To most, the collapse of modern civilization is the stuff of fiction. Yet, science confirms that misuse of technology and environmental abuse places our world in grave danger of ruin. The World Scientists' Warning to Humanity places our civilization on a collision course. Defying Dystopia analyses how we have come to this, and what options remain for far-seeing people to take control of their own destiny and survive the future.
Ed Ayres, who has worked with some iconic environmental scientists of the past half-century, argues that technology was originally used to augment the natural strengths of humans, but has been increasingly used in ways that weaken us—shifting from useful work to the industries of distraction, entertainment, convenience, pain-relief, and sedation. Ayres advises on how at least some of us can avoid that collision. The most critical task, for those of us who want humanity to survive and thrive, is to disengage from our tech thraldom, and shift to a conscious management of our evolution in which we use technology to enhance our skills and strengths rather than erode or supplant them.
Ayres provides insightful, actionable suggestions we can use to increase our odds of survival. He asks far-seeing individuals to take on a mission that the dominant governments and institutions demonstrably cannot: the epic task of shepherding a low-profile, resilient transition to a new kind of human future.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Waking Up
1 Losing Balance
Technologies Tilting the Wrong Way
2 Big-Picture Thinking
How Some of Us Came to See What We Now See
3 The Numbing
When Our Devices and Distractions Become Our Pacifiers
4 The Weakening
Unnoticed Effects of Effort-Saving Technology
5 The New Trojan Horse
Why the Takeover Has Not Been Seen For What It Is
6 The Stumbling
A Slow-Footed Species in a Sprint Economy
7 The Footprint of the Future
We Are Not Cows!
8 Seeing Past Dystopia
Facing up to Malthus, Orwell, Super-Storm Sandy . . . and What?
9 Reigniting Imagination
In Search of Our Lost Abilities to Anticipate, Envision, and Plan
10 Hands, Feet, Bare Skin, and Privacy
The Last Bastions of Natural Strength
11 Overriding Evolution
A Course of High Adventure and Uncertain Salvation
12 Breaking Away
Blazing Paths to a New Human Future
13 A New Beginning
Essential Steps Toward Long-Run Survival
Appendix: Further Reading and Resources
ED AYRES is the former editor of World Watch
magazine, one of the first periodicals to focus
on the emerging challenges of environmental
degradation and destabilized climate.