Reflection on Abundance: The Future Is Brighter Than You Think

If I keep up this pattern of only posting about my Ethics class I’ll practically have practically to change the title and theme of this blog (Not that I even have a very strict list of topics I stick to already lol). I can’t deny that the topic of ethics is wildly interesting to me and I tend to get riled up and ready to argue which is one of my favourite moods for writing. It definitely helps that I have been super busy this year and writing for ethics with marks attached has some extra motivation. Well here goes nothing, another rant on ethics and the state of the world. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book, I may not have fully read it either 😉 . This post is 100% readable without having read the book and brings up some interesting thoughts either way.

In the book, the argument is made that we will be able to solve the biggest problems of our society, and so there is no need for pessimism about the future. Do you agree?

No, I do not agree. I think arguing against pessimism is like arguing against the existence of evil or asking why there are bad things in the world. We cannot have all positive or all negative. Things need to be in balance. Being pessimistic is just a way of having our balance out of whack. It is a reminder that something is wrong and things need to be changed. It is a wake up call and neither should we ignore it than we should run screaming.

I understand that he thinks people tend to lean more on the side of worry and pessimism than the positive thinking he advertises but maybe that is a sign that things need to be changed in our culture. Now we can’t overcome our amygdala, but I think it is about time the news stops blasting horrible news day in and day out, only leaving time for interviews with celebrities or little dance breaks between (if you don’t know what I’m talking about just turn on CP24 on a Friday). Or heck, maybe it is time to get off our couches, turn off the news and do something about the state of the world if you are so freaking worried about it. At least that I can agree with him on.

Suppose you were to play devil’s advocate – what might get in the way of society achieving these lofty goals? Citing several examples from the book, explain how the barriers or challenges you think of could hold back progress, or otherwise interfere with creating a world of abundance as described in the book? What do you think it will take for society to surmount those challenges?

I think that plain and simple people and politics will get in the way. I do not just mean government politics either, even office politics. For example, he speaks about how once we eradicate malaria then all these other good things will come out of it. But how exactly do you ensure that you eradicate malaria when, the major barrier, finding the cure has already been done? See it isn’t always as simple as the technology. Even if the right technology exists you need to make sure that it is in the right hands and that people believe in it. They have done studies in Africa and some people still do not believe it is curable. Others are afraid of conventional medicine. This is probably the point where Peter would argue that the internet will change all of that. Give it a few years and suddenly they will have all the access to all the same information we do and will believe us, is what he would argue. But would they? There are still people across North America who do not believe in vaccinations and they have access to the internet. Whose to say that all of Africa having the access to the internet would not just allow the people who do not believe in conventional medicine to share and grow their belief.

Also, Peter argues that all the resources that we claim are scarce, often are not if looked at through the lens of technology as they are only inaccessible. He gives the example of clean water and how all of the oceans water is inaccessible. However, if we come up with a large scale technology to be able to use all the water in the ocean then water is not actually a scarce resource. But I believe this is just dragging out the problem. The population is only bound to grow more at the pattern we are in and eventually even the oceans water will not be enough. Plus, we do not know the unintended consequences of draining that much water from the ocean. See the world is in a fine balance to stay healthy and each time we come up with more creative solutions there are unintended consequences. Take the Hoover Dam. It was built to allow the southern states to have good farm land which would not flood over every few years. The scientists and engineers of the time believed that they understood the water systems and were capable of controlling them. They believed they knew enough. Maybe they knew enough for the short term small picture problem. But in the big picture they disrupted the natural habitat as well as the lives of many fish and animals. Studies are now showing that: “while many dams and reservoirs are built, or expanded, to alleviate droughts and water shortages, they can paradoxically contribute to make them worse.”[1] This is due again to us humans and the weird way our brain works. See once the supply of water increases the demand increases as well, to levels higher than before the dam was built. So if something as simple as a dam can increase the demand for water, imagine if the entire ocean was available.

More work needs to be done to change people’s ingrown beliefs and our cultural beliefs towards abundance. Sure, maybe our amygdala is a bit of a problem with causing us to worry. But I think the rest of our brain deserves some focus with the world problems as well.

[1]      “The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs – Uppsala University, Sweden.” [Online]. Available: https://www.uu.se/en/news-media/press-releases/press-release/?id=4512&typ=pm. [Accessed: 08-Apr-2019].

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