The 20th century saw a number of failures that were potentially avoidable, and that all seem to be converging on the mid-late 21st century.
Aside from the many, many failures in the realms of war and economics, there are three big ones that worry me right now, and that I think will feed into each other in a horrific manner. The first, obviously, is climate change. The other two are overpopulation and drug resistance in diseases.
All three of these are problems about which we’ve had generations of warning, and little real action. Medical researchers have put effort into avoiding the drug resistance problem, just as climate researchers have tried to guide us to avoiding climate change, but in all of these cases, we’ve lacked the kind of national effort that threats of such magnitude merit.
And so now we’re facing a century in which people will once again be dying of consumption in countries with advanced healthcare as multi-drug resistant TB spreads, and hospitals – already a source of a lovely suite of infections, are now also seeing the spread of Candida auris, a deadly yeast infection that is also highly drug resistant.
It’s hard to tell how avoidable the drug-resistant disease problem was. Evolution will continue as long as life exists, after all, and so diseases were always going to evolve to cope with our treatments. But this problem has been made worse by irresponsible use of antibiotics in agriculture and in medicine, combined with general scientific illiteracy and a lack of understanding or interest among the legislators whose job it is to fund the efforts to deal with problems like this.
This behavior cannot continue. It will destroy us in the end, and we will die knowing that it was avoidable.