What does demography have to do with sustainability?

29. August 2023

Plain speaking: Demographics and sustainability – the balance of impact balance and technology as a solution

There are a few uncomfortable truths that no politician, entrepreneur, or newspaper wants to talk about. This is because a broad discussion on the subject is indigestible for many people and, above all, one thing is missing: an obvious solution.

The main reason why we as a human race are living in imbalance with our habitat, planet Earth, is because there are simply too many of our species. And because of our intelligence, we as a population are spreading across this planet in a predatory manner, like a swarm of locusts that destroys an entire region in a short space of time.

Our intelligence has enabled us to successfully mitigate all imposed restrictions, such as poor living conditions or a lack of food supplies. Fortunately, we have developed a culture that gives more and more people on this planet non-negotiable basic rights to organize their lives in a bearable and socially just way in the last 3,000 years of civilization. These socially won basic rights of each individual lead to us ruthlessly satisfy our human urge and greed for more by plundering our habitats.

As we should not give up our hard-won basic social rights, freedom, self-determination, and democracy, there are really only two areas in which we humans can reduce our negative impact on this planet: These are, firstly, technology and a new form of impact balance.


Whether technology is cause or effect in this game is for others to argue about. Could we have prevented, or at least slowed down, our exorbitant development progress (especially in the last 300 years) with less human curiosity? Perhaps. But what use is it, on the scale of the several billion years-old Earth, whether we humans ruin and destroy our planet in 300, 1,000 or 50,000 years? We must be clear in our minds: Doing without technology from now on, or slowing down its use, will not solve any fundamental problem for humanity or the planet.

On the other hand, it is clear that only with the help of technology will we be able to provide the current 8 billion people (and probably 10 billion by the end of the century) with a sensible supply of food, basic healthcare and the necessary energy. As long as there are billions of people on this planet, we will need technology and technological progress.

So, the only question is how we use progress and utilize it in a new form for our humanity. There is no question that technological progress is needed. And this must be tackled in concrete terms without continuing to disregard planetary, economic, and systemic externalities in a one-sided manner.

Impact balance

This is precisely what can be achieved with a new form of impact balance. We need to gain and live a new understanding of systemic interrelationships. Not renunciation, nor mantra-like restrictions at any price will get us further and help us to cope with our enormous population density on this planet.

We need a new understanding! We need to come to terms with the fact that all our actions are part of cycles and systems. Only by understanding that an exaggeration, a disbalance, or a one-sided emphasis can unbalance systems enough to create space for something new.

Only with a new integrated model and an understanding between planetary, economic, technological, and biological cycles and systems can we create a shift to a new, integrated economy.

The essential foundations

In order to be able to establish this new economy, important foundations must be fulfilled. First and foremost, we need to shake up our self-perception. Everything we do has an impact on the planet, depending on the systems on which this action has an influence. We can and must take a closer look at any form of consumption, habits, or fads we have acquired.

At the same time, however, we must not lose sight of the realities. The total renunciation of meat, air travel, or car ownership will not get us nearly as far as enough people who drive innovation forward in Deep Tech cutting-edge research or people who make a contribution themselves and identify and/or promote good start-ups. I am firmly convinced of this: Positive impact is more important than sacrifice!

Positive impact with scaling through technology is a huge lever that we need to use. It’s time to push for less fundamentalism and fewer new rules. Anyone can give up meat or air travel, but we don’t need a law that requires us all to do so. Constantly readjusting and adapting our behavior to the latest findings is more effective than entrenched and absolute wisdom that has long since ceased to hold water. Much more important is tolerance towards other concepts of life and, above all, inclusion as a concept of life when dealing with other people and ideas.

We must finally understand the infinite ambivalence of the effects of small things and scaling technologies. There is not one fundamental wisdom and technology that will solve all our problems. There are many answers and truths to the questions. There is no certainty as to what exactly is the right thing to do to live in harmony with 8 billion people and our planet.

One thing is clear: Carrying on as before is simply as out of the question as the idea that it could work without technology. We need a new openness to imperfection, to striving without success, to giving positive energy without being fatalistic.

With a new inner attitude, the impact balance, we can create a new future from everything we already have. This includes the capitalist economic system, science, democracy, technology and, of course, us as human beings.

Integrating perspectives

This is precisely why cancel culture and the distorting media attention spheres are so misleading and so ineffective. Even if it may sound a little pompous: We don’t need a new right to XYZ, we don’t need incitement to more resistance, we don’t need a protest for the climate.

We need stable groups of people who can move things forward. We need positive spaces where new things can be tried out and tested without fear of media persecution.

In addition to many other people, we also need more impact entrepreneurs. People who want to and can earn money in the future with a good idea that has a positive impact. Let’s tackle it openly and make a contribution that creates impact. Let’s look at and listen less to the media separatists who want to be right but can’t and won’t achieve anything positive.

Source: https://unsplash.com/de/fotos/8I423fRMwjM
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