Is Ecotopia Real Yet?
The Original Ecotopia
The book "Ecotopia" by Earnest Callenbach describes an eco-friendly utopia. Written in 1975, it is considered a seminal work in science fiction. A number of science fiction elements of Ecotopia have become reality, though we forget how good our world is given the endless doom and gloom given by environmentalists.
Ecotopia limits businesses to 300 member partnerships. The rising gig-economy and outsourcing wave is challenging large businesses in all areas except large scale manufacturing and infrastructure work. For example, only large businesses and the government still have the ability to build jet liners, major roads and power plants.
Improvements in small scale industrial printers and projects like Open Source Ecology may decrease the reliance on large businesses in the future by making all manner of goods capable of being produced locally by small businesses and individuals. Where Ecotopia failed in its vision was the realization that business would become global. An adult in California can have a virtual assistant in the South, a programmer based in India, a technical writer in Eastern Europe and a small manufacturing firm hired in China to design a product and make it.
Suburbs are increasingly discouraged by civil planners. The high cost of gasoline is already revitalizing the inner suburbs of many cities. Forget high speed rail when you can connect at light speed. Telecommuting, something not envisioned in Ecotopia, has decreased our transportation needs.
Online educational programs for college and K-12 are spreading and will likewise permit lower energy usage to get from here to there because there is less need to go anywhere. Instead of forcing everyone into dense cities, car-sharing of private vehicles is a more likely transition to reduce the number of cars and improve efficiency of those that do exist without violating private property rights.
No fault divorce is legal across the nation, while marriage rates have fallen for most demographic groups. Homosexuality is legal in all states. Homosexual partnerships are socially tolerated regardless of the legal status or protections they are given. The greatest problem unforeseen in Ecotopia is the illegitimacy rate for children at approximately 30-40%.
Given many studies demonstrating that children from broken homes and of single mothers go to jail, commit suicide, drop out of school, suffer mental illness and use drugs at five to ten times the rate of their peers from intact homes, the paradise of sexual freedom falls apart as the next generation contains several percentage points more criminals, mentally ill, helpless drug abusers and psychopaths.
Written in the balmy afterglow of the idealistic 1960s, the social devastation left by children raised without intact, married families was a likely outcome overlooked by the sexual revolution Ecotopia foresaw.
Holistic Medical Care
Mercury free fillings, sonograms instead of exploratory surgery, diagnostic blood tests instead of simply giving many injections are all commonplace. Better childhood nutrition and immunization have also created a generally healthier population that does not suffer disabilities until a much later age (cardiac challenges at age 70, no 50).
The rising cost of medical care is not driven by horrific pandemics but increasingly expensive options to extend life when it would otherwise end. And when massage is now a standard part of many Health Maintenance Organization plans, we can say in confidence that while oral sex is not yet part of any official medical practice, holistic care has increased substantially.
Solar cells are available for installation on any home. Solar powered school lights, solar powered walk way lights, solar powered gate openers ... the implementation of solar power has only been slowed by environmental conditions and efficiency of the solar cells themselves. Wind power has expanded across the United States.
Ironically, its implementation has been slowed by environmentalists who alternatively complain about the noise, interfering with the view and the modest impact to migratory birds. A computer network powered by eco-friendly power like dams and geothermal is already standard for Google's data centers. Energy efficiency has skyrocketed, though this is forgotten since we live in larger homes that mask lower energy usage per square foot.
Reading and Information
Print of demand (POD) books are described in Ecotopia as a means of generating printed books if reading the text off a screen is not good enough. The Amazon Kindle and iPad are the modern replacements for the printed book. The internet was not a fully fleshed concept in Ecotopia. However, the ability to watch movies and educational material like KhanAcademy have exploded, further reducing demand for printed media.
Given medical marijuana dispensaries scattered across the Western United States and federal charges of relaxed standards for receiving a prescription, this is a reality for those living in Ecotopia today. Changing attitudes such as polls revealing roughly half of the population approves of cannabis use could lead to even wider usage.
The rise of extreme sports has provided a new form of entertainment, if one excludes gladiatorial rings of the Classical Era. Fight clubs, extreme sports, adventure tourism and eco-tourism have risen globally, making extreme sports accessible to most who want to participate.