In order not to tire readers with too many details and explanations I will be short. But whatever technologies I will mention in this article are existing technologies in different stages of maturity.
Disclaimer: predictions are difficult, especially about the future.
Below are my attempts to figure out where the existing trends and technologies will lead humanity.
Some experts predict gloom and doom while others are full of optimism. Who is right? Maybe both. It depends on how you look at life, civilization and progress. And what is “progress”?
Is the end of dinosaurs and rise of mammals progress? Not from the dinosaur's point of view! Is the beginning of the industrial revolution progress? Not for our planet.
So what is progress?
Is growth and consumption-based economy progress?
Is global climate change caused by humans progress?
Science, our understanding of the universe, our technological advancements are impressive.
But what about weapons of war? Nuclear and thermonuclear weapons of mass distraction? Is that progress?
So when I predict a major crisis of Western civilization, is this progress? I guess it depends on your point of view. So you be the judge.
The major crisis of our civilization.
- Consumption and growth-based economy is nearing a crisis.
Our economy in my opinion is unsustainable.
“If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows- were-nearing-collapse
- Hamster cage economic model.
Here is the question: Productivity keeps increasing for a hundred years and yet we are busier than ever! Please think about it. Where did the results of our high productivity go if we have to work harder and produce more? Is it because we consume more and more stuff and services?
Following this logic what is the logical conclusion? The more we produce, the more we consume and we have to work even harder so we will be able to consume more to “grow our economy”.
- The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on its impact to society (as a measure of devastation) and the # 8 global risk based on likelihood (likelihood of occurring within 10 years) as announced by the World Economic Forum, January 2015. http://water.org/water- crisis/water-facts/water/
- Food shortages.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world is less than 40 years away from a food shortage that will have serious implications for people and governments, according to a top scientist at the U.S. Agency for International development. http://today.agrilife.org/2014/04/18/food-shortages-could-be-most-critical-world-issue-by-mid- century/
- Global shortage of raw materials is an increasingly pressing issue leading to instability in the world and wars. http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/wereldwijde-schaarste-aan-materialen- steeds-nijpender-kwestie/
- Russia and China are gearing for global war for natural resources. And so is the US.
“The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion—a crisis that goes beyond “peak oil” to encompass shortages of coal and uranium, copper and lithium, water and arable land.” The global pursuit of vital natural resources has long shaped human history, providing the impetus for campaigns of exploration and conquest across the millennia. http://www.globalforesightbooks.org/Book-of-the-Month/michael-t-klare-the-race-for-whats-left.html
- Effects of global warming.
Floods will affect the crops and destroy human habitats.
Droughts affect the food supply and will force human migrations.
Wars for natural resources, caused by human migration.
"..powerful evidence backing up the Pentagon and intelligence community’s assessments that climate change is likely to play the role of a “threat multiplier” in coming decades, pushing countries that are already vulnerable to upheaval over the edge and into open conflict.” http://mashable.com/2015/03/02/global-warming-syria-civil-war/
- Mass extinction of life:
Warming temperatures of water bodies, decertification and deforestation can all contribute to the irreversible impact on our natural habitat and thus threaten endangerment and even extinction of plant and animal life. http://listdose.com/top-10-effects-global-warming/
- Fragility of globalization.
"The presence of globalization can thus create a domino effect which means that if a country is affected , several other countries are bound to get affected too even if they might be on the other side of the globe." http://listdose.com/top-10-effects-global-warming/
- Population growth and a centralized economy model.
Waste and overhead due to centralized global infrastructure: huge expenses and losses to warehouse and deliver products to the stores.
- Industrial agriculture. Mono agriculture may cause global crops sickness.
Large, homogeneous crops enable parasites -- bacteria, viruses, fungi and insects --- to specialize on one specific host, increasing the chance they will mutate into a more pathogenic form. http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=6882
- Genetically engineered crops and it's side effects. Super weeds and super bugs.
The ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops is by now well known:
- over 10 million acres of super-weeds resistant to Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp;
- farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pig-weed thick as a baseball bat; - - Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ herbicides;
- a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older and more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. http://www.panna.org/blog/monsantos-superweeds-superbugs
- Fragility of the centralized infrastructure.
Domino effect. Just by hacking into a grid, one can create a catastrophic failure of the grid. Not just a power grid. Any grid.
Air traffic, computerized Walmart logistics, cell phone grids and so on.
Global financial system is vulnerable. The so called Cloud: “the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.”
- Cyber war is coming.
Another aspect of the decentralization issue is a cyber war. The most lethal weapon is not a bomb. It is a cyber attack on the country infrastructure. A country “smart” power grid can be disabled not with bombs, but much easier and cheaper - by hacking into a grid and disabling the power distribution in the country. That will end civilization as we know it.
“We’re not prepared. If the nightmare scenario becomes suddenly real. If hackers shut down much of the electrical grid and the rest of the critical infrastructure goes with it. If we are plunged into chaos and suffer more physical destruction than 50 monster hurricanes and economic damage that dwarfs the Great Depression.” http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/21/u-s-not-ready-for-cyber-war-hostile-hackers- could-launch.html