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CONTENTS of entire timeline

CONTENTS of 2082 AD-2183 AD: The virtual telepathy of the shush net emerges; active electro-chemical mind alteration is becoming common; heavy commercialization of space is proceeding; historical stress levels on average citizens (as well as mass species extinctions due to growing human numbers squeezing out other lifeforms) are both peaking now

This page last updated on or about 10-20-05
a - j r m o o n e y h a m . c o m - o r i g i n a l


1997-2100 sub trends and detours: the most agonizing century in modern history...

Make no mistake about it: the 21st century is one of the most stressful periods of human history, so far as the average citizen is concerned. Despite vast improvements in many areas of life for most everyone (as well as an explosion in personal opportunity for fame and fortune such as the world has never seen before), the domination of largely unbridled pure economics and virtually unrestrained technological development on human affairs at this time makes for daily stresses probably unimaginable by 20th century natives, or those born in the subsequent 22nd century. For instance, a substantial portion of the most developed geopolitical blocs actually cut back many traditional social programs such as Social Security, pensions, and subsidies for child care, public education, and medical insurance (or else decimate them through woefully misguided privatization attempts) in the late 20th/early 21st centuries. Of course, these cutbacks often result in mass unrest and dissatisfaction among the populace of those states, which creates yet another source of instability and stress for many citizens-- until the political backlash manages to reverse the courses of many governments on the issues. The immense uncertainty about many matters is bad enough, but what certainty does exist is often still worse...

-- We'll have to endure LOTS of change in the 21st century-- possibly more change by many measures than any people before or after that period.

And that's where a big chunk of the 21st century's stress level will come from.

-- Special Report -- The 21st Century Economy -- Introduction, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Business Week: August 31, 1998

-- Business Week: August 31, 1998 Special Report -- The 21st Century Economy -- The Big Picture: YES, VIRGINIA, THERE WILL BE RECESSIONS By Michael J. Mandel, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

The often barely restrained financial markets of the late 20th century may offer cautionary tales for the much freer global markets of the 21st-- especially where geopolitical governments increasingly bow to the regulatory wishes of mega-corporations (regardless of social welfare). The former markets were volatile, "...prone to speculative ruin...[and]...more vulnerable to self-inflicted calamity..." due in large part to a given market's regulation by governments being inversely proportional to that market's size. Laissez-faire economies may have no natural defense against excessive and destabilizing speculation. In the late 20th century there was no single institution of sufficient power and wisdom to temper global excesses in the financial markets as certain national concerns could do for inidividual countries.

-- WHEN THE FREE MARKET IS TOO FREE BY ROBERT KUTTNER, Economic Viewpoint, Business Week/The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., October 12, 1998

Not all the essential functions of modern civilization are necessarily best handled by business concerns. Business all too often puts profits ahead of public safety and welfare. Performance and accountability can also suffer where multiple companies share overlapping responsibilities.

-- Business decisions By Ralph Nader, In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Oct. 13, 1999, http://www.sfbg.com/

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Combine Nader's points above with the vulnerability to consumer perceptions that national and world economies must bear in the modern age, and you get a strong case for governments to robustly pursue a healthy balance between business interests and social welfare-- allowing the scale to tip too far either way could bring disaster for almost everyone (i.e., the Great Depression). END NOTE.

-- Can cultures survive in our wired world? By DAVID BLOOM, Los Angeles Daily News, October 30, 1998, NYT-10-30-98

The pace of technological and socio-economic change is only going to increase from here (2000 AD). Human education will have to become almost a continuous, never ending process, and even then technology will threaten to outstrip our wisdom in applying it. Our very sanity could be sorely tested in the times to come.

Recurring and/or continuous identity crises may become a prevailing theme for many throughout the 21st century. This could lead to wildly fluctuating political and economic preferences, among other things.

During the 21st century humanity will endure multiple paradigm shifts stemming from the simultaneous maturation of at least three revolutionary technologies in the fields of information, biology, and nanotech-- if not more.

-- The Year 2020, Explained ["http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,37117,00.html"] by Chris Oakes, Jul. 5, 2000, Wired Digital Inc.

Between the 1950s and 2000, something happened to make today's young adults and children more anxiety-ridden than they were in previous generations. During the 1980s average children possessed a higher level level of anxiety than child psychiatric patients of thirty years before.

It is thought that child anxieties reflect those of society overall. If this is true, then social stresses on adults are growing. The increased isolation due to high divorce rates, plus worries about crime and disease, may all be factors here. It appears that people increasingly distrust those around them, too.

Exposure to violence, both real and virtual, seems one source of this anxiety. Disruptions in personal friend and family ties, another. Lower quantity and quality of interaction with parents breeds still more concerns for youngsters. Many of our young seem to feel less safe and less connected to others than previous generations.

This mounting anxiety is apparently contributing to rising rates of substance abuse and depression among the younger population.

-- Children's Anxiety at All-Time High By Suzanne Rostler, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000, citing the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000;79:1007-1021

Futurologists seem too often to ignore the basics of human nature in their forecasts of future changes sparked by technological advances. One result is predictions which all too often alarm and dismay many, and perhaps even raise resistance against any and all change, no matter how small or mundane. In other words, futurologists may be inadvertantly encouraging people to become more conservative in their daily thoughts and actions than they might otherwise be-- thereby leading to indefinite delays in much needed technological improvements and/or the debates and consideration necessary to wisely guide those new technologies which will, eventually, be adopted by society.

-- Life in the Fourth Millennium By Steven Pinker , May/June 2000 Viewpoint, TechReview.com

Technological advances are enabling companies to demand more from employees with longer work weeks and 24-7 access via pagers and cell phones, among other things. Many are suffering information overload. Lengthier commutes and more business-related travel are also new realities for many. As stress reaches the breaking point, outbreaks of 'desk rage' occur.

The high pace of new business startups of recent years, like dot coms, suddenly caught up in their first business downturn, means many of the enterprises have no experience with lay offs and thus handle them badly. Thereby creating yet another new source of stress for employees.

10% of US workers had witnessed physical violence in the workplace as of 2001. 23% had been stressed to the point of tears. 42% had witnessed abusive speech. 81% of bosses were disliked. Over 33% of workers planned to change jobs within a year. A business' average cost to replace such a worker at this time? $36,000.

-- New Economy = new stress: Advances in tech causing worker dissatisfaction by Louis Aguilar, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times Company, seattletimes.com, February 26, 2001

Mistakes in the 'third world' are a major source of dangerous pollution, radiation, and contagion over this period, usually having the greatest impact on the state making the error, but often affecting the rest of the world too. The developed states also have their own share of mishaps, but they are dwarfed by the global effects of errors in the lesser developed states during this period. The industrial waste products of the 'first world' also contribute substantially to the worsening environment.

-- Climate disaster possible by 2100 By Alex Kirby, Sci/Tech, BBC News, http://www.bbc.co.uk, September 10, 1999

Until 2000 greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane offered some of the major worries in regards to global warming. But then trifluoromethylsulphur pentafluoride (SF5CF3) was discovered. SF5CF3 is up to 22,200 times worse than carbon dioxide, and likely can last up to 3,500 years in the atmosphere before breaking down into less harmful substances. It is definitely not a naturally occuring compound. Apparently it began appearing around the planet in the late sixties, early seventies in measurable amounts-- though its exact origin is a mystery. It is likely the consequence of some unexpected chemical reaction between different industrial pollutants, or decomposition of same-- such as of SF6 or CF4.

-- New, Mean Greenhouse Gas Appears ["http://www.discovery.com/news/briefs/20000410/enviro_newgas.html"] By Michael de Laine, Discovery.com News, April 10, 2000

No matter what the west does to contain it, sooner or later nuclear technologies will fall into the hands of unpredictable Third World nations, and probably be used in various small and hopefully isolated conflicts between 2000 and 2100. One by product of this event will be a hardening of civilian computer chips against the electromagnetic pulses created by nuclear blasts.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

These circumstances force much human activity indoors, underground, or otherwise protected from the 'natural' environment via low cost space-suit features designed into daily wear, and tighter environmental controls on buildings and vehicles, during the bulk of the 21st century. Totally enclosed Mall cities benefit enormously from this phenomenon. True 'outdoor resorts' are only safe in certain areas of the globe at the height of the danger, and even then only at certain times of the year. For decades it is not uncommon for people to hear something like air raid sirens or emergency radio broadcasts occasionally sounding off in their vicinity to alert of impending danger from radiation, nuclear fall out, toxic gases, or infectious wind-borne organisms.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

The homes and buildings in the developed nations of the 2060s are much like stranded spacecraft, utilizing air locks at all entry ways, and most windows being permanently sealed shut. Powerful recycling systems are necessary to keep life support inside these structures at optimal levels.

Daily weather/environment news reports occasionally tell us we can venture outside without our light duty spacesuits, perhaps once every couple weeks or so.

Fortunately, the basics of this equipment required for living today are about as affordable as the basics needed in 1998 were. For example, a good set of disposeable coveralls (including 'footies' and gloves) and a transparent hood, along with a decent air filtering system, is the norm for basic 2060s protective clothing, and is available at reasonable cost to virtually everyone. Self-contained coverall kits may be obtained at vending machines found every block or so in many cities.

Yes, you CAN usually venture out for hours or days at a time WITHOUT such protection in the 2060s. It's just that you take a pretty substantial risk in doing so. A risk much worse than smoking a pack of cigarrettes a day in 1998. In the 2060s NOT wearing protection seems as risky as someone having regular unprotected sex with strangers in 1998-- so avoiding the wearing of space suits in the 2060s encourages many people to shun you (for good reason). Of course, in the earliest portions of the 21st century many people make do with rechargeable oxygen canisters/rebreathers they carry on their person for extended times outdoors.

Businesses for the most part LOVE the new toxic environment, as it's good for business pretty much across-the-board: the worse people's daily environment, the more gadgetry and services they have to buy to deal with it. So corporate lobbying of government tends towards keeping the environment dirty and poisonous. After some early ambivalence on the issue, many governments too come to realize a toxic environment not only increases a population's dependence on business products and services, but government as well-- and so at least some governments become effective co-conspirators in continued environmental degradation with many mega-corporations. One reason the governments go for this increasing dependency is the threat from the new virtual states. Old-line governments are being undermined and weakened as the new virtual states earn the allegiance of more and more citizens, by virtue of their greater cost-effectiveness, opportunities, freedom, and pace of innovation compared to the old world states. However, the virtual states of these early decades are largely impotent in many matters physical-- such as the global environment-- while old world entities are strong there (since they control the laws, regulations, industry, etc.). Therefore, by conspiring to maintain a bad (and even worsening) physical environment, old-line governments and business essentially maximize their leverage over their citizens and postpone their own demise that much longer. Or at least that's the wishful thinking among the elite of the period.When later historians examine this century and the decades that preceded it, they are amused by the fact that the general population imagined a multitude of conspiracies regarding assassinations and extraterrestrial contact, etc., while mostly ignoring the true conspiracies which would most impact their own lives and those of their posterity. ADDITIONAL NOTE: An important topic among economists nowadays is how humanity might better deal with positive feedback loops which have adverse consequences for the human race, such as that currently existing in regards to global business and an ever worsening environment (where each is apparently being fed by the other). Many corporations are now too powerful for geopolitical governments to exert much effective control over them; only popular consumer and worker boycotts and strikes, and unanticipated innovations which completely blindside large companies in the market, seem to have significant effects today. Several respected economists express fears for where the trends might ultimately take us. END NOTE.

Many make heavy use of virtual reality throughout this period as the ultimate refuge-- but even VR is not entirely safe or stress-free during big chunks of the 21st century...as well publicized accidents and excesses related to the technology make plain to everyone.

Though "Why aren't you DEAD!?!" seems to be the exasperated question asked by the site www.dieoff.org, whose webmaster has obviously spent years of his life carefully collecting every one of the most pessimistic statistics and predictions on the web, all proving without a doubt that the world shall surely end by 2100 AD, the site does offer links to some real concerns and issues that civilization is grappling with now, and perhaps for several more centuries to come; so it can be a handy list of problems for problem-solvers to examine. However, be careful; the webmaster also includes much woefully outdated info and predictions already discredited by events, or exposed as just plain wrong, or written by folks with axes to grind, since he includes some Doomsday info from as far back as the sixties/seventies to support his fatalistic view. When exploring his links try to avoid getting caught up in those which are now obsolete.

-- "EPA Should Redirect Some Research on Toxic Airborne Particles", National Academy of Sciences, 4-1-98, Workforce, January 1998, Vol. 77, No. 1, pp. 46-60, "HR 2008: A Forecast..." by Floyd Kemske, and others

The enormous stess and uncertainty 21st century citizens will face will partly be due to the implications of information warfare.

-- "A DIGITAL D-DAY?" BY STAN CROCK, Business Week: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc August 31, 1998 Book review: THE NEXT WORLD WAR Computers Are the Weapons and the Front Line Is Everywhere By James Adams

-- "Brave New World" by JACK FISCHER, Mercury News staff writer. Mercury Center. Found on the web on or about April 17, 1999

Note that the increasingly toxic outdoors environment means much wildlife is going extinct and even mankind's domesticated plant and animal species are being severely culled in terms of their diversity. Humanity is being forced to shelter many of both in vast underground or otherwise enclosed complexes, to preserve them against the dangers on the Earth's exposed surface. Enormous air-tight tensile structures dot the landscape in many locations for such purposes. Those species remaining out-of-doors often must be periodically genetically re-engineered to withstand the worsening conditions, as well as undergo much more intensive processing than required in earlier times to make them suitable as food.

The vast automated complexes now producing much of humanity's food would likely be considered hellish and cruel environments by 20th century observers. The most advanced facilities begin growing mostly headless and legless lumps of meats bathed in special fluids, genetically engineered originally from animals like cattle and pigs and others. But many food production complexes still process traditional types of living animals too, usually in ways 20th century animal activists would abhor. But rarely do human beings ever visit or see such places. And what outcry is made can make little headway against the demands of a hungry world.

Needless to say, decent food has become considerably more expensive than it used to be. At times there are sufficient food shortages to cause concern even in the developed nations. The times of shortage often stem from one of two causes: One, the great reduction in domesticated species diversity which took place in the late 20th/early 21st centuries, which made food production much more vulnerable to the climate changes brought about by largely unmitigated industrial and other pollutants. And two, the excesses mega corporations were allowed by world governments to pursue with intellectual property claims during the same decades. Previously open and public research and development of seed stocks were privatized, and overly broad and often outrageous patent claims served to reduce innovation to a standstill via decades of court proceedings, while also raising prices worldwide. Other mistakes were also made, all mostly in the name of higher profits for corporations, at the expense of practically all other considerations.

Poorer nations face mass starvation on an unprecedented scale, during the worst crises-- with the developed nations offering little more than token assistance, unlike the massive aid campaigns of the late 20th century.

Even in the developed nations many people are forced by budgets to make do with very unappealing types of food over lengthy periods. During many spans of the 21st century only the relatively wealthy can afford a constant diet of both delicious and nutritious food. Many others more often make due with a modern enriched version of gruel (if they are lucky).

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