Competition year: 2001
About Henk J. deBruin
Utopia is a dream. At best it is local, not global. Neither is it permanent and certainly only relative. If it is at all possible, it will not last into infinity. The first Utopia, according to the Judeo/Christian bible, only lasted a little while for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In western societies a degree of utopia is considered to be proportional to wealth. However, greed and a no-holes- barred competition reduce the benefits to but a few. The religions promise us ultimately a heaven, the equivalent of a utopia; but it is not available here on earth. Does this also mean that there are as many utopias as there are religions?
It is reasonable to say that the perfect dream cannot come true. If there is no absolute, universal, perspicuous, equitable, unambiguous, type of utopia, we can but try to approach some acceptable imitation, a partial utopia perhaps. How far have we advanced towards this vision since the days of the caves and slaves? Well the worst form of slavery has been abandoned. The caves have been replaced by homes, ranging from relatively comfortable to ultra-sophisticated. Hunting and gathering have been upgraded to include holidays and entertainment. Gladiators are now known as rugby players.
The most complex natural obstruction towards a utopia is population growth. If not controlled it will lead to the inevitable obliteration of mankind, just like the 98% of all other extinct species that inhabited the earth during the last billion years.
Advances in the treatment of sickness and health have been improved considerably, but are not available to large sections of the human species. Probably the most serious man made obstruction towards the fulfilment of our dream is unlimited wealth and avarice. It has divided us into poor and rich, immiscible like oil and water.
Below are some unpalatable natural obstructions and unwise man made regulations and institutions that we should try to change drastically before we can approach some sort of utopia.
WORLD POPULATION GROWTH
During the twentieth century the world’s population more than quadrupled. Currently there are roughly 6.1 billion people on earth. How many will there be at the end of the twenty first century? Reliable statistical evidence estimates that in 2050 there will be around nine billion, provided we can keep down the number of major wars. When these estimates are extrapolated to 2100 our current world population will be in excess of eleven billion. This is almost twice the present number! That means there will be a need to double the housing requirements, double the world’s infra-structure, at least double the present day demand for food, transport, commodities, and health services.
If one looks at photographs of cities like Bombay (16 million), or Tokyo (27 million), New York (18 million),Hong Kong, etc. one may form an idea of what these cities will look like when they cater for twice the population. That will give some impression of the ant nests we will be living in.