Like many of my generation I grew up on a diet of American sci-fi TV, and believed that the future would see humanity living in a post-scarcity world, and exploring the far reaches of outer space. A contrasting TV staple from my youth was ‘Our World’ on a Sunday evening (with the classic Jean Michel Jarre synthpop intro) which showed documentaries about the natural world, sometimes with a focus on mankind’s effect on the environment.
Moving into my teens and twenties I had a growing awareness of the damage that humanity was inflicting on the planet; but to me it was other people causing the damage in other places - New Zealand was fine, and our lifestyles here were benign and righteous (we were nuclear free after all…).
I did my first real deep-dive into apocalyptic disaster porn when I went back to university in my mid-thirties to study landscape architecture. Jared Diamond’s ‘Collapse’ was a sobering wake-up call, as was the Meadows et al’s ‘Limits to Growth’. I’ve come to realise that personal jet-packs probably won’t be part of my future, and I’ll admit to being a bit bummed about that. And rather than living in a post-scarcity world, I’d imagine that this generation’s great-grandchildren will most probably live a lifestyle more akin to our great-grandparents as the effects of climate change and resource depletion bite.
It seems that humanity is on a dangerous trajectory, and there is a very bumpy road directly ahead of us. Rather than fixating on the rising crescendo of disaster noise that I see around me, my efforts here focus on how we can create a lifestyle and mindset that is better prepared for the vicissitudes ahead. Who knows, the apocalypse might even be fun!