To avoid human population collapse, We must transform Society

May 5, 2024
Rebuild the world - concept image with elements from Nasa in jigsaw puzzle shape

In the coming year, there will be an election for the Australian Parliament, at a time when the very future of human civilisation is precarious. Three important books have appeared in recent months that should be read by politicians and their constituents, everywhere.

The first, “How to Fix a Broken Planet”, is by acclaimed, Canberra Science writer, Julian Cribb, in which he draws together the evidence that he has been writing about for some years; that human civilisation is in profound danger of collapse from ten interacting catastrophic threats, that result from the way we live and interact with each other and our planetary home. Cribb says that no government on Earth is yet taking these ten threats sufficiently seriously. and has proposed a global, Earth System Treaty, (EST), that would be a global accord, negotiated, signed and ratified by all the countries of the Earth, under the auspices of the United Nations.

The second book “Earth for All. A Survival Guide for Humanity,” has been written by a prestigious group of international authors, economists and scientists from The Club of Rome, which 50 years ago, published a prescient book, “The Limits to Growth.” It says that we could achieve rapid systemic transformation, by adoption of five global “turnarounds” in relation to poverty, inequality, gender equity, food insecurity and climate change. The authors claim that a global end to poverty within one generation is in reach, and that it is feasible to contemplate abundant clean, cheap, energy by 2050. They also claim that, within a single generation, the population of the planet could peak and begin to fall. And that we could conceivably have a liveable planet by 2050, with resilient societies, that are better equipped to adapt to change.

The third book is by US economist, Nick Romeo, entitled “The Alternative. How to Build a Just Economy.” Romeo draws attention to a series of highly successful alternatives to conventional neoliberal economic policy that are operating in various parts of the world today. He firmly rejects the assumption that economics is settled as a mathematical science and highlights the need for profound social and natural considerations in the transformative, economic change that he considers we must all make.

Australia led the world in the development of the United Nations. We could also lead the world in the development of a vital, new, Global Policy for Human Survival. The Australian government should place an Earth System Treaty on the UN agenda, and institute change in the way we manage the national economy.

Em Prof Bob Douglas, AO is a retired Public Health Academic and a committee member of The Council for The Human Future (CHF) and The Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD).

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