The problems of sustained development of the humankind
By the beginning of the third millenium the humankind came in the state of global crisis of civilization. This crisis is composed of ecological, social, demographic and still hidden, but already appearing, economic crisis. This complex crisis can be called the socioecological crisis.
From fragments of independent cultures, the modern civilization turned into a single highly integrated system that destroys its environment very effectively. Rate of scientific and technological progress 5 times exceeds the rate of natural processes in biosphere, and the market-driven economy implements mainly new environmentally destructive technologies. The collision of civilization and biosphere results from conflict between long-term processes in biosphere and short-term interests of modern civilization.
Negative feedbacks aiming to liquidate consequences of perturbation already act in both biosphere and civilization that is a subsystem of biosphere. For example, powerful systems of sanitary, hygienic and medical technologies help to increase human lifespan, but they are unable to decrease continuously growing number of sick people. Systems of medical service became extremely expensive even for the most developed countries and they are gradually restructured in such a way that the burden of expenses is carried by patients.
In the past the human-made capital was the main factor limiting growth. Now this role is beginning to be played by the natural capital. In fisheries the reproductive potential of fish populations limits the catch instead of number and equipment of fisheries vessels. The forested area serves as a limiting factor in forestry. In petroleum industry, the oil production is limited by available stocks rather than by industrial capacity of oil companies.
Another factor limiting economic growth is increased expenses required for purification, restoration and conservation of the environment.
The socioecological crisis resulted from collision of civilization with external growth limits, gave rise to the concept of sustained development of the civilization within limits of biosphere capacity.
There are three possible scenario of further civilization development:
- the inert scenario, i.e. conservation of existing trends of spontaneous growth can lead only to expansion of the crisis in all directions;
- the ultratotalitarial scenario that would involve hard world dictatorship (mono-, bi- or tripolar) and increased competition for resources;
- the transformational scenario – the option of “mild” transition to the sustained development as result of fast realization of dangers related to environmental destruction, breakthrough to a new perception and new value system based on global collective actions.
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