Futures

 

 

Well, I must begin by wishing you a Happy New Year. I hope it was a refreshing Christmas break, and the first month or so of 2013 has treated you well (and some of those resolutions still remain intact).

 

I have been writing, but not blogging. I have also been thinking. In fact, thinking rather a lot. Again, I am pleasantly reminded of how time and space away from our busy lives enables understanding of life, the universe and everything to come to the surface.

 

So a few things happened whilst I was away travelling around Australia with my parents, and the end result of this is that my direction going in to 2013 is rather different to that which I had originally pictured.

 

In the work I’ve been doing over the last few years, I’ve come across a lot of noble individuals tackling social or environmental issues around the world. Something that is preached across this space, is the need to understand the problem thoroughly before trying to make things better.

 

The thing driving me over the last few years has simply been to try to make the world a little bit better for the people living in it, and that’s generally taken on the form of mental health. But now I experience a desire to understand the world better before I continue trying to contribute to it in a positive way, as mental health feels like a less dominant theme in my life. Whereas last year was largely spent ‘doing’ and busying myself, recently I am more drawn to reading, talking with people and generally learning, or ‘being’. Unfortunately, it’s more straightforward to earn money for doing things, rather than just ‘being’ and learning stuff, so I’m still working this one out.

 

And the problem I need to learn about is the future.

 

What has become apparent to me is that we are facing some monumental challenges in the 21st century. A few things have never sat well with me – a global economic system predicated on exponential growth and debt, exponentially growing nonrenewable resource consumption (resources that are running out), exponential energy use and as yet no global strategy in place to transition over to a world in which we use renewable, clean energy.

 

I read a book whilst travelling in Australia called The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future, which neatly presented data from economy, energy and environment and tied it all together. I’m not going to make any bold predictions here about what’s coming next, only to say that there will be great changes ahead. A way of life which has depended on exponentially growing consumption of nonrenewable resources is simply not sustainable, no matter how you spin it (and there are some very clever ways of spinning it). We face potential shortages in food and water (http://www.earth-policy.org/book_bytes/2013/fpepch1), along with the threat of climate change, to name just a few.

 

These are some considerable challenges facing us. I, for one, am not comfortable sitting around and hoping that it just all works out and that life will continue along as usual. That the decision-makers in power will get us out of this mess, when they got us in to in the first place. I’d like to play some role in the sustainability of our future, and I believe that we all can in one way or another, even if I haven’t figured out what that is yet.

 

It’s tough stuff to come to terms with, as it doesn’t paint the kind of picture we’d like. It’s heavy and depressing. The last month or so my mind has gone through various stages of trying to reject this information, only to then see how clearly it makes sense. I’ve seen it in others I’ve introduced some of this too as well – they know there are some big warning signs, but at the same time they’ve had a desire to turn away from it all and ignore it. It doesn’t help that the crux of the counter-argument comes down to two main themes of ‘human ingenuity will save us’ (human ingenuity got us here in the first place) and ‘technology’ (why aren’t we making use of it?).

 

Since then I’ve been on an information-gathering journey that has touched on the issues I’ve already mentioned, future studies and evolutionary psychology. I’ve been noticing patterns in human behaviour throughout history and looking out for trends that may suggest where we’re headed in the future, as well as trying to understand where we actually are at the moment. If that sounds less interesting to you than the previous topics I’ve been writing about then I do apologise, as the next few entries will mainly be about this kind of stuff.

 

On we go…

 

 

 

For those interested in these global challenges I’ve (painfully briefly) mentioned and what they may mean for the future, I recommend checking out the following for starters. If you’re convinced that everything is just going to carry on as it always has done and that these economic and environmental issues are nothing to be concerned about, then I really really recommend taking a look at the following:

 

Video version of the ‘Crash Course’: http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse

 

Money as Debt video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqvKjsIxT_8

 

Jared Diamond’s TED talk on the collapse of civilizations: http://www.ted.com/talks/jared_diamond_on_why_societies_collapse.html

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