Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Closing the Culture Gap

Paul Ehrlich, Seed Magazine, 2/9/11, 2/9/11

"Many are aware that climate disruption may cause horrendous problems, but few seem to realize that this peril is not the only potentially catastrophic one and may not even be the most serious threat we face. Humanity finds itself in a desperate situation, but you’d never know it from listening to the media and the politicians. Loss of the biodiversity that runs human life-support systems, toxification of the planet, the risk of pandemics that increase in lockstep with population growth, and the possibility of nuclear resource wars all could be more lethal. We are finally, however, starting to understand the patterns of culture change and the role of natural selection in shaping them. And since everything from weapons of mass destruction to global heating is the result of changes in human culture over time, acquiring a fundamental understanding of cultural evolution just might be the key to saving civilization from itself."

"That’s why a group of natural scientists, social scientists, and scholars from the humanities decided to inaugurate a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB, pronounced “mob”). It was so named to emphasize that it is human behavior, toward one another and toward the ecosystems that sustain us all, that requires both better understanding and rapid modification. The idea is that the MAHB might become a basic mechanism to expose society to the full range of population-environment-resource-ethics-power issues, and sponsor research on how to turn that knowledge into the required actions. Perhaps most important, the MAHB would stimulate a broad global discussion involving the greatest possible diversity of people, about what people desire, the ethics of those desires, and which are possible to meet in a sustainable society. It would, I hope, serve as a major tool for altering the course of cultural evolution."


1 comment:

  1. mob! what a great way to remmeber MAHB, and to remember, it's human behavior that's key