'10 Things That Could Go Wrong In 21st Century' Article From 1997 Is Eerily Accurate
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A 1997 magazine article predicted a list of things that could go wrong in the 21st century... and, um, almost all of them have come true.
A cutting of the list was posted on Reddit yesterday, with the post saying: "In 1997 Wired magazine published a '10 things that could go wrong in the 21st century'; Almost every single one of them has come true."
The graphic is from an article in Wired magazine, titled 'The future history of the world: a time line for the long boom'.
In the full article, the author explained: "Say we are in the midst of a 40-year millennial transition, a period that began right around 1980. Say we are on the front lip of a worldwide economic boom.
"Looking back, we can identify early signs of the forces that have gathered strength over the last 15 years and are now driving through our lives. By following that forward motion, we can rough out possible developments in the next couple decades."
They added: "These are not outright predictions, but informed projections. They help give shape to a positive scenario of the future, the long boom."
The article then went on to list out 10 things that could 'cut short the long boom' - that is to say, things that might go wrong and in turn end the period of economic growth.
The list reads:
- Tensions between China and the US escalate into a new Cold War - bordering on a hot one.
- New technologies turn out to be a bust. They simply don't bring the expected productivity increases or the big economic boosts.
- Russia devolves into a kleptocracy run by a mafia or retreats into quasicommunist nationalism that threatens Europe.
- Europe's integration process grinds to a halt. Eastern and western Europe can't finesse a reunification, and even the European Union process breaks down.
- Major ecological crisis causes a global climate change that, among other things, disrupts the food supply - causing big price increases everywhere and sporadic famines.
- Major rise in crime and terrorism forces the world to pull back in fear. People who constantly feel they could be blown up or ripped off are not in the mood to reach out and open up.
- The cumulative escalation in pollution causes a dramatic increase in cancer, which overwhelms the ill-prepared health system.
- Energy prices go through the roof. Convulsions in the Middle East disrupt the oil supply, and alternative energy sources fail to materialize.
- An uncontrollable plague - a modern-day influenza epidemic or its equivalent - takes off like wildfire, killing upward of 200 million people.
- A social and cultural backlash stops progress dead in its tracks. Human beings need to choose to move forward. They just may not...
Naturally, the first thing we were all probably looking for was a nod to the pandemic, which you could argue sounds a lot like that 'uncontrollable plague'.
Thankfully, the worldwide death toll hasn't reached the 200 million mark yet (currently, it's a still-terrifying total of more than 5.1 million), but the number of cases fits the bill with a worldwide total of more than 258 million.
And yep, that point about the 'European Union process breaks down' will no doubt come as an especially painful sting for many Brits, who have also seen energy prices 'go through the roof' recently.
Plus, of course, it's no secret that China and the US aren't on the greatest of terms right now, while climate change and pollution levels aren't exactly looking too good...
If you're interested in reaching the full article, you can access it online via archive.org here.