10 visions of the future

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Most books report on what has already happened. John O’Brien has written one that describes the future.

But it’s not just built on his ideas. Visions 2100: Stories from Your Future presents scenarios from 80 of the world’s leading environmental thinkers and influencers.

1. Robogardeners, LaserBubbles and Parceldrones are things

Like most people, my family and I grow lots of our own food. (Ok, Robogardeners do most of the work. But we tell them what we’d like). We eat real meat occasionally, and Newmeat more regularly. The kids like Newmeat better but they don’t really have adult palettes yet.

We travel by bike. We all have Copenhagen Wheels for the hills and I love our LaserBubbles that protect us in the rain. We live just a few kilometres from work and school. Parceldrones carry the big things for us when we go shopping.

2. There’s an app to share human poo

Every resource – even human waste – is used to its highest capacity via ‘Need and Want’ sharing apps. All of our stuff is designed to neatly turn into other stuff – or fuel. We dress in virtual, chameleon-like clothing for our virtual adventures to make holographic videos to show our virtual friends. We are free to live vibrantly without being overwhelmed.

3. The elderly don’t live alone

Elder lifecare re-integrated into AllAge areas is massive now. Add all the required cooling, catering, shared resource-cycling has changed so much of our lifestyle, architecture and spatial planning. Then the on and offshore arcology, plans advanced for Moon and Mars and already on Antarctica. So, we see it works when it makes sense for economy, society and ecology.

4. Women take charge

Did having an all-female G7 Summit ten years earlier have anything to do with the smoothness of the transition? Probably, but with conflicts on the rise, displaced people on the move and air quality choking back progress, it was tough pragmatism that I remember.

Deciding to end income tax and replace it with carbon consumption was the centerpiece of the election platform. Only when three megacities declared bankruptcy after the summer of squalls did soccer mums truly get behind the call. And it worked despite disputes in the courts.

5. Equality is reality

Poverty is eradicated. Every child goes to school regardless of sex, race, religion or place of birth. Every woman enjoys equality with every man. Every household has access to energy; energy sourced from renewables that has enabled the development of nations, communities and families while protecting our planet.

Mary Robinson | Former President of Ireland | President of the Mary Robinson Foundation | Climate Justice Special Envoy on Climate Change, United Nations

6. Climate crimes are prosecuted
Still, the level of public rage was so overwhelming that there had to be some perception of retribution against those who had, for example, bought-up promising clean and green technologies to suppress them, or had benefitted from the aggressive marketing and distribution of fossil fuels. And the long-gone politicians who had allowed this to continue had, in the main, not left substantial estates. Apart from the odium attached to their names in the historical record – every school kid can list them – they paid no price.

Professor Peter Doherty AC | Joint winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 | Australian of the Year in 1997| University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

7. Ecology rules
The Chinese led the world in the creation of the Ecological Civilisation, investing billions in simultaneously cutting carbon emissions, reducing air pollution and creating jobs. The Mayor of Shanghai declared that the city would no longer use GDP as a metric of success, but rather job creation. Coal stocks lost 90 percent of their value, rewarding those farsighted investors who had already divested their ownership.

L. Hunter Lovins | President, Natural Capitalism Solutions, Colorado, USA

8. Countries fight for, not against, immigration
​With years of low birth rates in developed countries, there have been serious political, social and cultural shifts throughout the world. In more developed countries, there has been significant economic strain due to the rapidly ageing population, as well as the increasingly smaller working-age population. The tiny working population demanded an increase in immigration, and this meant that countries began to fight for immigrants.

Caleb Rice | Year 12 IB Student, Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia

9. No need for curtains
Mid-morning sun streams through my glass windows. I’ve forgotten to reset the blackout timer after yesterday’s early start. Or it could be faulty again. Our community compound was the best of its kind when my family moved in twenty years ago – all nanoglass, certified wood and low energy concrete – but now it’s tired around the edges, these materials quite outdated. I daydream of more resilient kinetic floors and a smaller water recycler that gives me space in the bathroom.

Kristin Alford | Futurist, Bridge8, Adelaide, Australia

10. Texting? Social media? They’re obsolete
Of course passports, wallets, credit cards, mobile phones and driving licenses have all become weird anachronisms. Think about it – if every device knows who you are and where you are, and most things can be fabricated when and where they are needed, you really don’t need to take much with you. This has had one effect no-one saw coming – most people have more or less given up sending all those electronic messages.

Nigel Lake | CEO, Pottinger, Sydney, Australia

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