Future of Humanity Institute logo

Global Catastrophic Risks Conference - Abstracts

Humans: Past, Present and Future

Sir Crispin Tickell

In the history of life on Earth the human species is a very latecomer.   But the human impact on the Earth has slowly and then rapidly increased, most of all in the last 250 years, to what has been widely predicted as an unsustainable level in just a few generations hence.

The main factors are human population increase, degradation of land, consumption of resources, water pollution and supply, climate change, destruction of biodiversity and other species, the widening division between rich and poor, the risk of conflict, and the technological fix.  Technology could hold the key to human survival or its destruction.  Despite life on Earth being robust, human survival is not guaranteed.  Technology may throw up some interesting options, but it is how we govern these options that will count. 

There are solutions to most of problems we have created, but we will have to radically change our thinking on global governance and the whole spectrum of international affairs.