It can be interesting to speculate about our future as it throws some light on – and can inform – our current actions.
What we know
What we know is that we are current steaming full speed into an ecological bottle neck, one that is created through a combination of the large number of humans today, our current technologies, and the fact that we live on a planet that is limited in size and resources (the last is a shocking revelation to contemporary economics, I know).
We also know that worldviews, civilizations, culture and all of our human institutions (economics, politics, education, law, religion, etc.) naturally change over time. What we have today, including what we see as most progressive and enlightened, will appear outdated and quaint for future generations. This is of course true for any generation.
And we know that the only way to find a relatively smooth transition through the coming ecological bottle-neck, is to find and live from a more life-centered worldview, and allow this to inform deep change in culture and all our institutions. It requires a deep change in our civilization and all aspects of our lives. If we don’t, the transition will be much bumpier and more unpleasant, and may include large scale die-offs of not only only species but also humans, and a disintegration of culture and civilization.
Fortunately, we also know much about how such as more life-centered worldview, and its implication for different areas of society, may look. People who work in this area, mainly focusing on the change in worldview, include Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Arne Næss, John Seed, Joanna Macy, Ken Wilber and Fritjof Capra. And some of the practical tools are developed through new forms of co-intelligent decision making processes, ecological design applied to any area and scale, and much more.
From Spiral Dynamics, we see that we can expect the center of gravity – at least in industrialized countries – to move to green and then second tier. (Unless there is a collapse, in which case there may be a regression.)
We can also expect the emerging global grassroots cooperation to continue and mature. Individuals around the world, sharing a similar interest, will connect and work together in different ways, including on specific real-life projects. We already see this in the open source movement.
What we don’t know
Of course, what we don’t know is how it is going to look. To what degree and in what areas will there be a collapse? To what degree, and in what areas, will we get through it more gracefully?
We can say that the Earth intially developed a quite local and spotty awareness of itself through all the different species, and is now emerging – through humans – into an awareness of itself as a whole, as a living system composed of ecological and social systems. Seeing the Earth from space, global communications technology and travel and more, are vehicles for this shift.
Earth’s awareness of itself (through humans) as a whole is likely to itself be deeply transformative – of all aspects of human civilization and of the Earth itself.
One aspect of this transformation may be that humanity becomes more aware of its role as part of the Earth, and begin to function more with a natural concern and care for the whole, as reflected in large scale collective and small scale individual actions. This may seem far fetched today, but may be just a natural next phase of the evolution of Earth and humanity.