Please ignore this message for future generations

`What a prescient, prophetic soul he was. What a shame nobody listened to him'
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The Independent Culture
THE OTHER day my son was watching a video in which Arnold Schwarzenegger was acting - I use the word loosely - the part of a large, well-armed man who was wreaking terrible vengeance on anyone who happened to be smaller or less well-armed than himself. I thought I should try to share in my son's interests for a moment, so I asked him what the film was about, and what sort of guy Arnold was meant to be.

"He's not a guy at all, Dad. He's a robot."

Let no one say that this age is without solutions to problems. We have a problem: too many actors who cannot play human beings convincingly. Solution: let them play robots. And what sort of robot is Arnold meant to be ?

"Oh, he's been sent from an age in the future when all Earth's resources have run out, and he has come back to this time to try to do something about warding off the future, and if you don't keep quiet I'll never find out any more..."

I think I've got that right. As he spoke, Arnold's lip curled and he killed a few bystanders. I wasn't quite sure how Arnold's mayhem would pave the way for a better future, and I wasn't allowed to find out, as my son ushered me from the room at this point so that he could watch it in peace. This was good, because instead of slumping beside my son and gawping at the screen, I was motivated to start thinking about my own duty to posterity. I had been vouchsafed a glimpse of the future, when all our resources will run out, and I still had a chance to do something about it.

Nobody else was going to. The older generation was interested only in Monica Lewinsky and the younger generation didn't seem too concerned about global future. There was my son, 11 years old, watching a film which was specifically designed to alert him to the rundown of the planet, and his only reaction was to want Arnold Schwarzenegger to knock out a few more enemies. But I could still do something about it. In the few years left to me on this earth, I could use my access to the daily newspapers to utter stark warnings ABOUT THE WAY THIS PLANET WAS RUNNING OUT OF RESOURCES UNLESS WE DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

This would have one good effect. It would mean that at some time in the future when mankind finally realised that our planet was doomed and started travelling back in time to look for solutions, they would come to the end of the 20th century and find my articles preaching against the wanton waste of our civilisation, and they would say: "Well, at least one person saw what was coming. Good old Kington sent out the right messages. What a prescient, prophetic soul he was. What a shame nobody listened to him."

They may come back and read this very article, in fact, and marvel at my foresight. If only people had listened to Kington's message! they will say. He had the message and nobody listened.

And what is the message in this epoch-making piece? The message that I would like men from the future to come back and read?

It is this.

Man is not worried about the future of the planet. Man is worried only about the future of man. We think that what is good for the planet is good for us. But the opposite is true. The planet has been damaged only by man, in man's selfish search for his own comfort. We cull badgers, we kill elephants, we use up oil in cars, we eradicate rainforests, we modify genes - for the sake of the planet? I think not. Merely for our own short-sighted ends. So the best thing that could happen is that people in the future read this article and say, Hmm, he's right, we should make mankind extinct for the sake of the planet...

It was at this point that my son, who I thought was watching TV but was in fact reading this over my shoulder, interrupted me.

"Dad," he said, "if these guys in the future can really travel down the information highways of time, they won't need to come back to read your piece. They'll be reading it already. They'll see that you are encouraging the elimination of the human race."

"So what?" I said.

"So they'll send a cyborg, probably played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, back to wipe you out."

He didn't look too unhappy about the prospect of a fight to the death between his father and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, he looked as if it might be a bit of fun. But I think he has a point about me being in danger, so if anyone from the future is reading this - just kidding!

Tomorrow, we'll be back to normal, when Monica Lewinsky will be here to answer your queries about the Budget