Earth Is Becoming Arrakis
Are we destined to become the planet of Dune?
A post-apocalyptic dysfunctional corporate-dystopia cyberpunk world seems the most hopeful interim society to look forward to in the near term. Current trends appear to point to the inevitableness of this conclusion.
Russia has already occupied the Chernobyl site in Ukraine. Any attempt to retake it using artillery, missiles, and bombs threatens to release new clouds of radioactivity. The ongoing issues within the №4 reactor make this threat even more imminently dangerous.
Fukushima is the most radioactive place on Earth. The best solution that the government of Japan has come up with is to release radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. This threat to one of the most productive fisheries in the world is not to be underestimated.
Of course, global nuclear war or even a limited nuclear world war would only increase the area of radioactive dead zones. While a nuclear winter would temporarily reduce the effect of anthropogenic climate change, it would also negatively affect already challenged food production. A nuclear winter does nothing to diminish or sequester the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO₂) remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years.
CO₂ was 421.59 parts per million (ppm) at Mauna Lao, Hawaii, on February 14, 2022, a level unprecedented in millions of years. CO₂ levels are even higher at high latitudes north with levels approaching 430 ppm at Barrow, Alaska.
Nitrous oxide (N₂O), 300 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide, is also steadily increasing in the atmosphere, staying in the atmosphere for an average of 114 years. That’s much longer than needed for the aerosols of war to precipitate out of the atmosphere. Anthropogenic climate change would accelerate once again after the short-term effects of a nuclear winter subside.
Science fiction post-apocalyptic dysfunctional dystopian cyberpunk worlds have often played against the background of a devastated desertified planet. The worlds of The Matrix, Judge Dredd, Akira manga, Ghost in the Shell anime, Gunnm manga (Battle Angel Alita), and Bladerunner are just the first that rise in my mind.
What about the worms? Worms may have been the first fauna to show themselves following the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction when approximately 80 percent of all species of animals were eliminated. After all, worm-like Ediacaran biota were the first animals to dominate Earth and became the victims of Earth’s first mass extinction. It’s easy to imagine that they will again become Earth’s dominant life form.
Billionaire oligarchs and their sponsored governments already reach for the stars. It’s too early to say if Earth will go the way Asimov foresaw in his Foundation series, an uninhabitable radioactive and abandoned planet. Perhaps it will resemble the Earth of Warhammer 40k, a devastated resource-depleted planet with socially stratified hive cities soaring above a wasteland of industrial toxins and radioactivity.
After the wealthy and powerful go extraterrestrial, it’s also easy to imagine remote localized groups surviving communally at a subsistence level. Much like the counter-culture back-to-the-land people, they would likely preserve and build upon the arcane practices of ancient religions along with the ritual use of entheogens. They would be the ones to inherit the Earth much like in Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
The Metaverse is not building out post-scarcity domains today. What we are seeing today is the groundwork for corporate dystopias with programmatically derived scarcity that encourages rent-seeking by the oligarchic elite.
These are not virtual worlds that reward creators. Decentraland charges a $500 publishing fee for avatar wearables. Cryptovoxels requires the ownership of a parcel to enable creators to participate. The more you DYOR the worse and more exclusionary the cost of entry and participation looks for creators. The financial barriers to entry are designed to funnel money to the corporations.
Despite the theoretically beneficial potential of cryptocurrencies, decentralization, Web3, NFT, DeFi, and DAO what we actually see is mandatory fiat currency buy-in and P-O-S that leverages the entitlement of the affluent. Where are the post-scarcity domains that reward participation much like UBI?
During the medieval feudal period, serfs at least had the right to use the Commons, the right to cultivate certain fields within the manor to maintain their own subsistence, and the right to own property. We have yet to see parallel empowerment in the online domains of the Metaverse today. Please correct me if I’m wrong here. I’d be glad to meet you there.