After several centuries in which science, the model of economic development and the resulting technological developments have enchanted and made the world dream, at least the Western world, here are a thousand pitfalls for these "progress" to become questionable, subjects caution, because of their serious impact with irreversible consequences on our biotope.
Dilemma on all levels or issues of a new development model
The pursuit of space conquest is more dream than specialists. Treated for a long time as a universe where everything could be allowed, our planet is indeed tiny in the immeasurable universe, unable to absorb the imbalances caused by unbridled human activity in search of "ever more" to finally be in the process of becoming inhospitable to the "living".
Above all, the distribution of commodities or well-being that result from this human agitation, is the source of an ever greater injustice between what amounts to a few happy "elected" and the remaining majority (1).
An outdated development paradigm
The Western world is still living according to the development model derived from the work of liberal economists of the past centuries ... A model of development that only makes sense for a planet with infinite resources, capable of compensating for increasingly harmful collateral effects .
In fact, the hypotheses emanating as much from intellectual necessity as by chance that have been the foundation of the work of thinkers and other scientists are now misguided.
Let us recall here the bet of the English economist Adam Smith who confided to an "invisible hand" the task of optimally distributing the wealth produced by a human activity guided by individual interests ...
At the same time and on their side, the advances of medicine were taking care of moving humanity from a relatively confined and naturally contained world population to an exponentially and drastically growing demography.
Technologies and disappearance of natural heritage
As for the technological spinoffs of science, some of being on the path of undeniable progress for the human condition which could only last indefinitely, the question of the long term did not arise. It was necessary to go ahead and as soon as possible! We know how much wars have boosted technical innovations among belligerents!
Certainly, since Galileo (to whom this discovery is attributed, but which in reality comes from the Greeks including Plato about six centuries BC), the Earth is not flat but round ... So of finite dimensions.
But, often from Europe and since the sixteenth century, "road and captains ..." discovered continents and that was enough to compensate for uncertainties about the shape and the limits of our natural environment. And these territorial discoveries were not going to be tainted with scruple. Everything was good to take where we arrived. There is no question of procrastinating over the distant future.
Pillage and waste, eradicating the occupants in place if necessary, were part of the mission of conquistadors supported by monarchs in search of new territories and other riches to establish their power and prepare new wars!
Growth and energy: the hiatus
Since the industrial era, we know the strong correlation between economic development and energy consumption, with first resort, and not to mention, to fossil energy and now to alternative energies wherever there is a possibility of substitution ( 2).
But we know less often that the transport will remain very long still, and for very technical reasons (possibility of embedded storage in particular) dependent on the only fossil energy. Indeed, and even today, it is hard to see how aircraft will ever be able to do without hydrocarbons! This is despite the fact that high greenhouse gas emissions are likely to have a greater impact on global warming than the same gases emitted on the ground. We must first live aircraft manufacturers ...
As for alternative and renewable energies, their availability is by nature random, for the wind, the sun, even limited because the sectors concerned require more minerals and metals than the traditional systems for their implementation (3).
Also for alternative energies is the recurring problem of storing the electricity produced. (We're not in the windmills anymore!)
No, we are not ready to give up this manna oil still abundant under the remaining ice caps. And rather than giving up and if necessary, we will accept to wear the gas mask ...
Thus, in 2015, the weight of coal, oil and gas still represented 86% of global global energy consumption, against 88% in 1990! (4)
Too bad for the greenhouse effect and global warming and all the tragedies already lived and even more for those to come.
If almost no one disputes the involvement of human activity in climatic drifts that specialists often indulge in minimizing, the complete cessation of our activities would not be enough to reverse trends (5).
It should be noted here that the predictions of global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are implicitly correlated with the importance of human activity through the different economic scenarios considered. It remains to evaluate the cost of dramatic consequences of all kinds in order to compare the differential balances. A huge project for IPCC members and other forecasters!
In addition, the same IPCC predicts a sea level rise meter, mainly related to melting ice, itself a function of the warming of the Earth during this century. So, do not ignore the human tragedies programmed for the coastal populations of the most vulnerable regions of the world such as those of the Bay of Bengal, Thailand, which may concern whole states (Malaysia for example) and of course those of the regions swamps, polders, without forgetting our dear islands with water ...
Too bad for the increasing acidification of the oceans that capture about a quarter of CO2 emissions, thus jeopardizing biodiversity, first aquatic, then food chain requires, terrestrial ...
Not to mention the ravages of pesticides ... Not to mention the loss of ancestral and non-renewable global heritage needed to produce the wealth, real or virtual, required by our development model (5).
In short and if nothing changes, the opportunity of a thousand conflicts in perspective! Manufacturers of weapons stay vigilant, the future belongs to you!
The race for low prices in a context of globalized free trade: a devastating challenge (6).
Wanting the cow and the cow's money, the man has had no trouble adapting to the consumer society and as a corollary it is more than ever his best support despite the waste it induces. And long live the price race always lower! This in all areas.
Thinking that this strategy is favorable to him, he wants it, he believes it until the day when, in turn, after many others, he is prematurely out of play, unemployed, victim.
This race is exacerbated by free trade between countries and regions of the world where the conditions of production are hardly comparable. Free trade boosted by transport costs that continue to benefit from zero-rated fuel. Thanks to the legislator who is still in the post-World War II arrangements to support world trade and develop air traffic.
In contrast, and although having many assets, the local business is struggling to find its place. Would there be fear of self-retreat or overly effective lobbying by global (and other WTO) trade advocates? Probably both!
Exclusion versus sharing
Outside culture illustrated here by the example of Japanese culture, Buddhist inspiration, for which the effort of each is always and first turned towards the other, for which the success can only be collective (and only failure is a matter of the individual), the Western Judeo-Christian model praises individual performance first, although, today exacerbated, it can become collectively harmful. And the competition in sport as in business is fierce nowadays besides passing the animal behaviors which, themselves, are justified by the instinct of survival.
So, is not it time to put our collective intelligence at the service of a real societal challenge, with new corporate challenges, integrating the long term, aiming for a fair sharing of real results, sharing the work.
Centuries of enlightenment, developments born of science and technology, economic and social progress, material well-being all over the place, gas at every level to sign our title! OKAY ! But here the foundations of the building no longer hold, the floor is worm-eaten, our challenges and especially since the end of the second half of the twentieth century are compromised while the lack of justice in the distribution of opportunities and wealth, makes the excluded more and more insane and threatening.
So let's remember with strength and conviction, with Rabelais, that "Science without conscience is only ruin of the soul".
When democracy paralyzes ...
The socio-economic model that we know in the West and that inspires developing countries does not really know alternatives that can be validated by a majority of citizens.
The human race is afraid of the unknown, and today in the most advanced countries, it is safe to say that it has many assurances. So how to make radical decisions in a democracy?
A long way awaits us. It involves new ethical values, a new culture, that of sharing ...
In the meantime, let's start by sharing John Lennon's dream (according to his famous "Imagine"): dream of people living in peace, a true human fraternity, sharing everything, in a united world, without country, without paradise, without hell, without possession, without religion, without reason to kill or die ...
Rémi Guillet (October 2017)