The Future According to George
The world sat with baited breath, eyes glued to the long-developing situation that was finally showing signs of fruition. Hours, days, weeks of coverage had all boiled down to this one moment, this singularity of combined global attention. This was not just one person's moment, or one family's moment, or one country's moment; this was an event for all humanity.
The royal baby had arrived.
If the above hyperbole went unnoticed, then allow me to be clear: the arrival of the 8 lb, 6 oz immaculately-conceived George Alexander Louis is not an exemplar of truly important world news that should demand our attention. But due to the nature of our broadcast media and the sensationalism that we require from it, it was this week's biggest news story. Coverage of the birth of the illustrious infant was not limited to the gossip rags and tabloids; CNN, the Huffington Post, USA Today, the New York Times, Fox News, NPR, the Washington Post all got caught up in Knocked Up: Royal Baby. It was a feeding frenzy of neonatal nomenclature and infantilizing information-gathering.
But while the journalistic flies swarm around the bouncing bundle of boyhood brilliance, there is one question we should be asking ourselves: what kind of world will the prodigal son grow up in?
The peal of Westminster Abbey's bells greets the newly-minted monarch, welcoming the official coronation of the United Kingdom's newest royal sovereign, King George VII, son of the former monarchs King William and Queen Katherine. Many likely still remember the fervor that surrounded the new king's birth in 2013, just fifty years ago. Of course, the world has changed much since then.
King George will be ruling over a gradually-shrinking Great Britain, the old coastal shores and seaside towns slowly being subsumed by rising tides. The exponential increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the turn of the century has hastened the melting of the polar ice caps, raising sea levels around the world and reshaping many nautical borders. The rise in sea levels due to climate change has contributed to a number of devastating floods around the world. Of course, few of us could forget the great Thames Flood of 2045, which devastated London after the city's officials failed to raise the river's barrier in the face of climate change's worsening effects. King George will likely have to push the government to take greater steps to further reduce Britain's carbon emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and push for more restrictive international emissions agreements.
The new sovereign will surely also have to address the developing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. Since the advance of climate change has exacerbated water scarcity in the more arid regions of the world, localized violence now quickly escalates into full-scale regional conflict. While Asia's population has largely leveled off, Africa's population has continued to grow quickly, reducing per capita resource availability and fermenting even more tension. As the least developed countries' populations continue to surge, the international community's ability to handle inter-state conflict will likely continue to weaken.
With petroleum prices at an all-time high, and the industry's wells producing far less than they did years ago, the need for a global shift to renewable energy has never been more pressing. The global market's failure to adequately incorporate green energy successfully has left us without a means of moving past this imminent energy disaster. As the oil wells dry up and the empty coal mines are sealed, George VII must push the Prime Minister and Parliament to create policy geared towards solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower.
The world's shrinking nuclear arsenal hasn't lessened the cost of war in the face of new advances in cyber warfare. No longer are battles fought on the battlefields with guns and artillery, but rather in the cloud and on the web with lines of code. George VII will preside over a necessary shift in the country's and the world's armed forces, phasing out much of the physical for the digital.
Finally, what can be said for the state of the world as a whole? The United States has failed to ratify a multilateral treaty since the 1990s, North Korea's vituperations have increased tenfold since their successful salvos into South Korea, and China shows no signs of curtailing its environmental degradation and greenhouse gas contribution. The East-West relationship has grown increasingly cold, limiting the degree to which diplomacy can achieve meaningful advances.
What will George VII be remembered for? Will he be reminiscent of the "faintly ludicrous" King George II, or the man-of-the-people, modest "Farmer George," George III? Will he stand alongside the "contemptible, cowardly, selfish, unfeeling" George IV, or King George VI, who led Great Britain through World War II? King George VII should take a page from his more well-lauded predecessors and stand as an example for the international community. The Green King, the Peacemaking Regent, the Global Unifier: these are titles George VII should aspire to encapsulate. Our future depends on it.
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