Future Of the World
dont know about you, but Im not very excited about this millennium
thing. After all, when in my little corner of the world it becomes the
year 2000, it will be 5760 (to the Jews), 1420 (to the Muslims), the 16th
year in the 78th cycle in the Chinese calendar, 6712 in the Julian calendar,
2525 to the Jains, and to the Hindus merely another turn of the cycle
of the Age of Kali.
Im resisting the thought that something apocalyptic is going to
happenespecially since, technically, the year 2000 is the last year
of the 20th and not the first year of the 21st, and in geologic time,
dates are completely meaningless. But the hoopla surrounding this event
does offer us the sobering thought that, while the Earth still has a few
billion years still left to run, the next few decades (by whatever calendar
you choose to count) will be crucial to the survival of many of the Earths
speciesincluding us. So, Satya is using Y2K as an opportunity to
reflect quite literally on where we are, examine our priorities and suggest
ways forward, and look at the bigger picture and speculate on what needs
to be done.
Nowhere, surely, is this need for reexamination more pressing than in
our relationship with the natural world and the other creatures who share
it with us. We may hope the nations will beat their swords into plowshares
and that a greater prosperity will fall upon us all. We may hope that
human population growth levels off, thereby creating a better quality
of life for all the dispossessed and hungry. We may, indeed, hope to live
longer and healthier lives, and that the diseases that so curtailed human
happiness in the 20th centurypolio, cholera, AIDS, cancer, heart
diseaseare finally defeated.
But none of these concerns can be divorced from the one central concern
that must dominate our thinking in the next century: the state of the
planet. All other issues, vital though they may be, must be subsidiary
to this central concern, if only because this concern has such a huge
impact on all of them. There will be no peace among nations until the
finite resources of this planet are equitably divided. There will be no
greater prosperity for all of us unless the outdated economic models of
unfettered growth and expansion are replaced with sustainable models of
economic equilibrium, efficiency, and systemic holism.
Satya asked people from the worlds of environmentalism and animal
advocacy to speculate on whats going to happen in the next 20 years.
Some folks are optimistic, some are not; some offer concrete proposals,
others rallying calls. All know that its up to us. Philip Goff and
Joanna Underwood examine the future of transportation and use of resources,
while Dean Smith and Niall Shanks explore the future of the use of animals
in science. David Kidd provides an inspirational and practical guide to
how we might solve global warming, while Samantha Knowlden reveals the
hidden nonhuman victims of Hurricane Floyd. There are calls to action
to help animals from Ingrid Newkirk, Kim Stallwood, and many others; as
well as pleas for social and environmental justice from Emily Chan and
Carlos Padilla. Ronnie Cummins takes genetic engineering to task, while
Kimberly Lucci questions our need for so much stuff.
We hope these voices stir fire in the belly and thought in the mind. Some
of what you read may depress you, some will give you hope. I imagine the
next 20 years will be an (increasingly warm) stew of both. Id have
to say Im somewhat pessimistic. But I dont want to bewail
the future, because thats the easy way out and theres something
comforting and self-serving about such emotional paralysis. Lets
just leave it as this: The next century offers a chance to start again,
to make every aspect of our life in the 21st century sustainable, renewable,
and re-creative. I think thats something worth pursuingno
matter what century or millennium were in.
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