Our growing Crisis of Success comes from who we are: Everyone wants it all, wants it now, and won’t stop. But this problem is an opportunity to use new tech to remove our limits.
We’ve discovered an astounding secret. Our greatest achievement is the source of our biggest problems.
When the Industrial Revolution began in about 1800, worldwide GDP was about $195 per person per year. By 2000 this had zoomed to $6,539 per person per year. (1)
In a similar escalation, in 1800 the total human population was almost 1 billion people. (1) Due to advances in health, food and lifespan, by 2050 the United Nations forecasts the total population will exceed 9 billion. (2)
These two centuries have been an unprecedented success in human history. We’ve achieved a lot, but the higher we climb the bigger our fall could be. I call these problems the “Crises of Success.”
- Sustaining a population of 9 billion at ever higher living standards
- Worldwide consumption that threatens the Earth’s bio capacity
- Fresh water supplies for our gargantuan food, industry and living needs
- Rising sea levels from greenhouse gases
- Mushrooming total debts
- Shrinking job prospects and middle class incomes in advanced economies
- Unemployment and underemployment
- Income inequality
- A cataclysmic mass extinction from our crowding out other species
These problems come from who we are: Nearly everyone wants it all, wants it now, and refuses to slow down.
A sweeping redirection can’t be made in time. We don’t want to rebuild the world we have, because it’s the world we want. More people want more of everything, not less. The more we all succeed, the bigger we make our coming problems.
We’re racing against the crises we keep creating. The biggest “Crisis of Success” is us. And we’re proud of ourselves.
That puts us on the hero’s journey. We’re driven to face ourselves even when we don’t want to. The old ways and old thinking got us here. We have no choice but to test our limits and find a new ways to succeed.
We’re the generation that’s trapped by humanity’s huge levels of success. We’re the people who must find our way far higher, and reach humanity’s full potentials. To emerge triumphant we must join history’s greatest heroes. We’re driven into our nexus by our self-inflicted doomsday. And we have to do it quickly.
Our reward for history’s greatest successes will be endless problems unless we top all of history and soar to the highest levels we can imagine.
Image credit: Shutterstock.
(1) DeLong, Bradford J., Estimating World GDP, One Million B.C. – Present, Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley. http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/1998_Draft/World_GDP/Estimating_World_GDP.html
(2) Revised UN estimates put world population at over 9 billion by 2050, UN News Centre. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=30159&Cr=family#.UhaH7RZEfao