Picture the Earth 200 years from now. For mile after mile the fields are a vibrant green, the trees covered in spring bloom and the streams are sparkling clean. But something is wrong. Where are all the animals?
The sheep, the lambs, the cows? Why is no one out walking their dog? What happened to all those anglers who used to sit for hours on the river bank? And who got rid of the zoos, the race tracks?
Welcome to life on Earth after the animal revolution. A glass dome over the humans separates us from what are now all officially “wild” animals. Beef steaks are grown from cell cultures, and robotic pets are good at everything from minding the kids to caring for the elderly. And we have supercomputers to simulate all the drugs and medical advances anyone could ever dream of.
So what happened? The “Animals have Intrinsic Worth” lobby won out, that’s what happened. After a century of gently running down the stock, all animals were left outside the glass dome to find their own level: survive, evolve or die.
But it could never actually happen, could it? Don’t be too sure. Various strands in our incredibly convoluted relationship with other animals could all too easily create this situation. Our relationship with animals is complex, interdependent, even perverse, and it has spawned a million paradoxes.