One of the hardest questions for someone like me is “what are you thinking about?”. It’s a benign enough question, but nearly impossible to answer, and I’m sure no one that has ever asked me truly cares to stick around long enough to hear a complete answer…or really, any answer longer than “nuthin.” I suppose I could point the inquirer to my “drafts” section of this web-log, where he or she would find hundreds of unfinished missives on a variety of subjects, languishing there because I just could not devote the time to flesh them out properly. I try to avoid “stream of consciousness” posts, but I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and just get some stuff out of my head and into the cloud. If you are still here, God bless you.
Let me preface this by assuring the reader that I am not complaining. As far as life on this planet is concerned, I am well aware that I live better than 99% of it’s inhabitants. It’s 90 degrees outside and I’m wearing socks, I’m still a bit full from last night’s dinner, the bills are paid and I have enough left to hit the Redbox if the mood strikes me. In the hierarchy of pain and suffering, I am well positioned. My comfort doesn’t prevent me from thinking about and indeed worrying about stuff…
What it will take for Americans to realize that our lifestyle, in its current form, is unsustainable? “Our lifestyle” is vague and broad and I apologize, but most of us take quite a bit for granted, and I’m wondering how much longer we can afford to do so. Food. Something most of us have known no shortage of in our lives. I’ve said this here before, but my generation was probably the first on this planet’s history that didn’t have to think about where the next meal would come from. No need to can food for a long winter. No need to build a fire to cook. Certainly no need to grow any fruits or vegetables…I can eat relatively fresh apples and bananas and corn in January. Thats both awesome and terrible. If you are someone that fears a future dependency on Big Oil, let me assuage your fears…The entities that control our food supply will rule in the future. The earth’s population is forecast to reach over 8 billion in the coming decade. They will need to eat. Using our precious soil to grow food to fuel our automobiles is going to look like a stupid idea to our great grand-children.
Water. We have already waged war for oil, the wars in the future will be for potable water. If it’s true that all of the earth’s water is all there has ever been, and all there is ever going to be, it seems wise to learn to safeguard it and for heaven’s sake, don’t let it become a private enterprise. OOOPS. The idea that water isn’t part of the commons eludes me, sorry.
Housing. We haz it. Acre after acre of farmland has been sacrificed to make room for row after row of cookie cutter housing tracts, and hardly any of those houses are less than 1500 sq ft. Many are 2000 plus. Most will be occupied by four people or less. I think that will change. It’s going to cost more and more to heat and cool those homes, if the resources to do so even exist. This is one challenge I am actually hopeful about…I think we will see a return to multi-generational households, and we may even see a future where homes are retro-fitted to support more than a single family. This will allow us to experience less isolation and more communal endeavors. Possibly.
Basically, it is going to cost more, a lot more, to maintain the standard of living we currently enjoy. Wages are likely to stay stagnant or even decline, as leverage for working people to band together to bargain with employers declines or flat out disappears. Couple that with increased competition for whatever resources remain….well, a change is going to come.
I’ll admit that it is difficult to remain optimistic. We’ll need strong leaders with vision and courage, and the best and brightest recoil from the mere thought of the ridiculous public scrutiny we heap upon our elected officials. We will need armies of engineers and scientists, free from political pressure and given the status that movie stars and ball-players enjoy. We’ll need religious leaders to call out those in the churches who seek only to enrich themselves. But most of all, we’ll need to get past our own fears and begin to talk with one another. I think any progress will start from there.
So, thats a fraction of what I was thinking about when you asked.
What are YOU thinking about?