In early 2020, a mother and her two daughters from Krefeld, Germany, released six paper lanterns with their New Year’s wishes written on them. The sight of sky lanterns slowly rising under the candlelight has been fascinating for generations. However, this family did not expect what would happen later that night. The lanterns drifted and landed in the monkey house at Krefeld Zoo, where flames inside one of the lanterns caused a fire. Dozens of primates died in the fire, including two gorillas, five orangutans, and a chimpanzee.
Human foresight often falls short of 20:20 vision. However, this does not mean that we are destined to repeat our mistakes forever. It is important to recognize that sky lanterns are illegal in many countries as we cannot predict where they will land. Additionally, much of the apparent progress related to human activity has not come without unintended consequences such as burning forests, melting glaciers, and declining biodiversity.
Our trash can now be found even in the deepest ocean trenches and the outer regions of the atmosphere. Human activity driven by conspiracies and plans has dramatically affected the Earth, leading scientists to declare a new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene. To explore how we can address these challenges, a book titled Inventing Tomorrow has been published. The book explores how our ability to think about the future has transformed both us and the planet.
In Greek mythology, the figure Prometheus is credited with giving humans the gift of fire from heaven, which enabled our species to flourish. The lesser-known part of the story is that the name Prometheus means foresight. As we strive to overcome the challenges of the Anthropocene, it is essential to recognize the power of foresight and work towards a better future.