Why Has the World Become Chaotic?
A question I am often asked is, “Has the world become more chaotic? ”
And besides, wasn’t it already before? The world, especially the natural world, has undoubtedly always presented chaotic aspects. Meteorology is a very good example.
I observe that the human world has, on the other hand, become more chaotic, and therefore more uncertain mainly (but not only) for three reasons: increase in the number of people, connectivity, and speed.
Number of People
How many humans were there on earth 150 years ago? About a billion.
How many are we today? About eight billion.
The population has experienced incredible growth in recent years, in just a few generations.
In fact, we can speak of a real explosion!
If our ancestors lived in a relatively empty world, we inhabit a very, very full world! A full world and, we will see, a very connected world.
On August 4th, 1938, an exploratory expedition of the American Museum of Natural History looking for new species of birds in New Guinea, changed human history.
Entering the Great Valley of the Balim River, which was thought to be uninhabited, Richard Archbold and his colleagues were surprised to find a culture with a population of over 50,000 people. They experienced what was to be the last first encounter.
Such an event is very unlikely today…
People are meeting each other more and more.
And they also communicate more and more.
- Over 3.5 billion people have access to the Internet
- Since 2014, they are more mobile phones than people on this planet
- There are actually more people who have a mobile phone than who have a bank account… or access to drinking water or toilets!
Not only are we communicating more and more, but we are also more and more aware of belonging to a single human community.
One evening in August 1997, I was driving home from dinner with a friend who lives on a barge on the Seine river in Paris. On the right bank, we arrive at the Alma tunnel: it is closed. We then see the chase between a policeman who tries to tackle, as in rugby, what appears to be a journalist or at least a person with cameras.
Arrived on the other side of the tunnel, we then see dozens of police vehicles, firefighters, ambulances all lit. A gas leak? An attack?
In fact, a car accident in a Parisian tunnel. For those of you who haven’t watched television in 20 years, Princess Diana had just died.
Some time later, an estimated 2.5 billion people in more than 190 countries, broadcast in 44 languages, watched Lady Di’s funeral on television. That’s 40% of humanity at the time, and although other estimates are much lower at 500 million, it would still be the most watched event on TV!
Hundreds of millions of people, an unprecedented number in human history, gathered around the disappearance of a woman they had never met …
A few years later, on December 26, 2004, I was in India on the road between Chennai and Pondicherry when a journalist called me from Paris on my French mobile phone, without knowing that I was in India, to get my opinion on the “situation”.
This is how I learned that I was in the part of India worst affected by the Tsunami which left 225,000 people dead and millions homeless in Asia.
Within hours, thousands of videos were already posted on the internet, triggering a surge of emotion and solidarity never seen in human history. Never before have so many people come to the aid of people they had never met.
Is this a sign of humanity becoming aware of its own existence on the scale of the planet?
We have never been so many on earth and we have never been so connected to each other … in every sense of the word!
Our world is also moving faster and faster.
- The lithosphere (mineral) evolved over billions of years
- The biosphere (life) evolved over millions of years
- The noosphere (information) is now measured in nanoseconds
At the scale of human history, it took Homo Sapiens 3 million years to go from the hunter & gathering era to agriculturist & breeding era; then 30,000 years to enter the era of industry & commerce; and only 300 years to pass into the age of creation & communication which itself is only 30 years old.
Another example of speeding changes: our grandparents came into the world, worked and died close to the same geographical place, but for us today this seems highly unlikely (you can see Kevin’s life for more on that)!
Time is speeding up! We don’t have enough time to adapt…
A Crazy World?
Let’s say a world now “out of balance”.
More and more agents (people) being more and more connected. All that happening at a speed that takes the whole system (human world) far from equilibrium, that’s exactly what we need to have a chaotic system.
As David Ruelle, one of the first scientists to speak about the theories of chaos, writes: “The more oscillators there are and the more interconnection there is between them, the readier we should be to see chaos.”
Humanity is confronted with increasingly extreme situations, in particular in the social, economic and, even more dramatic for the long term, ecological fields. These are what we more commonly call crises.
We are going through a period of financial, economic, social and ecological crises. Crises that self-amplify among themselves and that create a systemic crisis in which one pulls the other, which itself aggravates the first and so on in an infernal circle.
We are the first generation of human beings who may leave to future generations (our children!) and knowingly, a planet in a worse condition and who will not ensure their survival because of our own actions.
In short: things looks bad… and things can get better!
Indeed, as I show in this article, according to chaos theories, our civilization can collapse … or a new civilization can emerge!
Collapse or Breakthrough?
Humanity has come to a turning point. We are at a time of complete redefinition of standards and values in terms of work, economy, and also social life.
Or more simply: how do we want to live together?
Now is the time to act. And it’s now, still according to the theories of chaos, that we have never had so much power to make a difference.
Join the tribe!
Join the Letstry tribe! The tribe of emergeologists!
To go further and see how you can have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others, I invite you to discover the gifts of chaos so you will thrive in a world that has become more chaotic: