I was born lucky.
“What?”, people who know me could say. “You’re a diagnosed depressive. Your wife and daughter both have chronic illnesses. You hardly have any friends. You work on your own and you don’t really enjoy anything except getting out on a push bike by yourself.”
OK. So I have my fair share of #firstworldproblems. But I’m still lucky.
Lucky to have been born in the 1950s when standards of living, health and life expectancy were taking off like the exciting rockets that a merry band of ex-Nazi slave drivers were designing for the USA.
Lucky to have lived all my life under the umbrella of the National Health Service. Modern dentistry, eh? If we all have to go back to the simple life, I hope that comes along with us.
Lucky to have ridden the Internet wave for 20 odd years. 90% of online activity is as banal as human life gets. But what an enjoyable way to waste time. The remaining 10% is more than enough to keep all the commerce, education, war and spying we do or don’t need ticking over nicely. And it keeps me solvent too.
Talking of being solvent… Materially, I’m unimaginably comfortably off compared with 95% of the world’s existing inhabitants. Admittedly, if I’d been born 15 or 20 years earlier I’d be even better off. Why? Because I’d have retired at the very peak of the pension Ponzi.
It’ll be all downhill for retirees in a few years’ time (i.e. when I should be winding down at work). The looting of the funds is just getting started.
But I’m not terribly annoyed about that. Some you win, some you lose. On balance I’ve won hands down in the lottery of the forces of history. After all, my good fortune has everything to do with the forces that have driven up the world’s human population from 2.5 billion to over 7 billion in my lifetime.
That was a kind of luck too. Humans broke into 500 million years worth of fossilised sunlight and burned through it in a massive 300-year industrial jamboree. The party’s beginning to roll over now. The rich energy deposits are getting depleted. We can no longer ignore the waste side of the equation.
The oceans are heating and dying. Unless we keep industrial infrastructure constantly fed with high intensity energy, huge chunks of it will quickly cease being an asset and turn to waste (at best) or a millstones round the neck of any society trying to rewind to something that can be supported by renewable energy.
How a system as complex as ours is will unravel is anyone’s guess. The Roman empire was a cake stall compared to our 21st century global civilisation. Some of it went up in flames. Other bits still trucked along in their own sweet way 600 years after the empire is popularly reckoned to have collapsed.
So who knows? Assuming my luck holds out, I could go on enjoying the fruits of our unsustainable system many more years. Although it’s getting more touch and go all the time.