Do we have a future?
I am both a realist and an optimist, so I am not looking for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, rather trying to start a conversation about how we can ensure that future world conditions will be viable for our descendants.
Between the pandemic and global warming, the situation is not looking so rosy!
I was born in the UK, 3 years before WWII, so my awareness of the possibility of living under government dictates and restrictions is something I can take for granted. The rationing and restrictions experienced by the British – which were no doubt shared throughout Europe, but with the UK avoiding being occupied by enemy forces! – were way past those experienced in Australia. We could not even buy petrol for our own cars!
I was brought up in a non-Conformist Christian household, but am now an agnostic.
Despite BBC programs like the Father Brown series, the only part of the British Isles which is firmly Catholic is Eire, and Guy Fawkes ‘bonfire night’ is still enthusiastically celebrated!
The ethics taught by Jesus, as recorded in the Bible, were the basis of religion as I knew it, growing up, and the actual official church in the UK is the Church of England – which generally allows its Ministers to marry.
Because the UK was originally Catholic, and Henry VIII wanted a son, the resulting mish-mash of religions in the UK, as in the world, are many and varied.
At least the UK was enlightened enough, when it decided to use Australia as a convict colony, to ensure that the Australian government could not dictate a religious framework in its Constitution! And that was before Islam had become a major world religion.
So we have conflicts over religion, affecting internal and external relationships within and between countries.
We also have countries seeking to take over control of other countries, and – as currently in Myanmar – military juntas deposing elected leaders.
Looking at the mess that human beings are making of their own immediate environment, plus China and Russia seeking status by means of force and deception, I am left wondering whether the world really deserves to survive at all – let alone in peace!
And now we have a worldwide pandemic, with established nations looking after themselves first, and throwing the scraps to the undeveloped countries, all while we are recognising the effects of climate change, but keeping our heads in the sand when it comes to taking really serious steps to at least slow down global warming.
Do we deserve to survive?
We obviously would like to – but we equally obviously have not a clue how to persuade our nations that the wealthy nations need drastic changes in their lifestyles.
Everyone now seems to centre entertainment and convenience as the essentials of life.
Unselfishness is sneered at and acceptance of difference is also more obvious by its absence than its acceptance.
Discipline is essential for survival, and that, too, is despised.
As for our national leaders, the POTUS is trying to restore the USA from the damage done by his predecessor, whose legacy is a cohort determined to resist. The UK and Australia are among a group of nations where the electors have failed to understand what a leader should be. India’s resistance to religious tolerance, plus its size, is destroying itself, while China is travelling a dangerously authoritarian path.
I shall be long gone by the time the final outcome is resolved, but it will not be a good one unless and until people realise that acting for the common good is the only way to survive, sharing is good for everyone, helping other people is incredibly satisfying, and having all you need is much better than having all you want.
Now we need to take a good look at who we are electing to lead us!
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I much appreciate the question. Part of the conversation could focus on who “we” are that has any future. Science fiction has explored that extensively/ Current news has yet another Silicon Valley billionaire acquiring bunker facilities in New Zealand.
Another part of the conversation would highlight what is to be understood by “future” when our very sense of time may be transformed.
Another thread might be how people internalize the miserable global news so easily cited. It is very much our problem and as someone insightfully said: We are our own metaphor
I fear that we need a catastrophic event to drive fear into our leaders and to incite public revolt. The pandemic is not it, but the encroaching breakdown of climate integrity might be. We see around us daily the consequences of our failure to act, and yet our leaders still won’t face up to the crisis, preferring instead to make “commitments” that lack substance.
You mention WW2, Rosemary. I was born in ’41 in the UK and well remember the deprivations we endured during and after the conflict. I also remember how the people voted in a Labour government intent on countering the pre-war ills that beleaguered the working class. They introduced the NHS, National Insurance, state ownership of public utilities, and much more. This eventually led to a settled and hopeful populace and a thriving economy.
Without the war, it’s likely that none of that would have come about. What worries me now is that the damaged climate will not recover when we do wake up and take decisive action. It is very depressing.
I believe that as events speed up our current economic system, and possible our enlightment legacy could collapse, sooner rather than later. I cling to hope that enough will hold the torch to start a new , chastened civilisation. In the short term, l just observe in horror. I grew up a Methodist parson’s daughter. He and my mother were open to ideas so we grew up similarly. I have belonged to churches that placed people before dogma or literalism. Which made a fit with my science studies.
I now belong to an even more unusual church, which owns no property , pays no salaries , so after paying rent leaves donations free to give where national or international need arises. In our 6th blockdown we are using social media and phones etc to encourage and uphold each other.
We believe the only thing that matter in the end, is how we show love to each other and our wider community. This reflects in our political bent and concern for refugees and unemployed. Most of us are old, but we are growing as we try to build community in a retirees town.
Being Methodist we sing and we sing!
I hope you made a good recovery from your stroke.
We’re already dead. Sorry, but the climate is baked in and will kill most of us within 10 years. And then there’s the variants of CoViD-19 which are impervious to vaccines. We had our chance and we blew it.
See, and that’s my optimistic view, for the planet at least.
If the house we live in is in need of repair, we fix it.
If the planet we live on is in need of repair, we ignore it.
I tend to like the Aboriginal belief: We don’t own the land, the land owns us.
Democracy is being gamed by big media and played to benefit big business. If businesses pay large amounts of money to “influencers” to gain advantage over their competition then how much is the influence of the media outlets of Murdoch, 7 and 9 worth to the L/NP? The Main Stream Media have been a life support system and cheer squad for a side of politics that has decimated Democracy. The MSM is the problem not the solution. Advertising with these media outlets should be counted as political donations to the L/NP.
What more can be done to save our world?
Remaining optimistic and always have hope that things will change, we do that now, well some of us. Lots of us do, kids do.
But like you I’ll be long gone before anything changes, if it ever does, which from since history was 1st recorded, it has not.
Any real changes for the better have been ephemeral, and insidiously subtly evil once more creeps in and dominates.
You ask, “Do we have a future?” Well unless there is total radical change NOW, what sort of future will it be? One of misery?
One thing that I know that would bring about substantial change is for people to move away from materialistic greed, as you say we need to live within our means and not want everything.. “Big Boys Toys” will ruin, are ruining, have ruined the planet.
Or very nearly ruined the planet as it is just about totally fucked! It’s now 100 seconds to midnight on the doomsday clock.
Mega fires, floods, devastation, mayhem and murder, and people like Morrison do fuck all but encourage “The Rapture”.
So I’m wondering how many fast cars, mega yachts, private jet planes and palatial muckmansions does one person need?
Now we can include rocket space ships to the obnoxious list of those who have more than they could spend in 1000 lifetimes.
And on it goes. I come 1st, you can fuck off, I am going to fuck you before you can fuck me. What’s yours will soon be mine.
So is it being realistic to expect that governments will give up their lust for fossil fuels and do the right thing. Save the planet.
Greed, selfish greed, the lust for power, the dominance of man over man. Where does all the hatred, the evil come from?
The RW side of politics, that’s where, from mindless nasty people who are born without empathy, The true mark of EVIL
The major cause of EVIL is RELIGION, all and any religion that destroys free thought, that enslaves men’s minds from birth.
You say you regard yourself as Agnostic. Have you really thought about what that actually means? It’s part of the problem.
Have you thought that it only perpetuates beliefs in theism, being agnostic or atheist is simply the other side of the religious coin, two faces of religion, one is the negative and the other side the positive, without either side there is zero, ie no religion!
When people ask what do I believe in, I answer Earth.
When people ask me where do I come from, I answer Earth.
When people ask me who, what am I, I answer an Earthman.
That all sounds very glib, sarcastic, childish, but it’s not, it’s the essence of how humanity needs to think if it is to survive.
Pie in the shy eh, how’s that old Beatle song go.. “I’m a dreamer” “Give peace a chance”… yeah sure… So what happened?
Well John got himself shot dead is what happened! Why?
That still today with all that we have leaned, all the knowledge we have gained throughout the centuries, mankind still fights, is still a savage, it’s still man against man. We are all still bound by all the borders and countries, and not until the planet can unite as one Earth, will mankind ever have a chance where all can live in peace and harmony and share in the splendid gift of life.
Ok back to reality, how’s that war list for new mega tanks, fucked yankee planes and obsolete french atomic subs going Scott?
Arms manufactures, madmen, despots, religion, elites, corporate pirates, the economy is looking rosy, so we are told.
Win Jeavons – thank you for your good wishes. I know some part of my brain has changed – and I sometimes struggle with aspects of technology that never troubled me before. I seldom now feel motivated to write for the AIMN! Drive and inspiration have taken their leave.
Us humans are all being a bit precious. We don’t deserve the planet given what we are doing to it and each other. The blight of humans on the planet would largely be erased in only a few thousand years, were we to mutually wipe ourselves out or nature get its revenge. With another 2+ billion years before the sun expands enough to make the planet uninhabitable there is plenty of time for a truly intelligent life-form to evolve.
Current “intelligent” humanity allows self-entitled, ruthless, nasty, genocidal scum to rise to the top. History is littered with examples. Either we don’t learn from history or if we do, we lose the spine to act upon the lessons learned. Some years ago we had Adolf (what a nice man … puke), while currently the Rohingya and Uyghur are less than enamored with their “leaders”. Then we elect the FRNJ into power. Oh, beam me up Scotty, please!
One look at Scummo’s smarmy dial and one word from his lies-laden gob must convince any thinking person. He’s nothing more than a failed operator in the commercial world seeking to line his pockets at the expense of all and sundry. Rosemary J36. it is no wonder your drive and inspiration took a temporary leave of absence! Scummo’s selfish, dirty strategies bring to mind the years Queensland lived under the Joh regime. At least we can get rid of this creature if we exclude him at the ballot box!
RJ36 time to rest on your laurels. You have more than done your bit, stayed true to your principles, put your efforts where your mouth is so I think you can take it easy. Sure the world appears to be going to hell in a hand basket and the likes of Morrison and his climate denying bunch of shills are doing all they can to deny things but Greece and California are burning, another big freeze has crossed the northern US, floods in Germany landslides all over the place, these ostriches are done for. They will be gone. Of course, on the surface, Labor doesn’t look much better but I live in hope and as I wrote to someone recently, if we got a decent Greens candidate I might even go there. But there is hope. We took the 3.10 y.o. To the Teddy Bears picnic today and she had a magical time.as, it must be admitted, did we. The corollary to the ageing population is that the old white men who dominate the warmongering are going to die, soon, and many, not all, but many of the younger generations gaining influence are women who are no longer prepared to put up with the crap. Hopefully they will be the ones who take down the multinationals responsible for so much of what makes the world a broken place, and if I can help by influencing the aforementioned 3.10 year old to step up when her time comes, then I might die a happy man, but not just yet. Get well RJ
Thanks, RC29 – i am still failing to convince my daughter that our failure to take effective action on climate change is unwise!
“…how we can ensure that future world conditions will be viable for our descendants.”
“…wondering whether the world really deserves to survive at all…”
We can’t ensure anything. The world doesn’t owe us a living. Eight billion people are putting unsustainable demands upon it for stupid, indulgent reasons that go way beyond the need to survive. If the Gaia hypothesis has any merit, the world will ensure its own survival by reducing our ability to put that pressure upon it.
Just look how natural processes like the pandemic are even now limiting our capacity to rape the planet. Our livelihoods caused climate change, so the altered climate system destroys those livelihoods with more and more disastrous storms, floods, droughts and wildfires, leading to famine, pestilence, war and death and if that’s not bad enough, falling prices in the housing market.
Since Humankind has failed to self-regulate an unsustainable population, it seems like the earth is going to do it for us. It is a shame so many other species will suffer for our behaviour but there is no cosmic conscience. The Universe doesn’t have the capacity to care (except perhaps through sentient beings like us), it just reacts to the laws of physics.
We can take some control over our individual actions but our collective behaviour to the environment and our biosphere, is determined by the ruling classes, and the common people do not appear to have many options to influence their ruling classes to rule wisely no matter what political system they live in.
Personally, I don’t like optimism because it sets limits on what is possible (i.e. the optimum survival rate is 30%), while “optimists” make unreasonable demands on the ingenuity of future generations to solve clear and present problems for them. So that they don’t have to.
We already have the knowledge, the capability and the technology to repair much of our damage. What we lack is the ability to make our ruling classes order the repairs. The attitude that humans have dominion over the earth is extremely hard to shift.
Optimistic for a world like we have? With endangered species saved from the brink? With free flowing water and clean air? Optimism is wasted on this.
Our grandchildren will not miss koalas – they already live in a new normal where they can watch koalas up close on 150cm screens. Their senses will be numbed by CoVid. Even visiting global heritage sites from the comfort of a VR headset seems the only possibility in the immediate future.
I reserve my optimism for my resilient grandchildren and their parents who value and find joy in each other, optimism for their commitment and ingenuity in overcoming the mess we are leaving them, and optimism for an earth where pockets of nature are able to rewild free from human intervention.
I read a lot of cli-fi. It doesn’t alleviate my concerns but it helps me to sleep at night.
Do we have a future? Well, the world’s not about to end… but as Apocalypso, BB, Fred and others have noted, we would appear to have cooked the goose that laid the golden eggs. The IPCC’s sixth report is about to land on the world’s desks. It won’t be a happy read. All credit to the optimists, but these problems are pretty much insurmountable.
The “Rapture” is upon us.
Well, according to our PM’s lot of god botherers.
“…wondering whether the world really deserves to survive at all…”
The world? Sure. It’s done nothing wrong. It just is.
Homo supposedlysapiens? Different matter. Very different answer.
btw, I’m still trying to work out the relevance of the line about Islam.
@leefe …“Homo supposedlysapiens?” snark, guffaw! We were so named, of course, by the brilliant Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, who gifted our species with the capacity to systematically classify organisms via the method of <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binomial_nomenclature>binomial classification, genus & species; an undoubtedly wise human, and one conjectures, coined Homo sapiens with himself firmly in mind.
The gulf between knowledge and wisdom though is both broad and deep and we suffer, as a species, from both an overabundance of the first and a distressingly small quotient of the second, and therein lies the rub, the heart of the problem, and I suspect we’ve just about run our race given our fascination with the former and resistance to the latter.
<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf4aOlE_3bc>This link, clipped from today’s Guardian, shows a month’s worth of climate-related disasters across the planet, and it’s, I suspect, a mere foretaste of what’s coming, just around the bend. Not that he’s listening, but God help us.
No edit function these days?
Last para should have been… <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf4aOlE_3bc>This link, clipped from today’s Guardian, shows a month’s worth of climate-related disasters across the planet.
Excellent comments from all. Sadly greed and consumerism have persuaded the Chinese to accept a brutal political regime for example. The bigger problem though is that even poor farmers need land water ; soon enough most creatures will have been eaten and the land fought over then overgrazed . The population will reduce and humanity will have to start again.
A few comments on the heartfelt article and comments please:
GBs religious variety owes nothing to king Henry’s antics. Elizabeth I fined those who did not attend Anglican services and the Quakers were shut up in dungeons. Thinkers like Hume and Locke may be thanked.
The uk was not nazified: true legally Rosemary ,but guernsey was certainly occupied. Plus if hitler had not insisted on invading the ussr history would have been different.
Our constitution was not made by the British ; its sources are varied.
Liverpool has many Catholics owing to Irish emigration in the past.
The future? I see mass wars to add to the huge disasters already succeeding one another. A Protestant told me the seven plagues were upon us. Indeed: but unless we believe in a Zoroastrian dual deity no religion is even vaguely credible.
Certainly the evil deity is using us for cruel sport ….better though to take responsibility and not blame some fiction outside of ourselves.
The copious “saving remnant “ SF literature seems prescient .
Finally, I suggest that decent, outspoken politicians exist ; these are nearly all independents or greens ; all denounce cruelty and injustice. But they don’t buy voters.
Since last century, I have made an arsehole of myself and been called worse for my simplicity.
Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect, isn’t that obvious?
Climate change is constant and natural, isn’t that fact?
The greenhouse effect is visible on earth and on venus, isn’t that fact?
Why the ^%$@@%@ are we spruiking a natural climate change and not the human killing global warming?