It can’t go on, you know – it really can’t. I work 18 hours a week, and still I produce nothing physical of any actual value. I buy my food from a shop, have no idea where it comes from and am incapable of making it for myself. For my day-to-day existence I rely on energy generated halfway across a country, by machines I barely understand, transmitted through wires as thick and temporary as my thumb.
I consume coffee and wine and sugar and think that it is perfectly natural to fly to another country twice a year. My clothes are made from hydrocarbons while the appliances in my house last five years if I am lucky, and must then be tossed away as nobody can be bothered to repair them.
A vast chunk of my life is “electronic”, existing only as long as the hard disks and CDs that support it, which is not very long at all. I cannot trap an animal, or preserve fruit, or even repair my own shoes but I think of myself as “educated” and “useful” when all I really do is convert raw materials from a distant source to a constant stream of waste and noise.
We are living in a golden age and it’s already starting to unravel. We have spent our inheritance – that fantastic gift of fossil fuels, ready-made energy with which we have build a vast and ever-expanding and all-consuming civilisation. Ecosystems have been pushed past their limits like springs stretched too far; soil and water and air have been depleted and degraded to a degree never before seen; people have exploded across the surface of this world as if it will expand like a balloon to accommodate them forever.
Well it won’t, and we’re not as smart as we think we are. Great civilisations have fallen in the past – the Romans, the Mayans – and the current one will go the same way. It’s a toss-up whether we get taken out by resource depletion, or climate change, or war, or disease, but either way we are clocking in our timecard. Unless we make radical changes to the way we behave, to the economic systems that demands permanent growth in order to survive, and to the privileged idiots who run the whole circus, we are sliding all the way down.
And after we have slid just a little, there will be no return. Every resource will become valuable, every neighbour will become an enemy and every horrendous weapon will be used. There will be no magical last-minute technological fix to pull 6 billion arses out of the fire. Unless we do something now – and we all know that we won’t – then it’s simply time to stack the chairs on the tables, turn out the lights and say goodbye to several hundred years, and several thousand terrabytes, of mostly crap.