasons. The foremost of these is that the lie is used to supplant a striving for truth - the unmitigated use of falsehoods and propaganda to propel forward an arbitrary and inherently dangerous agenda is a proven tactic to purposefully exploit the underlying fear and uncertainty of the population. We have seen this in the case of Netanyahu who has allowed lawlessness on the part of Israeli settlers to terrorize unarmed Palestinians in the West Bank and elsewhere often resorting to burning down houses and shooting innocent individuals with total impunity, held Palestinians captive in Gaza for the last sixteen years and committed terrible atrocities against ordinary Palestinians in Gaza with merciless bombardment, resulting in tens of thousands of needless deaths, provoking mayhem and the likelihood of terrible famine in much of that very crowded region. We have seen the insidious nature of autocratic rule on the part of Vladimir Putin in Russia in his relentless pursuit of incorporating by violent means the Ukraine sovereignty into the Russian empire. Lastly we have seen the repeated use of the lie and callous and provocative propaganda during the presidency of Donal Trump who has more or less embraced a clearly racist ideology and who has contributed to the tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the midst of the COVID pandemic by downplaying the severity of the onslaught of the disease - disregarding the advice of public health experts and who proudly proclaimed that Climate Change is a hoax. This trend towards autocratic rule and its accompanying social and political repression is not isolated to the above examples – in fact, it seems to be a worldwide phenomenon.

If this trend continues throughout the human world, then the voices of peace, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity, reason and intellectual pursuits would be effectively muted and suppressed. The ultimate consequences of this predilection towards obeisance to autocratic rule and governance would prove to be unsustainable in the long term.

As has been repeatedly demonstrated in human history, pursuits of the intellect, science and broad-based thinking would be profoundly discouraged. As a result, the absolute need to address the overweening issue of Climate Change would have no traction. As a matter of fact, the conditions that contribute to this human-created problem would be seriously exacerbated. Climatologists have periodically enumerated the new reality that would emerge on planet earth if their warnings go unheeded. This would include the fact that regions of the earth that are inhabited by hundreds of millions of humans would be essentially unlivable due to the extreme heat and humidity. These would include regions in the Middle East, Asia, especially India and the African continent.

Should this calamitous situation become a reality, it would mean the forced emigration of huge populations of humans – the kind of migration that would certainly provoke horrendous conflict and would engender an unsustainable living environment for a substantial portion of the earth’s human population. This kind of impact precipitated by Climate Change is a major one, but certainly not the only ramification of unfettered and calamitous change. Others include the impact of rising temperatures in the world’s oceans leading to the probable extinction or diminishment of many species of marine life that currently provide a necessary protein source for many animal species including Homo sapiens. In addition, the change in climate would precipitate savage and unrelenting storms in many regions on the planet resulting in additional stress upon human survival.

The collective impact of these alterations on the living planet would likely result in the gradual and ineluctable diminution of the human population, ultimately resulting in and end to the technological age due to the degradation of the advanced infrastructure that is required to sustain it.

If this kind of scenario actually unfolds, the severely diminished human populations would most likely coalesce into tribal relationships over the ensuing generations. The lifestyles of these “New Humans” would conform to earlier neolithic ways of living if the state of the local natural environment supports agriculture or be more likened to a paleolithic culture should the local environment support a hunter/gatherer style of living. The net result would be a rich variety of tribal societies that may or not come into conflict depending upon the degree of competition for survival. In any case, the memories associated with technologically-based human civilization would gradually fade from communal recognition. In a sense, the human species would have been rebooted. It would take a prolonged interval of time before the living world fully rebounded from the trauma of human-caused environmental degradation. How humanity would evolve in such a setting is difficult to imagine.

Keep in mind that this vision is entirely speculative, and, of course, it is conceivable that humans in the current era could make choices that would significantly alter the future for the benefit of all creatures on this most remarkable planet. It is also conceivable that the ultimate outcome of a failure to act responsively in attempting to avert this kind of calamity may not be as dramatic or catastrophic as this bleak scenario describes. However, the future that does enfold will most likely result in a scale of pain and suffering that would have been totally avoidable if only humanity acted intelligently and cooperatively to avert a disheartening future. In the final analysis it is up to all of us to take significant action at the present time for the sake of future generations.