Abundance is when we have everything and more of what we need to live,
abundance also implies excess, for some of us we already live in a world that is abundant in some things and we already have more than what we really need.
The hope is that in this century technology will allow us to move away from the shackles of fossil fuels and from the ‘Information Age’ that we are in today into the ‘Age of Abundance’ where energy is free, and agriculture provides us with more than enough food to feed the world’s population, the challenge that comes with this hope is how to live with excess and abundance.
Abundance is the opposite of scarcity which in comparison is defined as just less than what we need to live, and scarcity is how we as humans are genetically designed to cope with, due to the harsh conditions over many a millennium found in the pre-industrial and pre-agricultural age.
Imagine a world where there is a cheap and readily available source of carbohydrate and where people lead more sedentary lives to the extent that in society as a whole more people die of being overweight than of starvation.
Now it’s a sobering fact that the WHO (World Health Organisation) have already reported that this has already happened and that in the world today more people die from the complications of being overweight than of being underweight. It is also thought that in some countries soon your children’s life expectancies will be less than yours due to poor lifestyle choices!
I am seeing the prevalence of type 2 Diabetes increasing to the extent that more and more people are needing increasing numbers of medications in an attempt to prevent the many complications of this disease, for some people the toll of excess carbohydrate has already ‘burnt’ out their pancreas to the extent that they can only survive with daily insulin injections.
The fact is we are not designed for abundance, we are designed for scarcity, our bodies hang on to every calorie we eat eager to turn it to fat just in case scarcity is around the corner. Despite this initially our body initially copes quite well with the average persons weight gain of just over a few pounds per year, but this starts to add up and as we hit middle age these extra pounds become apparent as they start to bulge over our belts. This average annual weight gain amounts to just over 30 calories a day, that’s only an extra mouthful of food per day, however in an environment of abundance and the ‘all you can eat’ buffet culture we lose control and lose any degree of self regulation our body gives us.
Our society is already moving towards ‘Abundance’ at shown by the consequences of an abundance of a cheap form of carbohydrate, sugar and bulging waste lines, the Information Age has also given those with access to the internet an abundance of information and knowledge and with it the ability to educate yourself and learn just about anything you want but only if you choose to do so.
Perhaps then the biggest challenge, is that if we are going into an age of abundance our society as a whole needs to learn how to live with excess, when scarcity doesn’t drive us to work what does? In some Western countries people are driven to work into their latter years because that is the only way they can access affordable healthcare through employee schemes, in my country our NHS system has only a few years left before if will fail to cope financially with the increasing cost of healthcare to treat the ailments of an ageing population and treating in part the complications of a diet of excess.
So what happens next, perhaps when technology advances enough so that energy becomes abundant, then we will have more than enough energy to keep us warm in the Winters, to keep us cold in the Summers, to give us light in the darkness, and to provide energy for desalination so that we have enough water to drink and to Terra-form our desserts.
When we have an excess of everything we need, will our currency devalue to the extent it is no longer needed, because then we won’t need to pay for anything. Will there still remain a divide between the rich and the poor? Or maybe the only factor on how well you live in the future will be dependent on the choices you make, and how well you can live in a world of excess.
This article was written whilst on vacation, my inspiration coming from a cup of coffee, my struggle not to fall victim to the sugar coated doughnut, and by watching people attempt to pile their plates higher and higher as they slowly trundled around the restaurant buffet, making the wrong choices, and some clearly already paying the costs because of excess and abundance.