The Future in Plain Sight: Nine Clues to the Coming Instability

Eugene Linden, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-81133-8
In one of eight near-future scenarios envisioned by Time science and environmental writer Linden (Apes, Men and Language), New York's rampant consumer culture has given way to a more civic-minded, moralistic city ravaged by AIDS and other plagues, where people wear flowing robes that are a convenient way to cope with frequent, cumbersome sterilization procedures in the workplace. Far-fetched as that may seem, it's a very real consequence of what Linden sees as the destabilizing political, economic, biological factors transforming the world in the next half century. In this wide-ranging look at contemporary global trends, he shows how the volatility of the financial markets, massive internal migration of the poor to mega-cities, resurgent infectious diseases, loss of biodiversity and the widening gap both between rich and poor nations and between a technocratic elite and surplus workers are leading to an age of greater instability. Not all of these trends are cause for despair. Other futurscapes Linden outlines are a London that has supplanted Wall Street as the world's financial capital; Kansas farmlands that rely on bioengineered seeds; a central Africa that reels from epidemics; an Antarctica that sheds its ice cover; and a once-poor Mexican village that thrives with the help of small power plants and family planning. Linden's speculative forecasts are cautionary tales stressing the need for ecological sanity. Although his ideas are often so sketchy and his prognoses so fanciful as to seem science fictional, Linden's attention to the large and small-scale events transforming our planet are sufficiently down-to-earth to make his crystal-ball vision of the new millennium less outlandish than it might otherwise seem. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-452-28299-5
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