Can a civilization have an existential crisis? To answer, let‘s scale the civilization. Given our ever shrinking global village, we‘ll say that there‘s only one civilization on planet Earth. This civilization measures itself via Sustainable Development Goals. This civilization nurtures itself through aid packages and trade deals. This civilization even contemplates its future via Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) in Earth System models. This indeed seems a civilization and one that is robust. But why does it exist?
The SSPs might be the best avenue when considering existence. These pathways attempt to model the civilization out to the year 2100. Through various assumptions on resource availability, technology development and population, experts move qualitative narratives to quantitative values. Energy is of course central to this and the expectation is that demand in 2100 will increase from the current 350 EJ energy to a range of 400 to 1200 EJ based upon scenarios. Anyway you look at this, the energy demanded by existence goes up, sometimes significantly!
So the civilization exists and will be using more and more energy. For what purpose? Is it to maximize everyone’s standard of living? Is it to maximize procreation? Or perhaps it has no real purpose and planning for the future is simply leisure (le loisir). How do you think energy be best applied to achieve your imagined future? What value do you see in civilization?