The use, operation, and maintenance of the Human System – that is, the sum total of our institutions, and manmade physical structures – as it is, systematically causes the premature death and immiseration of a majority of humankind. It can be called a ‘Live and Let Die’ system. A minority of ultra high net worth individuals and high net worth individuals – often the owners and/or controllers of our largest public and private organisations – lives long, material-rich lives, whilst the majority lives shorter, material-poor lives.
Fig 1.1 Human System Indicators (inc Geographic distribution of human population by material condition; monthly births, premature, and total deaths)
The continued use, operation, and maintenance of this system, as it is, now poses an existential threat to humankind as a whole : the Earth System is on the verge of being changed irrevocably through climate change into one that will not support humankind in the way it has to date. There is little or no time left in which to take action – at the time of writing – and we are therefore in an emergency situation.
Fig 1.2 Earth System Indicators (Atmospheric temperature; Monthly Arctic ice extent; Biosphere)
The Human System has, for over half a century, posed another existential threat to the continued life of our species, in the form of our (state controlled) nuclear arsenals. Total war, or even limited nuclear exchanges, whether initiated intentionally or not, also threaten us, both directly, and more indirectly, through their likely impact on the Earth System. The seriousness and urgency of the situation vis a vis the threats is recognised by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, arguably our best known watchdog in these matters, which maintains the Doomsday Clock.
Fig 1.3 Doomsday Clock and Nukewatch Thermonuclear Conflict Scenario