2068

I’m old enough to remember the Democratic Convention of 1968, 50 years ago this summer. I see, or think I see, repercussions from that time still playing out today.

Let’s flash-forward to September of 2068. Somehow, in some fashion, the world has moved past Brexit and Trump, past trade disputes and (can we hope?) past at least a couple of our current military conflicts. A new “now,” and (maybe) a new world order has emerged, with its own immediate past and facing its own pressing future.

How will this current era be remembered? What will it be remembered for? Who (or what) will hold the reins of power in 2068? What will our spiritual lives, if any, be like? How will daily life for ordinary citizens be conducted? What far-reaching social or political or technological effects (for good or ill) from the current era will have shaped that future?

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Comments

  • Global environmental disaster progresses. Sea level is 16 feet higher on average. 400 million haave died. Another 700 million are displaced. Europe south of the Alps is pretty nudge uninhabitable. The northern countries have become military dictatorships. One third of the population of the USA now lives in what was once Canada, mostly in the West. The American war with Mexico never happened. The territory was simply abandoned when average temperatures for 6 months topped 50°C. Australia and Africa had the same experience. Most of the world looks like a desert. The UK is a hot subtropical swamp. The atmosphere is so polluted that life expectancy is expected to drop to 35. Armed gangs pillage and order had completely broken down. With the progressive destruction of the planet's ability to make oxygen, the oceans are nearly dead, and the runaway disaster is expected to reduce the human population to about 2 billion by the turn of the century. There are those who advocate speeding this along humanely and drones are deployed to exterminate the starving and dying. This is a decades long project. Religious leaders indicate the biblical passages which indicate that this is God's will and of course we pray for the strength to do it.

    The era of 100 years ago and more is recalled much like the pre-WW1 era. Quaint and distant from present day.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited September 2018
    Remembering the current era? Spendthrift and shortsighted.
    Reins of power? Moved to the Far East.
    Spiritual lives? Exile
    Daily life? Relatively impoverished.
    Far-reaching effects from current era? Insufficient response to climate change will be blamed for much of the current (2068) ills.
  • I lean towards NP's dystopic vision. But on a good day: the wheels are still just about on, but the price of oil went through the roof and raw materials became ever more expensive. All durable goods cost 5-10 times 2018 levels in real terms, and personal powered transportation became the preserve of the very rich. Property prices continued to escalate, and most people are insecure tenants of the very rich. Public healthcare collapsed, and privatised medicine now offers top treatment to the very rich, whilst most others rely on folk medicine and a few charitable institutions.

    It's kind of like the 1930s, but with a very diverse population without much in the way of a unifying narrative, patriotic or religious, and with not much sense of social obligation. Folks with an idea of what might be coming moved to Japan some time ago.
  • Is there no hope?
  • Is there no hope?

    Well, the Lord coming again would do it.

  • None GG. In this world for us. Geological time scales of 100s of millions of years will take care of the planet. We've got to take care of humanity, which we always refuse to do. So humanity is doomed. The spiritual renewal starts all the time and we see glimmers, but we revert and go further down at each reversion. This takes out the environment and the people.

    On the other hand we could have a miracle, but we lurch toward the eve of destruction and kill the peacemakers.

    We can however continue with dignity and kindness. Like Viktor Frankl wrote of in the extermination camps. Be candles of love and kindness. And like Edna St Vincent Millay wrote, burn them from both ends, 'they will not last the night, but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends. They give a lovely light.'
  • I lean more along the lines of A Canticle for Leibowitz.
  • My only solace is that by 2068 we have better politicians.

    And then I realize that in 1968, they probably thought they would get better politicians in 2018.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    The hope is that being far-sighted and courageous will once again be seen as a political advantage, rather than an election loser.

    That used to be regarded as the province of statesmen (statespersons?). Looking further than short term advantage. You know, the sort of thinking that led to the formation of the European Community as a long term antidote to wars between European states. That was an exercise in far-sighted hope.

  • Sea level is over a foot above 2018. Bad enough. But it hasn't stopped Africa reaching 3 billion. A nearly third of the world is now black. Arcologies are on the march where the storm tides can't reach.
  • Honestly, I don't think there will be the significant changes some on this thread are predicting.

    Life for most people will proceed much as it does now. There will be a bit less ice at the poles and a bit less land in currently-low-lying areas, but not catastrophically so except for a handful of small islands with tiny populations. A few animal species will have gone extinct, but a few others will have come back from the brink thanks to conservation efforts.

    Oil will be more expensive, as will goods that have to be transported long distances. The relative cheapness of coal may have led to the reopening of a few mines in the UK, but it's more likely that more of it will be imported. Most people will have a bit less than they have now, but not anywhere near eat-the-pets poverty (for the vast majority). Fewer possessions will probably be good for us anyway.

    Brexit and Trump will have made the UK/US worse off in the short term, but the recovery will have happened by 2068. China and Russia will have been the biggest winners and will be far more significant world powers than now, but no country will be as dominant as America was at the start of the 21st century. This rebalancing of global power will also have led to less external meddling in the affairs of the Middle East, as none of the three major powers (US, Russia, China) will be dominant enough to act unilaterally.

    The discovery of fossilised microbes on Mars and oxygen-rich atmospheres on a few exoplanets will have ushered in a new era of space exploration. Astronauts have walked on Mars, but despite the worldwide pride in the mission it yielded little of scientific value and all subsequent missions beyond the moon have been by probes and robots that are easier and cost far less to send out (given that they don't need all that fancy food, water and atmosphere nonsense).

    People looking back fifty years to 2018 will see it as the beginning of a short period of Western isolationism and insularity that ultimately ended when it became clear that all it was achieving was the aforementioned rise of Russia and China.
  • Life for most people will proceed much as it does now. There will be a bit less ice at the poles and a bit less land in currently-low-lying areas, but not catastrophically so except for a handful of small islands with tiny populations.
    634 million people live below 30ft elevation.

    We have a refugee 'crisis' when Syria (pre-war population of 23 million) implodes, and most of the refugees are in neighbouring countries. We ain't seen nothing yet.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    634 million people live below 30ft elevation.

    And most of them will just move a few miles further inland.
  • In much warmer temperatures with nothing to eat. The tundra is just getting ready to burp up its permafrost methane. The arctic is warning much faster.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    634 million people live below 30ft elevation.

    And most of them will just move a few miles further inland.

    Oh dear. If you're still around for 2068 (hell, 2048), you're in for a rude awakening. Most of a shoreside-city's infrastructure is either at or below ground level, and that infrastructure is the only thing that makes living in a megalopolis possible. Destroy that, and people will leave - not move a few miles inland.

    If you don't think that's the case, why has London spent billions on flood defences, if it's just oh-so-easy to 'move a few miles further inland'? It just doesn't work like that.
  • Doc Tor wrote: »
    634 million people live below 30ft elevation.

    And most of them will just move a few miles further inland.

    Here’s an example for you. A substantial proportion of the population of Bangladesh live near the massive multi-river delta. The annual floods are trouble enough. Another 30ft would be a loss of an immense amount of land and they would have nowhere to go.
    Unless the West recognises that displaced Bengalis, amongst others, need somewhere to live that is.

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Yes. The other issue about climate change is that CO2 levels would continue to increase for a couple of decades, even if we put optimal remedial policies in place now. Watch the melting of the Antarctic ice. The signs are not good.

    And with the reins of power moving eastward, I'm pretty pessimistic about optimal global policies anyway. This isn't just another Project Fear.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Just to add to the cheerful tone of this thread, I'm likely to have been dust and ashes (or to have been eaten by worms) for some considerable time before 2068.

    Next week would be OK....
    :grimace:

    Ahem.

    However, some of my now-young female relatives will, long before 2068, I hope, have achieved their avowed goal of World Domination, and horrible grey televangelists/Polly Titians in suits (or equally horrible grey men in cardinals' robes) will be long supplanted....
    :grin:

    IJ
  • In the 2020s, rebellions, civil violence, insurgencies prompted by rising sea-levels and increasingly violent and widespread natural disasters led to periods of martial law. This led to the ultimate break-up of the United States into the People’s Republic of Califorwashegon, the Northeast Social Democratic Union, the Southern Christian Kingdom Alliance, the Mid-Atlantic Coalition, the Northern Plains Republic, and the Free Farmers Nation. As a result, global leadership shifted first to the Russo-European Union, where civic strife caused by eco-refugees pushed further states to break away, leading to the Union’s collapse.
    China, having defeated the Russian-European alliance in the economic and cyberwars of the 2030s, emerged as the New World Order’s leader. Recognizing even in the early years of the 21st century that – despite sharply-reduced populations due to mass deaths from disease, starvation, displacement, disasters, and violence – the survival of the human race was at stake, the Chinese government had begun greatly-expanded research into alternative energy sources, nutritionally-improved food crops also resistant to drought and disease, and water-conserving and water-purifying systems.
    Several dozen Chinese researchers, supported by hefty government grants, rendered use of fossil-fuels obsolete. China used its military might to end production and use of these. They also developed methods for clearing oceans of plastic, cleaning the air, and trapping and returning the methane emissions from thawing tundra deep underground. By 2068, temperature increases in both atmosphere and oceans have slowed to a crawl, buying both scientists and politicians time to begin work on restoring some balance to the world's remaining eco-systems.
  • 2068 Presidential Race: Barron Trump vs Aidan Clinton Mezinsky (Chelsea Clinton's son)?
  • sionisais wrote: »
    Here’s an example for you. A substantial proportion of the population of Bangladesh live near the massive multi-river delta. The annual floods are trouble enough. Another 30ft would be a loss of an immense amount of land and they would have nowhere to go.

    A 30ft rise in sea levels isn't going to happen, certainly not this century. The absolute worst of the worst-case scenarios that have been put out by the IPCC or NCA are about a fifth of that amount - and those assume increased emissions.

    Anthropogenic climate change is a very real and important issue, but despite the lurid fantasies of the doom-mongers it's not going to render the planet inhospitable within fifty years. Such exaggerations are not helping anything or anyone.

    Honestly, I almost get the impression that there are some on this thread for whom my scenario coming to pass would be a major disappointment. Almost as if they want modern civilisation to be destroyed. But I guess it's just the same as all those people back in 1968 who were utterly convinced that by 2018 the world would be a nuclear wasteland populated primarily by radioactive mutants, with the few remaining pockets of civilisation being barely-cohesive gatherings of feral subhumans just about held together by merciless lawmen/secret AI cabals/Tina Turner (delete according to preference).
  • Just as I said, when answering this question in 1980 - about what life would be like in 40 years' time - not much will have changed. I did predict the second Severn crossing, and got that right. But didn't predict the internet, which was a huge change. So I therefore predict that the most obvious changes will be cyber changes of some sort. Perhaps by then, people will be spending so long in the cyber bubble that they won't even notice any other changes around them....
  • MtM. Agreed. But. Two feet. 10 million Bangladeshis displaced. They're going nowhere. No one wants them, even the northern world that needs people now. They're brown Muslims. I don't do sci-fi. I love it, but it's all bollocks. But. 10 million Bangladeshis. Float them? And their food production? That's only 2,000 UN cruise ships. 40 a year. Nothing. But. Denmark might take a few boatloads. A hundred. Britain will have to and Western Europe generally due to population crash. So, yeah. It'll be all right. But. In fact 10 million won't be enough. Win win! But.
  • OK Marvin, not 30ft by 2068, but we’re going to have to face up to the real an inescapable problems. But I don’t think we will do that because the politicians will hide behind “the will of the people” and bury their heads in the sand.
  • In 1968, neither I nor my friends thought we'd live to see 30. We thought we, and civilization generally, were going down in flames. And while I confess to feeling that again on most days (reading the news is almost giving me PTSD), I recall that here I still am, several decades past 30 (though a few of those friends are no longer here -- but that's not because the world's gone up in flames).
  • Of course. What would you do? As a politician in a democracy?
  • A 30ft rise in sea levels isn't going to happen, certainly not this century. The absolute worst of the worst-case scenarios that have been put out by the IPCC or NCA are about a fifth of that amount - and those assume increased emissions.

    Anthropogenic climate change is a very real and important issue, but despite the lurid fantasies of the doom-mongers it's not going to render the planet inhospitable within fifty years. Such exaggerations are not helping anything or anyone.
    2068 will have a sea level rise of 20cm (give or take a wee bit) almost regardless of what we do to reduce CO2 pollution. That's not going to inundate much land. But will result in salination of a lot of a lot of ground water inland from the coast with consequence for agriculture. Increased storm frequency and intensity will lead to much more significant effects for coastal communities - even if land is above sea level that doesn't help if storm surges flood it every few years.

    Other climate changes will also significantly reduce habitability of large parts of the planet away from the coasts. This year the weather has significantly hit agriculture output in the UK, and elsewhere. Fires and heat have killed many even in the rich nations of Western Europe and North America, such weather would be even worse for those unable to afford the resources we used to fight large fires or aircon to keep cool. Extreme weather like that will also become more common as our planet warms.

    From 2068 I'd hope people will look back at 2018 as when we finally got serious about doing something to protect our planets climate. It'll be a simplified division of the previous century - 1968 to 2018 fifty years when we knew that burning fossil fuels was seriously screwing our climate, fifty years when it was too late to do much more than stop things getting too bad and learning to live with the consequences of the willful vandalism of the last 50 years.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Very good. Rising sea levels aren't the only climate change issue.

    There is some concern about a more sudden critical thawing process in Antarctica, releasing more water into the oceans than a more gradualist process would suggest. But that would just add misery to misery.

    What is beyond reasonable doubt is that climate change effects will be the most important global change factor shaping life in 2068. I think the next important factor will be the movement of the reins of power away from the USA towards the East.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    In 1968, neither I nor my friends thought we'd live to see 30. We thought we, and civilization generally, were going down in flames. And while I confess to feeling that again on most days (reading the news is almost giving me PTSD), I recall that here I still am, several decades past 30 (though a few of those friends are no longer here -- but that's not because the world's gone up in flames).

    Golly, yes. I well recall the student riots, the fears of bloody revolution, the Russians invading Czechoslovakia.....
    :fearful:

    As you say, we're (mostly) still here, 50 years on, though I do think the Young People Of Today may have a harder time of it over the next 50.
    :flushed:

    IJ

  • edited September 2018
    Re sea level rise.
    1.5 to 3 feet by 2100. But they don't account for the much faster arctic warming, which is already ahead of the 2°C rise they want to keep under. So we don't actually know if current projections are reasonable, they are not under-representations. The melting of permafrost is accelerating. The consequent release is methane which is 20 times more powerful re warming. And methane isn't actually properly reported.

    Contrary to Marvin the Martian's asserting that
    some want dystopia, it's the not wanting it and complacency that will contribute to it.

    I think the big war to come is the EU versus the USA, with the UK as Poland. The Chinese will stay out of it until nicely underway, Indonesia will surprise everyone and Russia will become less of an issue as it is already on track to being. The end of the war wik result in the partition of the USA with the Hispanic portion a new country.
  • GwaiGwai Purgatory Host
    Sometimes I think alarmism can contribute to complacency. If I talk to my Mom about the dangers of climate change,* she will tell me that people have predicted immediate disaster to her all her life and so far it has not happened. Ergo it will not happen now. People may well have been wrong about how soon the dangers would happen, but that doesn't count as proof they won't happen.

    *For the record, she does not deny that it is happening.
  • Indeed. It's the whole "Boy Who Cried Wolf" thing, with a dash of Chicken Little.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    The meat of Alan Cresswell's post is I think little more than a highlight of the predictions of the IPCC latest published report, possibly updated by things he knows via unpublished studies.

    My comment re the Antarctic ice sheet is actually mirrored in this report.

    Here is a quote from SPM2.4 which mentions the more general risk of abrupt and irreversible change.
    Abrupt and irreversible ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet is possible, but current evidence and understanding is insufficient to make a quantitative assessment. {2.4}

    Magnitudes and rates of climate change associated with medium- to high-emission scenarios pose an increased risk of abrupt and irreversible regional-scale change in the composition, structure and function of marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, including wetlands (medium confidence). A reduction in permafrost extent is virtually certain with continued rise in global temperatures.

    It is not crying wolf to take these forecasts seriously. The report is four years old now and I'm sure work continues re forecasting updates. Meanwhile, here is the headline quote from SPM2
    Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems (Italics mine

    By 2068, it will be clearer than now just how severe, pervasive and irreversible those impacts are then and will be further on.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Re sea level rise.
    1.5 to 3 feet by 2100. But they don't account for the much faster arctic warming, which is already ahead of the 2°C rise they want to keep under. So we don't actually know if current projections are reasonable, they are not under-representations. The melting of permafrost is accelerating. The consequent release is methane which is 20 times more powerful re warming. And methane isn't actually properly reported.

    Contrary to Marvin the Martian's asserting that
    some want dystopia, it's the not wanting it and complacency that will contribute to it.

    I think the big war to come is the EU versus the USA, with the UK as Poland. The Chinese will stay out of it until nicely underway, Indonesia will surprise everyone and Russia will become less of an issue as it is already on track to being. The end of the war wik result in the partition of the USA with the Hispanic portion a new country.

    If the UK is Poland is the US Germany and Europe the US?
  • The Danish proverb comes to mind.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    The Danish proverb comes to mind.

    And for the benefit of those of us not fully in touch with Danish proverbs?
  • Det er vanskeligt at spaa, især naar det gælder Fremtiden.
  • It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

    Thank you.
  • You're welcome.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    The meat of Alan Cresswell's post is I think little more than a highlight of the predictions of the IPCC latest published report, possibly updated by things he knows via unpublished studies.
    There is actually no need to go to the latest research. Climate science is a mature subject, there has been no substantial new discovery or radical change in our understanding of the climate in more than 50 years. We have more data, more detailed and better precision, all consistent with what was known before. We have more detailed models, largely reflecting improvements in computer technology, but the general predictions are consistent with the older models (the local details often differ as increased computational capacity allows local detail). The most frustrating thing about climate change is that we've had conclusive evidence of the effects of CO2 and methane on our climate, and what's needed to keep things under control, for 50 years and we're only now starting on the first small steps to address this ... small steps that would have been very effective 30 or 40 years ago, but are probably too small to make a difference now.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Thanks, Alan. That of course makes it even more obvious that we are not crying wolf here.

    Martin, I think there is a difference between predictions, as the word is used colloquially, and forecasting with probabilities, or probabilistic language, which is the IPCC approach. I think the Danish proverb is about the former of these.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    When I said agreed MtM that was on tone. Russia will have fully consolidated its southern buffer: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey: Pax Russiana will guarantee everybody's security. Even Kurdish and Sunni minorities. They're very good at that sort of quadruple think thing. In the Caucasus for a couple of centuries and now again. E. Europe for over a generation. Great Game playing. Against no other players at their level.

    As for space. Your conclusion is right, but not the premiss - there is no interest as even finding extrasolar oxygen will be meaningless to the vast majority and nothing will be found on Mars. And the only humans who could get there are the Chinese but they'll be too busy paving the S. China Sea. So may be India.

    Hopefully we'll have started constructing the space elevator.

    And aye Barnabas. I was thinking of No... & Ohher's hysterics. As for the IPCC. Nobody gives a damn.
  • This is a relevant NY Times article. It's a very long read, and will use one of the free monthly accesses for those without a subscription. It lays out a history of the early work that almost secured the US government taking a global lead in tackling climate change, and why that didn't happen.
  • I am not old enough to remember the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968, but I am enough of a fan of folk music to remember this classic from Phil Ochs (short cover version linked).
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host

    And well worth it. A missed opportunity with potentially fatal consequences.

  • GwaiGwai Purgatory Host
    For the record, I did not mean that people are being alarmist now. I meant that I think some people are sticking their heads in the sand a bit because they presume all will be alarmist. It just makes denials a little earlier.
    In practice, I mainly see the rich getting richer and the poor struggling more, but I keep predicting that the pendulum will flip and flip hard. I'm a flaming liberal in my country right now, but I predict that if I live out my life expectancy I will die middle of the road just because voters here are going to get way more liberal and I don't think I will.
  • Why would human nature change?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    This is a relevant NY Times article. It's a very long read, and will use one of the free monthly accesses for those without a subscription. It lays out a history of the early work that almost secured the US government taking a global lead in tackling climate change, and why that didn't happen.

    And still nobody gives a damn and it couldn't have happened even if it happened. Four years.
  • Because we're self-interested individuals at heart?

    As a socialist liberal, I'd like more liberals...but I fear this "rise of the hard right" has a while to play out. With pay stagnating, jobs becoming more precarious, rising life costs, etc. , I think the far right demagogues still have a willing audience which will make proper action re climate difficult as it will be played as a niche, leftist issue. I hope I'm wrong.
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