The Realistic Optimist – background

Most of us fall into the trap of predicting a future that is an extrapolation of past experiences.   As Climate and Ecological collapse escalates, we are now in a scenario of which we have no previous experience.  Fairly reliable weather patterns are replaced by powerful extremes of drought or excessive rainfall and winds.  This jeopardises intensive agriculture, biodiversity and many mitigation efforts such as planting forests.  

There is copious evidence of our unrealistic thinking in demographic forecasts and many intellectual tracts which all assume a future where money will continue to have purchasing power, and population continues to grow until it tails off through falling fertility rates.

Although these perceptions are widespread, this does not make them into a realistic expectation of how climate and ecological collapse will play out. In fact, it is a shocking failure by our intellectuals that they have afforded these illusions any credit. What will happen is that food and water supplies will fail because of increasingly unreliable weather patterns; when that happens money loses its purchasing power. In that scenario the only things that will continue to hold significant value are necessities like food, water and fuel.

To take tangible steps to mitigate climate change we shall all need to lower our expectations. Much of the standard of life, and many of the luxuries that we enjoy in the modern world need to be reassessed against their impact on our environment. Only once we have lowered our expectations, do we begin to be seriously realistic about our future. These were the thought patterns behind the poem ‘The Realistic Optimist’.

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