The Future’s Behind

After all the trouble he caused in Davos, I am keeping my most adventurous clone, MaV-Eric, locked in the attic. Heavens forbid he should get out and cause similar trouble at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. This morning I ventured up there to see what he has been doing. It turns out that he has been working on his own projects to make the world a better place.

Eric: (Climbing up the loft ladder) Hullo, Mav-Eric? What you doin’? I’ve been hearing a lot of strange noises…

MaV-Eric: (Turns from scribbling equations on the blackboard) Hi. I’ve been experimenting with ideas, building models, that kind of thing. Take a look at this (points at the blackboard with his chalk). According to my calculations, manned spaceflight to the moon is feasible.

Eric: Hmmm. I really should have enrolled you in school after I took you out the cloning vat. Man went to the moon forty years ago.

MaV-Eric: Wow. That’s incredible. Forty years ago, you say? My work is so out of date. They must have perfected space travel by now. We should go visit the moon for a vacation. Fancy going?

Eric: You don’t understand. NASA went forty years ago but nobody’s been back since.

MaV-Eric: Why on earth not?

Eric: Too expensive, I guess. And there’s only so much demand for moon rocks.

MaV-Eric: (Disappointed) Oh. Never mind. (Cheers up) But take a look at this (reaches under his desk and pulls out a model of an aircraft).

Eric: That’s a fancy-looking plane.

MaV-Eric: Yeah, it’s my design for a supersonic airliner. With this beauty, you could go from London to New York in less than three hours.

Eric: Sorry, it’s been done before. They called it the Concorde.

MaV-Eric: You don’t say. That must be one heck of a plane. Let’s go see it.

Eric: Sure. I think there’s one at the Imperial War Museum.

MaV-Eric: A museum?

Eric: Oh yeah. They stopped flying. Too old.

MaV-Eric: You mean there’s no supersonic passenger jets any more?

Eric: Nope. They just cram people on to big slow jets instead. Anyhow, lots of people think we should fly less to help preserve the environment. I think all the world leaders will be discussing that when they meet at the climate change conference in Copenhagen. US President Obama was just saying how important it is cut carbon emissions when he made his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo. Then he said he’ll say the same when he swings back to that part of the world to attend the Copenhagen conference, just after he pops back to the US to tell some other people to do some other important things.

MaV-Eric: No supersonic airliners? That’s a disappointment. Anyhow, I’ve got plenty of other projects to show you. Take a look at this (pulls out a Legoland model of a city street scene).

Eric: Lego?

MaV-Eric: I found it in one of your old boxes. The point is this is my vision of urban planning for road safety. Look at what I’ve done here (points at parts of the model). Here’s railings to prevent people from crossing willy-nilly, and here’s traffic lights at clearly marked pedestrian crossings activated when someone presses the button. There’s warning signs so people know to be careful and we’ve got clearly marked white lines down the middle of the road so everyone stays on their own side. It’ll be good for safety and because the cars will keep moving in an orderly fashion, good for the environment. And to further improve the environment, there’s rubbish bins to help avoid littering.

Eric: I’m afraid you’re way out of step with modern thinking. Camden council has stripped all that stuff out. The idea is that motorists will be more careful if they’re worried somebody might step out in front of their car at any moment.

MaV-Eric: What are they going to think of next – cobbled streets to slow traffic down?

Eric: Don’t joke. That’s what speed bumps are for.

MaV-Eric: Okay. But here’s a sure-fire hit of an idea. (He walks back to the blackboard). Look at these figures. With intelligent use of synthetic fertilizer, pesticide, livestock feed additives and genetic modification, we can boost the world’s food production and ensure nobody in the growing population ever goes hungry again.

Eric: Uh-uh. Organic farming is where it’s at. Crop rotation and manure. The yields are less, but people are happy to pay extra for it.

MaV-Eric: What about air con and central heating, so people can control the temperature in their home environment?

Eric: Too wasteful. Open the window if you’re hot. Put on a jumper if you’re cold.

MaV-Eric: (Throws across a document) Here’s my healthcare plan. If we invest in more hospital beds and prolong the in-hospital aftercare treatment…

Eric: People get sick in hospitals. Too many infections.

MaV-Eric: Next you’ll be telling me that motorized transport is bad and that everybody should be riding bicycles, or that personal mobility is ineffective and we’re all better off riding the train or working from home.

Eric: Well…

MaV-Eric: Has any of the progress in the last half-century been good?

Eric: Birth control. And fertility treatment. They’re both good.

MaV-Eric: I don’t think I understand the world outside. Perhaps it’s best that I stay in this attic.

Eric: Now you’re getting the right idea.

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