(Amended paragraphs 6-8)
1. We address this to all who understand that the ongoing activities and continued development of our globally industrialized and capitalized civilization pose a severe threat to our world and its inhabitants, and that catastrophic collapse of civilization and human extinction are very real and looming possibilities.
2. Scientifically-grounded knowledge of the grave danger, while widely disseminated, has failed to produce a commensurate response. For a variety of reasons (including the gross imbalances of power created by our economic system, but perhaps more importantly the fact that the danger is simply not salient enough to elicit strong emotional response), the usual political approaches for bringing about needed change do not and cannot work. There is little reason to believe that that political impotence can be overcome as long as the economy remains of paramount concern and business goes on as usual.
3. Proposals for strictly science-based solutions to the complex array of global crises are grounded in the assumption that our current industrialized way of life can be perpetuated and improved via technology alone (e.g., ameliorating the energy crisis by mandating higher fuel efficiency for automobiles, or development of alternative energy sources). However, that assumption lacks empirical support and is thus highly questionable; holding it is entirely a matter of faith, not science. We suggest that such faith is as misplaced as any other. (N.B.: Reality offers us only two choices: either to change drastically voluntarily, or have drastic change forced upon us by external circumstances. There is no third choice. Yet, there seems to be a widespread consensual belief that science will magically afford one. While understandable, that belief is unrealistic, delusional, and destructive, and must be abandoned — a daunting step.)
4. Accordingly, any realistic hope of avoiding global demise demands a comprehensive approach that draws at least as much from the humanities as it does from science, because science that is not constrained by humanity is a significant part of the global problem that we face.
5. However, for that to happen we must abandon the status quo and create conditions conducive to the drastic psycho-socio-economic-cultural change that is needed. Since this will entail major sacrifices from those who currently benefit from (and as a result have the power to control) the global economic system, the chance of implementing any kind of preconceived plan or strategy under current conditions is nil — there is simply too much entrenched opposition. The patent insanity of that opposition — the defensive denial of a frightening, threatening reality, expressed both in the widely-held belief that fundamental change is not desirable or necessary, and in the unabated continuance of activities proven to be destructive of the biosphere — is not widely recognized. This insane defensiveness, motivated by fear and greed, is abetted by well-meaning proposals for (typically technological) solutions, which by-and-large are rationalized by unrealistic (oversimplified, obsolete or fundamentally misconceived) models. This then is the first and perhaps biggest obstacle that must be overcome: the self-destructive psychological resistances that make the vast majority of people indifferent to, or firmly opposed to even acknowledging, the increasingly dire reality that confronts humanity.
6. Therefore, for meaningful change to occur, a moratorium is needed that allows for the development of conditions more conducive to the accurate perception of reality. The status quo that keeps us on the path to disaster depends crucially on the supportive contributions of many kinds of experts, professionals and technicians — academics, physicians, engineers, pilots, computer scientists, etc. If sufficient numbers of these experts were to choose to curtail their contributions, society would have to pause, or at least slow down significantly, creating conditions that afford a clearer view of reality and of what needs to change. Importantly, the experience of actual deprivations would make the looming dangers more emotionally real. People would begin to recognize that our entrenched ways of being in the world are delusional and unhealthy, serving only to defend against needed change.
7. The first step then in our effort to inject some semblance of sanity into the present dismal scene is to invite all interested parties to think about how to bring about such a general pause in our path to destruction, how to work toward making a space in which the needed drastic restructuring of our ways of being in the world can be realistically explored.
8. While working toward this moratorium we can begin as a group to explore ways of exerting our influence as key contributors to bring about the needed ameliorative changes. If preconceptions can be set aside, new approaches could emerge already during the travel toward a contemplative space.
9. Toward that end we have established this website to solicit response and input. If you are interested in further participation please let us know by entering your name, contact information and comments in the fields below, indicating whether you would like to receive additional information and updates in the future. We invite you to disseminate this page.
For additional comments on our rationale please see Notes for a Global Moratorium.
Louis S. Berger
James A. Coffman
Donald C. Mikulecky