Our outlook as a species is… less than stellar, and the sad truth is that there is little we can do.
Despite, or in some cases, because of our best efforts, fascism is on the rise. The top .1% has almost 200 times the money of the bottom 90% and the climate crisis is quickly nearing the tipping point at which reversing its effects will be impossible.
These are things we need to deal with immediately; unfortunately, it’s looking like we will do nothing until it is far too late.
The only way we can minimize the effects of these deeply rooted, systemic problems is through shaking that sense of comfortability, which isn’t easy. Educating yourself about issues is rarely comfortable and often depressing, but it’s something we need to do.
If we keep picking comfort in the short term over our long term survival and equality, it will very soon be too late to do anything at all.
Europe and the Americas are electing increasingly nationalistic, conservative, authoritarian candidates. Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom is a racist, sexist, homophobic and nationalistic leader. However, since he maintains the perceived norm, he and the Conservative Party swept the recent UK election.
Candidates like Johnson and Trump ensure a financial status quo. For many this is comfortable.
Systemic problems like these pose an existential threat to our health, happiness and freedoms, but most people do little to combat these issues. This happens for a myriad of reasons, but the biggest is a sense of complacency.
When faced with the day-to-day grind, with more immediate problems like paying for rent, food and basic necessities, more abstract problems are harder to grasp.
These concepts are nebulous: the climate crisis is an existential threat to our survival as a species, and while the evidence is overwhelming, it isn’t something that directly affects most of us, rendering it is easy to ignore.
While natural disasters are worsening, one only needs to look at the rise of wildfires worldwide or the heat waves sweeping the world to see that. But it is still abstract, immaterial and harder for many people to conceptualize.
Income inequality is a similarly nebulous idea. And it is equally hard to get people to mobilize against it.
The sad truth is that when something isn’t immediately present in our lives, but instead exists for us purely in the abstract, it’s difficult for many people to care about.
Our standards of living could soon plummet. Recently, the first self-driven truck made a 41-hour cross-country trip to deliver groceries. This may seem like a technological curiosity—a step into the future—but it carries with it some dark implications.
Self-driving cars may replace most, if not all driving jobs. Driving is one of the biggest jobs in this country. The average driver makes around $55,000 a year, and there are roughly 2.7 million drivers employed in the U.S. This means around $148 billion in paid jobs could disappear from drivers with this change.
The question is whether or not these funds will be hoarded by the business owners or redistributed among the people who once generated that income through policy like a universal basic income or a program to retrain and rehire these people.
The way we are going it will be taken by the wealthy.
Although new technology-driven jobs are popping up, most of these require extensive specialized education and experience in programming, not something that most truck drivers have.
We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security just because these problems are still on the horizon. They are far closer than they appear. It’s looking like by the time that we finally decide to fix them, it will be too late.