European Parliament’s Briefing on Global challenges: navigating a way for the EU as a Global Actor, May 2010

We live in an age of deep transformation of both the global and human condition. The driving forces are essentially technological, but they have profound ecological and social consequences. (See for instance Toffler, Dickens, Friedman in the attached list of select literature.) On the deepest level, the post-industrial revolutions in science and technology are further multiplying our power to manipulate our physical environment, both by increasing our understanding of the world about us, and by giving us ever more powerful technological and economic This can be either good or bad, depending upon how we use our increased power. Here the record from the industrial age is mixed and depends upon one’s perspective. Socially some 15% of the world’s population – including the EU – have reached historically unparalleled standards of living, while almost all other societies in the world have had their traditional forms of livelihood disrupted and some 20% are now helplessly uprooted. Ecologically the legacy of the industrial revolution is disastrous, but it has also led to advances in science and technology that enable us to address our current problems. Humanity – or the elite portion of humanity to which the EU belongs – is empowered as never before.

Author: Tomas Ries