Thursday, 18 July, 2024

Is a Blade Runner-esque future inescapable?


Nikhil Shrestha

Take a mental step back and recall your life from a couple of decades ago (apologies for the inconvenience if you can’t relate). Life was simple, huh? While the world was high on all the possibilities of the technological advancements, who would you have imagined just how simpler it could’ve gotten? I can be friends with people abroad through what’s called an “e-mail”? That’s the coolest!
Well, who even is wowed by it anymore? What impressed us to our cores not very long ago, we take it for granted these days. And the cycle is bound to replicate as humanity marches forward into an ever-effortless time ahead. What’s monumental now, will soon devolve into something so bland and boring with its eventual end in the days to come; juxtaposed to life itself. Of course, living should be as simpler as possible, that’s the whole point of civilization. But are the sacrifices “we” are making to achieve this goal worth it?
The world of Blade Runner envisions a dystopian future with ultra-realistic robots, where humanity is so doomed that the Earth is no longer the optimal choice of habitation. Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg and there is much more to it. But the image I’m trying to paint is how our collective intention towards an effortless way of life is damaging our common home, the Earth.
As the human population continues to grow, the demand for practically everything else gets a boost as well. Except, the finite resources at our grasp don’t share the same fate and that’s a major red flag. But can’t that be managed, you ask? With ease, I say while I daydream of unicorns.
All these major corporations, the government, and those shameless bureaucrats have birthed a reality so disappointing, a system so hopeless that all the commoners’ endeavors seem pointless.
Carpool all you want, minimize the use of plastics, recycle shits (literally, and figuratively) how much you want, but at the end of the day, all that doesn’t make a dent towards environmental protection. According to the CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017, just 100 companies in total are liable for 71% of global carbon emission!
Yeah, that’s enough to make even Superman hopeless. Industries are booming at an unanticipated rate, and thus pollution’s thriving more than ever.
Let’s take a look at our neighboring country India’s capital – New Delhi for a second. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and more importantly the second-most polluted city as well.
Most noticeable during the winter seasons, the air there has gotten so bad, so terribly bad, that breathing the Delhi air for a day is approximately equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes. And it’s only getting worse every year. The smog covering up the supposed beauty of the city gives off a major Blade Runner vibe, while additionally playing a part in road accidents.
Now let’s move to our other neighbor China, who is a front-runner in terms of global carbon emissions. With the sheer size of its export market, the country emits the highest proportion of fossil CO2 emissions. A shimmer of hope shines from the fact that between 1990 and 2017, these emissions have gone down in regions like the EU and Russia by 19.5% and 25.8% respectively.
However, this progress is trumped by a similar fact of how the number has gone up by a gargantuan margin on other countries; especially the ones we’re neighbors with. 353.8% in China and 305.1% in India. Yep!
Industrial pollution aside, one other thing we as a species have been reliant upon – the forest, is degrading as well. A major-major portion of the Amazon rainforest was destroyed by a wildfire not so long ago.
However, the embarrassing outcome of this catastrophe was the fact that some of the richest countries in the world came up with a mere $22 million to fight the disaster!
They’re not all to blame in the situation as the Brazilian prime minister’s arrogance towards the whole ordeal is outrageous.
Calling the whole situation “fake” and disapproving of any foreign aid as a product of his rigid patriotism; are you kidding me? Then there’s the more recent chain of bushfires in Australia, which is still going on at the time of this writing, as the government claims it is just “too big to put out”.
All this points to a future where Earth is no longer a viable option for habitation, like in Blade Runner. Though I fear for such future, I do hope the cyberpunk culture and those neon-lighting catches up to the masses.
But don’t lose your hope altogether. Some of the smartest and richest brains on the planet also believe that Earth will eventually be a desolate speck of dust in the cosmos and humanity should look for options elsewhere. Better safe than sorry, right?
Tesla’s CEO and internet’s heartthrob Elon Musk, as well as Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man on the planet, believe in the possibility and have their own vision on how we can achieve it, to name a few.
Off-world terraforming is where humanity’s headed, provided things don’t improve by a considerable level. We have truly come a long-long way from the days of hunting for food using primal tools and weaponry.