Because our purpose of life is sustainable survival, we can live a meaningful life by doing our best to preserve our sustainable survival. We all have different skills, resources and circumstances so each of can best contribute to the survival of mankind in his or her own way.
We can live with purpose for example by implementing sustainable practices to protect our environment and decrease the probability and severity of our decline. The less we consume, the more we recycle, the less we destroy habitats, the more people can our planet support in peace. There are many easy reduce, reuse, recycle routines that anyone can do to contribute towards sustainability. It’s best to start with yourself – leading by example is proven to inspire others. You can increase the impact by implementing such practices in your family, workplace, neighborhood, amongst people you know and in wider society, depending on your power and influence.
- Drink (filtered) tap water instead of buying bottled water, refill water bottles
- Preserve water during shower and washing
- Install energy-efficient lights and appliances and turn them off when not in use
- Make home energy efficiency improvements (Energy audits are often free and will tell you how you can best save money and environment at the same time. Ask about local government incentives that can make payback of such investments surprisingly short)
- Ride a bicycle, take public transportation or share a ride
- Buy environmentally responsible products
- Avoid excess consumption of anything
- Sell or donate stuff in good condition that you don’t need anymore instead of trashing it
- Recycle garbage, old electronics and don’t allow nasty stuff like batteries into landfills
- And much much more to reduce, reuse, recycle
We can reduce the probability of a steep decline of our civilization by promoting more robust and less vulnerable systems. Centralized and large-scale systems tend to be more efficient and that is why our profit-seeking society prefers to build them. The disadvantage is their vulnerability. For example small scale electricity generation from renewables is not as cost-efficient as a nuclear power-plant, but will come handy if some terrorists attack the centralized facilities. Living in a downtown high-rise makes your life easier now, but a suburban house with a garden will make survival easier if things turn sour. If you support local farmers by buying their produce, they will be able to supply you with food if the shipping lanes of cheap imported food get interrupted. Having a well in a garden might sound old-fashioned, but will be invaluable if central water supply system fails.
We have pretty much lost our ability to survive in wild nature, but we can increase the probability of our own survival by preparing skills and tools for the worst case scenario. How about taking family or friends out for some adventure fun survival course that might come handy one day? Or how about sending kids to Scout so that they learn to start fire and use compass? At least studying a survival handbook1 can be fun and provide you with some useful knowledge.
There are many tools that can help us survive depending on the severity of the threat. The most proactive survivalists build survival shelters under their homes or on some secret location. If your net worth is a couple of million dollars, it probably makes sense to spend a small fraction on such real life insurance2. But even with limited budget you can stock up on basic survival supplies that are cheap now, but will be invaluable in case of an emergency (see Survival packing list)
- For example try the ‘SAS Survival Guide’ by Collins gem ↩
- Financial products called ‘life insurance’ will be completely useless If our society collapses. Systems that will help you survive will be the real life insurance then. ↩
As we are nearing the peak of our civilization, the likelihood of decline keeps increasing every day. The likelihood multiplied by severity of an abrupt end to the civilization as we know it deserves much more attention than it currently gets. The many overblown end-of-the-world Hollywood movies with bloodthirsty zombies make make us classify a massive disaster as science fiction, not a possible reality. We can forget the zombies and superheroes, but as mankind, we should seriously investigate the possibilities and eventual countermeasures for preserving our kind.
Required attention = Threat of disaster = Probability of disaster x Consequences of disaster
World war 3 (probability high stable, consequences high and growing)
There had been major wars very often in the history and current world with religious extremists and depleting resources is not any more stable. We saw many recent instances of masses being manipulated into war by a charismatic leader. There will surely be Hitlers in the future. A quarter of world population living in China can be manipulated using state-controlled media. There is a very real chance that we, our children or grandchildren will experience World War 3.
The consequences of World War are scary. About 60 million people died in World War II using relatively primitive weapons. With the advanced nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and sophisticated war machines, we have for the first time in the history of mankind the power to completely destroy our civilization. With technical advances, the consequences of a world war are becoming more severe every day, so the threat is huge and growing.
Deadly pandemic (probability medium declining slowly, consequences high growing)
New viruses have been and will be emerging due to mutation all the time. Advances of medicine decrease the probability that we won’t find the cure, but this is more than offset by the potential consequences. In today’s interconnected world, a highly contagious disease (like flu) that has long incubation period so it can’t be easily detected (like HIV) can spread around the whole world in just a couple of days due to our interconnectedness1. From the point of view of the whole nature, we act like a disease destroying the planet. It would be a very elegant solution to use our weapons of globalization against us to efficiently get rid of us by one small virus. Only a few completely isolated tribes deep in the jungle would survive and start over.
Asteroid impact (high probability of low consequences, low probability of high consequences)
Earth gets constantly bombarded by object of various sizes. The smaller the more frequent. The larger, the less frequent. Earth receives on average 1-2 meteoroids smaller than 1 meter every day, but those usually completely burn in the atmosphere. Larger asteroids keep coming approximately as follows: 10 meters every 10 years, 100 meters every 5,200 years and 1000 meteres every 440,000 years2. Impact of a meteor was likely the reason dinosaurs went extinct some 65 million years ago so we should not underestimate the threat it poses to us.
For a more comprehensive list of risks to civilization, humans, and planet Earth, see Wikipedia.
It is not a question if, but when some global disaster will strike. There is no real reason for a deadline when this will happen as some doomsayers predict3, we just know the moment is coming and the likelihood increasing. It is like expecting a lion attack. You don’t know the exact minute it plans to jump at your neck, all you know the lion is getting more hungry. If you are sane, you will get ready (prepare a weapon, build a shelter, build fire) before you see the lion jumping at you. We should do the same and prepare for the disasters to come now in times of relative prosperity.
- people traveling by planes spread it to all countries and people traveling locally spread it further within a country ↩
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_event ↩
- There were many false prediction of the end of the world, the latest major one in 2012. None was explained by science, facts and logic and apparently they all were false. ↩