In 2022, 33 years after Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote the computer program HTML and gave us the World Wide Web, 5 billion of us will be connected to each other via the internet. This connectivity did not exist at the end of the First or the Second World Wars, but it does now.
We have just formed into a global human murmuration — the name given to the beautiful patterns that large flocks of birds make in the sky. For the first time we have the connectivity, the unity and the capacity to go wherever we want as a race. We are going to enter, successfully, the current void of global governance in order to uphold our greatest intergenerational obligation: to pass on a healthy, bio-abundant planet.
Our 21st-century technology and our newfound connectivity mean we can now take the first action of global self-determination. The nearly four centuries of the Westphalian system of nation states as our highest level of organizational form is about to draw to a close. As human beings living on planet Earth at the start of the 21st century, we now know that we must create a global governance mechanism capable of protecting and enhancing a biosphere — now and for the next 1,000 years.
For the first time in our history as a race, we have become so powerful that we have joined Mother Nature in the driving seat of the biosphere. We have to internalize this fact and act on it. If we wanted, we could increase carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules in the troposphere to 600ppm and heat the planet by 3°C, 5°C or 7°C. We could use bromine for our refrigeration, which is 45 times more destructive for O3 molecules in the ozone layer, and zap ourselves with UV rays.
We could remove all rainforests, thereby wiping out vast opportunities for biomimicry and pharmacology, dam every river, suck dry every major aquifer, scrape away all topsoil and make extinct every animal species, a huge number of insect species and most plant species. We are currently undertaking most of these self-destructive actions. From this point on, the future of both the Earth and us humans is inextricably linked due to our size and power.
Against the global force of natural capital conversion that we have unleashed — going from 2.5 billion to 7.5 billion of us in just 75 years — our preferred operating system of capitalism and consumption ergo sum (with apologies to Descartes), the biosphere has not stood a chance.
Half a century after the UN’s 1972 Stockholm declaration that decreed that the natural assets of the Earth must be safeguarded, we have witnessed the accelerating degradation of the biosphere. Something is structurally very wrong: The disparate fractured nation state system we have created is clearly not the right way to protect a biosphere. A global asset that knows no national boundaries must be given global protection.
It is time to once again return to the tried and tested methodology of self-determination and allocate a part of our personal sovereignty to create a specialist global authority in charge of the biosphere, with power over the nation state and all human organizational forms — and you and me. This specialist authority needs to make decisions based on timeframes different from those used by any existing human organization.
A global planet authority will deliver the function of utility we require. It would most likely set a global carbon price and prepare plans to safely remove CO2 molecules from the troposphere back to 280-320ppm. It would place all rainforest under global protection and pay for it. It would introduce hypothecated taxes on petroplastics worldwide and, and it would preserve topsoil. It would set targets of bio-abundance on both land and in the sea. Operating with clear biophysical boundaries will be more liberating than we can imagine. Our economy will adapt and accelerate, growing at much reduced levels of industrial metabolism.
It is time for us to reimagine, to go somewhere we have never been before, to explore the virgin space that is global governance. We must succeed in upholding our greatest intergenerational obligation: maintaining and improving the Earth’s biophysical integrity so that life can be sustained on this planet. We must be brave, recognize our new-found unity and take this first bold step. History will prove that we were absolutely right to do so.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.