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I dream I am an old man.
I dream I am an old man.
I walk through a forest, deafened by birdsong. Every step through a bright wildflower meadow kicks up clouds of butterflies.
It borders a farm with healthy soils and pollinators in abundance. With large free-roaming mammals and a wide diversity of crops, it is productive and profitable. Our kitchen shelves are full of good quality fruit, vegetables, and sustainably farmed game.
Land previously used for dairy has been turned back to nature and is now far more profitable from tourism than it ever was with animal agriculture.
In the distance, a city. Powered by clean renewables, thanks to the trillions of dollars that fossil fuel companies have invested in a rapid low-carbon transition. Industrial accidents and cancer rates are lower than since before the first industrial revolution.
Every road is lined with trees and wildflowers. Bike-friendly streets and high quality public transport make traffic congestion a thing of the past. Walls are draped with moss, and hanging plants crawl with bees in the day and moths at night. Cities are cool and comfortable. Respiratory disease rates are at an all-time low.
A river snakes through it all, free from nitrates and pesticides, and full of fish. Downstream, beavers are hard at work creating wetlands, reducing flooding, capturing carbon, and reviving ecosystems.
On the coast, farmers grow seaweed without the need for land or pesticides. The three-dimensional offshore farms are bursting with scallops, mussels and oysters, purifying the water. The fish have returned. The whales have returned. The fishing industry is booming again, but stocks are not depleting. The seaweed is turned into bioplastics. Petrochemical companies pivot to focus on end of life, composting and recycling and creating a circular economy.
Regulated artificial intelligence automates many jobs. Universal income covers basic needs, enabling freedom for technological innovation, art, travel, and ecosystem restoration. Healthy peatlands absorb carbon. Forests stretch from one end of the country to another. PV panels shade grasslands, reducing moisture loss and harbouring biodiversity. Profits from productive land are invested back into society, lifting millions out of poverty.
With energy independence comes the end of international conflict. Our minds turn once again to exploration: this time to the stars.
My grandchildren are calling to me. I turn back.
They want to hear a story of what life was like when I was young. ‘It was an awakening,’ I tell them. ‘The realisation of what humanity is truly capable of.’