View topic - 20 predictions for the next 25 years

It is currently December 12th, 2019, 12:55 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: January 7th, 2011, 9:40 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6146
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
UK experts make their predictions (although it needs to be said that long-term predictions are often wrong)... still, an interesting read that describes some trends carrying on and possible transformations in others... eradication of disease, virtual reality and virtual environments, brain/computer interfaces, dark matter, fusion reactors and so on.

Two of the twenty, on energy use and development, and nature, wildlife and wilderness:

Quote:
Energy: 'Returning to a world that relies on muscle power is not an option'

Providing sufficient food, water and energy to allow everyone to lead decent lives is an enormous challenge. Energy is a means, not an end, but a necessary means. With 6.7 billion people on the planet, more than 50% living in large conurbations, and these numbers expected to rise to more than 9 billion and 80% later in the century, returning to a world that relies on human and animal muscle power is not an option.

The challenge is to provide sufficient energy while reducing reliance on fossil fuels, which today supply 80% of our energy (in decreasing order of importance, the rest comes from burning biomass and waste, hydro, nuclear and, finally, other renewables, which together contribute less than 1%). Reducing use of fossil fuels is necessary both to avoid serious climate change and in anticipation of a time when scarcity makes them prohibitively expensive.

It will be extremely difficult. An International Energy Agency scenario that assumes the implementation of all agreed national policies and announced commitments to save energy and reduce the use of fossil fuels projects a 35% increase in energy consumption in the next 25 years, with fossil fuels up 24%. This is almost entirely due to consumption in developing countries where living standards are, happily, rising and the population is increasing rapidly.

This scenario, which assumes major increases in nuclear, hydro and wind power, evidently does not go far enough and will break down if, as many expect, oil production (which is assumed to increase 15%) peaks in much less than 25 years. We need to go much further in reducing demand, through better design and changes in lifestyles, increasing efficiency and improving and deploying all viable alternative energy sources. It won't be cheap. And in the post-fossil-fuel era it won't be sufficient without major contributions from solar energy (necessitating cost reductions and improved energy storage and transmission) and/or nuclear fission (meaning fast breeder and/or thorium reactors when uranium eventually becomes scarce) and/or fusion (which is enormously attractive in principle but won't become a reliable source of energy until at least the middle of the century).

Disappointingly, with the present rate of investment in developing and deploying new energy sources, the world will still be powered mainly by fossil fuels in 25 years and will not be prepared to do without them.

Chris Llewellyn Smith is a former director general of Cern and chair of Iter, the world fusion project, he works on energy issues at Oxford University


...


Quote:
Nature: 'We'll redefine the wild'

We all want to live in a world where species such as tigers, the great whales, orchids and coral reefs can persist and thrive and I am sure that the commitment that people have to maintaining the spectacle and diversity of life will continue. Over the past 50 years or so, there has been growing support for nature conservation. When we understand the causes of species losses, good conservation actions can and do reverse the trends.

But it is going to become much harder. The human population has roughly doubled since the 1960s and will increase by another third by 2030. Demands for food, water and energy will increase, inevitably in competition with other species. People already use up to 40% of the world's primary production (energy) and this must increase, with important consequences for nature.

In the UK, some familiar species will become scarcer as our rare habitats (mires, bogs and moorlands) are lost. We will be seeing the effects from gradual warming that will allow more continental species to live here, and in our towns and cities we'll probably have more species that have become adapted to living alongside people.

We can conserve species when we really try, so I'm confident that the charismatic mega fauna and flora will mostly still persist in 2035, but they will be increasingly restricted to highly managed and protected areas. The survivors will be those that cope well with people and those we care about enough to save. Increasingly, we won't be living as a part of nature but alongside it, and we'll have redefined what we mean by the wild and wilderness.

Crucially, we are still rapidly losing overall biodiversity, including soil micro-organisms, plankton in the oceans, pollinators and the remaining tropical and temperate forests. These underpin productive soils, clean water, climate regulation and disease-resistance. We take these vital services from biodiversity and ecosystems for granted, treat them recklessly and don't include them in any kind of national accounting.

Georgina Mace, professor of conservation science and director of the Natural Environment Research Council's Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London


http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/ ... s-25-years

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: January 8th, 2011, 9:41 am 
Offline

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4037
Location: Toronto
And in the post-fossil-fuel era it won't be sufficient without major contributions from solar energy (necessitating cost reductions and improved energy storage and transmission) and/or nuclear fission (meaning fast breeder and/or thorium reactors when uranium eventually becomes scarce) and/or fusion (which is enormously attractive in principle but won't become a reliable source of energy until at least the middle of the century).

Disappointingly, with the present rate of investment in developing and deploying new energy sources, the world will still be powered mainly by fossil fuels in 25 years and will not be prepared to do without them.

Chris Llewellyn Smith is a former director general of Cern and chair of Iter, the world fusion project, he works on energy issues at Oxford University


What a refreshingly candid outlook for fusion power, and this from the head of ITER!

_________________

A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)



Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: January 8th, 2011, 10:40 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6146
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Allan,

Quote:
What a refreshingly candid outlook for fusion power, and this from the head of ITER!


I found these more "realistic" as well for some reason, especially when compared to some of the wildly optimistic futurists like George Gilder or Ray Kurzweil. Some of the predictions by RK include medical breakthroughs greatly increasing lifespan (till 130 soon), human consciousness downloaded and immortalized in computers, intelligent machines indistinguishable from humans, virtual reality indistinguishable from the real thing, and all kinds of great things in the coming techo-utopia.

:o

(The Matrix is coming, get ready to plug yourself in)

_________________
><((((º>


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group