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What could be

There is no such thing as money. It’s a made up concept that only works because we all agree to pretend it’s real. If everyone stopped pretending, those bits in the bank’s computer, and the paper/plastic in your wallet would be as useless as the plastic shrinkwrap on the latest iPhone.

Yet it is the dominant force that defines our lives. We spend the majority of our awake time doing boring stuff we don’t want to do, for money. Our governments make decisions that are flat-out bad for the people they serve, for money. People decide to pollute, even to the point of sickening other people, for money.

What if there was a better way? A way that didn’t require an “economy” to constantly grow at exponential rates, just so we could all (well, some of us) feel better about our fantasy numbers? What could such a society look like?

Food

The majority of food is produced at a hyper-local level. Aquaponics is used to grow both organic fish and vegetables with minimal input, minimal waste, and minimal water use. Every house, apartment, and building has insect farms providing sustainable protein. Lawns are smothered and turned into vegetable gardens. Everything is composted to close the loop as much as possible.

Local supermarkets don’t sell plastic-packaged products. Instead they are larger aquaponic/insect farming operations, where produce can be picked fresh that day. They also serve as community centers and host cooking classes and workshops.

Housing

Houses aren’t status symbols, they are just a place where you sleep, work, and relax. In urban centers every neighborhood is walkable, and medium density apartments both reduce the cost of housing and the energy required to heat or cool them. New standards ensure that every building, old and new, has a high level of insulation, along with solar panels, composting toilets, bike lockers, and local water collection, storage, and purification.

Transport

Lanes are reduced and narrowed so that streets and roads switch from 90% cars and 10% pedestrian, to 10% cars and 90% pedestrian. Most citizens get around by walking, scooting, or biking, with electric versions being popular. Those with special needs have small electric vehicles, like the Microlino. Dedicated bike paths create complete networks for traveling within a city. Health care costs are vastly reduced due to the increased physical activity of the citizens and the absence of smog. Children play on the streets, and no-one worries about them being hit by a driver.

High speed electric rail connect cities across continents. It is possible to cross the United States in 24 hours in the comfort of a sleeper car. Cramped economy seats in smelly airplanes are a relic of the past.

The golden age of sail returns with passenger liners crossing oceans in just a few days. No more red eyes or jet lag. Passengers instead stroll the deck watching leaping dolphins.

Activity and Purpose

Freed from the need to spend 40 or 50 years working for the man, citizens instead spend their time engaging in meaningful activity. Self-improvement, charity efforts, music, social gatherings, etc regain new life as people once more have time to attend to them. Parents are able to raise their own children, and engage their children in their work.

Life becomes less about meaningless accumulation of stuff and servicing debt, and becomes what it should be: an interesting journey that we only get to experience once. Citizens spend their time making sure that journey is as interesting and memorable and impactful as possible.

Today

All of the technologies to achieve this vision already exist today. We don’t need scientists or engineers to invent world-saving technology. Most of the items are achievable at an individual or local government level.

If you’ve been feeling powerless to combat climate change, watching federal governments dither and big business pay only lip service, here’s your chance. You don’t need to wait for them to reshape society. The power is in your hands. You can either be part of the problem, or start living the solution.

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