What students hope the world will look like in five years

Three contributors' visions for the future

These three writers share their hopes for the future.
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Thinking about the future right now might be daunting. Will our climate be worse? Will our political landscape be increasingly divided? Will the global economy tank? For some, it’s best not to dwell on these scary possibilities.

However, it can also be helpful to think positively about the changes that can be made over a five-year period. These three Journal contributors have a vision for the planet in five years—here’s what they want to improve.

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“I hope in the next five years antiquated 9-to-5 jobs finally die and remote workplaces become more normalized.

There’s no good reason, in the modern workplace, to be corralled into an office for eight hours a day to complete tasks that I could effectively accomplish in half the time at home or in a coffee shop. We could easily use technology to replace stuffy offices and soul-deadening work.

Companies need to cast aside this outdated paradigm that dictates the need for some pompous supervisor hanging over our shoulders in order for us to be productive and have our conduct assessed.

The general public would be much healthier, happier, and more productive if employment was assessed purely based on results rather than how long you were present in an arbitrary, geographically predetermined location.”

CJ Cowan, ArtSci ’19

“Tobacco use may not get as many headlines in the media as the climate crisis or mental health, but this issue definitely deserves some of our attention. Smoking not only increases a person’s risk of developing cancer, but also threatens the health of smokers’ loved ones, who breathe in second-hand smoke. The diseases that result from this deadly addiction also create a significant economic burden on families, communities, and the overall health care system.

However, tobacco is the largest cause of preventable death in the world, and I believe considerable progress in reducing its consumption can be achieved in the span of five years. 

Knowing that marketing and design can strongly influence the products that people—especially young people—choose to purchase, we should advocate for plain packaging, which has been proven to be effective in alleviating this global health problem. Brown boxes with grey text and graphic warnings lessen the appeal of tobacco and clearly inform users about the dangers of smoking.

From Australia to Ireland, there are currently 14 countries with finalized requirements for plain tobacco packaging. In Canada, these regulations will officially come into effect at the manufacturer level next week on Nov. 9.”

Zier Zhou, ArtSci ’20

“Five years from now, I hope to see less income inequality, both within countries and between them. I see this as a necessary step in our fight against the climate crisis.

The wealthiest people and the most powerful industrialized countries around the globe bear the biggest responsibility for climate change, but the poorest people suffer the most. 

As individual citizens, there’s not much we can do to combat the effects of the climate crisis. Those with the largest carbon footprint are billionaires, who use private jets and expensive cars to travel frequently, among other planet-harming actions.

The wealthiest 10 per cent of people on the planet are responsible for nearly half of all lifestyle consumption emissions, which are carbon emissions caused by individuals, not industries. It’s hard for the rest of us to curb emissions by carpooling or taking the bus when those at the top are abusing their resources so egregiously.

Moreover, around the globe, the poorest are disproportionately affected by climate change. A country like Vietnam is much more vulnerable to rising temperatures because its economy is based largely on agriculture. Countries in the global south are also less equipped to respond to natural disasters worsened by the climate crisis.

When powerful countries and wealthy people don’t do their part, like when the US pulled out of the Paris Agreement, poor countries and people who are the lowest emitters end up suffering the most. This is unjust. I hope to see the gap of income equality shrink in the coming years to help displaced peoples and those whose industries are hurt by the rising climate.”

Nathan Gallagher, ArtSci ’21

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