Past and Future

Reviewing and writing about diving in the 1960's vs. today (See: NIGHT DIVING ), current politico-economic events, and growing evidence of global climatic change have made me more than ever aware of the big questions that exist regarding what we are doing and the future we are creating.

We are the heirs to all the ages. Our wealth of means and opportunity is staggering but our life and personal time remain limited. Increasingly the challenge is to not become distracted by the abundance of choice and to decide what we really want and what is worth spending our time and effort to do well. The alternative of a multi-billion strong global population devoted to mindless consumerism is not just too disturbing to contemplate, it is in fact impossible to imagine without mass scale disaster becoming the ultimate outcome.

Our fate is very much in our hands. We can go on as we are, blundering blindly forward, denying reality, insisting on doing what we have always done, and telling ourselves that somehow it is all going to work out. The problem is we are entering entirely new territory and assuming we can continue indefinitely as we are doing is simply denying the reality of the finiteness of our world. To do so will assuredly be to stumble into increasing problems or into some limit or threshold  that precipitates massive catastrophe. Alternatively it is within our capacity to create a future better than anything humankind has experienced before. We already have the means. All we require is the will. To gain this we must first be willing to recognize the problems we face and then be willing to make the changes necessary to deal with them.

This is no small task. It involves belief, our willingness to examine it, and where warranted make changes in it. Belief is based little on reason or facts. It is derived by absorption from our society and by what we find comfortable emotionally. Only after that, are reason and evidence used selectively as necessary to support it. Seldom are they employed to arrive at it in the first instance or to examine it later.

One of the most important lessons of history is that most people most of the time are wrong. That is, much of what is widely accepted as unquestioned truth at any point in history is later looked upon an unenlightened ignorance at a later time. Although the consequences of our delusions have often led to disaster, in the past geographic isolation and smaller population limited effects to particular regions. Globalization, technology, and huge increases in population have amplified our impact to unprecedented levels. Being massively wrong and unwilling to change until disaster forces us to do so is a luxury we can no longer afford.

Issues such as population control, pollution, resource allocation and utilization, poverty, corruption, incompetent and illicit governments, and consumerism are increasingly of global consequence and demand global attention. Addressing them will require we as individuals, as societies, and as nations be willing to re-examine and alter as necessary what we are doing, where we are going, what we believe. It won't be easy but it can be done. We can either take control of our future or let natural selection do it for us. The choice is up to us.

 Walter Starck