And so another year has passed. Goodbye 2046, hello 2047. They seem to fly by these days. I can recall ruminating on the state of the planet thirty years ago, when everyone seemed rather pessimistic regarding our future. I too, felt an apprehension. It was hard to maintain faith in humanity with despicable breaches of human rights portrayed almost daily in the media. And many people had lost faith. Significant political votes illustrated the power of democracy, with Donald Trump coming to power in the US, and The UK leaving the European Union (EU), dubbed ‘Brexit’. These were alterations unthinkable only a decade previously, and yet a decade on, were simply catalysts for further change. Brexit took place in 2018, France soon followed after the success of the right-wing National Front, and in Germany Angela Merkel’s popularity plummeted, leading to a shock victory for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in 2017, and their subsequent withdrawal from the EU. This set the wheels in motion for the fall of the EU in 2020, an outstanding demise considering the situation a mere decade previous.
Global tensions reached breaking point during the 2020s, a result of increasing hostility in the Middle East, as well as a growing necessity to address the issues of climate change and food insecurity, amongst others. Scholars pondered whether it would take a calamity on the scale of World War II to demonstrate the abject poverty of our current thinking (Weiss, 2009), and they weren’t far off. The proxy-war phenomenon reached all time high levels of prevalence, with the superpowers including Russia and the USA becoming apprehensive of rapidly falling oil production. The pointing of the the finger of blame culminated in the disbandment of the United Nations (UN) in 2026, and it is still yet to be fully replaced today. Global governance fell by the wayside and trade partnerships are now firmly on a country to country basis. Unity and credence gave way to mistrust and suspicion. Today known as the dark decade, the 2020s were undoubtedly a wretched period for humanity.
Needless to say, by 2030 it was a dire state of affairs. By this point, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established in early 2016, were meant to have mobilised efforts to end all forms of poverty, fought inequalities and tackled climate change (Nino and Alexovich, 2016), however by 2030 none of these had come close to being achieved, and the UN was no more. Some would argue, the end of what was arguably an organisation inefficient and incapable of shifting resources from the world’s rich to the poor (Murphy, 2000), was not a bad thing. After all, The Congress System, League of Nations and subsequently the United Nation all failed in their task of maintaining world peace. Maybe it was time for a new perspective.
And slowly, over time, things improved. The absence of a global governance proved not to be so detrimental after all. Countries began to strike up trading partnerships with one another on their own terms. The legacy of the UN in promoting democracy was beneficial indeed in newfound political relations proving successful. Technological advancements, combined with a plummet in oil productivity, led to many recalling Boserup’s Theory, that necessity was indeed the mother of invention (Boserup, Forew, and Chambers, 1993). Green technologies soon became the only option by 2040, and by this stage they had been perfected to high levels of efficiency and low cost. Agricultural advancements also allayed fears of food insecurity, with biotechnology proving vital in feeding the worlds poor.
That being said, it should not be a cause for too much optimism. The human race has been guilty for decades for simply doing the bare minimum and, 30 years on, there is still a long way to go.
Boserup, E., Forew and Chambers, R. (1993) The conditions of agricultural growth: The economics of agrarian change under population pressure. London: Earthscan Publications.
Murphy, C.N. (2000) ‘Global governance: Poorly done and poorly understood’, International Affairs, 76(4), pp. 789–804. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.00165.
Nino, F.S. and Alexovich, A. (2016) United Nations sustainable development agenda. Available at: http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/ (Accessed: 2 January 2017).
Weiss, T.G. (2009) ‘What happened to the idea of world government’, International Studies Quarterly, 53(2), pp. 253–271. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2009.00533.x.