7:17 pm. I gather my things as I prepare to head home after a long day of work. As I drive along the Boulevard Mitterrand, I regretfully observe the wastelands of the once vibrant capital of Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan. I check my watch. 7:44 pm. I slightly accelerate and exit the boulevard. I check my watch again. 7:49pm. I speed through the empty streets of the Bingerville municipality, as I finally approach the garage of my apartment building. 7:56 pm. Just in time. Relief fills my heart. Upon entering my apartment, I quickly remove my coat and rush to the window. As I look down from the 7th floor, I see the soldiers patrol the roads. Had I been caught at a red light, I might’ve incurred a penalty for not respecting curfew.
It is Friday April 8th, 2044. The BRICS have achieved considerable power and today 64% of the worlds total GDP can be attributed to them. Several countries and major cities of the 2010s no longer exist. The population is now 9.2 billion. The world suffers from major unemployment and high crime rates. We are largely living in an environmental wasteland.
“What went wrong?” people ask themselves. “How could things have gotten this bad?” What went wrong? I’ll tell you what went wrong. We forsook our ideals. We deserted the well being of our planet, and ultimately gave up on ourselves. What happened is that we abandoned sustainable development for accelerated economic growth.
In a bid to join the ‘superpower club’, BRICS made extensive use of primary resources at their disposal to increase their exports and revenue. Poor farming and grazing practices resulted in the degrading of lands, and the incidence of illegal logging which governments, such as Brazil, were allegedly sanctioning, greatly increased (a practice which is, in today’s world, punishable by death).
Global superpowers of the late 2010s, reluctant to let these rapidly developing nations join the superpower clubs, invested increased time and money into the search for oil wells and the extraction of oil all around the world, putting a heavy strain on our planet. A bill passed by the now disbanded United Nations (as increased competition between member states eventually divided the organisation) in 2019 , stated that increased efforts would be made to reduce oil dependency and turn to more sustainable energy practices. However, the exact opposite happened, and despite the technology being largely sufficient for these sustainable practices to occur, cars today are virtually the same as they were 30 years ago. It wasn’t until about two years ago that the world superpowers realised that their oil resources were reaching their limit, and that the effort to invest in alternative, and sustainable sources of energy would have to truly take off.
But by then, the environmental damage was already done. Global temperatures had risen by 2˚C since the 2010s, and the increase in sea level had led to the disappearances of nations such as Bangladesh, Cape Verde and the Netherlands. Tropical storms and hurricanes are much more frequent than they were back in my teenage years, and are causing even bigger problems.
Unemployment rates and poverty are extremely high as a result of the damages caused by natural disasters, and the planet is having difficulties supporting the 9 billion people which currently reside on it, with damaged lands inhibiting the growth of crops and cattle pasture. Additionally, the mass migration of displaced people from flooded areas to safer countries is causing increased conflicts and crime rates within nations. Death rates are rising yearly due to both hunger and crime. Situations in some countries may be described as anarchic.
In order to control populations, governments have now recently placed curfews on populations, prohibiting them to roam outside between the hours of 8 pm and 6:30 am. Anyone who breaks curfew will be subject to persecution. Life has become increasingly restricted by the degrading environment, and I blame this unfortunate outcome on unsighted, and greedy government officials, who placed their interests above that of the international community, and who’ve essentially traded planet earth for economic development.
Several projects to ‘rehabilitate’ the government are being put into action, however. Governments are aiming to finally abolish gas based transportation models and provide clean transport worldwide, to reforest, provide clean energy and to educate nations in sustainable activities, among other things, all of which are half-century old projects which are just starting to reemerge. Over the past 30 years, I’d say the human civilisation has regressed, if anything.