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The Prime Minister of Australia as you've never seen him before, in a gripping interview with a long time critic. “Climates go up, climates go down… you people are always saying gloom & doom.

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It’s been awhile since last I posted, because in my self important way I imagined that the job was done, that a 21st Century consciousness would quickly unfold, and I could sink into oblivion, readying myself for the zero emission hospice. I thought that a growing awareness of Climate Crisis would transform lifestyles and politics, rather than be reduced to a fiddle with light bulbs and a flirtation with “clean coal” and nuclear. That our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan would be seen for the acts of brutality that they are. That oil peak and water scarcity would jolt the economy from the industrial era to the age of ecology, ending our fantasy of a global powerhouse booming from here to eternity.

Along with coal, oil is a major engine of pollution and a key driver of the globalised consumer society on which most of us depend, creating incredible wealth, fun, travel and breast augmentations, while shielding us from the short term consequences of trashing nature. Oil fuels illusions, invasions, food supplies and shopaholia. It makes the absurd seem normal. At the apex of Earth sit luxury wallowing billionaires, walling themselves off from an aspiring middle class dreaming of Lear Jets and platinum credit, the entire edifice supported by sweat shops, false promises and the plunder of natural resources. This model is brought to fruition in the Emirates, with its gated skyscraper 7-star hotels, artificial islands, mammoth shopping malls, Ski Loges in the desert, a replica of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and slaves locked below decks. The less authentic a destination, the more the tourists are drawn. Dubai is a landlocked Titanic with a political message - that global expansion will continue forever. And we still believe it, while at the same time we don’t believe it. Myself included. That’s the mystery. The ice caps melt and we watch glacier surfing on You Tube. What’s going on?


The propaganda pumped out at the top weaves its spell, that continued global expansion is sustainable. “This is a miscalculation on a scale incomparable with any other modern world crisis”, notes John Hickson in Arena Magazine, and he’s right. Trade, growth and prosperity are dependent on resources now in decline. Oil, war, water and climate - they’re all connected. Meanwhile, the future unfolds. Here’s 18 possibilities. What’s missing?

1. Coming soon: Suicide Chic. A lack of fun nursing homes and a shortage of empathetic staff will inspire baby boomers to create innovative ways of committing suicide without pain or leaving unsightly remains.

2. As climate crisis deepens, visionary leaders will emerge who can put the needs of communities before the demands of their egos. Politicians who sabotaged efforts to reduce global emissions will be hauled before the dock of the International Ecological Court and prosecuted for planetcide.

3. In 2020, after years of guilt, fear, recycling and eco-depression, a new generation will kick up its heels and party like there’s no tomorrow. And there may not be.

4. The Arctic's floating sea ice is headed towards rapid summer disintegration as early as 2013, a century ahead of IPCC projections. This could lead to a
5 meter rise in sea levels. Expect fire sales of water front properties.

5. Hordes of refugees will flee sinking coastlands and head for lands with secure food supplies. Faced with the influx, citizens of rich nations will split into factions: Neo Fascists, Neo pagans and Lost Souls. It won’t be pretty. Fascists will guard borders at the point of a gun. Pagans will take a global view, aiming to convert national armies into the world’s First Earth Battalion, charged with restoring the natural world. Lost Souls will merge with Second Life, by which time it will have expanded by millions of square kilometers and merged with Google Earth. It will be known as Second Earth, a fully immersive 3D virtual planet, or Metaverse , where humans (as avatars) can continue the game of life even after death, so long as their software holds out.

6. The future will be less about fine dining and bad movies, more about creating edible gardens, resilient communities and carbon neutral children.
People born between 2005 and 2020, the Can Do Gen, will elevate the role of Open Source from facilitating exchanges of software to facilitating the exchanges of genes. “Imagine what will happen when the tools of genetic engineering become accessible” asks Freeman Dyson, “the evolution of human life will once again be communal… The final step in the domestication of biotechnology will be biotech games, designed like computer games for children down to kindergarten age but played with real eggs and seeds rather than with images on a screen”. ( Bio-tech will be an economic powerhouse, providing cheap and abundant solar energy, breeding plants with black silicon leaves to supply the future with bio-electricity. Eventually, green tech will supplant mining and manufacturing.

7. Zero population fanatics will popularise “self pleasuring” as the higher goal of eroticism, with the option of enhancement by customised robots. A British artificial intelligence researcher has already been awarded a doctorate for his thesis, 'Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners'
and suggests that trends in robotics and shifting social attitudes will result in alluring humanoids that will be hotly pursued as marriage partners.

8. Water theft will be punished by death, or a lifelong sentence of community service. Rain dancing will come into vogue.

9. In 2027, Madame Tussauds will feature high profile war criminals and climate change deniers. Tony Blair will make the first category; John Howard and George Bush will feature in both.

10. Olympics: Drug testing abolished, 2015; Robots welcomed 2030; genetic enhancement allowed, 2050.

11. Richard Branson and others will come to regret their investments in fleets of big jets, and not just because of fuel costs. Carbon emitting activities will be fall out of favour and fossil fuelled transport will be outlawed.

12. Communities once scorned for being “backward” will be revered for their ability to survive drought and soaring temperatures, including the Australian aborigines and India’s Bishnois (

13. Courts will practice Earth Jurisprudence, a philosophy of law and human governance that is based on the belief that human societies should regulate themselves as members of a wider Earth community. Also known as Wild Law, it extends our understanding of governance and democracy to embrace the whole Earth Community, including trees, species, rivers and eco systems.

14. As we complete the move from the Industrial era to the age of Ecology, the Consumer Society will fade away, hastened by scarcity of resources and a new Awakening (the “mind-shift”). Dwindling supplies of oil will be confiscated by the State for military purposes, which will impact on the 95 per cent of supermarket stocks dependant on oil for production, packaging and transport. The Awakening will blow a hole in the Matrix. Once basic needs have been meet, the thirst for baubles & luxury will be seen as a perversion of desire and a curse upon nature.

15. Citizens of states with large gaps in income levels die at a younger age, primarily because of the stress caused by stark social contrasts. In a post consumerist world, the core goal will be to help each other succeed.

16. It’s not only oil and water that’s running dry. As technologies multiply and populations expand, key resources will be exhausted in less than 40 years, inlcuding platinum, silver, zinc, uranium, indium, tantalum, aluminum, copper, lead, steel and even silicon. Is this the dire threat to national economies as so often claimed? Some economists see resource abundance is a “curse”. Today’s knowledge economy provides 70% of gross world product, and rising. Investment in human resources gives a greater return. Innovation provides substitutes. Nanotech carbon rods are supposedly stronger than steel and lighter than aluminium. Nano fibres are more durable than textiles and can be “grown” without water.

17. For suburbia to survive, it will become self reliant, self empowered and off the grid – or, feeding into the grid.

18. Having amassed weapons capable of destroying the planet, high tech nations will eventually outlaw war. Until that time, the 21st century is poised between peace and annihilation.

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Richard Neville has been a practicing futurist since 1963, when he launched the countercultural magazine, Oz, which widened the boundaries of free speech on two continents. He has written several books, including Playpower (71), the bio of a global (more...)

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