At present we are still living in the thrall of the economist philosopher Adam Smith and his famous book Wealth of Nations published in 1776. It laid the intellectual foundation for our modern system of capitalistic business practice. It was also the foundation of Darwinism, although few give him credit for that theory, but all that needed to be done was one time in his entire book to have substituted the words living things being improved by his hidden hand of the market place instead of businesses only and his theory would have conveyed the essence of the survival of the fittest idea of life popularized by Darwin. That idea in those two instantiations works well in maximizing utility of the energy entering their working systems. Unfortunately, for top predator species such as human beings, it leads to population explosions and crashes when the resource base gets over-consumed. Our species with a population of seven billion is way past the human-powered agricultural population of a half billion of 1625, so when stored mineral power from oil and coal is mined out the population will drop back to some much lower number.
A second problem unfortunately also rares up: our huge stockpile of nuclear weapons which in the long run are likely to be used and, triply unfortunately, the huge number of nuclear power plants which will be prime targets in any major military conflict. The bombs are bad enough and may bring on nuclear winter but what will probably prove far worse in the long run is the 436 nuclear power plants of the world being bombed and sinking into a melt-down condition. They will then spew their vast quantities of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. As bad as Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters were they didn’t go into a meltdown condition.
The risk of major war is low at the moment, but even a one percent chance per year over the span of human civilization of 10,000 years means those bombs would on average be used a hundred times over during that time period. Looking at the problem that way we are presently living in the pre-multiple-Doomsday paradise. We must therefore somehow reduce the rate of risk to less than one use per 10,000 years, and that is clearly an absurd dream with ten or more independent entities possessing these weapons. The risk must be brought to absolute zero by the number of bombs in existence being a verified absolute zero. That can only be achieved by absolute cooperation of everyone on Earth, and that seems very unlikely at present.
Who will be the ones responsible for the creation and the use of these weapons? The strange problem is that the people who created the first of them were wonderful people – some of the finest humans ever to walk the Earth – but they have brought humanity to the brink of extinction. After the first Doomsday war they will be vilified, but those who deploy the bombs will receive the worst of the hate. That being said, there will probably be more Doomsday wars and each will have its list of evil perpetrators, but the original creators will also be remembered. Thus in the end after humanity really nears it final demise, it will be Oppenheimer and his famous quote, “I am the destroyer of worlds,” who will achieve the ultimate crown of the most evil person. What is so personally painful to me is that I spent a half hour in personal conversation with him at his home in Princeton and found him to be the warmest, kindest and most thoughtful person I ever met.
If humanity is ever to be wrestled free of Oppenheimer’s weapons it will require a world under a single government, a single Leviathan who will brook no other super-power. To achieve that condition will require a stabilized world economy, a barnyard economy. I don’t like it either because I hold dear my personal freedoms, but with multiple contending parties possessing Weapons of Extermination (WOEs) humanity will soon go extinct. Perhaps the yoke would be light – only two children and absolutely no access to super-weapons.
Who will Satan and his devils be in a sustainable economy? Oppenheimer and his followers.