I'll make this short: Two colleagues and I have begun to develop a novel approach to
addressing today’s complex array of sociocultural, ecological, and
environmental ills and threats. We have prepared a position statement
that can be inspected at this site. The
site also invites your comments. I hope that you will visit the site,
and that you will be interested in participating in this project as it
The statement is below. I ask that you direct your comments to the page itself so that others there may see them. Thanks.
May 4, 2013
1. We address this to all who understand that the ongoing activities and continued development of our globally industrialized and capitalized civilization pose a severe threat to our world and its inhabitants, and that catastrophic collapse of civilization and human extinction are very real and looming possibilities.
2. Scientifically-grounded knowledge of the grave danger, while widely disseminated, has failed to produce a commensurate response. For a variety of reasons (including the gross imbalances of power created by our economic system, but perhaps more importantly the fact that the danger is simply not salient enough to elicit strong emotional response), the usual political approaches for bringing about needed change do not and cannot work. There is little reason to believe that that political impotence can be overcome as long as the economy remains of paramount concern and business goes on as usual.
3. Proposals for strictly science-based solutions to the complex array of global crises are grounded in the assumption that our current industrialized way of life can be perpetuated and improved via technology alone (e.g., ameliorating the energy crisis by mandating higher fuel efficiency for automobiles, or development of alternative energy sources). However that assumption lacks empirical support and is thus highly questionable; holding it is entirely a matter of faith, not science. We suggest that such faith is as misplaced as any other.
UPDATE: (N.B.: Reality offers us only two choices: either to change drastically voluntarily, or have drastic change forced upon us by external circumstances. There is no third choice. Yet, there seems to be a widespread consensual belief that science will magically afford one. While understandable, that belief is unrealistic, delusional, and destructive, and must be abandoned — a daunting step.)
4. Accordingly, unless we prefer to passively watch global demise, a more comprehensive strategy needs to be conceived. It is imperative that this strategy draws at least as much from the humanities as it does from science, because science that is not constrained by humanity is a significant part of the global problem that we face. We contend that any solution will necessarily involve a widespread abandonment of the status quo, drastic psycho-socio-economic-cultural change, and major sacrifices from those who currently benefit from (and as a result have the power to control) the global economic system.
5. However, even if a strategy were to be conceptualized the chances of implementing it under current conditions would be nil, owing to powerful opposition motivated by greed, defensive denial, and the unrealistic (oversimplified and in many cases obsolete) models that direct our activities and are invoked to rationalize our behavior.
6. Therefore a moratorium is needed to allow for the development of a VIABLE strategy for implementing the needed change. The status quo that keeps us on the path to disaster depends crucially on the contributions of many kinds of experts, professionals and technicians. For example, the path couldn’t be followed without the contributions from academics, physicians, engineers, pilots, computer scientists, etc. If they chose to curtail their economic and other supportive contributions for a time, society would have to pause, or at least slow down significantly, and a space for bringing about realistic change would have been created. Importantly, the looming dangers would begin to become more emotionally real. The current realities and motivations would have been slightly altered.
7. The first step then in our effort to inject some semblance of reality/sanity into the present dismal scene is to invite all interested parties among those who are making key contributions toward maintaining the status quo to think about how to bring about such a general pause in our path to destruction, how to work toward making a space in which the needed drastic restructuring of our ways of being in the world can be realistically explored.
8. While working toward this moratorium we can begin as a group to explore ways of exerting our influence as key contributors to bring about the needed ameliorative changes in our ways of being in the world. If preconceptions can be set aside; new approaches could emerge already during the travel toward a contemplative space.
9. Toward that end we have established this website to solicit response and input. If you are interested in further participation please let us know by entering your name, contact information and comments in the fields below, indicating whether you would like to receive additional information and updates in the future. We invite you to disseminate this page.
Louis S. Berger
James A. Coffman
Donald C. Mikulecky
11:06 AM PT: we added this to paragraph 3: (N.B.: Reality offers us only two choices: either to change drastically voluntarily, or have drastic change forced upon us by external circumstances. There is no third choice. Yet, there seems to be a widespread consensual belief that science will magically afford one. While understandable, that belief is unrealistic, delusional, and destructive, and must be abandoned — a daunting step.)