Dana Blankenhorn asks: Now that we can terraform the Earth, what kind of Earth will it be?
In order to keep growing it needs to be a prosperous Earth. And it’s becoming more prosperous. Did you know that one-third of the people in Africa are now considered ‘middle class’ – that is, they have enough that they can think about the future, educating their children, even limiting their numbers. China recently crossed a line and now has more of its people in cities than in the countryside. India has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty just in the last decade. Brazil is the new China. Latin America is becoming wealthy.
This is all good news. It doesn’t feel that way when your job gets outsourced, when you see growing competition for every opportunity, but it is in fact good news. Competition fuels growth. We are going to see an acceleration of growth over the next decades the likes of which the world has never seen. You think you’re lucky? Your kids are going to be luckier still.
Umar Hague asks: What if, just maybe, our way of life is an Opulence Bubble?
Here’s what I mean by opulence bubble: our conception of the good life, as I’ve discussed with you, has been centered on what I call hedonic opulence — having more, bigger, faster, cheaper, now. But we might be finding out, the hard way, that the pursuit of lowest-common-denominator industrial age stuff might have been steeply overvalued, in terms of its social, human, and financial value. And now, it’s coming back down to earth.
Here’s what I don’t mean by opulence bubble: that global GDP’s going to collapse tomorrow, and continue to crater for decades, until we’re back to hunting with stone axes and singing by firelight. Nor that we should aim to stop growth dead in its tracks, and preserve ourselves in a perma-cocoon, with shades of the Amish, where life in the distant future is, well, exactly the same as it is today.
Rather, what I mean is that “more, bigger, faster, cheaper” doesn’t necessarily add up to or equal “better, wiser, smarter, fitter, closer.”
The plain truth might be that we’re living beyond our means because our way of life atrophied our means.