Tasks for the Future


John Scales Avery, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

A New Freely Downloadable Book

Today the world is facing several threats, and to avoid them we need to act. The greatest threats are catastrophic climate change and thermonuclear war, but a large-scale global famine also has to be considered.

I would like to announce the publication of a new book, in which these problems are discussed. The book may be downloaded and circulated free of charge from the following link:


Here are the great tasks that challenge us today:

We need a steady-state economic system.

Perpetual growth of anything physical on a finite planet is a logical impossibility.  Economic growth is already destroying the global environment.

We must restore democracy.

In many countries, democracy has been replaced by oligarchy. Governmental secrecy means that the people have no control of what their governments are doing. We need to restore democracy in our own countries, but we must not interfere in the internal affairs of nations other than our own.

We must decrease economic inequality.

We must act to decrease economic inequality, both between nations, and within nations. Countries with more equality are demonstrably happier, and with fewer social problems than nations where inequality is greater.

We must break the power of corporate greed.

As Professor Noam Chomsky has pointed out, greed and lack of ethics are built into the structure of corporations. By law, the Chief Executive Officer of a corporation must be entirely motivated by the collective greed of the stockholders. He must optimize profits. If the CEO abandons this single-minded chase after corporate profits for ethical reasons, or for the sake of humanity or the biosphere  or the future, he must, by law, be fired and replaced.

We must leave fossil fuels in the ground.

The threat of catastrophic climate change requires prompt and dedicated action by the global community. Unless we very quickly make the transition from fossil fuels to 100 % renewable energy, we will reach tipping points, after which uncontrollable feedback loops will take over.

We must stabilize and ultimately reduce global population.

The population of humans will soon exceed the carrying capacity of the global environment, increasing the probability of a large-scale famine. Education of women and higher status for women are vitally important steps, not only for their own sake, but also because these reforms have shown themselves to be important steps towards population stabilization.

We must eliminate the institution of war.

In an era of all-destroying thermonuclear weapons, war has become a dangerous anachronism. Today the world spends roughly two trillion dollars every year on armaments. This almost unimaginably enormous sum could solve many of our pressing problems if it were used constructively. Instead, the weapons purchased with this money endanger the lives of every person on the planet.

We need a world federation.

The present United Nations is a confederation, rather than a federation, and thus it is too weak to prevent wars.  The present UN tries to control its member states by means of economic sanctions, but these sanctions are neither just nor effective, since they make the poorest citizens of the targeted nation suffer, rather than the guilty leaders. By contrast, a federation has the power to make laws that are binding on individuals, even if they are heads of the member states.  Historically, federations have been very successful. A number of large nations today (for example the United States, Russia, Germany and Australia) have federal governments. The European Union is also a federation.

We need new ethics to match our new technology.

On our small but beautiful earth, made small by technology, made beautiful by nature, there is room for one group only: the family of humankind.

Other books and articles about global problems are on these links:




I hope that you will circulate the links in this article to friends and contacts who might be interested.


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website: https://www.johnavery.info/


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 22 Nov 2021.

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One Response to “Tasks for the Future”

  1. Gary Steven Corseri says:

    Dear Mr. Avery,
    I read your article last week, with your bountiful offering of “freely-downloadable books.” I was moved by your scholarship, the scope of your wisdom and your generosity! Within minutes of my scanning the first half of “Lives in Poetry,” I wrote a joyful, grateful letter, and tried posting it here. As you probably know, there were technical difficulties and that letter tally-hoed to my files.
    Fortunately, some good things come round again. I’m happy to find you at the TMS site again this week, still generously sharing your wisdom. (I hope other fans of yours will check out the previous week’s collection of books you are offering free of charge, but rich with your insights and narrative skills!) After scanning the first half of “Lives in Poetry,” I wrote:
    “Thank you, John Scales Avery, for sharing this information–and these tasty appetizers–with readers of TMS! Such a range, such delicious and nutritious pickings! Thank you for the great work you’ve done over the decades!
    And thank you, Antonio C. S. Rosa, for sharing the bounty of your own hard labor, week after week at TMS–strengthening the fibers that unite the world.”