And on the 8th Day - He Started Over....
Here's a thought. "In 1945 the World came to an end - and then restarted." The "flood" that destroyed that world began around the turn of the century and abated with the end of the Second World War. This "second flood" (multiple wars, depressions, dictatorships, genocides, nuclear bombs..) had destroyed the infrastructure of the pre 1945 world and had reduced its survivors to pretty much a primal status, living not far away from the poverty line. Yes, the USA was still intact physically but it and others like Canada had lost much of its youth and its peaceful economy in place of a now obselete war economy. Depression was close and demographic changes were massive as men returned home and women demanded newly found freedoms. These movements lead to structural realignments that would change the face and form of America and the newly forming world order forever.
Bob Hope generation - the Baby Boomers. 80 million strong (8 million in Canada) they began to appear in 1945 and kept coming until the late 60's when they began to create their own following generations - Echo, Millennial, etc. which all coexist today forming our modern society. The net effect in the USA was to build the population from a 1945 number of around 140 million to today's level of 350 million - more than double. This is today's politically active population, the one presently carrying the angst that the world is going to end tomThe "Second Coming" (the new Adams and Eves), arrived with the creation of the children of the war time
orrow due to the onset of progressively hostile climates - unless we somehow manage to move ourselves backwards to the weather / people utopia we feel we had and abandoned during the happy days of the 1950's.
So, what are the characteristics of our modern population and how has it affected our thinking about our survival or imminent destruction? What has brought on our national angst? What forces are at work manipulating our fears for their own benefit? What is real and what is fantasy? Are we just players in a massive soap opera that goes on and on and never ends (tune in next week to "days of our lives")? Why now? Have we caused our own destruction or are we just pawns in some massive political game?
In order to answer some of these questions, I would propose that today's generations are not comparable to previous generations because of a number of very unique characteristics that define us and separate us from those "simpler times" we all seem to long for. There is no going back, because our changes are irrevocable - we must live with and work with them in order to be successful in our quests for personal success and satisfaction.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR MODERN POPULATION
1. It has more than doubled in size - 1950 population to 2020 - World 2.5B to 8B, USA 150 million to 350 million, Canada 15 million to 37 million. In the same land space occupied in 1950 the population living on it has increased dramatically as has its infrastructure and demands for resources.
2. Population shifted from farm to urban - North American population was 51% farm based up to 1950 but a massive shift to urban living has brought today's number to only 3% of population living a rural lifestyle. The rest have gone to urban centres and particularly to megacities.
3. Cherry picking prime living spaces - the increased population and the relocated populace do not want to live just anywhere. Populations have congregated into massive urban centres situated on prime land such as ocean front, riverside, lakes, sandspits, mountains, islands, etc. Population densities along coastlines such as the eastern seaboard for example are now heavily populated whereas back in 1950 there were not enough people to fill the available land space to this degree. It existed as farmland and / or undeveloped wilderness.
*Note on points 1 to 3 - in 1950 world population was 3 billion but 51% of people were farm dwelling, leaving presumably the rest (approx 1.5 billion) living in urban centres. Today, we are 8 billion with only 3% on farmlands meaning 7.75 billion are living in urban centres. The urban centres are on only 10% of the total land on the Earth. - aka. >95% of the Earth's population is living on only 10% of the Earth's total land (not ocean) mass. No wonder a hurricane on the East Coast can do so much damage! We're sitting ducks.
4. Mixed generations brings conflict of views - at one time, particularly before we moved from a farm to an urban environment the passing of knowledge and of political support was common. Because people didn't travel far personal philosophies tended to be more community focused and fathers and sons shared many of the same views on how the world worked and should be supported. There was a continuity there - born a conservative and pass this on to the next generation. Today, we have a population made up of several generations and each one has their own individual views of the world and of politics. At the moment, we are seeing a passing of the boomer generation in terms of voting power in place of the onset of the Millennials and they hold radically different views in terms of environment, community living, wealth, power, home and family etc. Media and voting power puts this conflict out in the open and as a result we are in a state of turmoil with little real direction as to how to behave individually or as a nation state.
5. Mixed birth dates and races make up today's profiles - although societies are mixed generations and now multiple races everyone still begins from a different starting point - their birth date. Just as boomers could not accurately know how their fathers or grandfathers were raised, the new generations don't conceive of how we were raised = 1950 is just a number to them and perhaps an illusion of better times (not a memory). The concept that we are frying ourselves is real to them because they don't have a real source of reference to compare to. They accept media interpretations and act based on what they know and experience.
6. Nations are now intertwined globally - we cannot exist isolated from the rest of the world anymore because our ties from nation to nation are so tight that they cannot be broken. Disputes remain and competition for resources and space continues as it always has but we can no longer create castles or borders that allow us to take our own paths and ignore the rest of the world. Our garbage is everyone's garbage, we cannot just bury it and not affect everyone else. We must work together to solve world problems now and to do so we must learn the techniques of communication and cooperation we isolated ourselves from in the past.
7. Mobility - we move constantly. There are 10000 airplanes in the air on any given day. There are a billion cars in the world at the moment. Today's populace visits the world hotspots whereas in the 1950's a camping trip was a big deal. Now we roam and camp in our forests with trailers, quads and motorcycles. Our energy usage is massive - estimated at 100000 Kcal. / day on average. By contrast our primal relatives, the hunter gatherers we descended from actually used < 3000 Kcal. / day as their lifestyles were relatively sedentary and narrow in scope compared to today's frenzy.
8. Communications - in 1950 comunications were no where near as sophisticated as they are today. Radio was the prime entertainment before 1950 as TV came on the scene (4 channels). Newspapers ruled for decades as did celebrated (and trusted) announcers and commentators (Walter Cronkite). News was limited and it took time to gather, fact check (what's that?) and present to limited audiences. People listened to the news - they didn't make up their own news or spread their opinions about to massive strangers on media that was instant and widespread as happens today with electronic communications and media sharing platforms. Nowadays, "news" is every Twitter feed posted by anyone and everyone and that feed is read, dissected and discussed ad infinitum until it literally becomes "real".
9. We now have 24 hour News Coverage - Donald Trump raves about false news and to a great degree he is correct. Why? Because the business of "news" has become entertainment. The news media industry is huge and competitive. They have to publish something, anything, at any time of the day or night to fill the vacuum on their news channels and media feeds. We simply don't make enough real news ourselves so we fill it with human interest, disaster stories, weather, today's mugging or fire, political mumblings, good guy / bad guy soap operas, Blah blah Blah And the general rule is - BAD STUFF GETS ATTENTION, GOOD STUFF DOESN'T. Nothing like a good disaster story or an impending doom story - potential for war, a meteor strike on the earth or the insidious armageddon approaching us because of our bad habits of burning carbon for our energy needs.
10. News has become political not neutral - take your side and read all you want to confirm your feelings and prejudices about your political choices. Media encourages animosity and suspicion not becoming informed or engaging in debate regarding issues or political characters. Today, we have our populations aligned as to their stand on man made climate change and media encourages us to take sides and also to shun and degrade those who don't take the same view as ourselves. These aren't debates taking place in small fireside chats, they are national and international in scope and everyone has the opportunity to take part and speak their mind. The result is a splitting and segregating of our populace in competitive and even hostile "camps". We are not happy and it shows.
11. The answers are there - We can support or challenge our views with the click of a button - In spite of the breadth of information and the dangers of "false news" the fact remains that the information is out there and is easily accessed with today's technology. Gone are the days of searching libraries and writing excepts on notepads. It's all out there! Argue your point or look for confirmation - google will lead you to the information you need.
12. We simply won't take responsibility for our actions - we just have to blame outside forces for our own bad behaviour. We're like children pointing the finger at the dog instead of admitting they were the ones who pushed the vase off the table. We're really not all that mature, even after millennia of so called development. Each generation doesn't learn from the generation before, we simply start over, make the same mistakes and eventually learn the same lessons we rejected in our early lives. We do get there but we don't advance as a species because of the delay in catching up and taking action. It just goes around and around.
13. We're still suckers for the political "patois" - it's been happening since the beginning of time and we're no more capable of resisting or rejecting it than when we were tribal hunter gatherers. Out "leaders" create the narrative and we fall into line with the demands it forces upon us, or we are pushed out. We go to war on demand to support our narrative and defeat the others'. Our country is composed of countless tribes whose philosophies clash along many lines. The result is a country torn into pieces at local and national levels as we struggle to find common ground that we can all peacefully live with. We're being manipulated by those in control to fall into line with national goals and incentives and there is chaos as not all of us fall into line. The odds of us taking action on any real threat are slim and the future doesn't bode well.
Please note: these images and the discussions surrounding them are easily found on Google. I'm not even going to attempt to make a bibliography because this isn't a scientific paper, it's an opinion piece. If you doubt me go search them out. The exercise is quite revealing.