November 28, 2013 – One of my blog readers, Chris Melodionitis, wrote to me recently suggesting I would find the website, Paleofuture, an interesting place to visit. What makes Paleofuture different from most futurist sites is it sees tomorrow and beyond through a backward lens.
For example the stories appearing on the site that I read today include such gems as the predictions of Aldous Huxley, author of “Brave New World,” 50 years after his death. Huxley made these in 1950 looking ahead to what he thought the human condition would be by the year 2000.
His predictions include:
- a human population that reaches 3 billion by 2000 A.D. – he got that wrong by almost 4 billion.
- that feeding that many humans means putting a terrific strain on the carrying capacity of the planet. – feeding 3 billion looks like a cinch compared to the 7.2 billion we have today.
- that the watersheds of North America and Australia will be greatly diminished. – he was absolutely right about this although he blamed converting grazing land to intensive crop production and irrigation as the reason rather than the creep of climate change and long-term drought.
- nuclear fission would power the workplace. – the idea of small nuclear power plants to run local industry never has come to fruition although some of the proposed new micro-nukes may prove Huxley right at some point in our more distant future.
- workers wages and working conditions will improve considerably with factories moving to small communities and rural settings rather than megacities. – instead of this prediction coming true factories have moved alright, offshore to Developing World countries where working conditions and wages are low, and workers in the Developed World have seen wage erosion and increasing unemployment.
- human population will age with 65-year-olds outnumbering teenagers. – Huxley is dead on in this prediction.
Of course Huxley didn’t envision the personal computer, mobile communications, smartphones and the Internet. And nowhere in his predictions did he talk about the outward urge to explore space.
Paleofuture has many other interesting postings that look at past predictions of the future. One, an editorial from 1925, predicts the end of coal mining and the arrival of ubiquitous atomic energy. Well coal mining is still going strong with coal the major fuel for generating electric power to this day. And nuclear has been hampered by huge investment costs, significant regulation and high-profile accidents that have impeded its growth as the fuel of the future.
Another looks at the show “The Jetsons” and how we think about the future because of what we saw in that animated series.
I am sure when you visit Paleofuture you’ll find postings that will tickle your fancy. Let me know what you find and what you think. Guest bloggers are welcome.