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The Future We Deserve or The Future We Desire - John Byfield

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This is an entry in The Future We Deserve - a collaborative book project about the future. See all the entries or talk about this entry.



In my mind, The Future We Deserve conjures up not a vision of a beautiful future where our water, air, and energy are all clean or a place where our food, bodies, and minds are all pure, and most certainly not a place where we have ended war and conquered poverty and disease. In my mind the future we deserve is a result of the present we have created as in “he got what he deserved” or “she deserved to be fired”. On the other hand the future our descendants deserve is one of beauty and light and living on our planet in a way that does not destroy it. That is a future that without a monumental sea change in the way that we conduct almost every human activity is unlikely to happen.

I believe that the fundamental mistake that is being made is to believe that our planet is in peril. Our planet will be fine, albeit different, no matter what we do to it just like it was fine 65 million years ago when a large rock from the cosmos plowed into it. It wasn’t fine for the dinosaurs any more, but in time the planet absorbed the change and reinvented itself and thrived anew. The ice ages, global warming caused by volcanism and all other types of global events that created dramatic climate change all produced similar results and again, the earth and its ability to support life remained constant. What changed was the planet's ability to support certain forms of life. If we continue on our current path something like the fate that befell the dinosaurs may happen to us. The Earth will no longer be a place that can support human life, and we will perish. It is not a race to save the planet but a race to save the human race and the thousands of other species that we endanger. The fundamental change that must take place is that to get the future we desire or perhaps any kind of future for the human race at all, we must entirely change the way we live.

Unfortunately the Green Movement is being bought and sold by the same people that brought us to this place. The big companies have all discovered green is good for business, and hope that by producing green products they can convince us that we can consume our way out of the looming environmental disaster. Yet you can no more consume your way out of the mess we have created than you can spend your way out of debt.

What we really lack is a vision for the future we desire and our children deserve. Richard Branson, a man who tells the world he is an environmentalist at heart, has a vision of a world where space planes criss-cross the planet punching hundreds of holes in the ozone layer and consuming mass quantities of rocket fuel as they carry the well-to-do around the planet. T. Boone Pickens envisions a world where nuclear power provides the “clean” sources of energy to continue our unsustainable lifestyle. While the technology of the future may be able to do some wondrous things and we can all hope that the solutions we need will be discovered, the real bottom line for giving our children the future they deserve is to absolutely and fundamentally reevaluate our entire way of life.

No matter how we live our current population levels are simply not sustainable, and at the current growth rate will smother the planet in the very near future. Add the desire of all these new people to have the lifestyle that the average American now enjoys, and there is no hope whatsoever for achieving sustainability no matter how many boxes of “eco-friendly” soaps we consume, or how many “clean” cars we drive. Our insatiable appetite for things like bigger homes, more cars, asparagus and oranges year round no matter where you live, Chilean Sea Bass that take 50 years to mature and above all for the incredible range of petroleum based products that account for a staggering array of almost all the products we consume including our entire food chain, must come to an end. In my vision of the future we will use our brains to achieve this, but we are off to a very poor start.

Worldwide famine, global epidemics, catastrophic climate change, ravaged oceans and diminishing natural resources, perhaps this is the future we deserve. I hope it is not the future we desire or the future we will give our children.