I tend to feel hopeful as each year begins and to think that some of the issues of the old year will be resolved in a satisfactory manner in the optimism which often partners with “newness”. But I’m not really a Pollyanna, and I also, cannot avoid dealing with my pessimism, which I often push down in case the people who say that sending positive energy out into the universe will insure positive results are correct. Conversely, they imply that sending out negative energy will attract negative outcomes. But I am starting to dream doom and gloom and it will not let me sleep unless I express it. So I will go with the philosophy that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. I will go with the ancients instead of the Aquarians for at least this one time and it will be my experiment, sort of like the one with Ben Franklin, the key, and the lightning. I include a disclaimer that I will not accept responsibility for any negative events occurring in the coming year due to this psychic adventure.
The fears I dreamed in the night centered, in large part, around the earth’s population and the environment. I always visualized a future in which life got calmer and less contentious, in which we found technologies that allowed us to live in harmony with our environment. I wanted to live a long life so I could see how things would turn out. Lately I have come to believe that I may regret wishing for a long life. I may, instead of seeing humanity meet its potential, get to see humanity at its worst. If, for example, we have to continue to compete for increasingly limited amounts of fossil fuels or clean water, life may decline into a daily struggle for existence that in no way resembles my more optimistic “futurescapes”.
I’m not sure what our business people were thinking when they started moving their businesses to nations with challenged economies and huge populations. Was it all about greed, or were their some altruistic motives about extending the benefits of affluence to poorer nations? Was it all about developing new markets, or was there some realistic knowledge that there would be far-reaching ramifications of globalization. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be engaging in a global marketplace. I think it was inevitable that this would happen. I am saying that the very business people who took us there in the name of profit are now appalled by some of the unexpected implications of their own activities. They did not intend, I don’t think, to change America’s position as the prime mover of earth politics and economics and now they are trying to lay the blame for the fact that we are being challenged by newcomers at the feet of the American middle class. They are saying that we were greedy, that we made them leave America; that we are lazy, that we are sitting idly by and are happy to live off richer Americans. In other words, we are turning our fears about a perceived decline of American influence inward when we should be presenting a united front and trying to invent a future where dwindling resources and rapidly expanding populations do not create a nightmare for the whole planet.
I am also very worried about our more extreme weather. It may be a cycle, but I can’t help believing that the 7 billion residents of earth and our activities on earth are having an effect on climate. The melting of the polar ice is unprecedented and if it is just a short cycle I hope it reverses soon. I am not sure how mankind will deal with continuing and escalating extremes of weather if each season starts outdoing the one before. Will we have to live under domes? Will we have the technology to build giant domes that will support life on earth? How low will our carbon footprint have to go to reverse weather excesses and for how long.? Will the human population be drastically winnowed down by the extreme natural events we will face in the future? Will we continue to value individual human life when there are 9 billion people on the planet?
It is obvious that for every positive future I can imagine there is a negative one that could just as easily happen. How long can we afford to wait to see which way events will trend? Will the universe provide us with a new technology that will resolve our energy and environmental dilemmas? Will religious wars make all the environmental issues seem beside the point? Will we learn to truly tolerate religious differences or will we have to fight it out until we end up with one global religion (of unknown sect) or no religion? These futures would be interesting as academic exercises if I could chose a position above the fray and just observe how things would turn out. But of course, I will be in the thick of it with everyone else. Will I be equal to the challenge? Will we all be equal to the challenge? Will we be able to avoid being so challenged in the first place? This is the outcome I hope for, somehow, but which I fear will not arrive in time. We know it is possible to look forward to the future and dread it at the same time. This is where I live in 2012.