How can humanity save itself

50 years ago, the research center Club of Rome shook the world with its report “The Limits to Growth”. Today it is considered the most influential publication on the impending overload of our planet. The research group warned that if the global economy did not change, the economy, environment and quality of life would collapse – and sparked debates that still have an impact today. There is now a new report published in German on Tuesday.

“Land for All” is no less than the most important measure by which to realize a future worth living in for humanity.

It’s not too late – that’s what the report, the result of a two-year research collaboration by several experts, states conclusively. Its descriptions are clear, and the proposed solutions are easy to understand and often very specific. These are key goals that experts consider indispensable – but not impossible to achieve, as the group demonstrates with examples of rapid change. We can still get around this in an attractive and optimistic way.

Earth condition

State of the Earth data also plays a role in “Earth for All”, but above all it is about what needs to be done concretely to turn the tide of human development for the better. More than 30 authors explain: “This is a book about our future–the collective future of humanity in this century, to be exact.” Above all, this is based on the “five extraordinary setbacks” that must be achieved in the coming decades: eradicating poverty, eliminating stark inequality, empowering women, building healthy diets for people and ecosystems, and moving to cleaner systems. energy.

The report’s lead authors are—among many other contributors—Sandrine Dixon-Decliffe, co-chair of the Club of Rome, development economist Jayati Ghosh of the University of Massachusetts, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Earth system scientist Johan Rockström, environmental psychologist Per Espen Stoknes of the University of Massachusetts. BI Norwegian Business School, sustainability analyst and author Owen Gaffney and Jurgen Randers, former professor of climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School.

For the report, they used a computer simulation, the “Earth4All” model. From a variety of possible scenarios, two were chosen for the book, titled Too Little Too Late and Giant Leap. Too Little Too Late shows what would happen if the currently dominant economic system continued in one form or another as it has in the past 50 years. “In contrast, Giant Leap wonders what would happen if the economic system was reshaped through bold and extraordinary efforts to build a more resilient civilization.”

Warning of rising inequality

Experts warn that if the current political and economic course is maintained, humanity will move towards increasing inequality. Social tensions are a consequence. In addition, inequality undermines trust and makes it difficult for democratic societies to make long-term collective decisions that benefit all and can therefore be accepted by all. In this case, the average global temperature would rise by more than two degrees, well above the limit negotiated in the Paris Climate Agreement and set by science as a red line, which should not be crossed under any circumstances. Large parts of the Earth system threaten to bypass climatic and ecological tipping points – with inevitable consequences for centuries or even millennia.

Time and time again, experts assert that they see greater equality and justice as a silver lining to a future worth living in. “We know that the richest billion people consume 72 percent of global resources, while the poorest 1.2 billion people consume only 1 percent,” the book says. “So most of the natural resources flow into the consumption of the richest societies, which, however, bear only a fraction of the consequences – a very unfair situation.” The warning stated that an excessive level of inequality was extremely damaging “even for the wealthy”. “She prefers conditions that are dangerous for everyone.”

Many of the suggestions in the book are very specific. For example, as a minimum target of transformation for greater equality, it is stated that the richest 10 per cent of the country must have less than 40 per cent of the national income. “This means that four poor people together have the same annual income as one person in the group of the richest 10 percent.”

Education as a critical factor

Possible developments in the coming decades are also illustrated by the illusory fate of four girls from China, USA, Bangladesh and Nigeria who were born in the year 2020. One factor plays a major role in the classroom, which experts also consider very important: an education that teaches critical thinking and complex systemic thinking, For both girls and boys. “Because the most important challenge of our time is not climate change, biodiversity loss or pandemics,” the group said. “The most important problem is our collective inability to distinguish between fact and fiction.”

In democratic societies, disinformation and false information have been curbed, at least to some extent, by the media. “But social media has shattered that model. It has spawned an entire industry of disinformation and disinformation, polarizing communities, distrusting, and our inability to work together, or each other, in the face of collective challenges only to communicate basic facts.”

The chapter on necessary changes to diet and agriculture states that more than 821 million people are currently undernourished – and an “astounding 2 billion” are overweight or obese. According to mass, 96 percent of the mammals on Earth are now either humans (36 percent) or livestock (60 percent) – and only 4 percent are terrestrial mammals. In terms of mass, about 70 percent of the birds are farmed poultry. “We live on a planet of chickens.”

Regarding the transformation challenges of the global energy system, it can be read that this must go hand in hand with lower consumption – it is also necessary to reduce the number of smaller and smaller cars. Another challenge is the “very real danger” of social destabilization in the context of the energy system transformation. “When the poorest majority are the hardest hit by rising energy costs, these people will protest energy policies.”

Legends are put to the test

A myth in the field of energy transformation is that it is difficult to change people’s behavior. The coronavirus pandemic has just shown that things can change very quickly — and with many advantages. Working from home not only reduces emissions and congestion, but often helps to better juggle work and family life.

“We know what you’re going to say now,” he said at the end of the speech. “The tasks are enormous, the obstacles are huge, the dangers are enormous, and our time is short.” The most difficult tasks of the fastest economic transformation in history in the first decade must be tackled. “Now. When you close this book.”

While the scale of this transformation may seem daunting, there may be good news: The rock may not need to be rolled over a mountain. They wrote that he may already be close to a slope and just need to move, for example with a view to obtaining increasingly cheaper renewable energies. Although ambitious, the guide presented in Land for All is also “consistently optimistic.” How likely are we to make it? “That, dear readers, depends on what you do next.”

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