There has gradually been a change in the world for the past few hundred years, largely categorized as 'development'. With the invention of new machineries and ideological changes, large chunks of the planet have been updating their economies, beliefs and environments. Few people know this, but all of this is probably bringing us to a dead end, and all the modernization and upgradation may soon be cancelled out by a desperate way out of crisis.
History was made when Karl Benz made the first Petrol-running automobile in the world. In the early 20th century, there were many revolutionary inventions, like that of the light bulb, airplane and after a few years, space shuttles. All these proved to be a gamechanger in technology and in adding simplicity, for people then used slower traditional methods for travelling, communicating, etc. The successful testing of the first version of the telephone by Alexander Bell was the big break people needed to speak to people away from them without waiting for days for letters to reach. Penicillin, an accidental discovery by Dr. Alexander Fleming has led to the development of medicinal services and greater life expectancy throughout the world. Even after that till now, many advancements have been made and a common expression used these days is that "technology is growing twice its rate".
The worry is the resources that we use are limited, and may not be the most productive. Who doesn't know that plastic is harmful for the environment and that you should use it as less as possible? Is there anyone who doubts that petroleum-based fuels in vehicles is responsible for 70% of all air pollution?
It is estimated that at the current use of petroleum and coal, both will get exhausted in another 200 years. That is shocking in the sense that after less than 500 years of their use, Earth will get exhausted of its coal and petroleum refineries to sustain a 'comfortable' life of human population. On top of that, mining and quarrying, drilling and blasting, all are extremely harmful for the environment and can cause earthquakes as well! The use of these resources also adds to global warming at an alerting rate, such that polar bears are feeling the loss of hard ice each year.
The great Pacific Garbage Patch has been created out of trillions of tones of plastic garbage, causing it to be a graveyard for marine fish and birds. One can also see the rise in fuel prices in various parts of the world. In the case of India, petrol prices have inflated by 40% in just a few years. Oil spills, leaks, etc have caused a huge decline in many marine creatures, especially in western Europe around Spain. The entire ozone layer, a very important layer in the stratosphere which protects us from ultraviolet radiation of the sun’s rays, is now deteriorating due to the burning of these toxic fuels. And keep in mind that this is just petroleum and coal.
Another problem is population. People have been reproducing so much in the last century, that after the population reached 1 billion in the 19th century after thousands of years of civilization, here we are in the 21st century with nearly 8 billion humans around the world. One of the reasons, is of course, having more people means more children which ultimately results in greater population unless the death rate is higher than the birth rate. But in the past few decades, as I have earlier mentioned, healthcare facilities have improved to such an extent that the life expectancy has now increased from 50-60 years in the maximum to 80-90 years today! And this problem seems to be a total trap, as we cannot worsen people’s quality of life just because we are uncontrollably increasing in number. But do you know why our numbers should not be too much now? It is mainly because of demand, having more people means more mouths to feed, more money spent, and a lot more.
Why else do you think the world’s most popular country, China has kept a rule of having only one child? Large crowds in many parts of the country, and an overall greater density of population makes is a lot harder for countries to control the population as a whole. That is mainly why India struggles with crime control, protests, equality and employment. Comparing India to China, which both have similar populations, China has a larger ground and more space for people to be dispersed and settle. In India, however, despite being a significantly large country, it is still not sufficient for the number of people it holds, and of course for all countries have some inhabitable places like mountains, volcanic areas, flooded mangroves, etc. and there is no question if people can settle there.
A lot of the countries depend on a stable and growing economy for being well developed. An example of such a country is the US, which has a stable economy and good quality of labor to give a satisfactory output, making the nation as a whole, well developed. One of the factors is a huge amount of land in which only less than 400 million people need to reside. Being the third most popular nation (350 million) after India (140 million) there is a massive gap between population and the total land area. Also, in the US people can be more easily categorized, whereas in India having over 1000 dialects and languages, with lots of faiths, cultures and traditions, each person needs a different status and right in the society. This is one of the reasons why riots broke up in Delhi, in Indira Gandhi’s time, and also why a civil war began in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and the Tamilians, also leading to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
Speaking of assassination, many presidents, activists, etc. have lost their lives to the hands of people who disagree with their ideologies, mistrust them, or envy them. There have been numerous of such names in history, Julius Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Indira Gandhi and many more. The problems these can lead to are war, riots, murders, attacks, mistrust, and political instability. For a country to be peaceful, all the people, no matter how different they are based on their outward appearance, inner mind or any thing else, must have a common motherland in which they agree that they are all brothers and sisters and any citizen’s offence is their offence, any fellow’s fate is their fate, and until this is built, no country can be totally happy. New Zealand, a small island country west of Australia, was recently hit by a shock when an Australian person, who was ‘Islamophobic’ attacked a mosque in Christchurch, killing numerous people and injuring further more. It was the ability of the kiwi government and people who shared the grief of the Muslim community that allowed the country to keep the incident beside and keep it in their memory as a foolish act of one single person. Thus, New Zealand remains one of the happiest countries in the world. And in happy countries, as I had earlier said, crime is a lot rarer. Even in countries like the US which is economically self-sufficient, crime occurs quite often, and people can frequently hear of shooting near colleges, schools and other places. Accepting your neighbor as being a Buddhist or a Muslim or Christian or a Hindu is equivalent to having your brother or sister next door, and when you have a special relative with you, you will never mind.
Years ago, most people were in the lower middle class, but still happy and content with what they had. Few people ever begged, they made their own businesses and set to work, working hard to get a meagre income yet getting enough money to feed the family. Only few people were rich, but those who were extremely rich were only kings and huge businessmen. But now, although more people are good financially, there is a gap- a gap which divides those who have over a hundred billion dollars to those who struggle to gain a ten. Covid 19 has also impacted many well to do people and has even sent some below the poverty line. Until the government gives enough for all the people to live comfortably and until all the people can live independently, there will be a huge gap between the rich and the poor. In the city of New York itself, there are over 500 billionaires, whereas on the other side in central Africa people beg for food and water, and many die without them. This leads us back to the beginning; hunting elephants for ivory is popular among the poor in Africa, which destroys the ecosystem.
Humans have changed the biosphere entirely in just a few years, bringing the tiger population down from an easy 100,000 to a minute 4,000. Introduction of invasive species like the cane toad into Australia, Burmese python into Florida and Parthenium into India have all made a huge impact onto the ecosystem. Snow Leopards are continuously being killed for fur and teeth, making them one of the world’s rarest cats now. Thus, we come to know that we are nearing a very unfortunate future in which most of our ‘solutions’ are proving to be ineffective.
A question that arises in every person’s mind is: does this mean that the world is going to end with human’s ingenious foolishness and the destruction of Earth’s balance with a handful of billionaires and millions of beggars? Nah, not necessarily.
Till now, I have mostly mentioned the cons of the 20th and 21st century. Of course, there are many more. Using electric cars, for example, means that petroleum and coal caused damage will be eliminated (and that is a lot). True Equality, and not just in the constitution, must be implemented in all walks of life. And in the end, one must understand and play a role in maintaining the ecosystem so that the earth remains to be green, clean and healthy.