Let us look into the future and extrapolate from where we are to where we are heading.
a. The population continues to grow
b. 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:
a. 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.
b. 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.
c. 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.
d. 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.
e. Water. Water is a dwindling resource and desalination plants provide supplies.
f. Energy. Fossil fuels are replaced by large-scale sustainable technology – probably nuclear fusion supplemented with solar.
g. Weather. The effects of global warming are alleviated. The hurricanes and extreme weather conditions are now able to be controlled.
h. 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?