And so starts the silly season, 2023, as if the world was already not silly enough with the incapacity of humankind to learn from lessons given. This will be our demise. And it will come a lot faster than many think.
Observe any herd, flock or group of animals, and particularly the mothers teaching their Young, and you will see that the youngsters get one lesson at how to catch prey, how to move as a group, how to search for food, how to forage for water. If they are mucking about and not paying attention, they will die.
Now observe a group of young humans at school. A few of them will be paying attention, depending on the country, fewer in the western world, more in Africa, Asia and perhaps Latin America. These will be the ones who are bullied. The rest will muddle through, not learning much and not wanting to learn. The bullied few will be the ones who get the diminishing number of jobs available, the others will live with their parents indefinitely. Unemployed, unemployable as the real world moves on from AI platform to AI app, relegating today to yesterday sooner than tomorrow.
And all the while automation and Artificial Intelligence will take the work market to the slaughtethouse on a daily basis. The result will be a demotivated and demoralised population with nothing to do, less money to pay for social services, fewer resources for security (policing), cutbacks in spending involving police in super squadrons and not on the beat, a more violent society as marginalised populations, without any hope of a job, decide to take matters into their own hands and take from society what society never gave them.
The result will be a social collapse where the elderly will be the first to fall prey to the youth-hunters or else, as the only alternative, draconian societies where citizens are chipped at birth and awarded citizenship points, which will be registered and monitored and which with facial recognition technology will determine who gets which level of accommodation, who gets their kids into a good school, who gets good healthcare treatment, who gets onto a train and which type of seat they get, and so on.
With fewer people working, there are three alternatives to deal with less income from taxation. One is to borrow more but until what point? The other is to tax the machines which are taking our jobs. The third is to reduce public services to a very basic level and live in societies where the rich have and the poor have not, and this is becoming increasingly visible, even today. Watch the private insurance companies taking over National Health Systems.
Covid-19 has provided us with a classic example underlying how little the human being learns, indeed its utter incapacity to learn anything at all. Three years after the virus appeared, there was a collective and audible sigh of relief when the WHO declared that the pandemic was officially over. “Thank Christ for that!” Out of the window went the masks, the social protection measures, the sanitiser (take a look around you, where have they gone?), now there appear like mushrooms in the media articles about the negative aspects of not only distance working, but hybrid working. Back to work, back to before, as if Covid-19 had disappeared. Watch this space. And if it isn’t Covid, it will be Nipah (Google it up if you want a fright, sorry to spoil your day) or something worse lurking in the Amazon. Or Central Africa. Or Indonesia. One more tree could spell utter catastrophe on a planetary scale.
So we can conclude from the Covid episode that once again, we (collectively) have learnt nothing at all. We are as vulnerable now as we were three and a half years ago.
We can go on and on and on. Drugs use continues to be a social scourge and continues to fuel crimes around the world in practically every city, with the authorities rendered helpless, it seems, due to factors which are difficult to understand. Is it that there is some kind of agreement between the drugs barons and those controlling the police? Is it that there is so much money involved that when one trafficker disappears, another pops up to take his place? Whatever the case, the problem continues and is getting worse, with more harmful drugs entering the market all the time and the authorities always three steps behind. We are getting to the point where the policy seems increasingly to favour the decriminalisation of drug use, and so an acceptance of an already existing evil as a reality, like a disease to live with. How many grandmothers will be kicked to death for their pensions as a result?
We can speak about conflict and the impotence of the UNO to do anything about it, and let nobody with roofs of glass cast stones, please. No weapons, no wars. Why are drugs circulating, why are weapons circulating? Where is the international regulatory body with clout? We live in a world where there does not exist, in fact, a regulatory body with power to impose international law. Or, better, to solve issues and manage crises multilaterally before the tinder blows up into a fire.
Worse, global warming and pollution. Two separate issues but two burning issues which will explode in our faces sooner than we think. We have turned our seas into a gigantic trash heap, meaning that it is today dangerous to consume certain species of sea fish, which is the measure of how serious plastic and microplastic pollution has become.
And the latest indicators reveal that global warming is worsening exponentially, which is only obvious. Think about it. Temperatures rise and fall globally in a more or less constant cycle (see Milankovic Theories) in line with the weather cycles caused by the Earth’s tilt, which is describing an arc that is constant in linearity and time. However, human activity since the Industrial Revolution has poured so many GEGs (Greenhouse Effect Gases) into the atmosphere that a natural phenomenon has been accelerated, and to the point where a chain reaction has broken out. As temperatures rise, the polar ice caps melt and methane gas (a very damaging GEG) held under the ice and in the frozen tundra, is released, making the cycle of events much worse and much faster than anyone ever imagined.
Today, we have one thing to do, urgently: prepare for coastal flooding, which again, nobody has even started to consider.
And finally, water, that basic commodity which dictates whether we live or perish. The recent news that several US States have agreed to consume less water of the River Colorado, which evidence shows is running alarming close to dry, comes as no surprise. Many of the world’s main cities have their road arteries running along ancient rivers, some streets having the same name as the river itself. Some of the world’s largest lakes have dried up or are in the process of doing so. Water wars will come faster than we imagine today.
So let the silly season start. I predict there will be stories about large fish in ponds biting the legs off children, stories about monsters in woods, stories about ghosts in forests, while, blinded by the conflict in Ukraine, obfuscated by one-sided unilateral Russophobic nonsense stories factory-produced in a collective display of sheer, utter idiocy devoid of any context at all, global issues behind the scenes loom dark and sinister, goading us all to pull together and get serious. Given that Humankind is incapable of learning lessons, I predict the darkest of scenarios for our species as we sit, blind and shrugging, looking the other way, fascinated by nonsense stories.
Nature will do the rest, cleanse this planet of Homo sapiens sapiens, the wise, wise hominoid, which will disappear without so much as a squeak. I can already hear the Planet cheering. And unless we get real, it will happen much sooner than we may think.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be contacted at [email protected]
Over the past week (September 17-23), Russian troops carried out 12 strikes with the use of long-range precision weapons and drones targeting army bases of the Armed Forces of Ukraine