In an age where we have so many on-demand services available, we completely forget where we came from. We press a switch to turn on an electric light, turn on the tap to have water flowing and click on a link to get new content served. Everything happens to a level of blind entitlement. In this process, we often forget that humankind used to live without electricity just a little over 100 years ago, we used to walk several miles to fill water buckets and there was no Internet just (approximately) 30 years ago!
This is probably why a severe drought in Cape Town, South Africa and subsequent water restrictions approaching Day Zero seem quite unrealistic. How can it happen in a modern city of a modern world, we ask. But as far as we can tell, nobody has been able to beat the laws of Physics so far and the more fresh water we send into our sewerages, the sooner we should get ourselves prepared to face the same disaster.
This is time we should think seriously about the privileges we enjoy today. While humans have proved themselves quite good at adapting in different conditions, it is always difficult to adapt to a significantly downgraded scenario as compared to the other way around. Imagine if we or our children would be able to carry water buckets from a river or pond a few kilometers away. If not, today is still the second best time to conserve water and other natural resources.
It will sound like philosophy but we actually do not need most of the stuff we’re consuming these days. There is an interesting dialogue between the scientist Dr. Holloway and the android David in the movie Prometheus as follows
Holloway: You think we wasted our time coming here, don’t you?
David: Your question depends on me understanding what you hoped to achieve by coming here.
Holloway: What we hoped to achieve was to meet our makers. Get answers. Why they even made us in the first place.
David: Why do you think your people made me?
Holloway: We made you because we could.
David: Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?
In both societal and individual lives, we do many things because we can. It is that simple. What happens next is that the luxury of one generation becomes a necessity for the next as in the electricity, water and Internet examples above. Even the wireless 5G network is here because we could upgrade 4G. It will spawn an unprecedented number of astonishing applications without which our children will not be able to imagine their lives.
The truth is that it is difficult to think much with money consistently entering into the bank accounts. Everyone thinks that others have a clue of where they are going but nobody has. The other truth is that almost anything over the basic hunter gatherer lifestyle is dangerous for the planet. I think that we will try to turn back but that will be too late.