Across the last three centuries, our world society has endlessly developed technologically, scientifically, and culturally, creating life as we know it. It is easy to mentally envision society’s development as a straight line progressing ever upwards, the end results ever more advanced. Yet the changes to our Earth as a result of these progressions’ heavy demand on the environment is creating an imbalance between available resources and resource consumption, hurrying us upwards towards a peak that will end in a colossal drop, signalling the collapse of society as we know it. Consequently, we need a fast and drastic shift in contemporary mindset to change society in order to save our world and ensure our continuation.
According to Johan Rockstrom, the executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, there are nine planetary boundaries forming an interdependent, interconnected whole that allows our planet to function the way it does. If one is upended, the rest will follow; yet out of the nine boundaries, three have been crossed: nitrogen flow, climate change, and biodiversity loss.
…global society must now move forward…
Eighty percent of dangerous nitrogen compounds now found in the atmosphere come from human activities. The replacement of fossil fuels with sustainable energy would reduce the negative nitrogen flow through the environment, which, in turn, would aid in helping to reducing the massive problem of climate change. The changes that will be seen in society due to the adoption of a low-carbon economy will dynamically differ from what we are used to. New transport systems will be invented and instigated, economies will learn to efficiently use and recycle waste materials, and new global powers may emerge.
The most important change, however, will come from a social and worldwide dependency. Elinor Ostrom, the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, states global society must now move forward by building trusting relationships between local based partnerships, which, working together will create necessary changes on a local scale that will consequently create a worldwide impact.
…it is estimated that by 2100 half the world’s animal and plant species will become extinct…
Economies will change as the business and industrial sectors make new and efficient use of energy, create new policies, new technologies, and new world trade regulations. In the future, households may generate their own energy, which could cause the springing up of a myriad of personal business if householders choose to buy or sell energy.
Individuals could be both the consumers and the producers of energy and, with this new interdependency, will increase an understanding of energy security and develop a low-carbon economy that will help ensure global sustainability. If we fail to take appropriate action and continue our present course it is estimated that by 2100 half the world’s animal and plant species will become extinct.
…dangerously jeopardizing our existence…
In examining the effects of climate change on our world’s biodiversity, we’ve come to realize that we are dealing with biocide on a massive scale. The extinction and endangerment of not only known but undiscovered species is tearing the life-membrane (the various components of Earth that allows it to sustain life) that knits our world, dangerously jeopardizing our existence.
To repair and preserve the life-membrane, parts of the scientific community have suggested introducing ‘megapreserves’ into society – giving large areas of land, called ‘reserve networks’, back to nature and wildlife to re-wild. While the idea is to globally establish megapreserves, The Wildlands Project in North America has set a goal to establish reserve networks across 50% of the North American continent, which will be made up of ‘cores’ (public lands such national forests and parks), ‘buffers’ (adjoining the cores to provide further animal protection), and ‘corridors’ to link it all together. However, to create a megapreserve our society has to drastically change. The theoretical buffers and corridors are planned to be taken from public and private lands based on the path of rivers and wildlife migration patterns.
…Society would have to drastically and generously adapt…
Consequently, there will be a removal of recreational and necessary societal constructs, including grazing land, oil and gas development, ski resorts, logging, motorized back country recreation, farming fields, ranches, suburban areas, factories, and perhaps going so far as evicting residential areas and re-routing major travel routes. Society would have to drastically and generously adapt to surrender bits of its development to conservation lands as well as to accommodate the idea of the re-introduction of wild animals near residential areas. Needless to say, re-wilding would mean a dramatic change to the human lifestyle.
So what will our society look like in 100 years? Will we even recognize it? Earth has been damaged to the point where it will not be able to repair itself without our active role in its healing and maintenance. Consequently, it is impossible that our current society can remain functioning the way it does without eventual future collapse. As Thoreau wrote, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”