Scientists estimate 99.9% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct.
Our species will eventually become extinct by non-human causes, if not by human causes.
The 'battle' is the attempt, by our species, to ensure that our species does not cause an effect or combination of effects that
render the Biosphere incapable of sustaining our species.
Our species is currently on a trajectory of unsustainability.
The challenge, then, is to bring about a change in human behaviour. To change human behaviour, we must first understand human behaviour and what drives it.
Here is an article from the Ecological Society of America, Titled "Human Behaviour and Sustainability".http://mahb.stanford.edu/wp-content/upl ... bility.pdf
From the article:
" In a Nutshell
. Human actions and behaviours, both by individuals and societies, are resulting in the ongoing degradation of the Biosphere.
. The social sciences have generated useful knowledge on how to foster behavioural change.
. Acheiving large-scale behavioural change requires a powerful movement within civil society.
. For sustainability science to be effective, it needs to engage with civil society and support appropriate initiatives, such
as the Ecological Society of Americas Earth Stewardship Initiative
and the Millenium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere.
The article "proposes five priority themes that focus on the nexus of human behavioural sustainability", and goes on to expand on them.
The 5 priorities are:
"1. Reforming formal institutions at the level of Nation states.
2. Strengthening the institutions of civil society and fostering citizen engagement.
3. Curbing consumption and reducing population growth.
4. Routinely considering equity and social justice in decision making.
5. Reflecting on deeply held value and belief systems."
It is well worth reading the full article to get an inkling of how enormously complex each of these 5 priorities are.
The last 2 sentences of the Article
"Put bluntly, we know what needs to happen to work towards a more sustainable future: we know that a social avalanche is needed. The challenge now is to get it started."
I was suprised that the article did'nt explicitly mention the problems inherent in native human thinking itself as a barrier to acheiving these behavioural changes.
It is known that human thinking informs human actions and behaviours, and that native human thinking produces erroneous conclusions about the nature of reality.
Here is a book about the systematic errors inherent in human thinking, by Daniel Kahneman, "Thinking, fast and slow" :http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Fast-Slo ... 0374275637
I think it crucial that part of the social avalanche required includes awareness raising of the importance of developing Critical Thinking and Critical Societies.
Here is an aricle from the Foundation for Critical thinking, on developing Critical Societies.
"A critical society is a community of people who value critical thinking and value those who practice it. It is a society continually improving. Its most distinguishing characteristic is its emphasis on thinking as the key to the emancipation of the mind, to the creation of just practices, to the preservation and development of the species.
Unfortunately there are no critical societies in the world. Nor have there ever been. The idea represents an ideal not yet achieved, a possibility not yet actualized. There is no culture on earth where critical thought is characteristic of everyday personal and social life.
On the contrary, the world is filled with superficiality, prejudice, bias, distortions, lies, deception, manipulation, short sightedness, close-mindedness, righteousness, hypocrisy, on and on, in every culture in every country throughout the world. These problems in thinking lead to untold negative implications - fear, anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, pain, suffering, injustices of every imaginable kind.
Yet humans have great capacity for rationality and reasonability. The history of human accomplishments, achievements and contributions well documents this fact. But for the most part this capacity must be developed, actively, by the mind. It is our second, not our first, nature.
What is more natural to the mind, what comes first in terms of human tendencies, and often takes precedence, is an orientation focused on self-gratification, self-interest, self-protection. This perspective is innate, and many would say, necessary for survival. Still it leads to many problems and ultimately stands as a barrier to the development of fairminded critical societies.
To envision a critical society, imagine a world in which problems are routinely solved through reasoning based on openmindedness and mutual respect, rather than vested interest and power. Imagine a world which protects maximum freedoms and liberties, a world free from hunger and homelessness, a world in which people work to understand the viewpoints of others, especially those with whom they disagree. Imagine a world in which people are encouraged to think for themselves, rather than mindlessly conform.
There has never before been a more important time to foster and develop critical societies. With the dwindling of the earth’s resources, with vast declines in natural habitats, with impending extinctions of growing numbers of animals, with the melting of arctic ice, with wars and hunger and hopelessness on the part of so many, with all of the monumental problems we now face, it is vital that we turn things around and get them right. Whether and the extent to which we do will depend directly on our ability to solve the complex problems before us, to follow out the implications of our actions, to develop and use our collective intelligence in doing so.
To fix the problems looming before us, there is one thing we must get command of – our thinking. Everything we do is determined by some thinking we do. Critical societies can and will emerge only to the extent that human thinking becomes a primary interest of people living in societies, only to the extent that thinking comes to be understood as a complex phenomenon routinely highlighted and discussed and critiqued in every relationship, in every family, in every business, in every organization, in every field and discipline, in every part of the culture. In short, because the human mind is naturally riddled with problems, the creation of critical societies depends upon people within the societies taking thinking seriously, studying its problems, its tricks and stratagems, its weaknesses and strengths, its native tendencies, its rational capacities.
Many important thinkers throughout history have contributed to the idea of the critical society through emphasis on the educated mind, freedom of thought, the cultivation of the intellect, and barriers to human development. We have pulled together some quotes from these thinkers for you here, and provided some little commentary in places. When we weave these ideas together with similar ideas from other great thinkers, a rich tapestry emerges, a vibrant guiding concept of the critical society. We see what we are reaching for, and the traps to be avoided."
Food for thought, and I look forward to yours.