Editor’s note– Here is a little bit different post from our usual ‘talking about feelings’ blog posts about a very relevant issue of our times in a beautiful and understandable manner. I hope it gets you thinking, just like it did to me.
I am extremely depressed by the state of the planet and what we are doing to it.
Let us look into the future and extrapolate from where we are to where we are heading.
- The population continues to grow
- There are no catastrophes that wipe us out
Man is extremely good at solving problems. So let us assume that we negotiate our way through problem after problem. We do not annihilate ourselves through nuclear war or manufactured biological warfare. We do not succumb to a virus. We merely continue to grow in numbers.
These are the consequences:
- Space and shelter. We need land and housing and our cities, towns and villages grow. The countryside becomes consumed in plastic and concrete. Roads connect and transport systems enable easy access.
- The Wilderness. The wilderness and natural world become open to us and exploited for farming, mining, logging and habitation until there is no more inaccessible wilderness areas. Roads run through every place.
- The Wild-life. The wild-life now has no habitat left, no food, shelter or way of living. It is butchered for meat, hunted for ivory or medicine (The rarer it gets, the more it is worth, the higher the price, the more worth the risk). The remnants of the wild things are corralled into parks or zoos and confined, protected and used as objects of tourism. Those considered pests, unpleasant or dangerous are eradicated.
- Food. Even with all the wilderness opened up for farming, the seas fully harvested and hydroponics, genetic modifications and intensive farming methods there is not sufficient food for the burgeoning population. Food is produced from bacteria and fungus in vast industrial vats (Pruteen, mycoprotein etc. – already produced in large quantities – in our pies, sausages etc.), textured, flavoured and used as a meat substitute. Proper meat is a luxury food item.
- Water. Water is a dwindling resource and desalination plants provide supplies.
- Energy. Fossil fuels are replaced by large-scale sustainable technology – probably nuclear fusion supplemented with solar.
- Weather. The effects of global warming are alleviated. The hurricanes and extreme weather conditions are now able to be controlled.
- Oxygen. Oxygen is a natural product of photosynthesis. With the destruction of the forests and pollution of the oceans it is no longer being produced in sufficient quantities. Oceans are seeded to produce algal blooms and hydrolysis plants produce oxygen from water.
Our lives in these huge metropolises are highly controlled. Our environment is plastic. Our food, water and even the air we breathe is manufactured. We take our children to see the last remaining trees in the tree museum. We then go to the zoo to get a glimpse of and wonder at the little animals that used to run free in the wild.
It’s a vision of the future. It is quite possible. But is that the way we really want to live? Is that the world we want to pass on to our children?
In Scenario 1 the population continued to grow eating up space, wilderness and destroying all naturally living creatures. Technology dealt with the problems of food, water, energy, weather and even oxygen in the atmosphere. We lived in huge urban developments and the world is devoid of wild-life and natural areas.
- We realise the impact of our actions on the environment and limit our numbers, conserve the wilderness and wild-life, stop our habitat destruction and pollution.
- We lay aside 50% of the planet for wilderness and wild-life. We do not allow roads, hunters or development in these areas.
We are extremely good at solving problems. We can easily create a sustainable future where wilderness and wild-life has a place.
- We introduce contraception, education and family planning on a global scale and successfully reduce our population.
- We use technology to produce better transport, housing, energy production, and food.
- We do not have urban sprawl, deforestation, overfishing, or other unsustainable exploitation of the environment.
- We raise the standards of life for all people globally so that there is no longer war, conflict or poverty. There are social services, pensions and sick pay enabling people to live without requiring large numbers of children to support them through hard times.
- We produce technology that is not polluting and is sustainable. We have ample energy (probably through nuclear fusion and solar) and our farming methods are not cruel or ineffective. We can produce ample good food to support the population without encroaching on the wilderness areas.
- The forests are conserved. Fishing is sustainable. The weather and global warming is controlled.
- 50% of the world is teeming with wild-life that we can marvel at. The air, water and soil are not contaminated with carcinogens. We globally control the weather and global warming. Everything regarding conservation and pollution is controlled and enforced globally.
I know which of the two possible future scenarios I would prefer to live in.
The future is for our grandchildren’s grandchildren. In my own life-time we have destroyed over half of the world. I feel we are at the precipice. Will we jump?
What do you think Sylvia?
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