Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009

Earth 2100

Waiting for the End of the World

By David Luhrssen
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So far humanity has ducked several man-made bullets, especially nuclear war, but luck may be running low. Especially troubling is the likely convergence of several problems, including rising population, petroleum depletion, economic demands from rising nations such as China and India and global climate change. In the future, coastal cities could be flooded from rising seas, a whirlwind of Katrinas could overtake much of the Earth while lack of rain could paralyze farming regions.

This past summer, ABC TV aired a Bob Woodruff-hosted special called “Earth 2100” (out now on DVD). Interviews with Michael Pollan, John Podesta and a host of academics and authors were worked into the storyline of a fictional protagonist, Lucy, born in 2009 and surviving, somehow, to the end of a century of catastrophe illustrated through somber animation.

“Earth 2100” warns that the steps many of us take comfort in, including energy efficient light bulbs and green architecture, might be insufficient to break the runaway train of disaster our civilization boarded long ago. Burning more coal will only worsen the problem. Many Americans and their emulators around the world have gotten used to consumption at all cost, a culture of waste and greed without consequence—and the consequences are coming. The conclusion is sobering: it may require great sacrifice to prevent reality from sliding toward “Earth 2100,” a world barely inhabited by humankind.

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