Future shock: A letter from 2050
A senior resident of the New North, Dion Chang, sends news of what's to come.
Dear Global Citizens (circa 2010),
If you are reading this, then our quantum-photon time tele-portation theory has worked, although, sadly, we’ll never really know.
We know that real-time teleportation works, but we are still testing past/future-time teleportation but keep getting sucked into black holes, which are much like what you quaintly refer to as “potholes” in your roads. (I keep forgetting that the global ban on motor vehicles was only enforced in 2035).
Anyhow, should this message reach you, I trust you will take heed of its contents—it will save you a lot of time and misguided wars. According to our archives, a think-tank called RAND (formed in the mid 20th century), identified—as early as 2010—climate change, population, security and your comical financial system as the key drivers that will impact on the future of the planet and its inhabitants.
Their observations were right on the money—I trust you still don’t use that outdated form of transaction. It was so destructive and finally caused the Great Financial Implosion of 2024.
Let’s start with population. Your turn-of-the-century predictions were nearly correct. Global population now stands at 10-billion, 80% of whom live in cities, which means we are all squeezed into roughly 5% to 10% of the usable landmass on Earth. I say useable, because climate change has rendered most of what you now see as continental landmass inhospitable.
The Arctic Rim is now the trendy place to live. Once we got over the devastating effects of losing a unique polar ecosystem, the milder winters and open barren plains became a developer’s wet dream and the New North was born. Of course most of Asia were the first to migrate there.
Speaking of migration, the geopolitical shift—from West to East—which you are currently so curious about, will happen faster than you think. Resistance is futile—just learn Mandarin (it is now the universal language of commerce) and start trading for property in the New North (even though people will think you are mad).
We have reverted to bartering and trading
I use the term “trading for” because the Great Financial Implosion of 2024 effectively wiped out global economies as you currently know them. We have reverted to bartering and trading, which is much simpler and less risky — unless, of course, you’re dealing in organ pharming or water.
Water, of course, is now like that fossil fuel you prized so much last century and we have now learned—after fighting devastating wars over it—to hand it over to the Global Peace Force to regulate and control. It just breeds evil if it is used as a commodity.
Organ pharming is another new problem, but mainly restricted to the migrant workforce we refer to as “Bot Subs”. This is mid-century slang for robot substitute and comprise mainly domestic labour from the former United States and European Union communities. After the Great Financial Implosion of 2024, destitute American and European workers became the blue-collar workforce for the rest of the planet. That is, until domestic robotics became as ubiquitous as household appliances.
The rioting that ensued was unnecessarily violent but you can’t stop progress. So much of this workforce has now been reduced to substitute work, for example, when your domestic robot is in for maintenance, hence the term Bot Sub.
Unfortunately, desperation has led to organ pharming on the black market for this marginalised workforce. Biotechnology and nanotechnology have ensured that each global citizen has smart chips embedded into his or her system—at foetal stage—for identification and trading purposes. Many Bot Subs predate this legislation, so their organs are untraceable and therefore worth a lot more.
What we protect and deem precious in 2050 is so very different from what you currently value. Our embedded smart chips have rendered personal and violent crimes completely pointless.
If you do commit a crime against another human you will be sent to the barren and desolate Equatorial Band, where politicians and other heinous criminals are now exiled and forced to live in primitive hierarchical structures.
“Dion Chang Personal experience”
Arable land, and of course the means to water that land, is now one of the most prized possessions. What you currently call allotments—those small tracts of urban farmland—is where we now place our security systems. Fresh produce has become as precious as fresh water, especially after meat consumption was banned in 2040. I’m not sure why the ban did not come sooner, as the land-to-population ratio had become problematic decades before.
Meat consumption was really only practised by ageing Bot Subs and political prisoners in the Equatorial Band, desperate to relive “the good old days”.
Fortunately, most of the middle-age population are already vegetarian. This middle-age population is what you currently refer to as Millennials, or the Y Generation. History shows that they were practically reviled in the early 21st century. They were generally described as “technology-obsessed, illiterate, self-absorbed attention-seekers who had virtual friendships and no sense of face-to-face communication skills”.
Well, I need to inform you that those “slackers” grew up to become the Transition Generation, the leaders of today who are skilfully navigating the human species through a terrifying bottleneck of diminishing resources - and they’re doing a rather good job of it.
So if this message does reach you, and if the picture it paints does not encourage you to change your ways, sooner rather than later, then at least pass this glimpse of the future on to any Millennial you know (they are far more receptive than you think—you just need to package the information differently).
If our archives are correct, the Global Financial Crisis of 2009 was in fact a watershed moment for the human species, although history shows that you managed to ignore all the warning signs. You are in the process of proving to yourselves that—as a species—you have the unique ability to self-destruct, whether the issue is environmental, economic or social.
I strongly recommend that you actively engage with those Millennial “slackers” (as distasteful as it might seem) and collaborate on formulating a Plan A—because there really is no Plan B.
Senior resident of the New North