On 103rd Birthday: In This ‘Most Significant’ Century, Climate Change Is Job One
Today is my father’s 103rd birthday, and as he was looking at the wintery landscape below his apartment window he mused: “Of all the changes I have seen, climate change is the most significant — it is humanity’s Job One.” An account of his story can be found here.
He said that we now have to pay for the utopia we have created.
“Utopia” is a jarring word for us — few of us would describe our era as a “utopia”. We are inundated with news about our faltering lifestyle. We don’t have the distance to give us perspective on the progress that has gradually surrounded us.
But consider the world my Dad was born into.
When he was a boy, his father would have told him about the fabulous dreamings of Edward Bellamy, who wrote one of the 19th Century’s bestselling science fiction novels: “Looking Backward, 2000–1887.” In it the hero travels forward in time from the author’s current year of 1887 to the year 2000, and he is stunned by the world created by technological and organizational abundance.
Just so his readers would not think he was insane, Bellamy cautioned that his fictional world of 2000 was “hanging in mid-air, far out of reach of the sordid and material world of the present… [a] cloud-palace for an ideal humanity.”
Here is one of his unbelievable moments for the year 2000: At one point the time-traveller from 1887 is asked by his hostess if he would like to hear some music. He thinks she has a piano, which by itself would signify fabulous wealth. To listen to piano music in 1887 you had to have bought the instrument, which would have cost the average worker some 2,400 hours, roughly a year at a 50-hour workweek, to earn the money to buy a good piano.
When he agrees, she “touches a few screws” and immediately the room was filled with music!
She touches a few screws.
The amazed time-traveller learns that his host has dialed up a live orchestra, which plays over a landline to her home. Amazingly, she has access to a few other…