In 1988, Kurt Vonnegut – amongst others – was asked to give advice to the people of 2088.
The full letter can be read over at (the excellent and recommended blog) Letters of Note. The Big Bad Blog, however, will concentrate on the short list of things Mr. Vonnegut supplied. Things that people ought to be doing to ensure that humankind can continue to survive on this little ball of rock flying around in space:
- Reduce and stabilize your population.
- Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.
- Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.
- Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you’re at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.
- Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.
- Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.
- And so on. Or else.
Not a bad list, I think. And now that we’re twenty-five (and a bit) years on, how are we doing?
Pretty miserably, it would seem.
Population? Not reduced.
Air, water, soil? Still being poisoned.
Our kids? Not (generally) learning to be any better than we are.
And we still seem to be assuming that future generations will get along fine, no matter what we do.
The one thing that we seem to have done?
We have stopped thinking that science can fix anything, given sufficient funding. In fact, many legislators have stopped believing in science. Others have stopped believing that the problems exist, and think that attempting to discredit science will make the facts change.
In short, we would be better off if we were still where Mr. Vonnegut believed we were in 1988.