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Humanities 2012, 1(3), 178-191; doi:10.3390/h1030178
Article

Alone in the Void: Getting Real about the Tenuous and Fragile Nature of Modern Civilization

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Received: 23 October 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 19 November 2012 / Published: 28 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Download PDF [466 KB, uploaded 28 November 2012]

Abstract

It is estimated that roughly seventy billion human beings have lived out their lives on planet earth. It is very unlikely that any of the seven billion currently enjoying this planet will be living out the rest of their life any place else. Nonetheless, many of our movies and much of our literature envisions easy space travel that is scientifically unrealistic. On July 24th, 2012 Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled: Alone in the Void. This article posited that humanity (Homo sapiens) lives on a planet that is, for all intents and purposes, alone in a vast empty space. Reader comments to this editorial ranged from people who were very confident we were destined to colonize other galaxies to people who had little faith that humanity would even exist on the earth one hundred years from now. The reader’s responses mirror dominant and minority world views of economic theory. The dominant neo-classical economic paradigm is optimistic and growth oriented with faith in technological solutions to pressing social and environmental problems; whereas, the minority paradigm of ecological economics posits a need to move toward a steady state economy governed by the laws of thermodynamics as the preferred path for human progress. I side with ecological economics regarding what collective choices will result in a better future for humanity.
Keywords: Neo-classical economics; ecological economics; sustainability Neo-classical economics; ecological economics; sustainability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Sutton, P.C. Alone in the Void: Getting Real about the Tenuous and Fragile Nature of Modern Civilization. Humanities 2012, 1, 178-191.

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