Predicting conflict between environmentalists vs. conservationists

Robert Allen offers predictions for Britain in 2050, inspired by Erik Hoel’s post on making good predictions for 2050:

As Erik pointed out in his piece, the 2050s are not as far away as they sound. Being 28 years away, predicting the future world of 2050 is the same challenge as predicting today’s world in 1992. I’m 29, so I don’t remember 1992, but I do remember a time when my household didn’t have mobile phones, a computer, or the internet.

Other than that technological side of life, most things remain strikingly similar: housing, school, average wages (adjusted for inflation), the % of time we spend working, and how we get around all have changed only somewhat and are not so radically different as to seem alien to someone from 1992 transported to today. We don’t have flying cars or robot butlers, and we don’t live in blade runner.

All of Robert Allen’s predictions are worth reading, but I want to highlight what I think is his most interesting prediction:

It’ll be environmentalists Vs conservationists

There’s nothing natural about the British countryside. Rolling hills populated by sheep divided by dry stone walls seem as old as time, but of course, these are manmade landscapes.

The words conservationist and environmentalist are currently used almost interchangeably but by 2050 the big divide between the two positions will be apparent.

In the 2030s in the race to hit the net-zero target, large amounts of tree planting will pitch environmentalists who want to re-forest large areas with conservationists who want to keep the English countryside the way it is now (which is not natural).

Breakthroughs in artificial meat will mean we could free up large amounts of farmland, but farmers will want subsidies to keep farming and keep it preserved it how it is. Environmentalists will want to be left to fall fallow and re-wilded. As more re-wilding occurs and less land is used for farming (thanks to improved yields, some vertical farming and artificial meat) they’ll be debates over the re-introduction of ever more and larger fauna. Think bears.

Outside of Britain some extinct animals will be brought back (Wolly Mammoths), but Britain will be too conservative to try re-introducing these.

Healing this division, should it manifest, will require recognizing that humankind exercises dominion over the earth—not a domination that permits despoliation and misuse, but a dominion that necessitates a tender closeness and care for the natural goods of the earth. Neither humankind nor the natural world can thrive in alienation from one another.