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The Emerging Human Transformation Shaping a Habitable Future for Life on Earth

August 24, 2023

“The future depends on what we do in the present.”- Mahatma Gandhi

Confronting the unprecedented crisis we have created for ourselves, a few facts are revealing.

  • The human population has more than doubled from 4 to over 8 billion in just 50 years.
  • We continue to add about 70 million more humans annually. That’s about 19 cities the size of Los Angeles every passing year.
  • In the past 50 years, the wild animal population on Earth has collapsed by 70%
  • Nearly one in three people on Earth (2.37 billion) did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – that was an increase of almost 320 million people in just one year.
  • Climate Change has dramatically intensified. July. 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth

For about the last 10,000 years, the human culture across our Earth has been defined mostly by men. Men have had the power. Men have made the rules. Women have been marginalized.

The existential crisis all humans face early in the 21st century has been defined by male dominance and the extreme exploitation of our planet’s natural systems. Life on Earth is now seriously out of balance, and it continues to get worse with every passing day.

“The task is to articulate not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.”– Naomi Klein, Author, This Changes Everything – Capitalism vs. the Climate

A Test of Human Survival is at Hand

For most of our existence, humans have been divided into tribes and nation-states pursuing self-interest. Over the centuries, that has inevitably led to a few winners, plenty of losers, and lots of suffering. Until recent decades, there weren’t enough of us humans to do any lasting damage. How much that has changed.

Just since 1950, as the human population has tripled, the consumption of our planet’s resources has increased ten-fold. The Global Footprint Network calculates that humans are now consuming the equivalent of 1.75 planet Earth’s each year.

Humans have reduced our only home into a collection of resources that, because of our massive expansion in population, we are rapidly consuming to exhaustion. The existential challenges we face now are entirely manmade and are all global in scale.

“It is pretty ironic that the so-called ‘least advanced’ people are the ones taking the lead in trying to protect all of us, while the richest and most powerful among us are the ones who are trying to drive the society to destruction.” – Noam Chomsky

We Have Reached the Limits of Human Self-Interest

The evidence of our overreach is undeniable. The distinguished Australian science author Julian Cribb, in his book, How to Fix a Broken Planet, has identified ten existential threats that put the future of life on Earth at great risk given the cultural inertia that currently defines the way we live.

The Ten Existential Threats

  1. Rapid decline of vital natural resources, like water, soil, fish and forests, driving a global crisis,
  2. Collapse of ecosystems causing mass extinction of animals and plants
  3. Massive human population growth, substantially exceeding the planet’s carrying capacity.
  4. Global heating, sea level rise, and changes in the Earth’s climate imperiling our food supply and affecting all human activity.
  5. Chemical emissions poisoning every human and living creature on Earth
  6. Growing threats to humanity’s food security
  7. A rising risk of nuclear war
  8. New pandemics and untreatable diseases
  9. Powerful, uncontrolled new technologies that will change and can ruin all out lives
  10. On top of all that, there’s a flood of lies and misinformation leading to global failure to understand and act on these risks“We humans are facing the greatest emergency of our entire million-year existence.” – Julian Cribb, How to Fix a Broken Planet

An Earth Systems Treaty as Life-Affirming Common Purpose

The good news is just as humanity is threatened by the deadliest challenges we have ever faced, we also find ourselves connected together as never before by an internet and social media that allows us to share information and ideas worldwide in real time. We have the means to rally the entire human family together behind a common commitment to get past the mindless exploitation and bad behavior that has defined us historically.

Humanity can and must come together to embrace a new planetary-scale, cultural direction, a gender-equal, transformative cultural direction in which we all commit ourselves by the need to protect the natural world we all depend on.

Author Julian Cribb has distilled a response to this common need; a response that challenges all of humanity to rally behind an uncomplicated set of legally binding measures that together add up to something Cribb calls, The Earth Systems Treaty.

This Treaty, which Cribb calls on all nations, all groups, all businesses, and every individual Earth citizen to sign and commit to, includes the following measures…

  • A universal ban on nuclear weapons
  • An international plan to combat climate change
  • An international plan to restore forests, soils, fresh waters, oceans, atmosphere and
    biodiversity to stable, sustainable levels and end extinction
  • An international agreement to operate a circular economy and end waste
  • A plan for a renewable world food supply sufficient for all
  • A plan to end universal chemical pollution in all forms
  • A plan to reduce the human population voluntarily to a sustainable level
  • A plan to anticipate and prevent future pandemic diseases
  • A Global Technology Convention to oversee the safe development and introduction of dangerous new sciences and technologies and minimize the harms they cause
  • A World Truth Commission, to combat and expose the lies and disinformation
  • An Earth Standard Currency
  • All 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • All 16 of the principles enunciated in the Earth Charter
  • All of the Safe Global Boundaries described by the Stockholm resilience Institute

Let’s share this Earth Systems Treaty far and wide. Let’s get past individualism and self-interest.

Let’s embrace cooperation and shared commitment. There is nothing complicated about the ideas that shape this urgent reflection of common human purpose.

For the sake of all of humanity and all of life on Earth, for the sake of our own survival, let’s choose to become the best version of humanity we can be. Let’s all of us stand together and sign on to the Earth Systems Treaty.

“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.” – Barack Obama

Geoffrey Holland

Geoffrey Holland is the lead author of The Hydrogen Age, Gibbs-Smith Publishing, 2007. He is a veteran writer/producer of long and short-form videos focused on clean energy and the environment. He also happens to be the coordinator for the MAHB Dialogue series.

Tags: Earth Systems Treaty