Make me dictator and I will save humankind
A rational approach to the emergency of the 21st Century
Keywords:sustainable development, anthropocentrism, agency
Aim: Humankind finds itself in a dire situation. Solutions have been put forth, but none has made a significant impact on carbon release or resources depletion. I add my proposal, the literary device of the dictator, to those who feel there is some possible remedy for our predicament.
Design / Research methods: This paper is part of a larger project which uses micro- and macro-sociology and cliodynamics, archaeology, evolutionary biology, and dissipative systems theory to describe both our global system, and its implications for our species. I briefly critique three other approaches regarding their likelihood of success.
Conclusions / findings: The self-organized dissipative system drives population, population density, and the exploitation and depletion of natural resources. The system is the interface between humans and the environment. It is unlikely any approach which is not 1. dramatic, 2. inclusive, and 3. determinedly focused on disarming the global system will prevent the complete depletion of the natural world, and the continued mass extinction.
Originality / value of the article: The paper challenges commonly held assumptions regarding the system and human participation in it. The paper should be of interest to anyone concerned about humankind.
Implications of the research (if applicable): The paper has strong implications for policy. It describes how perpetuating ideas like “sustainable growth” can only ensure the collapse of the global system, and perhaps the collapse of the natural systems as well. The consequence of applying the research would be desperate, frighteningly objective, but will allow, perhaps, Homo to continue.
Limitations of the research (if applicable): Future research could focus on re-interpreting data gathered by previous paradigms. Cliodynamics provides insight into the future by considering complex relationships. The limitations to the implications of the research lie in the fact that it is difficult for some to distinguish between “humankind” and the system.
Aiello L.C., Key C. (2002), Energetic consequences of being a Homo erectus female, “American Journal of Human Biology”, vol. 14, pp. 551-565.
Ambrose S.H. (1998), Late Pleistocene human population bottlenecks, volcanic winter, and differentiation of modern humans, “Journal of Human Evolution”, vol. 34 no. 6, pp. 623-651.
Antón S.C. (2003), Natural history of Homo erectus, “American Journal of Biological Anthropology”, vol. 122 no. S37, pp. 126-170.
Banks W.E., d’Errico F., Zilhão J. (2013), Human–climate interaction during the Early Upper Paleolithic: testing the hypothesis of an adaptive shift between the Proto-Aurignacian and the Early Aurignacian, “Journal of Human Evolution”, vol. 64 no. 1, pp. 39-55.
Bardi U. (2011). Limits to growth revisited, Springer, New York.
Bellomo R.V. (1994), Methods of determining early hominid behavioral activities associated with the controlled use of fire at FxJj 20 Main, Koobi Fora, Kenva, “Journal of Human Evolution”, vol. 27 no. 1-3, pp. 173-195.
Blau P. (1994), The structural context of opportunities, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Boserup E., Chambers R. (1965), The conditions of agricultural growth: the economics of agrarian change under population pressure, 1st ed., Routledge, London.
Bostrom N. (2002), Existential risks: analyzing human extinction scenarios and related hazards, “Journal of Evolution and Technology”, vol. 9, http://jetpress.org/volume9/risks.html [27.02.2022].
Cafaro P. (2015), Three ways to think about the sixth mass extinction, “Biological Conservation”, vol. 192, pp. 387-393.
Carroll L. (1991 ), The garden of Live Flowers. Through the looking-glass, Project Gutenberg [26.10.2017].
Cowgill G.L., Yoffee, N. (1988), The collapse of ancient states and civilizations, University of Arizona Press, Tuscon.
Crüsemann N., van Ess M., Hilgert M., Salje B., Potts T. (eds.) (2019), Uruk: first city of the ancient world, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
Dunbar R.I.M. (1995), Neocortex size and group size in primates: a test of the hypothesis, “Journal of Human Evolution”, vol. 28 no. 3, pp. 287-296.
Davin E.L., de Noblet-Ducoudré N. (2010), Climatic impact of global-scale deforestation: radiative versus nonradiative processes, “Journal of Climate”, https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/23/1/2009jcli3102.1.xml [27.02.2022].
Doney S.C., Fabry V.J., Feely R.A., Kleypas J.A. (2009), Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problem, “Annual Review of Marine Science”, vol. 1, pp. 169-192.
Fernihough A., Hjortshøj O’Rourke K. (2021), Coal and the European industrial revolution, “The Economic Journal”, vol. 131 no. 635, pp. 1135-1149.
Gabora L., Steel M. (2020), Modeling a cognitive transition at the origin of cultural evolution using autocatalytic networks, “Cognitive Science”, vol. 44 no. 9, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/cogs.12878 [27.02.2022].
Gee H. (2021), Humans are doomed to go extinct, “Scientific American”, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/humans-are-doomed-to-go-extinct/ [07.12.2021].
Graeber D., Wengrow D. (2021), The dawn of everything: a new history of humanity, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.
Hagens N.J. (2020), Economics for the future: beyond the superorganism, “Ecological Economics”, vol. 169, 106520.
Hansen G., Stone D. (2016), Assessing the observed impact of anthropogenic climate change, “Nature Climate Change”, vol. 6, pp. 532-537.
He F., Zarfl Ch., Bremerich V., David J.N.W., Hogan Z., Kalinkat G., Tockner K.,
Jähnig S.C. (2019), The global decline of freshwater megafauna, “Global Change Biology”, vol. 25 no. 11, pp. 3883-3892.
Heinberg R., Crownshaw T. (2018), Energy decline and authoritarianism, “Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality”, vol. 3 art. 8.
Heuveline P. (2015), The boundaries of genocide: quantifying the uncertainty of the death toll during the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia (1975-79), “Population Studies”, vol. 69, no. 2, pp. 201-218.
Li Y., Ye W., Wang M., Yan X. (2009), Climate change and drought: a risk assessment of crop-yield impacts, “Climate Research”, vol. 39 no. 1, pp. 31-46.
Kampen J., DeVita L. (2021), Agency and the last man, “Central European Review of Economics and Management”, vol. 5 no. 3, pp. 13-32.
Meadows D.H., Meadows D.L., Randers J., Behrens W.W. III (1972), Limits to growth, https://donellameadows.org/the-limits-to-growth-now-available-to-read-online/ [27.02.2022].
Molotch H. (1976), The city as a growth machine: toward a political economy of place, “American Journal of Sociology”, vol. 82 no. 2, pp. 309-332.
Nowak M.A., Tarnita C.E., Wilson E.O. (2010), The evolution of eusociality, “Nature”, vol. 466, pp. 1057-1062.
Porter J.D. (2019), Slavery and Athens’ economic efflorescence: mill slavery as a case study, “Mare Nostrum”, https://www.academia.edu/40447510/SLAVERY_AND_ATHENS_ECONOMIC_EFFLORESCENCE_MILL_SLAVERY_AS_A_CASE_STUDY [27.02.2022].
Prăvălie R., Patriche C., Borrelli P., Panagos P., Roșca B., Dumitraşcu M., Nita I.-A., Săvulescu I., Birsan M.-V., Bandoc G. (2021), Arable lands under the pressure of multiple land degradation processes. A global perspective, “Environmental Research”, vol. 194, 110697.
Prigogine I., Nicolis G. (1977), Self-organization in non-equilibrium systems, Wiley, Hoboken.
Rao P.K. (2000), Sustainable development: economics and policy, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford.
Ripple W.J., Wolf Ch., Newsome T.M., Gregg J.W., Lenton T.M., Palomo I., Eikelboom J.A., Law B.E., Huq S., Duffy P.B., Rockström J. (2021), World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency 2021, “BioScience”, vol. 71 no. 9, pp. 894-898.
Sanderson M., Santini M., Valentini R., Pope E. (2012), Relationships between forests and weather EC Directorate General of the Environment, https://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/pdf/EU_Forests_annex1.pdf [27.02.2022].
Seto K.C., Fragkias M., Gűneralp B., Reilly M.K. (2011), A meta-analysis of global urban land expansion, “PLOS One”, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023777 [12.12.2021].
Seto K.C., Gűneralp B., Hutyra R.L. (2012), Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”, vol. 109 no. 40, pp. 16083-16088.
Stringer Ch. (2016), The origin and evolution of Homo sapiens, “Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Biological Sciences B”, vol. 371 no. 1698, https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rstb.2015.0237 [27.02.2022].
Tainter J. (1988), The collapse of complex societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Tainter J. (2014), Collapse and sustainability: Rome, the Maya, and the modern world, “Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association”, vol. 24 no. 1, pp. 201-214.
Thery I., Gril J., Vernet J.L., Meignen L., Maury J. (1995), First use of coal, “Nature”, vol. 373, pp. 480-481.
Valentinov V. (2014), The complexity-sustainability trade-off in Niklas Luhmann’s ‘Social Systems Theory’, “Systems Research and Behavioral Science”, vol. 31 no. 1, pp. 14-22.
Van Valen L. (1973), A new evolutionary law, “Evolutionary Theory”, http://ebme.marine.rutgers.edu/HistoryEarthSystems/HistEarthSystems_Fall2010/VanValen%201973%20Evol%20%20Theor%20.pdf [15.12.2021].
Zhu Z., Dennell R., Huang W. et al. (2018), Hominin occupation of the Chinese Loess Plateau since about 2.1 million years ago, “Nature”, vol. 559, pp. 608-612.
The aim of CEREM is to make scientific work available in accordance with the principle of open access. The rules mentioned below are important, as they enable CEREM and its publisher, the WSB Merito University in Wroclaw, to distribute the scientific work to a wide public while complying with specific legal requirements, at the same time protecting the rights of the authors.
The author transfers to the WSB Merito University in Wroclaw, free of charge and without territorial limitations, with all proprietary copyrights to the said piece of work in the understanding of the act of 4th February 1994 on copyrights and derivative rights (Journal of Laws of 1994, no. 24, item 83, as amended) on an exclusivity basis, i.e. the rights to:
1. Make the piece of work in question available via the Digital Library established by the WSB Merito University in Wroclaw.
2. Produce, record and reproduce in multiple copies the piece of work using any techniques whatsoever, including printing, reprography, magnetic recording and digital processing, and particularly its reproduction by recording on CDs and similar data carriers,
3. Use fragments of the piece of work for promotional purposes in publications, promotional materials, the Internet and Intranet type networks managed by the WSB Merito University in Wroclaw.
4. Store the piece of work into computer databases managed by the WSB Merito University in Wroclaw.
5. Copy and reproduce the piece of work using photo-mechanic technologies other than those commonly known at the time of the signature hereof (photocopies, Xerox copies etc.),
6. Process the piece of work, transferring it into an electronic form, and distribute it on the Internet without limitations.