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Reaching for the stars: the essential first step is for us to become one global community

Aaron the Humanist

In this article, Aaron – self-confessed dreamer and optimist – asks whether we can think of ourselves as “just one global community” so that we can get humanity back on track and reach our greatest potential as a species.

Our ultimate aim, surely, must be to ensure the survival of our species and, to that end, the colonisation of other planets is an essential means. Placing all our eggs on this planet, when a single asteroid impact or nuclear war could wipe us out, is dangerous and foolhardy. An operational and fully-manned moon base is perhaps the next step on that journey to the stars, as illustrated below.

Indicative examples of progressive human development (Image by author)

There are a great many steps between where we are now and where we need to be, with some obvious goals being: achieving green energy, lab-grown meat replacing livestock as food, resource recycling and reclamation, sustainable transport, and nuclear fusion. As a species we are probably capable of all of these and more, yet our current trajectory is probably more of a flatline at best, with frequent negative dips at worst. I’m extremely frustrated when anything takes us off the road to progress.

Reality curve? (Image by author)

The road ahead, which obviously entails planetary sustainability, seems beyond the comprehension of our governing elites. Individual nation-states are distracted by domestic problems which take away focus, investment, and priority from what really needs to be happening at the planetary scale. We find ourselves drawn into prolonged conflicts, such as the ongoing war between Israel and Palestine. This conflict seems to reflect, at least in part, a broader geopolitical rivalry involving Iran, Russia, and China on one side, and NATO on the other. As a species, we have more important existential challenges. For example, there’s a global consensus that we need to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, yet leading nations such as the US and China appear to be dragging their heels. When two of the largest economies and most influential communities on the planet can’t take the necessary steps forward at the required speed to ensure our survival, what hope is there?

The Road Ahead (Image: Bing)

Innate tribalism

As humans, we often limit our sense of community to those who share our beliefs and perspectives. We welcome like-minded individuals into our communities to collaborate, innovate, and improve the quality of life for everyone involved. Who wouldn't aspire to belong to a nation-state guided by such inclusive ideals?

However, we also acknowledge that we have a tendency to build barriers between “us” and “them”, recognising the challenge of persuading others to adopt our values and viewpoints. Instead of attempting to impose our beliefs through force, we understand the importance of unity and collaboration as a species. While we strive to foster dialogue and influence through international organisations such as the UN and the WTO, individual nations ultimately act in their own interests. When faced with disruptive behaviour or aggression from others, we may intervene militarily to restore order and protect stability. But the hopes of “liberal interventionism” probably died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are having to come to terms with the fact that history, in terms of ideological rivalry, has not ended.

Humans on the move

As “other thinking” (that is, viewing individuals or groups outside of one’s own social, cultural, or ideological circles as fundamentally different) fuels global conflicts, population displacement becomes a widespread challenge, impacting countries around the world. Nations may find themselves unexpectedly inundated with people fleeing their homelands in search of safety and opportunity. While providing refuge is a noble endeavour, overwhelming numbers strain resources and infrastructure beyond capacity. Moreover, when refugees arrive with vastly different cultural norms and attitudes, tensions inevitably arise, exacerbating the divide between host communities and newcomers. Perceived as uninvited intruders, they further fuel the “us versus them” mentality, hindering the progress of nations committed to humanitarian efforts. As a result, these nations find themselves diverted from their developmental trajectories, forced to divert resources to address internal strife and socioeconomic challenges. Issues such as housing shortages, strained infrastructure, rising crime rates, and cultural clashes become pressing concerns, impeding the collective advancement of society and humanity.

Cultural clashes, economic instability, and persecution are on the rise, compounded by climate-induced displacement as global warming increasingly impacts equatorial regions. As water scarcity, poverty, and food insecurity escalate, more people are compelled to seek refuge in Europe and North America, often perceived as continents of prosperity and opportunity. However, despite their allure, many affluent nations are hesitant to welcome newcomers who may disrupt their established way of life. To outsiders, Europe may indeed appear as a paradise, offering abundant food, secure homes, financial support, accessible healthcare, and a benevolent government. It's no wonder that those with the means to travel would be drawn by such an attractive way of life. Yet, for those of us living in European countries, the true extent of our privilege often goes unnoticed. Minor inconveniences, such as a temporary water outage or a shortage of preferred groceries, prompt frustration and complaints, while millions around the world struggle to access even the most basic necessities. The luxury and comfort of our lives remain largely unacknowledged, raising the question: do we truly appreciate the abundance that surrounds us?

However, the reality remains that we continue to grapple with challenges. Within our communities, we reside in our own insular bubbles, shielded from many of the harsher realities of the world. With our lives often meticulously cared for by state agencies, we possess the privilege to fixate on trivial concerns and explore new avenues of discontent. While issues like mental health and gender identity gain traction as contemporary concerns, it can be difficult to imagine people suffering from hunger or thirst fretting over their psychological well-being. However, this is the reality we inhabit – a world tailored to meet our every need and desire. For the most part, it operates smoothly, which is why we react with hostility when outsiders threaten to upset the balance. How dare they covet what we’ve built? How audacious of them to intrude upon our community and demand a piece of the pie. In order to repel them from turning up on our shores in flimsy boats, we legislate to exile them to far-off lands like Rwanda.

Do you recall that pivotal scene in the film 2012 featuring the Arks? These vessels held the future of humanity, carefully stocked with supplies calculated to sustain their passengers until they could achieve self-sufficiency. In a world submerged by floods, it could be years before crops could be cultivated again; every resource was precious. Yet, against the advice of the scientists, they admitted an influx of additional people. I couldn't help but despair at that moment. While they may have saved an extra two thousand lives in the short term, it risked depleting their supplies before life could regenerate. What seemed like a charitable act in the moment could ultimately lead to the demise of everyone on board.

The way forward

So I’m not advocating an open-door policy. I’m vying for the same resources that every other low-income Brit is pursuing. I want lower prices, affordable housing, and reduced crime, and the presence of outsiders poses a threat to that goal. What I'm suggesting is that we need to find a way forward for the whole of humanity that does not entail the migration of 100 million people or more in search of a better way of life or a tolerable climate. We need to find planetary solutions that will benefit the whole of humanity on every continent. We must strive to achieve, innovate, and advance technologically, paving the way for developments like lab-grown meat, nuclear fusion, and climate resilience. Such breakthroughs should be shared globally, benefiting all. But every setback we encounter, whether it’s an economic downturn or the outbreak of war, hampers our progress. It slows us down, halts our momentum, and may even set us back entirely.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue collective progress rests in our hands. We must seize the opportunity to transcend narrow-minded thinking and embrace a vision of planetary stewardship, where the survival and flourishing of all life forms are paramount. Together, we can chart a course towards a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come on this and other planets.

Further information

If you've ever wondered what our future holds, this site is worth a look:

This chart is also of interest:

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