It’s an oft-quoted statement that “civilisation is only three meals away from anarchy” and it’s easy to dismiss it but recent events in New Orleans show that if you strip away the comforts of our modern world – running water, electricity, easily available food – we all revert to our basic instincts. Humans are just sophisticated, intelligent animals. But we’re animals nonetheless with a need to survive and protect our family. Most find comfort and defence in groups, some are scavengers, prowling on their own. Some are just plain evil.
The scenes on TV could easily have been from some African state in the midst of civil war or from decades gone by. But it was modern America and up until a few days before these were normal people living normal lives in the world’s only superpower. I’m not going to go on about it because that’s been discussed everywhere.
But it makes me think about what things will be like in the future. Currently doing the rounds just now is the high price of petrol in the UK (which is around £1 per litre). Back in 2000 blockades by farmers and hauliers meant that petrol stations ran out of petrol for a while. People were panic-buying petrol and so draining the stations and just making things worse. This time around despite the fact that there are no blockades planned they’re at it again – panic buying.
The logical thing to do is just carry on as normal because if everybody fills their cars up at once, the stations will run out of petrol but if you do nothing then the machine keeps rolling. But when the tiniest possibility of having no petrol enters people’s minds they become completely self centred and panic buy. Individually humans are complex, emotional creatures but collectively they’re entirely predictable. As an individual you might not like the idea of rationing, but if you think about the bigger picture it’s often the best policy – we humans can’t be trusted to act for the greater good!
So cut to 50 years time (or whenever doomsayers claim we’ll start running out of fossil fuels), what’s that going to be like? I can’t drive through my own village because people are queueing for miles to get petrol when there isn’t even a shortage. What happens when there really is? Are we going to end up in a Mad Max world? Unless there’s an alternative, I’d say yes. Can you tell I don’t have a lot of hope for the human race? 😉