For the privileged few, there’s nothing more carefree than driving along on a big, empty, wide open highway. You aim for the horizon and you’re not too worried about whether you get there or not. Roll down the window, let the breeze blow through your hair and relax as all your worries disappear.
Relax until the dashboard displays a light that you’ve never seen before. It can’t be, it’s the big red Low Fuel warning light. It pulsates steadily. Dimming a little as the sun shines on it then brightening as the dashboard re-enters the shade. With it, somehow the horizon becomes much less inviting and a petrol station, any petrol station, would be gratefully discovered. The petrol station, an oasis from which to fill the car’s tank and perhaps add a bit more to your own tank, your stomach. But the map display on the dashboard shows you that the closest petrol station is a few hundred kilometres away. Your drive is no longer worry free.
While the above is a simple little bit of fiction, it is analogous to humans on Earth. We’re driving along a technological and cultural highway. But where the car in the story consumes the same rate of petrol, humans are consuming more fuel and faster. Each and every day. There are more humans. And each of them want more and better services. We can change our story to reflect this. The change is that once the Low Fuel Warning light appears then you accelerate, which of course burns fuel at a greater rate. But this higher rate doesn’t get you any greater a chance of reaching the petrol station.
One option is to lighten the load in the car. This will allow the driver to go further, would it be far enough? An analogy to this is reflected by the recent UN report stating that over 1 million species are nearing extinction due to humankind. That’s one eighth of the total. Without those creatures then there’s more energy available for humans. Ever wonder what the Earth will be like once those creatures are gone? Ever wonder if driving a car aimlessly down a highway is truly carefree?