Graceful human survival means ==> every individual experiences ever improving well being while humankind's footprint continuously decreases.
Organic human survival, means ==> the community grows to the limits of its environment. It overloads and destroys supporting services. Individuals, can expand their footprint only by taking footprint of others. Resulting conflicts diminish available footprint.
Making the transition from organic to graceful survival should be the top priority of the human community. However, it is not on the agenda of any group or institution. While many pay lip service to such ideas, modeling all the behaviors required or allowed by these groups or institutions, reveal that all have organic destinations.
Even though, our civilization has produced people who live much above subsistence, it is profoundly dysfunctional. Not because a billion people live so near subsistence any bad weather kills them. It is dysfunctional because a million people a day slide down from elevated conditions to join them. It is dysfunctional because 4 billion people, some living pretty high on the hog, are sliding down.
For them, sliding down does not mean that their electronics, vaccinations, or infrastructures are less than experienced by the previous generation. It means they can not do the nicest things that they have been able to do. For example, belonging to the country club, affording out of state college tuition, paying for robust heath insurance, or owning a new car.
Higher paid workers are sliding down because lower priced labor, land, environmental restrictions and taxes are taking their jobs.
Only a small percentage of the global population is still moving upward. And many of these are in developing countries.
Even this percentage might not be maintained, if the growth in human footprint outstrips advancing technology and the human community crashes into global constraints. In such a crash, social conflict, poisoned and disrupted environments, saturated sinks, emptied reservoirs, and over consumed renewable resources, would combine to remove the cheap supports that have facilitated upward mobility.
Graceful survival is achieved when we all adopt a behavior that is completely contrary to our animal instincts. We all choose to have a one child family to achieve rapid population decline.
Few see the power of this behavior or even the need to consider it. However, a rapidly declining population produces the foundations of graceful survival. Its benefits far exceed the problems of an aging population, radical changes in family structure, and dislocations resulting from changing from growth in collective human footprint ==> to growth in personal well being and decline in collective footprint.
Rapid population declines depend on personal procreative behaviors. Since these behaviors are chosen by each individual, using the balance between animal instincts and developed consciousness, this change in behavior depends on an upgrade in consciousness.
The new consciousness would have to tie present behavior to future conditions better than today's thinking abilities. It would require an upgrade in gathering, processing, and valuing information.
The current election process, shows no hint that an upgrade in how people think is on the national agenda. Neither Bush or Kerry have any plans to put it there.
Both are ignoring Thomas Jefferson's warnings, that a democracy relies on the competency of its voters, and public education must create this competency.
They are ignoring that our schools do not have the ability to create voters for today's conditions. They are ignoring that our educators know the limitations of their curriculum to develop these kinds of changes in cognitive process. That they have nothing in their tool boxes to accomplish this task.
I don't know what caused pervious advances in human consciousness, e.g. tool use, oral and written language, and scales for time, space, and mass. What I do know is that without another quantum advance in the ability to gather, process, and give value to information, we will forever be stuck in an organic fight for survival.
Humankind is at a fork in the road. If we maintain present thinking skills, and behaviors we will get to a not very pretty organic destination. If we gain new thinking abilities, and take different behaviors we can make the transition to graceful survival.
The task is enormous. But I do know the first step. It is for us to see the meaning of the Bush-Kerry election activity in the context of making such a transition.