Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Predict the future

My hot and spicy friend was asking people the other day what they are doing to prepare for the future and got some great comments. I wanted to extend on that thread and find out people's impression of the future. In other words, what kind of future are they preparing for?

So, today you get to predict the future. What do you think the Earth will be like in 2030, climate-wise? What do you think the US will be like - how do you think we'll be impacted by peak oil, food shortages, economic issues, social issues, etc.? Do you think we are headed toward a dystopia, utopia or somewhere in between?

I'm leaving it wide open, so anything is game for discussion.


Indiamommy said...

I think two very important things will be present in 2040.

All species do 1 of 2 things...adapt, or perish.

First, the population will adjust and adapt. We are human afterall. We will have a very sever challenge for the next 30 years, and then we will see adaptation occur. Those things we depend now will have not adapted. I don't believe our housing and transportation can get any worse. We will find new ways to live. We will find new sources of food and water. I don't think we will be living in "Water World" where Kevin Swayze stars.

Next, I believe that there will be a time in the next 30 years where creative individuals will develop new products for the new way of life. Think of the 1990's and how internet usage came into the average persons home and office. Something as incredible as the internet will be developed that will make live just as practical and enjoyable as life is today. It will be in the form of communication.

I think all the electronics and amusements will be very different, but they will exist on a new level.

Between now and the next 30 years, I think there will be alot of difficulty in managing our basic needs from food,to water, and housing. However, I believe that the problems we have been stricken with concerning the splintering of families will only get better.

I'll be 73 in 30 years, and I bet I will be able to tell some interesting stories.

Anonymous said...

When I was a little girl, I thought in year 2000 our cars would fly... which they still don't, nearly 10 years after the due date.
In 30 years from now, I think things will also be pretty much the same, with a bit more environmental-friendly technologies in developed countries, but as it is already too late to save much, less developped countries will have suffered from floods and forest disapperance and desert extension and everything predicted and they'll have had some more deaths and poverty.
In the future I only see humanity, as usual, walk very slowly to its end, without seeing far enough to change its path. Oh my, this seems very pessimistic ! But well, I see changes, but oh so slight I can't imagine it will really make a difference.

Anonymous said...

By 2030 it will be clear that climate change is real to everyone and also our predictive models will (hopefully) have improved with additional data. So we will have a better idea of where we are headed and what can be prevented/avoided.

Agriculture will continue to struggle to overcome drought and poorly timed rainfall. Food prices will be insanely high. Almost everyone will garden or benefit from social networks with people who do garden. The oceans, at this point, will be on their last gasp, eating ocean fish will be a delicacy; rare and prohibitively expensive.

As for Peak Oil, if we don't find an alternative with sufficient reserves (perhaps nat. gas, but likely not) then I see rationing (either overt or via high prices) of fuel to preserve supply chains for food and goods. The Middle East will be a mess as their oil economies collapse and they are unable to sustain alternative economic activity. Russia will leverage its resources in a bid for geopolitical dominance. The US won't be in short supply of conflict.

If we haven't done large scale rail networks, we will be working on them by 2030. Day-to-day transport will rely on bicycles and maybe electric scooters. People will live where they work.

For electricity, no matter how distasteful we find it, we _will_ be using nuclear power and burning coal with CCS to sequester the carbon. We have so much coal, I can't see how we won't use it unless someone figures out some new miracle energy source.

We will continue to believe that futuristic technology will save us. At the same time, the effects of our behavior will disquiet that optimism as we see entire ecosystems die. I would imagine a renewed interest in zoos will spring forth from seeing species go extinct in the wild.

The wild card for me, is space exploration. I don't know if it's because my background as a writer is in Sci Fi and Fantasy and I spent a lot of time hanging out with Nasa scientists/writers or what...BUT Space is our Christopher Columbus expedition. We know there is oil out there and gas and other nat. resources. We have the tech to map that out and the next step will be harvesting/mining it. OR I could see shooting our industrial garbage into space (not saying I agree with it, but I can see it being a policy).

I will try to come back later and add more, but for now I have to do some toddler wrangling.


Chile said...

There are tremendous resources available on the Internet where people can check out predictions of climate change impacts on specific regions - and even specific industries, sea level rise impacts on flooding and fresh water resources, peak oil scenarios, economic analysis, and accounts of what has happened when resources become seriously limited, whether they are food, water, energy, or money.

Living being are hard-wired to seek out the most gain for the least pain and least effort. When there is not enough to go around, it's going to get uncomfortable and difficult. I don't think I'll see "Mad Max" situtations within my lifetime or the zombie hoards, but I think day to day life will be more of a struggle simply meeting daily requirements for food, water, and shelter. I don't think we'll be living in Utopia.

TDP said...

This exercise is like the kid's book series "Choose your own adventure" with every choice leading to another more precarious challenge. I don't see any positive outcomes for the trajectory we are on. Even if we make different choices along the way.

It all depends on how much we continue to hold on to our power/wealth over anything else orientation. Currently, politically, we say there is a conflict between a corporate orientation (free market) and a government orientation to solutions. The sides have been divided up like its all just football. Everyone wants to win just to win, regardless of the prize. But Government policies, laws, and practices have been skewed over the past five decades to favor business interests. So actually they are the same team,Government and business are one and the same now so this is actually a false choice. How much more we allow power/wealth interests to dominate and decide the direction of things in the next few years will be the major influence on what the climate, environment and liviability levels are in the next 30 years. Since I have no illusions that we will free ourselves from the "growth" imperative, my vision of the future is a desolate one, not by desire, but because I have no faith that those who desire power and wealth have any vision beyond immediate self-interest.

Business/government will continue to make decisions based on short term, immediate needs at the expense of trashing the planet-toxifying it so that nothing can prosper for several millenia. We will continue to do what few other species do - shit where we eat. There will be pockets of good soil, water and air, but only for those who can afford it. Canada will become very powerful and very much under attack for their vast water reserves. Lack of drinkable water and healthy soil will end the human species. It will take another 1000 years before that happens, but it will happen.

I've been reading doomer sites, can ya tell?

Amber said...

On a good day I envision small, localised, permaculture communities a la Transition Towns, or something similar.

On the not so good days, I see most large species going extinct, 3-5 billion people dying from drought, famine, war and dislocation.

I also see mass psychological trauma for the relatively 'priviledged' people in the West and Northern Hemisphere, who are more insulated from the effects of climate change and peak oil.

These are the people who say now, 'well at least it won't be so bad for us.' Maybe so, but I shudder to think of what effects it will have on our psyche as we watch the suffering of billions unfold before us...
(Think of post traumatic stress disorder for soldiers who witness the horrors of war and multiply that by a kajillion.)

M- Given resource depletion and energy scarcity, how do you envision that we'll have the 'juice' to get to space, harvest whatever resources are there, bring them back and refine them into something usable? I can't imagine the energy return on energy invested could be anywhere close to making it a worthwhile endeavour.

Green Bean said...

I think arguments about whether there is such a thing as climate change will be a thing of the past. I think that we'll still be trying to eek out a living on our old model but that more and more we will live locally. We will grow as much of our food as we can though I suspect the west, where I live, will be very very dry. We will live in tighter knit communities relying more and more on our neighbors and they on us.

Airplane travel will either be a thing of the past or a very very rare luxury enjoyed by the privileged few.

I suspect that the US will be embroiled in many resource wars. I just don't see us willingly giving up our way of life. . . as much as we should.

I don't know what else to think of or hope for but I do fear for the lives that my children will live.

Anonymous said...


With regards to space and fuel, my feeling is govts will ration to ensure supply for those kinds of projects. And we will have some level of oil available for quite some time. And someone somewhere will refine biofuel into rocket fuel.

I realize my thoughts on space seem ambitious or perhaps overly optimistic, but I think it's quite logical. If we can't engineer our way out of this mess, we'll be looking for new frontiers. Given that we are finding oil on places like Saturn's moon Titan, we will try to use it. I'm not guaranteeing we will be successful, but we'll sure try and we have enough technology, imo, and data to make the jump to mining/drilling/harvesting.

My other unpopular and weird idea is that we'll take nuclear waste and put it on the moon. But that requires a level of safety we haven't yet achieved since way too many shuttles go *boom* still before they've even left earth's atmosphere.

I could be wrong on all of this, however, I think I'm right when it comes to the core idea; we are not in space for 'fun', we are looking for what will make us money or give us a geopolitical advantage here on earth. With what we are discovering 'out there', I think you can make an argument that space exploration could be a factor in how we address peak oil and climate change.


Greenpa said...

Lilith: "When I was a little girl, I thought in year 2000 our cars would fly... which they still don't, nearly 10 years after the due date. "

Actually, the magazine Popular Science had us all commuting in flying cars by 1960 or so!

And- somebody is working on bringing one to market- right now. Their basic premise- everybody else has tried to take a car, and make it fly. They're inverting it; taking a basic plane, and adapting it to driving. We humans are a hoot to watch.

Greenpa said...

oop. I inadvertently triple posted- new computer, old keyboard command is doing something different.

The Future. I'm pretty much in agreement with Amber, including the good days and bad days.

The big thing to remember- history, which I love and use all the time- is not going to be a good guide for us this time.

In past mass catastrophes, there's usually been a frontier where people could run. We're out of places to hide.

Space "the final frontier!"- without some radically new way to get there, it's just too energy intensive to make any real difference in life on the surface. You'd have to burn all the oil in Saudi Arabia to put 1 million people into space- and we've got 7 thousand million right now.

It's such a huge and diverse world now- I think- we're likely to see ALL the scenarios everyone is imagining. Bad- and good. Somewhere.

Where it will all shake out- is really too far away to see.

The Internetter said...

Let's just say that I wish I had enough money for a down payment for land in the Yukon.

Doyu Shonin said...

Ya, GB, global warming denialists will be a thing of the past.

I won't see this -- in 30 years I'd be 90, which I don't expect to make -- and my oldest son will/would be 71.

But I expect my daughter, who is training to be a nurse practitioner, will be regarded as a doctor, under rules relaxed by necessity (like building codes and such), and that some of her patients will trade eggs or firewood (if local) and cartons of cigarettes or ammunition (if passing through) for her services. many people will have begun migrating from places south of here (Oregon) into places north of here, some using draft animals, some using vehicles held together with baling wire and emitting smoke and wood-gas residues. Local bands of "police" in a motley variety of uniforms will collect "tolls" from them -- so those needing things like medical assistance will have cash-flow issues.

Community cooperatives will tend to be based on churches or temples, depending on where you are.

There will have been some wars, some crop failures, quite a lot of storms and forest fires, and a surprising (even to me) number of really serious epidemics. Already there will be less people, though the triage will go on for at least another century.

I'm going to go re-read "Player Piano" ... it's been awhile ...

Natalie said...

I don't know how far into the future this is, but I have this visual scenario that plays out in my head - a strange amalgamation of the movies Blade Runner (wasn't that supposed to be 2019?) and Grapes of Wrath - when I let myself ponder just what life will be like for my kids. That may be more like 60 or 80 years off, though. Or maybe never.

I just don't think the world will fall apart that quickly. I agree that it won't be linear. But doomsday in 2030?

In twenty years, I think we will be (or giving serious thought to): mining our own landfills for resources; desalinization for potable water; relying more on urban/suburban agriculture; crime prevention and domestic law enforcement will replace the war on terror (the haves vs. the have-nots); inflation will stifle our economy; taxes will be greatly increased while far fewer services will be rendered in return, increasing the number of Americans living on the edge.

I also think there will be a huge shift in our cultural outlook toward pragmatism, mostly out of necessity. I think, like Chile said, we'll be working harder to make ends meet. Getting ahead won't mean the same thing in 2030, both good and bad.

Moonwaves said...

A film premiered in the UK and Ireland last week and was released for general release yesterday which sort of looks at this question. is the website (with a link to the making of it) and here's the blurb:
"The Age of Stupid is the new movie from Director Franny Armstrong (McLibel) and producer John Battsek (One Day In September). Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance? It will be released in UK cinemas on 20 March 2009, followed by other countries."
Thought you might be interested to hear about it (if you haven't already)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Granpa for the information !
The funny thing is that now that I'm grown up, I'm thinking "a flying car ? What for ?" Wouldn't it be totally useless ? I'd rather see a brand new low-energy-high-efficiency car... I guess at least a flying car would have a symbolic value (at last ! future is near !), but that's all...