This is about The Future as a whole, big speculations, not anyone's personal future. Even amidst not-so-great expectations for the world, I regard my own future as a positive thing. I have my gods on my side, I know the things I want to do, and I have the skills and attitude to do well in the world I think is coming in the next five decades or so.
So, here are the things I think will happen. Climate change will continue; there will be more extreme weather across the world. The Gulf Stream may stop flowing as far north as it does, or may shift to the other side of the Atlantic, as apparently happened in December. Sea levels may rise. Oil will run out, or become so difficult to access that it makes no difference, gas and coal will follow. Water shortages will become problematic even in the British Isles. Any major volcanic eruption will have enough long-term effects on crop growth world-wide to cause food shortages - or these may happen due to crop failures, or even transport issues. There will be some evolution of some disease that will kill a lot of people. Some of these events will lead to large political and economic changes.
These things are not guaranteed to happen at any given point in time. I've chosen the next 50 years as an arbitrary period that I have every intention of seeing all of, and I don't really think all of them will happen. But some of them probably will, and it is enormously unlikely that none of them will.
There will undoubtedly be good developments as well. When it finally sinks in that there is a limit to oil, solar and wind energy technology - already under development - will leap forward. Travel and transport by sea, in sophisticated sail ships, will become more common. Canals may become important again. Internet and mobile communications technology will become even more important, and there will probably be cures developed for some of the diseases and conditions that affect us in the present. But this, too, will all be change, and people don't deal all that well with change.
View, for instance, the recent bout of winter weather here in Ireland and in the UK. Panic buying happened in supermarkets all over. Water shortages - probably caused by people leaving taps running so they wouldn't freeze - are affecting wide areas of Ireland. Transport systems locked up, and there was not enough suitable grit in Ireland to keep all the roads open, had the weather continued thus for even another 24 hours. I sincerely hope that more grit is being prepared, as this is unlikely to be the last cold snap of the winter, but I honestly doubt that it is. This was not a major weather event in real terms. There have been worse snows in my memory, and much worse in recent history. it is inevitable that there will be a worse winter in the next fifty years, unless runaway climate change forces the tropics north.
Of the possible events I listed above, the one that will cause the most change in Ireland - and Western Europe in general - is the possibility of the Gulf Stream stopping. It's well known that Ireland is on the same latitude as Moscow and Labrador. If the Gulf Stream stops, we'll get an appropriate climate. If the Gulf Stream changes to flowing up between Greenland and Canada - as seems entirely possible - we will at least get much more severe winters than we're accustomed to, and probably more in the way of storms. Ireland, obviously, is not set up to deal with this, and it won't be an easy change.
Rising sea-levels would have nasty effects on a number of low-lying nations, and a large number of global capitals. New York, San Francisco, London, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Sydney, and of course Dublin and Cork, among many others, are at sea level. This will obviously cause massive migrations of population, and have major economic impacts.
If oil runs out, then the whole world changes. Long-haul travel becomes very difficult. The existing transport networks - largely dependent on many individual vehicles moving wherever they want - become less useful, and trains, canals, and other systems come into focus again. It is entirely possible that we will see animal-drawn vehicles become more common again in our lifetimes. It will become much more difficult to transport food long distances, so we'll have to learn to eat seasonal foods again. No more apples from New Zealand or summer fruit in December, unless it's preserved in some way. The internet will become enormously important, especially as we make the transition to a more sedentary lifestyle.
Food shortages. water shortages, and diseases can all make living away from urban centres a lot more attractive. At least then you can grow your own food, have your own well or rainwater collection system, and hope that not too many infectious people come close.
The long-term question, then, is what we - any of us - can do about this. If we can't prevent this kind of future, what can we do to deal with it? I have my own ideas on this, some of which appear by implication above, but I'd like to hear some from other people as well. Or alternately, if you think none of these things are going to happen, and everything will be shiny and happy and urban, let me know that too, and present your reasoning.
This entry is not f-locked, and I'd welcome contributions from people not on my friends list. Anonymous, untracked comments are enabled, as usual, although I'll be keeping an eye on them.
Incidentally, I feel much better for getting that entry out of my system.