A long time ago, in the year 2022, the world nearly went mad: today, from the enlightened 22nd Century, we laugh, but that is the lesson of history.
Why did they do it? History is replete with examples of societies engaging in acts of self-destruction —ancient Athens, for example. Or, in the fourth decade of the 20th Century, it was as if an entire nation turned evil. But 2022 was up there.
In that year, the world faced a catalogue of extraordinary crises. In this, the genetic engineering age, when even primitive AI engines using old genetic data developed several decades ago can create cures for new viruses in 24 hours; we can forget how terrifying the Covid-19 pandemic must have been. It was while the world recovered from the pandemic, a string of other crises erupted. Of course, climate change, the menace that so nearly brought down human civilisation until common sense finally prevailed, was the main cause. But there was a war in Eastern Europe; and ideological clashes between the West and China. It was the worst of times.
Some argued that while climate change was serious, it did not pose a threat to human civilisation. Such arguments ignored the stupidity of humanity, the madness of crowds and our extraordinary ability to choose the worse possible course of action at the worst possible time.
We laugh now; the decade that followed was like the best of times — abundance finally started to emerge as a reality during the mid-years of the 2030s, climate change was finally defeated and reversed. But it was a close call— abject stupidity nearly destroyed us.
Take this ancient video in which a journalist of that time — whose name was long forgotten — argued that the solution to climate change was to get rich by burning fossil fuels. https://twitter.com/chilledasad100/status/1564969826552107009?s=21&t=6_RH5akFerTbxTf-vPO5BA
It seems incredible now when in 2022, the first year of the now famous decade of hot summers, in which year after year, global average temperatures hit new records, forest fires spread across the globe, and glacier melting caused seas levels to rise, creating flooding across even the most unlikely of places, people still argued that fossil fuels were the future.
Today, of course, it is the most famous lesson of disruptive technology— the great oil price crash of 2028, when oil and gas prices fell out of sight, never to rise again, was followed by the collapse of what was once the world’s largest oil company.
But incredible as it seems, in the year of 2022, when the world suffered an energy crisis caused partly by a war and partly by supply-chain bottlenecks caused by an unexpected surge in consumer demand before supply had recovered from Covid, some people actually blamed renewables for the energy crisis. Today, it is staggering to comprehend. But thankfully, the renewable revolution did proceed, and by 2025 its critics had largely been exposed. And by 2032, renewables generated 100 per cent of global electricity. By 2035 green hydrogen finally emerged as the energy of choice for long-distance travel and heavy industry such as steel.
The renewable revolution led to a sharp reduction in C02 emissions. A globally respected energy organisation called the IEA had consistently underestimated the speed with which renewables would take off every year from 2000 to 2028, the year of the great oil price crash. Since most economists believed the IEA, the extraordinary renewables revolution was never fully understood until that very moment when that once giant oil company went bust.
The cultured meat revolution and the CRISPR agrarian revolution didn’t begin to be felt until 2030 — unbelievably, people who were happy to eat what were once sentient animals felt revulsion about eating meat grown from stem cells, after all, a time of madness.
Also, in 2022, the working from home revolution came under extraordinary criticism. “The cost of heating was so high that people were better off going into an office,” they said. Then someone pointed out that the cost of commuting was significantly more expensive than heating a home. Then someone else pointed out that if companies could afford to heat empty offices, they could support remote workers with their heating bill — and then someone else mentioned that the cost of heating a home office was tax deductible. Only then was the naked emperor, who called for a return to the office, exposed
The snag, of course, was that many of the critics of working from home didn’t understand technology. It seems strange now, as all office workers work virtually in our meta offices three days a week, and one day in the physical presence of colleagues before the three-day weekend, that in 2022 people resisted the change. Even stranger as factories is largely operated remotely using virtual reality and robots.
But although 2022 was like a year of madness, some sense began to prevail. How could fake news exist in an age of smartphones when just about everyone was 30 seconds from fact-checking anything they heard? But despite calls to the contrary, schools began teaching a more questioning mindset. At the same time, in the US, we saw the first attempt to faze our student loans which, as we now all know, led to the ‘great education of the public, in which we learned how to embrace AI and augment our cognitive abilities.
Today we take it for granted that compulsory education lasts until we are 21. And that we are all required to experience two more years of education between 35 and 45, but back then, there was a backlash against education. Some called attempts to bring further education to the masses as woke culture. But of course, as we now know, the great education ACT of 2035 created a new age of enlightenment.
The enlightened global population, supported by AI personal assistants, no longer gullibly accepted lies that politicians or media told.
But it was a hard-won victory, and in 2022, when so many people resisted the idea of cancelling student loan debts, the education revolution nearly didn’t happen.
In one extremely wealthy country, the arrest of a former President nearly led to civil war and almost sparked global conflict as the freezing masses protested the cost of heating their home and feeding their children.
Of course, we now know that the combination of cheap renewable energy and high-speed internet access around the world also underpinned the African revolution.
But in the year 2022, it nearly didn’t happen. Just be grateful that common sense prevailed in the end.
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