On this page:
Peak Oil Peak Water Climate Change Food Shortages Resource Depletion
Viral Pandemics Population Ageing Religious Tensions
Whilst nothing is certain, some things that may lie ahead are now very, very probable indeed. If taking a short-term horizon of a year or even a decade they can perhaps be ignored. However, any medium- or long-term planning now has to include an awareness of those effectively inevitable future challenges as listed below. Like it or not, the Age of Plenty is now coming to an end . . .
We are fast approaching the situation of "Peak Oil" where there is less oil left in the ground than we've taken out. When this point is reached, demand for oil will start to significantly outstrip supply with life-changing implications across many nations. For more information see the Peak Oil page.
Over the next couple of decades many nations will hit a situation of "Peak Water" where demand for fresh water starts to outstrip supply. In turn this will have serious implications for food production, human health and the wider environment. For more information see the Peak Water page.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), increases in average global air and ocean temperatures, a widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising sea levels, all signal that our climate is changing. Almost all governments -- as well as many people and organizations -- now also accept that climate change is occuring. We will all therefore be increasingly affected by climate change as, regardless of the science and meteorology, it has already become a mainstream poltical and economic reality. For more information, please see the climate change page.
In the face of the "perfect storm" of peak oil, peak water, climate change and population ageing and rising global industrialization, it is unlikely that the human race will be able to feed itself in the decades ahead unless radical action is taken. After all, already over a billion people go hungry every day, and that number has for several years been increasing. Virtually nobody on the planet will be unaffected by food shortages in the years ahead. For more information, please see the food shortages page.
Continual economic growth and constant population expandion is impossible within an effectively closed system like Planet Earth. Regareless of those who preach the new religion of "sustainability", over the coming decades we will therefore have to start consuming less and valueing more. For more information, please see the resource depletion page.
A pandemic is a disease that spreads across a wide geographic area -- potentially the entire World -- and which affects a large proportion of the population. Human viral pandemics have occurred in the past in the form of influenza pandemics with fairly devastating results. For example, it is estimated that between 40 and 50 million people died in the 1918-1919 "Spanish Flu" pandemic, between one to two million in the 1957-1958 "Asian Flu" pandemic, and towards one million in the "Hong Kong flu" pandemic of 1968-1969. Based on a repeating cycle of roughly 30 years, scientists believe that we are overdue for another pandemic. For more information, please see the viral pandemic page.
Around the world, human beings are -- on average -- living longer. As a result we are witness to the phenomenon of "population ageing". This is where older age groups make up a bigger and bigger proportion of the population. Indeed, as reported by the New England Centenarian Study, in developed nations people over 100 are the fastest growing segment of the population. The second-fastest-growing age group is then people over 85.
An ageing population will increasingly present a challenge to both public and private healthcare and welfare provision. New medical technologies will increasingly be able to improve the quality of life for the old and facilitate life extension. However, this does not mean that they will be able to be afforded for the majority in potentially any nation. Over the coming decades, retirement ages will therefore almost certainly have to rise if welfare systems are not to collapse and if the majority of the old want to enjoy a reasonable fraction of the quality of life potentially available to them. Businesses therefore now also need to start becoming far more alert to the requirements of the old as an increasing proportion of their customer base. One thing today that we can be fairly certain about is that "grey power" is on the rise.
Across much of the 20th century, within industrialized nations the dictates of religion were largely sub-servant to the dictates of democracy, capitalism and the state. Community boundaries -- largely those of countries or regions within -- were generally also synonymous with religious belief. However, neither of these states holds so true today.
The aims and objectives of this website do not include becoming embroiled in religious debate. That said, it would be foolish in the extreme not to recognise the very significant challenges that will lie ahead as organizations and in particular governments wrestle to implement laws and policies on a range of topics (from genetic engineering to life extension and women in authority) that may not sit easily with significant proportions of their population, and who may increasingly find their allegiance to their religion or other fundamental belief system in conflict with that of the governance systems of their nation.