When writing on religion in the past, I always marveled at the praise religions received for the great works for which it was responsible. Not only are great works to be the norm, but one of the few advantages to centralized power is that it pools the resources of many people to do some good in the world.
If I have a problem or challenge in my life, chances are that my talents, mind, resources, and skills in some combination can meet the challenge or solve the problem. If I have a really big challenge, I might need the help or support of someone else, perhaps a friend of family member.
If I'm asked to solve a problem for a hundred people, I'll most likely need access to their resources and their experiences. If a million people are facing a severe challenge, even it is a simple one like insufficient potable water, it will obviously take many people on many fronts to tackle that problem -- a problem that for one person might be easy enough to solve by one person.
The challenges humanity collectively faces today were not created by one person. They were not even created by a mere million people. More people than that are alive today created these challenges, and no one person or one nation, not matter how populace, can face these challenges. Centralized power is necessary to provide coordination to positive address these challenges despite the predilection of centralized power to be directed toward divisive ends.
Centralized power comes in generally three forms: political, religious, and economic. At bottom, they are all economic and all political. They also loosely distinguish themselves as progressive of left-leaning or conservative or right-leaning. The biggest threat economic centralization of power displays is its willingness to insure continual gridlock in government and thereby fail at meeting the challenges posed to the human race.
But that doesn't mean we don't need to work together to face these challenges, so like it or not we need to centralize our power and get to the work of facing the real threats to our existence. we have the centralization of power part down pat, habituated as it is after centuries of doing it. Now we need to redirect that power in the proper direction.
The preliminary challenge, then, is in redirecting centralized power toward the proper course. The entire nature of centralized power is to become conservative as it seeks to defend its power. The problem becomes to change it from the inside, but its nature is to resist precisely that change. This is the impasse the human race is standing at right now.
We have the power, we have it centralized, but the centralized power won't work in the right direction, by nature. It's the ultimate Catch-22. We need centralized power to handle problems created by billions of people, but centralized power was a big part of creating the problem in the first place. Now it is a big part of perpetuating it.
One possible alternative is in the formation and efforts of many micro centralized powers all working to tackle the problem. The challenge then lies not only in the counter efforts of the mega centralized powers, but in the diversions and lack of focus of all the micro ones.
Ironically, a great deal could possibly be done by institutions of power that have one or a very few number of people in charge, like the Catholic Church. If the Pope made strong statements regarding and enacted concrete steps toward reducing greenhouse gasses, it could mean nearly a billion humans following suit. It would also make headline news and potentially have a ripple effect across the world. As it is, I haven't heard much from the Pope on climate change, and in relation to the issue of overpopulation, the Church seems to be of the belief that we just left the Garden of Eden, and we need more more more.
Centralized powers rarely step on their own tails. Again, basic human psychology comes out in that people don't like to be shown they were wrong. Pride gets in the way, often of doing the right thing even when the consequences of doing the wrong thing or anything less than the right thing could be catastrophic.
People may not consciously think of these things when they feel hopeless or helpless in the face of the daunting challenges we collectively face, but these are the underlying reasons why humanity is not taking the necessary steps to avoid disaster. It is rooted in our basic psychological hardwiring, actually. Our actions are easy to predict on large scales because the neurons and brain complexes will eventually out.
In a sense, if we created problems of resource depletion and overpopulation coupled with the destruction of our ecosystem, which we have many times in the past, its an issue of our evolution. If we fail at meeting these challenges due to our hardwired inability to create centralized power and public works that tackle them despite the lack of monetary profit involved, then it's an issue of evolution. Human are collectively then, from the standpoint of evolution, unfit or not fit enough.
For these reasons also, documentaries and essays on these issues are short on details pertaining to what you and I as individuals can do about these challenges. This is not a job for even Superman, but for the entire human race. Galen's advice, when the plague broke out in the Greek world, sounds the most fitting: head for the hills. Oh, but now plenty of people are living on those hills.
I could easily sit around and wish none of this was really happening, but wishing isn't going to accomplish anything. Other than voting for candidates for seats in offices of power that are large-minded enough to be open to action to curb greenhouse gases and curb population growth, the best thing we can all do is arm ourselves with information and help get the information out there so that more and more people are aware of what we're truly up against.
In my mind, the central issue is population. It is a very small consolation that I personally, in my life, did not contribute to the problem because my parents and grandparents did their shares to add to the problem. In their generation and prior, there was very little awareness concerning population because there didn't seem to be any crisis. I suppose that in their defense we could argue that it happened so fast that suddenly population was a dire issue necessitating immediate action. And humans, again psychologically, are generally slow to see the consequences of things they set in motion. They may try to see many generations ahead, but complexities enter into the equation, making it nearly impossible to foresee events.
Then again, you'd think something like having seven billion or more humans on this planet on the strength of a non-renewable source of energy would have raised some red flags.
Hindsight is 20/20, and these are the cards we've now been dealt. Looking ahead, the stakes are only going to get bigger and bigger. Our losses are only growing. I am personally not the outgoing type capable of creating coalitions or political parties or organizations that have substantial social impact. But I know that a lot of people are that type. If you are one of them, perhaps you might consider using your talents to build a network of like-minded people who are all very concerned about human population growth. Perhaps you can start the Tea and Condoms Party. Whatever you do, arming the public with information is certainly the first and last steps. It's half the battle, which really means it's all the battle because people will collectively do the right thing when they are educated.
Wars are fought over resources, and the need for resources is dependent on population. Pollution is a function of population. The amount of resources we have available is practically finite and certainly fixed, but we feel the crunch of scarcity much less or not at all relative to how effectively we consciously (and hopefully nonviolently) reduce our numbers. It all comes down to population. If you are young and haven't yet had children, please strongly consider doing your part by having two or one or maybe no children, and having the one or ones you have a bit later in life, and certainly not in your teens.
In the first world, people are effectively controlling their numbers not as a consequence of understanding this issue in particular, but of education in general. It may seem like wasted sacrifice to behave properly in relation to population when the uneducated in the third world procreate like there's no tomorrow. But it is not wasted. As resources become more and more scarce, you will see more and more suffering in those poorer nations that have little access to education. You definitely reduce pain and suffering where you are by refraining from having many children.
Just as population became out of control in a short century, so too can other challenges become globally obvious relatively overnight. Calamity is never sudden to people prepared, but to those left in the dark, it will seem out of nowhere. Please do your part to shine a light in people's lives.