One can’t help but wonder how our times and the past century will be seen by historians, whose different interpretations depend on the perspective of time and available records.
Future historians will be puzzled why we believed the things we did and how we rationalized the folly of our choices. How we justified our wars, dealt with our environment, built things we fail to maintain, created new religions, changed the old ones, and functioned within our tribal communities of nations, cities, and states.
Religions, some old some new, have played a great role in how we behave, as have how we shifted from the hunter-gathers to raising food, creating cities, and bartering, which led to the creation of economic and financial systems that were unsustainable.
They might ponder why corporations acquired the same stature as people and the corporate concept became a system, in which, in order to survive, the entities needed to grow, to multiply, to expand each year just to sustain itself. They might discover that science and environmentalism had acquired many of the same trappings, with the same litany, and messages as traditional religions.
They would see our current recession almost bring down nations, cities, financial institutions, and, of course individuals. They might wonder why our nation, our state, our county, and our city faced near bankruptcy simply because our whole culture was based on growth. It was an economy based more on our desires than our need and required us to buy things whether we needed them or not. It was becoming bigger not better. The new age historians would have been puzzled why there was no workable sustainable model back then. It was grow or die!
Historians would become aware that back in 2010 we didn’t accept that our planet was unable to support unlimited numbers of people. They will think we were blind and didn’t see that more and more people were using up our minerals, water, and dirt to grow our food. We consumed trees for fuel to cook and keep warm, and oil was being consumed at a rate the planet simply could not sustain. The historians would wonder how we could have overlooked that there were too many people trying to survive on measurably less space, air, and natural resources. They would never understand why our leaders of large cities took so many jobs from our small villages, towns, and small cities, forcing their residents to flock to major population centers to find jobs.
They would puzzle over information that in schools we taught our children that trees produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the air, yet the urban developers cut the trees to build denser cities. They certainly will wonder why we thought it made good sense to use massive amounts of carbon-based energy simply to create the concrete used to build bigger cities, with the belief that more people jammed into a smaller space would somehow save the planet.
They would document that new groups would form, using lessons learned from our great religions. A new environmental language and litany would be created, and the techniques of the information age would spread the word. Movies would be made and school children would be taught the dogma of environmentalism.
Historians of the future might be amused that we believed that governments and organizations of dedicated good people would come to believe that science would come to the rescue or that renewable energy would solve the energy crisis, thus further delaying the realization that infinite growth isn’t possible and life as we once knew would become impossible.
But other future historians would view the past through different lenses. They might see that with the resourcefulness and daring of humankind, a different approach would emerge to solve the dilemma of how to live on earth in a sustainable way.
They would document that new groups would form, using lessons learned from our great religions. A new environmental language and litany would be created, and the techniques of the information age would spread the word. Movies would be made and school children would be taught the dogma of environmentalism. Universities would graduate bright young minds full of optimism and hope that their beliefs would prevail. Non-profits would be created informing the public and drawing in young minds — and new parishioners.
Partnerships and allegiances would create associations with environmental organizations never seen before. Politicians would join with developers, architects, land speculators, and environmental groups to create new rules for living. They would apply engineering to lifestyles, create new ways to profit, and instill the belief we could build our way out of an overpopulated earth.
We would chant “density will save us” and we would grow our way to salvation selling gentrification and growth by building new dense cities where the lower classes would be housed so that the wealthy could create life in separate less crowded spaces where they could live in comfort and move about with freedom.
We would save ourselves and become “Great Green Cities.” We would be Futurewise! And in a true entrepreneurial spirit we would save the planet, create jobs and make a profit while doing it.