It is the year 2094. I was born... I can't believe it, a century ago. The world has changed so much through my lifetime. I can now begin to imagine what my grandparents felt like—born before the first world war and living into the first decades of the 21st century. What a profound experience it is to see the world change before your eyes. New inventions have sprung up, old and inefficient technologies have been lain by the wayside. New knowledge is created and old knowledge is forgotten. Is that always the best thing to do? I don't know. That is why I am writing this.
The world is an urban world. It was during my childhood, but it is like that everywhere you look. The world could have taken two paths—reduce the population and keep our lives the same, or make an effort and keep our growth patterns. We seem to have done the latter. We are now a more harmonious, but crowded world. Ten billion people, crammed in cities. The world's vast forests are all but gone. The wilds of Brazil, Siberia, and central Africa are the only places remaining. Nobody remembers much of the world as it used to be any more.
Indigenous Knowledge: the evolution of Texas
Three hundred years ago, most of Texas was forests and plains, broken up in some areas by the western deserts and mountains, the central limestone hills, and the forests of east Texas. The climate was semi-arid, with hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters. An all around pleasant place. When Texas was first settled in a major way, ranchers and farmers found it an ideal area for agriculture and breeding livestock. The ranchers, both from America and Mexico, led to the popular image of the cowboy.
Over time, humans changed the landscape. Frequent grazing made the forests into grasslands, dotted with juniper, oak, and scrub. At the height of our industrial revolution, lakes and rivers were created to feed the growing cities—they faced a problem much like we do today.
Cities evolved. In the mid 20th century, Texas was the definition of an urban and suburban state. Many of Texas's—and thereby the country's—largest cities were characterized by interstates, suburbs, and large sprawling cities. Fossil fuels flowed without much thought back then. Then, the oil crises of the late 20th and early 21st centuries hit. Minor compared to our experiences with peak oil, but an early wakeup call. Some cities tried to reduce sprawl, even take it back. Austin, our capital, was in the forefront, trying hard to create denser urban cores and use greener building techniques. They were relatively successful—a model to many others. Trends continued much like they did—until 2042. Peak oil hit. Minorly delayed by several administrations working hard to increase the use of renewable energy. I think we all know how it went from there.
Mass chaos. Panic. Disruptions. Gradual realization—and then reform and industry took over and left us with what we have today. I think we all know how that turned out.