Adapting To The Future

Futurism is a subject that fascinates many of us. I go through stretches of time intensely considering what civilization might be like after I’ve passed away. Much of this pondering has to do with what type of legacy will my generation (boomers) bequeath to people who have not yet been born. Specifically what trends have we set in motion?

Philosophers have reminded us that change is inevitable. That all changes, even the change we wish to happen have an element of melancholy because we leave important parts of us behind in order to live in the present and formulate essential plans and goals for the future. We understand that one life must die in order to make room for the next. We create our legacy either by default or by design.

Society tends to trust the future to whatever is the default state through apathy, fear, and neglect. Futurists take technological and natural trends into account and temper their projections by reminding themselves about social inertia.

To those of us who remember the demise of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Berlin Wall more than 30 years ago, we need to remind ourselves that the year 2040 is closer than we like to think. It’s good to be aware of the future even for those of us who will be elderly or dead by that year. What might be the new normal for civilization in the years that are as close to us as the turning of the last millennium?

Energy production is vital to our survival, what forms of energy will civilization need and use 20-years from now? It’s likely that petroleum will continue its downward trend. OPEC has projected the price of a barrel of oil will be more than $160. We can compare this figure with today’s price of around $47 per barrel. So, renewables such as wind and geothermal appear to be the most likely forms of energy we will rely upon in the not too distant future.

Housing costs will continue to climb if current conditions continue. People in Nebraska might expect rent and mortgage payments in the future that are comparable to those in San Francisco today. I hate to consider what people who currently live in places like San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu will be forking out for a roof over their heads in 2040. It appears that poverty will greatly increase if we continue neglecting the problem.

Futurists have been warning us for decades that water shortages will be major worries. They appear to be correct. Not only will traditionally dry places, such as the Middle East suffer serious water shortages, so will places as diverse as the Iberian Peninsula, the Chilean coast, and the Southwestern continental United States. Such areas will notice serious negative impacts on the ability to grow food and provide potable water.

The elephant in the room, of course, is global climate change. The shifting climate and incidents of more severe weather phenomenon will increase the effects of above scenarios and cause unforeseeable crises. The effects of climate change will be inauspicious for life on Earth.

There are other trends that may or may not be positive depending upon people’s individual status and where they live. Automation in industry and daily life will probably increase greatly if today’s trends continue. With higher population numbers more people will be competing for smaller numbers of skilled jobs. This does not bode well for paychecks. So while we may look forward to amazing, fantastic devices and gadgets, fewer of us will be able to afford to buy them.

Space exploration will probably continue to progress. There will be more focused exploration and possible exploitation of the Moon and Mars. Although it is unlikely there will be a Martian colony any time soon, there could well be scientific and commercial outposts on those places. They might be sustained in much the same manner as is today’s International Space Station.

The important takeaway about adapting ourselves for the future is that unless we take meaningful, serious, significant steps away from our current trends, civilization could be on the brink of collapse in 20-years. Population increases plus climate change induced food and water shortages will threaten the very foundation of human society. Such shortages will fuel terrorism and generalized civil unrest. As much as we’d like to feel happy and optimistic about the future, we cannot sweep our current trends under the rug.

Those of us who are alive today cannot afford apathy and neglect any longer. We need to be mindful of today’s actions and how they will certainly impact future generations and life as we know it on Earth. We really have our work cut out.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes professor emerita in the School of Social Science in the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, Joan Wallach Scott. “Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.” 

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, cultural highlights, Environment, Meanderings, philosophy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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