Imagine boarding a train in Birmingham that will zip to London in less than an hour. By 2026 the government hopes this will become a reality with the building of a brand spanking new high-speed rail link from Birmingham to London, courtesy of the tax-payer of course. As well as developing our national transport infrastructure the venture will provide employment for thousands. However, I wonder if we have created technology that is robust and sustainable enough to warrant the commissioning of such projects. Projects that will determine the efficiency of future generations' lifestyle?
As we enter the anthropocene, an age where human behaviour shapes Earth's landscape and atmosphere, we must remain mindful of the unforeseen consequences of our actions. Our technological advances are occurring at breakneck speed, but what are the motives behind such evolutions? Is it to engineer a sustainable and updateable infrastructure? A flexible infrastructure enabling our grandchildren to continue to innovate a lifestyle which harmonises with the planet? The answer does not lie in engineering a lego-like landscape, but in the anthropocene, it will be our epochal generation that determines which scars the earth shall bear. We can either be blunt-handed slapdash surgeons, carving out ego-centric projects, or we can take stock of what our long-term aims are for the planet. As a tax-payer, I want the government to invest in a truly sustainable future, not their next political campaign.
The globe is facing a myriad of problems, not least the world food "crisis" and fluctuations in climate change, which many nations are ill-prepared for. However do these drastic changes warrant the hurried implementation of our new feats of engineering? Take genetic modification of crops for example. Their safety and long-term effects on our health continue to be debated in scientific literature. Their usage echoes the great fertiliser debacle that now blights British agriculture. For just as fertilisers were heartily adopted by farmers, we now have complete destruction of topsoil in the U.K as a result. Thus, we must be discerning about which foundation stones we lay to build our future castles, if they are to withstand the times of stress, storm and siege ahead.