What sparked this week’s blog was a program I watched recently. It emerged that if we keep cutting down the Amazon rainforest at the current rate it will be all gone in two hundred years. It seems the ‘west’ still has a desire for those rainforest hardwoods such as mahogany and the indigenous people have few sources of income other than illegal logging. In the country concerned in this program (it doesn’t matter which) 90% of all the logging is illegal. So the bottom line is, even if we slow down, most will be gone in what, four, five hundred years at best? Knowing us we’ll keep a small part as a ‘reserve’ to remind us of what we’ve lost.
I know it is easy sitting in the comfort of the UK, in my case, to be concerned about this when the people who live there are struggling to provide the basics for themselves. And it’s not just the Amazon of course, it’s the elephants of Africa, Tigers in India, Polar Bears etc. I could go on and I’m sure if you’re reading this you can think of many others. The reasons why these animals and habitats are in danger may vary, but the common factor is us humans. I for one would like to think that my children’s, children’s, children could grow up still knowing that these animals exist in the wild, that there still is rainforest. Not just seeing them, or it, on some old footage narrated by David Attenborough.
What has this got to do with science fiction? In my book ‘Project Noah’ in response to the certain knowledge that civilisation is going to break down sometime in the 22nd century they set out to take tens, hundreds of thousands, eventually even millions of people to the stars. How likely this is I don’t know, it is fiction. But if we started to look beyond the earth again, with a view to settling the rest of the solar system and then planets around other stars, perhaps we might appreciate what we have on earth a little more. You know what it’s like, as a kid home is boring and you can’t wait to get away. But when you’re grown up and you’ve left you appreciate what you had and look forward to the visits back. It will always be home. There are also untold resources out there. I’m not suggesting we make a waste site of the Moon or Mars, but it might mean we can stop plundering the earth until there’s nothing left.
I am a science fiction writer and I am also a scientist. Both these give me untold optimism about what the human race is capable of if we put our collective minds to something. I’m sure we will find ways to reduce our population eventually, even if that means millions of us leaving the planet (which, at some point I’m convinced we will). I’m also certain that we can resolve the environmental issues that face the world, again if we put our minds to it. What does worry me is what state the planet will be in by the time we take decisive action and how many irreplaceable species will have been lost forever.
As always I welcome views and opinions.