The world is changing permanently - with and without man's interference.
We cannot influence the large trends (like astrophysical phenomena changing the heat radiation emanating from the sun).
This means that, so far, we are left with only three possible ways:
We can slow down progress as long as possible.
We can search for the most optimal variant.
We can accelerate progress.
For example we can accelerate the search for new habitats for humanity. The first step on this way has been taken by establishing the International Space Station ISS. We can (either out of thirst for knowledge or desire of adventure) make a point of seeking and shaping other celestial bodies adequate for human life. Nasa-strategist Jesco von Putkamer suggested in an interview with the newspaper PNP on 8.2.2001, that already in the next 20 years space tourism with space hotels will become a reality! Physicist Stephen Hawking predicted that already during this century mankind can conquer the universe with the help of genetic improvements of the human body (5).
Maybe we will one day be able to receive information about advanced life-forms, for example by traveling through wormholes into other parts of the universe or because we learn to receive and decipher their communications (e.g. in the form of electromagnetic waves). In this way, we could be able to have a look into a potentially better, alternative future.
If mankind is to survive this approach has to be started long before an expanding, dying sun devours the earth! (6)
The only question is, when and for which costs this is going to happen.
In face of these uncertain prospects, many (in my opinion rather passive) people try to slow down progress. But in an ever changing world it would become increasingly difficult to slow down progress as the gap between anachronistic outlooks and the realities of a changing world widens.
So one day it will no longer be possible to cling to the past and there will be an abrupt adjustment, comparable with an earthquake.
But conventionalism bears bigger risks. Conventionalism also means prohibiting new inventions.
Clinging to the past denies opportunities!
That's why it should be as important to ask for evaluating the consequences of non-action, not only of action. There should be also an "environmental impact statement for non-action".
In this regard, the current laws are dangerously inadequate!
The task of holistic, comprehensive landscape planning (which involves designing natural conditions taking into account the human way of life with all its interdependencies) thus remains to search for the optimal way into the future.
Therefore we have to discuss not only natural changes, but also changes regarding human culture.
(5) Bostanci, A., Evolution durch genetisches Design, in: Die Welt, 16. 1. 2001
(6) Sagan, C., "Blauer Punkt im All", München 1996 oder Kaku, M., Visions, Oxford Paperbacks, 1999 oder Meier, R. L., Ecological Planning, Management, and Design, Manuskript, Berkeley 2000