HUMANITY IN THE FACE OF ENVIRONMENTAL COLLAPSE
The twenty first century will be defined by great changes in Earth’s climate and biosphere. A temperature rise of even 2°C will change both the natural world and human civilization greatly, and both must be taken into account. As is already demonstrated in places like Dhaka, rising
sea levels will have a profound effect by displacing large populations of humans. Desertification and agricultural failure will starve billions. There is no question that such a disaster will cull the prospective 9 Billion human population dramatically.
What will most likely happen is a kind existential awakening for the human species as a whole. Such disasters will lead us to have to face the crises as a unified whole, and will impact human civilization greatly and will alter our collective consciousness significantly . We shall realize that earth truly does have physical, biological and ecological limits.
We will come out of the crisis badly shaken, but stronger. We will become a species that willingly embraces the natural world. We will work hard to be stewards of the environment, engaging in projects to return it to its pre-human-civilization state in many ways. This will be an economic necessity, in making areas livable and productive again, but it will also be deeply ingrained in our culture.
Instead of working to become “less bad” for the environment, we shall actually become “more good”. We will design our systems, our products, our cities, to actually engage with the natural cycles of the world. Imagine a world where our disposed candy wrappers actually nourish a local ecosystem. Our systems of production will actually mimic natural cycles, and in fact be an almost natural part of the world. Humanity’s systems will be designed and evolve to function as compatible with earth’s finely tuned systems of energy.
Humanity will be forced to return large swaths of land to pristine nature, and civilization will not be the sprawling endeavour it once was. Smart growth will define the world, people will live in cities and other relatively compact areas designated for human habitation. This will be a legal imperative. These areas will be centred in areas of high elevation, with access to abundant fresh water. Everywhere else, we will be reintroducing pristine ecosystems. Imagine the plains of North America once again being populated by Bison and other megafauna like elephants, the latter our ancestors wiped when they first arrived here 10 000 years ago, and the former only about 100 years ago.
After realizing our place in the world by seeing the aftermath of the pollution that sent it over the edge (plastics in the ocean, dangerous chemicals in the atmosphere, extinction of species and desertification of land), Humanity will lose its parasitic nature and have a mutually beneficial relationship with its home planet.