In mid-April, a reader from Hong Kong who works as an investment analyst sent me a letter in which he referred to many problems that mankind facing today, some with serious degrees beyond example. Recently, the financial crisis has been lasting over six months, but from his point of view, neither a politician nor an economist came up with any perfect solution. After reading my book On Human Extinction, he wanted to know my idea.
I sent him a reply saying that this is a complicated question and suggesting that he should read the latter part of my other work, Saving Humanity (Selected), in which I had made systematic elaborations. I also gave him some of my ideas in short: in the mid-18th century early stage of the Industrial Revolution, the world population was only 0.7 billion, but now we have 7 billion. This means ten-times the consumption and pollutions. Into what will this turn the earth?
There are some things to be more concerned about. The continuous economic growth made the per capital GDP 200 times larger than that of over 200 years ago. Ten times the population multiplied by fifty times per capital GDP equals 500 times the burden on Earth than that at the early days of the Industrial Revolution. This increase will be doubled every 20 or 30 years, which means that by the end of this century or the beginning of next century, the burden carried by Earth will be tens of thousands of times heavier than that of the initial stage of the Industrial Revolution. This sounds fearful. Where is the end of this development? It can be simply understood that with the past direction and pattern, the human species will not survive long.
However, science and technology is a double-edged sword. It is profitable and at the same time baneful, with equally strong powers at both the good and evil sides. A city with millions of people can be ruined by a nuclear bomb explosion in one second, and the bio-toxin transformed from transgenic technology has more dreadful destructive power than nuclear weapons. Think about it; it is of course not at the destructive peak of science and technology, but there is always the trend that of devouring power continuously growing with the development of science and technology. So what is the ultimate destructive power of science and technology? And is mankind capable of controlling it?
In fact, we have been running on the wrong track for more than 200 years, pursuing the old direction and developing methods which will not leave much for our descendents or even ourselves to live long on Earth. Thus, I think it is about time to make a thorough change of the human society.
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