It’s hard not to be pessimistic about the future

With a gloomy and potentially catastrophic future at hand, it’s time to turn the Information Age to Reform Age.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed of The Guardian posted this story entitled “Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” last Friday. When the post went viral (with GizmodoThe Daily Kos and many more sites picking up the story), Ahmed posted a follow up to quell the ‘doom and gloom’ reactions.

As energy is the underpinning of a society, the unravelling of the fossil fuel system signifies the demise of the old paradigm. By the end of this century, one way or another, this paradigm will be obsolete. It’s up to us what will take its place – and as the death-spiral of the old paradigm accelerates, so do the opportunities to explore viable alternatives.

As cited in Ahmed’s in his initial post, the study concluded that if everything remains the same civilization as we know it will collapse in 10-15 years. The collapse will be due to a perfect storm of related crises, including overpopulation, climate change, inequality of resource distribution, and unequal access to technology/information.

I wrote about the global water crisis for my freshman Academic Writing class. I am startled when I look back at some of the facts I unearthed.

  1. Over a billion people, including 288 million Africans close to or under the poverty line, live without access to safe drinking water
  2. Over two billion people do not have access to basic sanitary water for cooking and cleaning
  3. In 2008, Maude Barlow concluded in her 2008 article “Where has all the water gone?” that “average people do not know that the world is facing a comet called the global water crisis … The crisis is not reported enough in the mainstream media, and when it is, it is usually reported as a regional or local problem, not an international one.” In six years, I don’t see much difference.
  4. According to Micah Morrison in her article “Will We Run Dry?” an “average American uses 90 gallons of water a day … A European uses only 53 gallons; a sub-Saharan African, 5 gallons.” Plug in numbers on this site to get a rough estimate of how much water you use in a day.

Given those facts, indeed, it’s hard not to be pessimistic. Ahmed concludes his review of the week that was with a quote from an article he wrote last year in his blog, The Cutting Edge:

We do not have the option of pessimism and fatalism. There’s enough of that to go around. Our task is to work together to co-create viable visions for what could be, and to start building those visions now, from the ground up.

Considering how well we’ve been co-creating ‘viable visions’ in government, I turn to the Internet to lead this challenge. Sure, technology helped spread the global resource crisis and massive economic inequality, but it has the power to be an incredible democratizing force.

This guy believes. You can, too (and you don’t have to believe the Internet is God).


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