I like your optimism, Sue. I really do. Your vision is do-able, but experience points in another direction. It could be good, but it won’t be good. It will, for most, be very, very bad. Especially for those who hope for the best.
A world without war is possible; without poverty and without high rates of maternal and infant death etc. A world in which people can live in habitable and affordable homes.
Even today, it’s within the bounds of possibility. The technologies already exist.
But the ideology is set dead against it.
Because the world as it currently exists is organised and run by a small elite of individuals and groups with narrow selfish interests around controlling essential assets, fomenting wars to set otherwise peacable people against each other; and to promote - at colossal profits - the industrialisation of war.
They are not going to give up this process, which is nearing its climax: a process and a plan through which they have secured their positions, and have nothing to gain by acting otherwise.
The masses are subdued with consumerism, they like it; even though like cocaine or heroin or alcohol, it’s bad for people; except me. I’m exceptional!
Some may live in cool towers amidst serene lagoons and luxuriant forests. As some currently do. But the majority will fight for crumbs. Anything else, democracy, religion, is clutching at straws. The world isn’t like that. The modern slogan is “No, life isn’t fair. Suck it up.”
Ah, good point. Mind you by then we’ll be much better at monitoring moisture levels and recycling the excess. Sticky fingers? By then no problem - we’ll just dip them into the negative ion machine and all will be whisked away. That depends of course that you get sticky fingers on days when there’s power.
Let me tell you a bit more about our lives here in south west France in 2050. Over the last thirty years the land around us has changed dramatically. The great open fields of maize, rape seed and winter wheat, with one man in the cab of a machine the size of a house spraying noxious chemicals, have disappeared. The land has returned to subsistence farming and we have (of necessity) learnt much from the biodynamic and permaculture movements. People grow what they need for themselves and no more. Farmers no longer transport huge hoppers of grain to feed intensively farmed ducks, chickens and pigs. All of that is long gone. And many would say for the better.
This means that swathes of farmland are reverting to wilderness. The first to reappear are the scrubby bushes found in hedgerows, brambles, nettles, self-seeded poplars, wild cornus and elderflower. Scientists have been saying for some time that this re-greening of farmland in parts of the world like France and the Great Plains of America has done much to keep the temperature a degree or so lower than the projections made in the 2030s had led us to expect.
Hardly anyone talks about “weeds” this days. Plants are plants. Most, if not all, useful for bringing variety to our diets. Extractions and dried plants are stored for herbal remedies. Young dandelions are added to salads, nettles go to make soup, self-seeded sunflower heads are collected and stored. Few, if any of the cultivated crops survive. Hybrids, most were sterile and disappeared after a year or two. Only rapeseed persists – throwing a yellow blanket over road verges in the spring.
And with the re-greening of the fields around us, the wildlife has returned in abundance. Any hunting now is done for the pot – and not much of that – it’s too costly. We see deer, wild pigs, hares, rabbits (of course). Coypu continue to be a problem and although they are reputed to be edible we cannot bring ourselves to try them. Periodically the local pest controller sets traps in the streams and small etangs round here to keep their numbers down.
And, of course, with the higher temperatures there is more variety in what we can grow and the productive part of the year lasts longer. We have learnt to grow and manage small tea bushes. Our coffee is still a bit rough. Getting hold of good beans is a problem. Refugees from Africa will often carry exotic seeds and to use them to trade for food and lodging. It has become a culinary adventure – like the first potatoes coming to Europe.
I’m loving your writing Sue but 30 years from now I’ll be in my mid eighties and probably heading back to uk to live in a granny annexe at one of my daughters homes…
My partner resident in uk is a lot older than me…we’re not married so I foresee problems of us never being able to live in France together on a permanent basis…6 months of the year maybe…or sans papers…who knows…
At some point I will inherit from my mom and at the minute I think I will probably buy back in the uk…
I don’t feel that 30 years will bring about any drastic changes but loving your writing nonetheless…
Thanks Helen, I hope you are right. Thirty years from now I will be 102 and hope to be here watching what mankind is up to - both good and bad.
There was a good programme on TV last night which I only briefly caught by Chris Packham - worth trying to track down if you didn’t see it.
I think the challenge is we’re facing a “perfect storm” of climate change / oil running out / fresh water running out / on-going population increase / politicans in ALL countries being self-serving (as Greta said at Davos yesterday) and whilst life may not be as Armagenddonish as some here would like it to be (since there is more than a hint of relish in the comments) I do think there will be changes. But then there’s also so much good stuff waiting in the wings and I think there are parts of the world like rural France that are better equipped than many to survive well. France can be self-sufficient in food and water. The climate in France will gradually move from temperate to more tropical (having lived in Brazil I know that ain’t bad!) and population density starts at a low level, so there’s room for more. I find it very easy to visualise what my life here might be like and I believe it will be far from ghastly!
And all of my prognostications are based on what is already happening in the world, as Stella said above about her family in South Africa having to manage power loss.
So to resume …
the nearest hospital these days is in Bordeaux, over 100 kilometers away - an almost impossible journey except for the very wealthy. So, apart from the vacvans that travel throughout Europe trying to protect populations from the major tropical diseases, we have become self-sufficient (as much as we can) in our need for healthcare.
Setting broken bones is no problem. We have good local chiropracters and osteopaths who know just what to do and the 3D printer produces beautiful casts, that fit perfectly to the individual body.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the “big” diseases that provided the drug companies with so much of their wealth during the last century and the first part of this are in retreat. Cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes - all lifestyle related - have little place in our lives now and are kept at bay by those with ancient skills that again are so relevant in our simpler world. The acupuncturist from Villeneuve (now well over 100) travels the region in his horse-drawn caravan, laden with Chinese herbal remedies and (like the vacvans) stops for one, two days in village squares where his patients come to him.
Every house has its own potager - long gone are the days of strimming and mowing and fine lawns. Tropical vines carrying exotic beans and cucumbers scramble up flimsy pergolas and trellises made from willow saplings alongside cœur de bœuf tomatoes. Bok choy and tat soi nestle between rows of mâche and spinach. Herbs are turned to at the first sign of a sniffle or aching joints at the end of the day and lemons, vinegar and garlic are as much remedies as tasty additions to a meal.
Another good point. Not sure I’d like to be ill and travelling to Bordeaux by bike or boat though. In the 70s when I lived in Brazil I’d been to a deserted beach in Bahia. driving back to my hotel I was flaged down by two women who led me to a primative settlement where there was a young couple with a very sick baby. I drove them to the nearest hospital but I’m not sure the baby even lived through the car journey. I hope it did.