After several centuries where science, the model of economic development and the technological developments which resulted from it have enchanted and made dream the world, at least the Western world, here is that a thousand pitfalls have arisen so that this "progress" has become questionable, subjects with 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 the conquest of space is the dream of only specialists. Long treated as a universe where anything 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 "always more" to finally be on the way to becoming inhospitable to the "living".
Above all, the distribution of the conveniences and even of the well-being which result from this human agitation, is the source of an ever greater injustice between what belongs to a few blessed “elected officials” and the remaining majority (1).
An outdated development paradigm
The Western world still lives according to the development model resulting from the work of liberal economists of past centuries ... A development model that only makes sense for a planet with infinite resources, capable of compensating for increasingly harmful side 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 English economism Adam Smith who entrusted an "invisible hand" with the task of optimally distributing the wealth produced by 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 fallout from science, certain to be on the path to undeniable progress for the human condition which could only last indefinitely, the question of the long term did not arise. We had to move forward as quickly as possible! We know how much wars have boosted technical innovations among belligerents!
Certainly, since Galileo (to whom this discovery is attributed, but who in reality comes from the Greeks with Plato in particular around six centuries BC) ”, the Earth is not flat but round… So of finite dimensions.
But, often from Europe and since the sixteenth century, “truck drivers and captains…” discovered continents and that was enough to compensate for the uncertainties about the shape and boundaries of our natural environment. And these territorial discoveries were not going to be marred by scruple. Everything was good to take where we came to. No question of procrastinating on the distant future.
Looting and waste, eradication of the occupiers 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 for 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).
For alternative energies, there is also the recurring problem of storing the electricity produced. (We are no longer in the days of windmills!).
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 forecasts of global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are implicitly correlated with the importance of human activity through the various economic scenarios considered. It remains to assess the cost of dramatic consequences of all kinds in order to compare the differential balance sheets. A huge project for the members of the IPCC 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 for a thousand conflicts in perspective! Weapon makers stay alert, the future is yours!
The race for low prices in a context of globalized free trade: a devastating challenge (6).
Wanting the cow and the cow's money, man has had no trouble adapting to the consumer society and as a corollary he is more than ever his best support despite the waste that it induces. And long live the race for ever lower prices! 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.
Conversely, and although having many strengths, local commerce is struggling to find its place. Would there be fear of withdrawal or too effective lobbying among defenders of world trade (and other WTO)? 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.
Enlightenment centuries, developments born out of science and technology, economic and social progress, all-out material well-being, gas on all levels to ape our title! OKAY ! But now the foundations of the building no longer hold, the floor is rotten, our challenges and especially since the end of the second part of the twentieth century are compromised while the lack of justice in the distribution of opportunities and wealth, drives the excluded more and more insane and threatening.
So, let us recall with force and conviction, with Rabelais, that "Science without conscience is only the 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 road awaits us. It goes through 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)