More seriously, some forerunners of a scientific research were really –and amazingly- able to calculate the future motion of asters. Only the advent of modern science –mainly mathematics and statistics- allowed us to dissolve the mist of legend and superstition and
to investigate the future on a rational and reliable basis, with a narrower and narrower margin of error.
We are able now, for example, to program our holidays by knowing which weather we will have on the next week; or, on a higher level, to draw lines of economical policy by foreseeing the trend of the next years.
Nevertheless, our advanced forecasting systems appears more focused on short term subjects , than oriented towards a larger horizon; less relevant, to the present forecasters, appears the big questions concerning the medium term future of our Planet and the life of humans on it.
In the beginning, the Creator solicited our forefathers to “grow and fill the earth” (see Genesis, 1,28); but the Divine exhortation appears today to be largely overtaken: world population is crowding within the unmovable limits of the Globe, its growing rate is faster than that of energy availability, and worries are rising about access to drinkable water.
To sum up, the time spent in consuming the amount of natural resources is becoming shorter than the time they need for reproduction.
Is Doomsday round the corner? To give an answer to such a dramatic question, we should pay our attention to the two groups of drivers which operate against each other. We could call the first of them as the “drivers toward the salvation”: it includes scientific and technological progress, globalization, and, of course, human behaviour.
Scientific and technological progress, if not misused, is a powerful lever for the improvement of quality of life, efficiency in the use of resources, new models of agriculture.
Globalization is a two-sided medal; on one side, it may be an unlimited prairie to ravaged by financial robbers, on the other, it may give widespread opportunities for exchanging experiences, mutual help, spreading of new technologies, new resources, new energy; in a few words, globalization may lay the fundaments of a pacific development of the whole world Community.
It should be pointed out that, in spite of injustice and conflict that globalization involves, divide between richness and poverty is narrowing since its advent. Which side of the medal we see in the next future depends on the third element we mentioned: the human behaviour. The alternative group of driver is “the path towards the catastrophe”.
It includes the rule of beggar thy neighbour in the exploitation of natural resources, the
personal egoisms and the resurges of nationalism, the short term vision in
economics and politics, which exploit the present time at any price, never taking into account the larger price to pay on future.
Again, human behaviour is the main factor in pursuing salvation and avoiding catastrophe. To this aim it essential to involve the young, as the actors who will stay tomorrow on the stage: “teaching future”, should be the main educational instrument.
Yet, each of us, in his private or public role, should commit himself to take part in such a historical challenge. No raindrop can discharge its responsibility for the flood, nobody can feed the illusion that he will be the winning team in a win-lose game. Future lies no longer on the knees of the gods: it is –already-in our hands.