Living on a single planet, we are all participants in a single physical system that has only one direction, – towards systemic equilibrium. The logical consequences are obvious; our environmental, industrial, and political systems, even our intellectual and theological systems, will become more homogeneous over time. It has already started. The physical resources available to every person on Earth, including air, food, and water, have already been significantly degraded by the high burn rate of industrialization, just as the intellectual resources available to every person on earth have already been significantly increased by the high distribution rate or globalization.
Human societies are already far more similar than ever before. And it would be very tempting to imagine that a modern democracy based on equal rights and opportunities is a system in equilibrium. This seems unlikely given our current energy footprint. More likely, if the total system energy is depleted too fast, is that modern democracies will be compromised if the system crashes to its lowest equilibrium too quickly for socially equitable evolution.
Our one real opportunity is to use the certain knowledge of ever-increasing systemic equilibrium to build a model for an equitable and sustainable future. The mass distribution of knowledge and access to information through the World Wide Web is our civilization’s signal achievement. Societies that adopt innovative, predictive, and adaptive models designed around significant, ongoing redistribution of global resources will be most likely to survive in the future.
But we reflexively avoid the subject of systemic changes to our way of life, both as a society and individuals. Instead of examining the real problems, we consume apocalyptic fantasies as “entertainment” and deride our leaders for their impotence. We really need to fix this.
The practical effect of this denial of the relationship between the global economy and the climate-change debate, for example is obvious. Advocates propose continuous “good” (green) growth, while denialists propose continous “bad” (brown) growth. Both sides are more interested in backing winners and losers in a future economic environment predicated on the continuation of today’s systems than in accepting the inevitability of increasing systemic equilibrium in any scenario.