Since we ticked over into 2020, every time I switch on the news or get a notification on my phone I can hear the unshod hooves of the four horsemen of the apocalypse getting louder.
With the world in a downward spiral, highlighted by climate change, super viruses, plagues, conflicts and economic decline, it’s really difficult to foresee what the future holds and whether we’ll come out on the other side.
Forecasting lifestyles, attitudes, social structures or population sizes is a near impossibility as the world around us is in a state of flux that we have not seen before with the erosion of trends, stereotypes and everything we perceived as being normal.
Getting to the end of this century is going to take a lot of work. The future will rest on advancing technologies and our ability to control them. Governments will be put under more pressure than ever before as populations grow, and they’ll have to figure out how to prevent cities from becoming dystopias.
Are there just too many humans?
In the 1970s the world’s population was about 3.5 billion. Today that figure sits around 7.6 billion, and most academics agree that there’ll be 9 billion humans on earth in 2050. That’s a lot.
And therein lies Earth’s biggest problem. There are too many humans and we’ve collectively altered and ravaged the planet we call home. We have placed unsustainable stresses on our ecosystems and every day we are becoming more demanding of finite resources.
This is the world mankind has created: an unsustainable system that’s full of infinite possibilities on a planet where everything is finite.
This is further complicated by the fact that man, as a species, has become so powerful and is in full control of the planet’s future.
Our unabated progress as a species prevents us from seeing that our actions are triggering things like climate change and the spread of contagion and if we initiate a planetary state shift it could easily lead to mass extinction.
The one constant is that humanity’s biggest strength is its ability to adapt. But man’s progress cannot continue like this. It’s not sustainable. Our planet simply cannot handle it. Will we continue to adapt to the harsh realities we’re creating, or will we dial it back and try to reverse the damage we’ve done?
Given mankind’s track record and the growing population, I suspect it’ll be the former. We will continue exploiting earth’s finite resources, and when the polar caps melt, seas rise and temperatures keep escalating, man will adapt using technology.
The only thing that will alter this course we’re on is a planetary reboot. This will more than likely be driven by a super virus or major weather event. When that happens, human population will drop which will have a devastating impact on global markets, as witnessed by what Covid-19 is doing, but will probably have a positive effect on the state of our planet.