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Bad behavior selected by billions of individuals, when collected together create the forces that destroy our civilization and ecosystem. Different behaviors of individuals, when collected together, could create the forces that would lead to a sustainable civilization and ecosystem.
Our genes motivate us to take the bad behavior and reject the alternatives. A patchwork of experience, education, and religion, struggle to alter our genetic (and dysfunctional) choices. Social contracts are part of this alteration process.
Social contracts operate on a simple principle that a small constraint on the behavior of all individuals results in a large group benefit. For example, a traffic signal, puts small constraints on all drivers at an intersection while providing the group with increased throughput and safety. At the civilization level, social contracts, for example the Hammurabi code, the Magna Carta, and the bill of rights constrain behaviors that would otherwise create slavery, wife subjugation, and unequal access to the commons.
However, with thousands of years of experience building social contracts, none creates the behavior that could create the forces that attain and maintain a sustainable human/earth system. None gets rid of approved behaviors driving us toward civilization collapse and environmental destruction.
Below I consider additions to, and subtractions from, our social contract that create the required forces. By subtractions, I mean removing elements of the existing contract that today unfairly allocate earth's resources among present and future members of the ecosystem (space, materials, water, air, etc.) By additions, I mean adding behavioral constraints to the social contract, that prevent consumption of a resources that can become exhausted, diluted, or contaminated, e.g. fossil energy, phosphates, or atmosphere.
In the previous sections, I outlined forces that
The goal of this section is to convert the two sets of forces into two explicit social contracts (enforceable laws) that constrain the actions of individuals. Laws that can be placed before today's global population for their acceptance or rejection.
The laws that maintain a sustainable civilization after it has made the transition are by far easier to visualize because all constituents (present and unborn) already has equal rights within their civilization and equal support from the natural environment.
The laws that guide the transition have to reflect the scarcity, inequity, and conflict that is presently part of our existence. The laws have to address both existing overshoot, and a rapidly increasing overshoot resulting from the earth's rapidly decreasing carrying capacity (e.g. fossil fuel loss.) These laws also have to reflect the changes resulting from a plan to empty 98% of the world from human impacts. Also that the present in place world population is not migrating to the special city/states and living under the new laws but mostly living in their present places under the old rules. For example, equity holdings, religions, races, languages and customs will all be held by the populations outside the city states until each disappears through old age death.
The proposed dismantlement is a bigger project than that experienced by Rome. Rome was dismantled through 300 years of internal decay and external attack; not to mention the lose of environmental support. The envisioned dismantling of global civilization this century (84 years) will be a designed contraction providing full support for a rapidly declining (and aging) population, decommissioning of hazards, using a contracting energy base.
The vote for these two new contracts is a little tricky because the unborn people and non-human elements of the eco system that gain benefits from the new social contracts have no voice or vote. All the yes votes must come from existing individuals who hold power under the existing social contract. All the yes votes must be based on images of future conditions not past experience. The yes vote is based on a personally constructed abstraction that the new unpleasant (because of new social contact's constraints) path forward is better than the much worse path forward created by our existing social contract.
Group 1 new components of the social contract
The new social contract takes away some personal freedoms and assigns them to civic control; for example the distribution of earth's assets between humans and other species. The equal distributions of the earth's assets to each member of the living population and each unborn member going forward in time forever. It controls if the population is small with large assignments per person or larger with smaller assignments per person. Below are six elements of my proposed contract. As you read them, consider your vote for or against the package which is proposed as an extension to the present social contract and is required to create sustainability.
1) Civil control over number of global births each year.
2) Civil control of human use of the globes assets
3) Civil control of access to non-destructible physical assets (metals and minerals)
4) Civil control of the earth's renewing assets like air water, soil, etc.
5) Civil control of the earth's exhaustible e.g. fossil fuels or dilute-ables e.g. phosphate
6) Civic controls on conflict
Group 2 components of the social contract that
During the years of transition from our current global civilization to the envisioned sustainable city/states there are two groups of people and they live under different social contracts. The people that live within the city/states will follow the extended social contract outlined above. However, the 7.2 billion people continuing to live their lives outside of these city/states will have the social contract defined below.
While the objective of the city/state social contract will be to maintain sustainability in the years 2100 to 2400 the objective of this second social contract is help a global population of 7.2 billion people gracefully bow out of existence. That is decrease in size to zero in one human lifetime -- 80 to 100 years. If there are no children, achieving zero population is automatic.
For the most part, the second social contract is similar to what we have now with the following additions and subtractions.
Universal sterility and lottery permits to allow births.
A birthed child and parents move to a city/state.
No children live outside of the city/states.
If the permit is won by a person that wants a child but not at this time, is too old to conceive or does not want a child at all, the permit can be held (deferred), traded, or sold. A deferred permit will be any extra permit for this year and then subtracted from the allocation of the year it is used.
The number of permits issued each time period adjusts to ensure an adequate cohort to maintain the appropriate population in the city state. That is replacement of those that died during this period. old age, disease or accident.
The social contract governing people outside the city/states will retain many elements of today's social contract; rule of law (code, courts and enforcement,) private ownership of earth's resources. It will allow consumption of exhaustible fossil fuels; and a market economy. They will be able to keep living pretty much as they have in the past.
However, there will be these additional constraints. They will:
Their freedom of movement about the world does not change,
They continue to develop technology and art.
Allow condemnation by eminent domain the resources to build the city states.
Ownership of land and infrastructure outside the city states can be transfered only among people living outside the city/states. Being a member of a city state means you have no material holdings outside the city/state. Eventually these transfers will not be possible, no one outside the city/states will be available to take possession. In which case all of the world's private property transfers to the commons allocated to non-human species.
By 2100, 98% of the land area on earth will be abandoned because no people live there. People will either die of old age in their existing places or they will move to other cities where services are better and die there.
Because the material stock piles within the city/states can be scavenged from abandoned areas that acquisition will not reduce supplies in the conflating civilization.
Conversion of existing militarily facilities and staff to civilian projects;
In voting for and implementing these new social contracts there is great risk of conflict with the minority group who voted against the new contract. Certainly the American civil war demonstrated that huge resources, material and human, can be squandered in changing them. Since these resources are needed to make the transition, great efforts must be made to minimize these conflicts.
================ Some mechanics of transition ===============
Expected decrease in the earth's carrying capacity will create conditions never before seen in human history. For example:
Supporting fossil energy supports are expected to decline to half by 2050 and over 90% by 2100
the consumer population, outside of the city/state, because
Since there are no young people born, each year the population will lose the youngest age cohort. It will not need the infrastructure to support that cohort. For example after the first five years, the world will have no pediatric sections in the hospital, no diaper manufacturers, no preschools etc. The people involved in these projects will retire or retrain.
Present consumption levels will not decrease until
The injuries caused by insufficient issued birth permits will be severe until the fertile cohort in the 7.2 person population is zero. Nominally 50 years. The replacement cohort within cities will be able to have whatever number of children they want.
The ownership of industry will consolidate in a smaller group by inheritance.
Industry will produce a small number of products because the
Just as farm towns became ghost towns, most towns will find no customers and will fold. People will go live in larger cities where there are more services.
Farms, industrial buildings, even rental property will cease to have value without consumers.
Expected conditions in 2100
10/13/2014 last rev 2/11/2019
|Jack Alpert (Bio) mail to: Alpert@skil.org (homepage) www.skil.org position papers|