Without Earth, there is no humanity. The problem is not the quantity of humanity, but the burn rate of resources. We are currently running at an unsustainable level of resource depletion and pollution. No one likes to make the moral choice of forced reduction of humanity. We can and have to make the very moral decision to control our use of resources and population growth.
In the book, “Hot, Flat and Crowded”, the author states that Americans use 32 times as many resources as Kenyans. So, not all humanity is equal. We do not need to reduce consumption to the level of the Kenyans, but we can do a lot to be more reasonable. The problem was bad enough when only a very small part of the world's population over-consumed. Now that the emerging world: China, India and the Arab countries are gaining financial clout and aspiring to follow our example, the day of reckoning is that much closer.
In terms of reducing our burn rate of natural resources, there are a number of simple steps that can be taken that involve no technology, but awareness and the will to live within our means: Organize our cities so that people can walk or ride bicycles to stores, work and school, get rid of lawns (the biggest agricultural product in the USA) which consumes enormous amounts of water (the most precious resource we have), reduce meat consumption (meat uses 4 to 20 times the resources per unit of protein than plant protein. I have been a vegetarian for 35 years and many have been since birth so arguing that man cannot live without meat is not valid, Anyway a reduction in the consumption of meat would be useful), efficient use of mass transit, distribution of goods (trains and boats are much more efficient than trucks), use of good food packaging to reduce waste, buy local (especially food), insulate houses and reduce thermostat settings, don't live in temperature extreme places if you have to use a lot of energy to maintain yourself, don't live in flood plains or in the path of other natural disasters, live in medium rise buildings (they are much more efficient in terms of energy, have a smaller foot print, make mass transit and local stores more viable.).
These simple steps (though hard to accept socially until we collectively understand our predicament) plus more that I am sure you could think of, do not involve any difficult moral choice. Perhaps a few sacred cows and other illusions will suffer, but we would all be better off. I do not only mean better in terms of surviving, but also as humans we would be better since it would bring us closer to each other and our interdependence would be more evident leading to a sense of community.
The current economic system would have to be changed as it is the result and driver of our attitude towards growth and consumption. Currently, I am working on understanding the economic system we are using. In a nut shell, we use fiat money and fractional banking. To understand the system, it is helpful to study its historic origins and the problems it addressed. Few is any people understand the economic system as it stands. Economists will generally agree on the gross mechanisms of the system, but few agree on its implications or are able to predict its future reactions, in part due to the human element.
Without having full knowledge, which is an elusive goal anyways, I venture to propose a two tiered economy with the local currency based on a unit of labor (which works if the community pays people to study) and a second economy to facilitate commerce between communities.
If we look to population reduction, as did Mao Tse Tung, then we are playing God again and have to deal with a lot of unintended consequences. Mao first encouraged his people to have as many kids as possible. When he had a population explosion, he tried the one child policy which ended up with a nation of 'little emperors', a breakdown in their system of caring for the elderly, and an imbalance in men/women (this coming generation is 7 men to 3 women).
According to one observer, one of the main causes of overpopulation is the low status of women. That is, when women do not have the choice of limiting the number of children they have, we end up with too many children. This is controversial in that it points the finger at Muslin societies, but there does seem to be a strong correlation. Solving that problem would reduce population and enrich humanity at the same time, but who is willing to take that one on?
It is said that charity starts at home and so do solutions to intractable problems. We can raise our consciousness and share our thoughts with others; but beyond that, we must live what we see as a solution. That is the hardest part.
by Didier G.