Unlike most 'doom and gloom' documentaries, Surviving Progress actually suggests some solutions to problems it describes (albeit you have to wait almost until the end of the movie to find the reasonable ones).
If creators of Surviving Progress are to be believed, George Lucas (he of the Star Wars) once said there are only two ways for humanity to survive as a species: either we find another planet to colonise before we completely destroy this one, or we use some of the technology we so cherish to change our very nature.
I am a big fan of Star Trek but I don't think we stand a chance of conquering space in any meaningful way any time soon. Not much hope in this solution.
Changing human nature does not appear an easy task either. Evolution is a slow process. Biologically we didn't change that much within last 50,000 years (according to the movie's stats). We might ask our biologists and geneticists to try and speed the process up but... One, you never know if they'd succeed, even if they tried. Two, playing God (and I'm using the term in the most secular meaning possible) is not a safe game. We might end up worse off than when we started. I might be wrong, but I believe genetic engineering of homo sapiens is just another progress trap on the horizon.
Either way, 'ordinary' people don't have much influence over space exploration of genetic research. There must be something that we can do on the human, everyday level. Is there?
Surviving Progress suggests one simple way of if not solving, than at least alleviating our problems:
I couldn't agree more.
Human beings really don't need ipods (or any other sophisticated gadgetry) to function. We don't need designer bathrooms (as explained in a wonderfully passionate monologue by Vaclav Smil towards the end of Surviving Progress), cars with monstrous engines, new outfits for each days of the year etc. etc.
Market creates artificial needs through advertising and we are only too willing to believe that tons of junk on sale are truly necessary. It doesn't take a genius to question this. Everyone can look around at his or her possesion and ask - do I really need this? How much real value does it bring to my life?
It seems that the old question 'to be or to have' has only one sensible answer.