Seth Godin has a must-read piece on what it means to be a worker in 2011. We're going through a transition, he says. The industrial revolution is no longer ruling our economies. And the kind of jobs that exist now are not the ones most people trained for.
Sometime in the last 100 years we got the upper-hand on nature. We couldn't defy it's fundamental rules, what goes up still must come down, and we still get sick and die. But our species has conquered nature. We have a temporary truce with nature, allowing our population to grow, while quickly depleting the resources of the host.
We could slow down our approach, or even reverse it, if we could fundamentally change our nature. But that doesn't seem to be happening. If anything our nature is forcing us to do things to accelerate our approach to the edge. (And changing our nature happens much more slowly than changing our science.)
Our fundamental problem isn't global warming, and it isn't the lack of sustainable systems. The former is the penalty for not controlling population. And developing sustainable systems only makes it possible for the planet to support a few more people than it otherwise would. We still hit the edge if we continue to grow the population.
1. We need fewer people. The easiest way to get there is to have fewer children. But everything about who we are says we must have more children. That's understandable, because until very recently, having lots of children was our main defense against extinction.
2. We need to learn how to reason collectively, not just individually. There are smart strategies and stupid ones. For the most part we do the stupid ones, because the incentives to cooperate are not perceived to be very great. This is a misunderstanding. It's imperative that we learn how to cooperate.