The Aspen Proposal

I came across the Aspen Proposal a day or so ago in one of my web browsing moments. It resonated very strongly with me, and I can agree with all of the points that it raises. We all need to consider what we are doing to this planet, our home, and how we can ensure that the generations to follow, and all the other living organisms that share this planet with us, still have a place worth living in for the millennia that are to come. This proposal, a global vision for the future, is meant as a place to start the discussion about the type of future we want. I am posting it here so that we can all begin that discussion. Please share it if you feel that is can help the necessary engagement with the future that must come.

I’m posting this proposal not because I’m so naive that I think such a utopia is truly possible, or even likely, but because this is the future that I would choose if the choice was up to me.  My personal values refuse to allow me to just give up, roll over, and accept the inevitable, and so I keep trying.  Every personal choice that we make that moves us in a positive direction can help and possibly make a small difference.  This is a grass roots concept.  I do not believe we can change our current situation from the top down.  It will only be possible to change slowly from the bottom up.
The Circle of Life
On another point, my personal idea of “consciously and humanely” reducing population simply means family planning and appropriate use of contraceptives, nothing more drastic.  Most women do not want to have 8 children; in fact, many would be happy with only two.  However, to allow women this choice, we must ensure that women have access to education, are empowered, and contraceptive technologies are made available.  For many, the choice of how many children to bear would be at a personal, rather than political, level.  Unfortunately, religion and poverty play a great role in a woman’s choices.  Behind oppressive religions are oppressive and/or fanatical governments, and all the politics associated with such.
As a final note, the future we are likely to get (our global karma, one might say), based on the patterns that I (and other scientists) have observed so far looks something like this:
    • Human population remains high, with many people living in poverty and highly dependent on food distribution systems and industrial agriculture to survive.
    • Climate change impacts increase, resulting in floods, heat waves, forest fires, crop failures, and transportation disruptions.
    • People living in poverty will be impacted more severely than those with access to resources and money, resulting in a lack of food and clean, fresh water, followed by disease, death, war, and more death, particularly amongst the poor.
    • Pandemics become more common (COVID-19 was not the first of its kind, nor will it be the last – there is science to support this opinion).  Based on how well we dealt COVID-19 (ha, ha), we will not be able to contain these pandemics. Eventually something like a highly contagious form of Ebola will crop up, with a very significant mortality rate (unlike COVID-19), and there will be a population reduction, enforced by nature.
    • Those of us who survive (most likely the rich rather than the poor), if any, will get to decide what our new future will look like.  I hope they have read proposals like the one put forward by the Aspen group, and make some better choices than we have made.
So, can we do better than that?  That is truly the challenge we face!