As a science fiction writer I can’t help but wonder where human society is heading, including the exciting, the good and the not so good. Every year brings wondrous advances in science and technology of all kinds. There are new and improved gadgets and gizmos for every part of our lives. However, with that is the idea that somehow we must have the latest. People will queue for days to get the latest iphone, which generally, let’s face, is much like the previous iphone. Built in obsolescence is accepted in a way that would have been unimaginable a couple of generations ago. Our willingness to replace and throw away things that are in perfectly good working order would have appalled our grandparents.
And then all those new shiny toys come in acres of packaging much of which, it seems, is still not recyclable – why? We live on a world of finite resources with an ever expanding population. So surely common sense dictates that, at the very least, if we are going to continue to be a society of ever increasing consumption we should make sure every last bit of it can be recycled.
I know in many of my blogs I put forward the view that I believe human beings, given sufficient will, are capable of solving just about any problem thrown at us, but at times we do like to make it difficult for ourselves. As I write heads of nations are meeting to discuss global warming and the control of greenhouse emissions (how many times have they met? And how little progress do they seem to make?). It seems to me that we all agree there is a problem but somehow we want solving it to be someone else’s responsibility. Forgetting that we all live on the same planet, so we are all going to suffer in the long run.
Well, if we ever get to a meaningful agreement to tackle climate change (and before it’s too late) I would add to the discussions dealing with the colossal mountains of waste and rubbish for much the same reasons. How long can we go on doing what we’re doing before we start to run out of some of those resources we take for granted. Or we take up so much precious land with our discarded waste simply because as a species we are too lazy to sort it. Or we poison our seas with it, destroying millions of birds, fish, turtles and other marine life with discarded plastic. I know more is being done to recycle waste and make more of it is recyclable, but it still seems to be far too little by far too few people.
Sometimes I wonder why we care so little about this world that we live in and that must continue sustain us all. The science fiction writer me can see a future where those vast heaps of rubbish will become a valuable source of materials and we will have robots mining them. And the generations who invent those robots will wonder how our generation could be so dismissive and uncaring with their future.
As always comments and suggestions are welcome.