Sociology professor draws attention to end of the world

“The world today is not the same as it was five years ago,” said Wilfrid Laurier University sociology professor Garry Potter. “But both for you and I it’s recognizably the same.”

“Twenty-five years from now what I said about five years from now will be completely opposite,” he continued. “It will not be remotely recognizably the same world at all.”

Over the course of the last several years Potter has been researching a project on the uncertain future of humankind that has culminated now in a film, book and website all titled Dystopia: What is to be done?.

“I started doing research on it quite a long, long time ago because I’m trying to cover almost all the problems that are facing humanity,” he said.

The results of the project, notably the film, contain a clear message Potter sees as pressing for the current generation of university students.

“Let’s jump to 20 years, maybe I’ll still be alive,” he explained. “25 years? No, I don’t think so. You will be though.”

The hour-long film, being screened Sept. 29 at the Princess Twin cinemas in Waterloo, emphasizes Potter’s point of view that there are many pressing issues to be dealt with for the future of the human species, issues that are being ignored by those who will be forced to deal with the consequences, notably students.

What’s lost on those who will encounter a dystopian future is of concern to Potter.

“Always being bombarded with images, it prevents people from coming to grips with what are
going to be huge problems,” he said.

“It’s sort of a schizophrenic thing. Yes, we’re aware that global warming is going to be a big problem but there’s a basketball game on Friday and I’m going to watch this and Facebook.”

“There are all these distractions so people aren’t taking it in,” he added.

Along with the aforementioned issue of climate change, Potter emphasized the other major issue confronting future generations: “peak oil” and the end of readily accessible and inexpensive energy. “We’re going to run out of cheap energy. That will cause a necessity forced upon the world to completely restructure,” he said.

“Will we do it in a sane, carefully planned out, sensible way or will we do it chaotically?”
What Potter deems necessary to confront the future is “dramatic political change,” notably the adoption of socialism.

“[There are] problems that are really urgently calling out for solutions and they’re not even beginning to think sensibly about them at the present,” he explained of current governments.

“I’ve got a causal thesis about it all which is that it’s capitalism that’s making it impossible.”
Society needs to recognize that it’s in a race between education and catastrophe, Potter said, but added, “There’s an emotional resistance to taking on the whole horror of it all.”