The Economist published an article on the recent riots in the UK titled We have been here before . Here is my comment:
A common thread in most of the comments, as well as in the article itself, is looking to the past for answers. I agree that this is helpful. But I think everyone needs to wake up to the “brave new world” we have entered. This is not just “one more recession” that we will come out of. The world humans knew for the last 10,000 years has now gone over a tipping point. We are facing a crisis far beyond anything politicians, media or people want to face up to. We are confronting the combination of: over population, resource depletion, pervasive automation, unlimited worldwide communication, and dysfunctional governing structures.
While society may not be acknowledging and formally addressing these changes, people are surely feeling the pressures. They are responding with massive cultural changes, which the media and government see one issue at a time, but fail to see as a whole, because we are all living in the weeds as the changes unfold. Our colleges and universities are just as blind because of the structures they have to conform to, to obtain grants from government agencies in denial. The question is, what should we do? This is not an easy question to answer. How should Romans have reacted during the collapse of the Roman Empire? How should Russian’s have acted observing their country falling apart. This is not simple stuff.
What brings me into this discussion is research I’ve done on human nature, and specifically, how poorly human psychology fits with the complexity of modern society. Humans evolved and are very well adapted for personal survival on the Savannah. They are not adapted for a high tech global society. Unless we face these shortcomings directly, none of our existing governing structures will prevent human society from falling into anarchy as worldwide standards of living drastically collapse. We were warned 40 years ago that this was coming by the book Limits to Growth. The world ignored it. We were warned 20 years ago by a proclamation from 1700 of the leading scientists including most of the scientific Nobel Laureates. The world ignored it. Well time has run out. There is no more waiting. Anyone interested in further discussion along these lines can find references and research summaries at A3society.org.