Keeping Up with Progress

History became quite a wild ride about 300 years ago. In a scant handful of centuries, we went from a couple million mostly illiterate subjects who spent the majority of their lives working out in the fields to appease their divinely appointed feudal overlords to a couple billion perfectly (somewhat) literate citizens who spend the majority of their lives working in front of a screen to appease their corporate and democratically elected overlords. Progress!

And there’s that word: Progress. When I say the word “Progress” I mean that relatively newly emerged idea of measuring civilisation. Back in the late 18th century, when Europe was going out colonising, the world was undergoing a remarkable shift; steam-powered machines were becoming an increasingly common staple of life. And what’s more, it was changing—visibly so. As the years progressed, people could see that their previously static world was evolving at a rate that neither they nor their ancestors could make sense of.

We are notoriously bad at predicting the future

Progress has reached a point in the past few years where it defies—and seems to almost actively deride—any attempt at speculation. Attempts to predict the future, even when conservative extrapolations of the modern world were used, have failed so consistently that there is a dedicated webpage where you can see all the attempts. My personal favourite was how nearly every piece of media portrayed Earth in the future as being horribly overpopulated, when in reality we are facing the opposite problem. The legend himself, Isaac Asimov, wrote a story titled Caves of Steel, wherein everyone lives in megacities, almost all the food is yeast, efficiency is necessary to the point of a personal cubicle in the communal bathroom being a luxury, and there is strict Population Control. Population? Eight billion.

In the modern day, it might be easy to become dismayed at a perceived lack of progress in green energy technologies, but it is more important now than it ever was before to remember that we are in a period of history that is literally unprecedented. 

Who benefits from solar and EV misinformation?

Another thing that needs to be remembered is that the powers-that-be have a vested interest in keeping solar power and EV’s a small market. Fossil fuels have been powering the world economy for a long time, and a select few have profited quite nicely from it. Even if it won’t last forever, they’d rather it stays that way as long as possible. New pushes in EV’s and solar panel efficiencies have made the market a viable competitor for investors, which is why when you read those doomsday articles in the news, you need to ask yourself “Who is benefitting from this?”

Please do not consider this an attempt to spread fear or encourage apathy to the world around you. Progress may perhaps be unstoppable, but a great deal of people could suffer from attempts to stall it. What I hope to accomplish in this article is to simply present my perspective on progress being made in the world right now and to remind everyone losing hope that we live in a new world with new rules. The biggest new rule? The internet. Yes, yes, it’s cliché, I am very aware, but cliches exist for a reason. With a new free flow of information available, people can afford to engage in this changing world in a way that wasn’t possible before, and see all the ways it is changing.

It is now just important to grab that future with both hands outreached. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stawie is a tech-loving young optimist, intrigued by the mysteries of what lies ahead.

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