I am going to take a vain attempt at looking into the future! The place I am going to look will likely surprise you until you have heard me out. The future I am going to look at starts in Africa. Now before you click the exit button let me explain.
Africa is finally starting to come into the 20th century. I know it is a century late but better late than never. Electricity, telecommunications, and TV are becoming more common in some of the more agrarian countries. They are doing that without a grid network as is common in most industrialized countries today. Solar panels, cellular communications and satellite dishes are the means of this progress.
I know that for many today it is impossible to remember that rural areas in the U.S. were without electricity for years after it was available in urban areas. The reason for that was the expense of putting the power grid in remote areas. It took FDR’s New Deal along with the REMC (rural electric membership cooperative) to make it happen. For the same reason telephones were late in coming to hinterland too. And believe it or not most rural areas still have nothing but a dial-up internet connection that is about twenty-times slower than what you get in most urban areas.
Let’s face it, it takes a lot of money to build our current day grids that supply us with so much of what it means to be in the 21st century. The grid is not a static thing; it needs to be constantly upgraded in order to keep up with demand. More and more electrical power stations are needed. More and faster internet connections mean moving from copper to fiber-optic lines. Satellites are almost constantly being launched to keep up with our insatiable demand for more and more information.
Looking into the future I see the African model as being the most efficient one for the 21st century. No longer will our homes be connected to power stations requiring a huge infrastructure of wires and power sources. Even today we have the technology to take our homes “off-the-grid”. Solar and wind power will be the energy source for the middle 21st century house. No more nuclear power plant with possible devastating failures. No more acid rain and CO2 because of coal-burning.
Land based telephone lines are becoming rarer and rarer as each year passes. It won’t be long before the telephone pole will also be a thing of the past. Cables run throughout our communities to provide us with internet connections and TV will be replaced by Satellite dishes that will be so small as to not even be noticed on our houses.
Africa is showing us that we can live off-the-grid in the 21st century. Can you imagine a city without all the wires strung throughout? Can you imagine never having to be without electricity during blizzards because of broken power lines? It does seem ironic that the most backwards continent on the earth is likely showing us the future but I believe that to be the case.
Now that you have heard my arguments my opening statement doesn’t seem so absurd after all does it? 🙂