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Future In Plain Sight [Paperback]

Eugene Linden
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 31 2002
For more than half a century, our planet has enjoyed a prolonged period of privilege and stability. Recent decades have seen some of the most extraordinary prosperity in all of human history, and we have come to view this as the norm.

But what if instability returned?

And what can we do to prevent that from happening?

In The Future in Plain Sight, author Eugene Linden lays out the nine factors that are symptomatic of instability in today's world. They include overpopulation, the widening gap between rich and poor, the resurgence of infectious disease, and the effects of a changing global climate. Linden explores these and other destabilizing forces and tells us what we can do to plan and prepare for life in an unsettled and unsettling universe.

From crises in the world's financial markets to the breakdown of natural systems that support human life, The Future in Plain Sight is a powerful look at what lies in store for us in the coming decades.

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Forget the year 2000 bug, says Eugene Linden, the world's in for something much bigger than power outages and fouled-up databases. The clues are everywhere, but what do they all mean? The Future in Plain Sight argues that the history of the world is full of ebbs and flows, periods of stability followed by instability. Every now and again, everything changes: the climate, the social order, the shape of the terrain. Linden outlines the nine major indications that the world is ready for another round of instability, claiming that the political, social, economic, environmental, and biological problems we all face today are not as unrelated or as random as they may seem.

Yet Linden actively discredits most doomsday scenarios, which usually seem to blame some outside force for bringing on disaster. In his view, the existing problems will continue to feed upon and exacerbate each other. Crowded cities, for example, put further stress on a sick, polluted environment, allowing diseases to spread faster, while social and political unrest causes native populations to uproot and immigrate to other countries, creating new cycles of poverty, disease, and overpopulation.

Linden doesn't pretend to know how the human race will deal with these issues, nor does he claim to know all the answers. But The Future in Plain Sight tells a compelling and frightening story that deserves to be heard out. --Elisabeth Higgins --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars And this too shall pass... Jan. 8 2004
I read one or two of these futurist books a year and I found this as good as any. He has done a good job of categorizing all the things that effect civilization on the planet.As with most of these types of books we are shown that most trends have come out of nowhere and completely unforseen and unpredicted.Of course; there has always been struggles between peoples,natural disasters,major outbreaks of diseases,financial upheavels,conflicts among religions and political ideologies,rich and poor,elimination of resources and species,and on and on.At any point in history when one stops and looks back one sees a string of major events causing great turmoil at the time but as time goes on they all get consumed in the process and progress.However;looking forward always tends to make one think that we have been lucky so far ;but all indicators are pointing at the future as being on a direct path to disaster.Nobody knows what the future will bring ,but if we have to guess,it must be bad.Normally, predictions in books like this are so vague that no matter what the future brings it can be construed to fit the prediction. The other approach is to make the prediction so far in the future that nobody remembers it.A case in point; that the limiting factor for the number of vehicles would be that there was only enough rubber trees to make so many tires,..guess what, we learned to make synthetic tires which ended up better and cheaper.
It's tough enough to predict the near (a couple of years)future, but when it comes to several decades--it' fun to fantasize,but don't take it seriously.
The author thought he would try anyway.So,remember now, he wrote this book in 1998.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very prescient,, important book Aug. 12 2002
Format:Paperback
Author Linden's basic premise is that history fluctuates between periods of stability and instability. The last half of the 20th century was stable. The first half of the 21st promises to be anything but stable. The book is tremendously well thought out, and persuasive.
Linden visits nine areas, including climate change, increased population and larger cities, resource depletion, environmental degradation, religious fundamentalism/fanaticism, economic instability, etc. These analyses are then followed by realistic, but speculative, scenarios describing life in the event of the anticipated change. Author Linden does an excellent job in avoiding the Cassandra-style, apocalyptic language so common to writers in this area. Surely, the facts alone are sufficient, and Linden is to be praised for discerning the difference.
All are well done, but I was particularly impressed by the chapter on religious fundmentalism. As Linden so carefully describes matters, this fundamentalism, Christian or Muslim, is a response to the scientific and economic uncertainty of today's society. The true believer yearns to return to a simpler, more certain, time, and is perfectly willing to throw out the baby with the bath water to get it, including equal rights, scientific advances, better living conditions, etc. Anyone skeptical of this statement is invited to consider Iran, the Taliban, Creationism, and the like. I have not found Linden's peer in describing the origin and effects of religious fundamentalism on society as we know it. The whole book is more than worth it for this one chapter alone. Every thinking person should read it.
In short, the book is an outstanding addition to anyone's library. I recommend it very highly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where has the faith and hope gone? Sept. 15 1999
By A Customer
Good book, nice reading. But... Mister Linder asks us to look for the signs, to recognize them. Well, many other signs are there to be noticed. Signs of the past, actual facts which tell us modern (western) mankind always find reasonability before it gets 'to late'. And why? Because it will cost to much otherwise. Wars ended because of the costs, the 3rd World War didn't burst out because of the costs, and we still use classical natural resources because of the costs. But... the more specialized we get about ww- financial - and marketing processes (the more knowlegde we gain about those issues), the more we'll try (and succeed) to keep that concept alive. And better: to improve and expand. The internet is a great example of that (building a second - virtual - world), but also the Marsian (and other) explorations are. We live in a beautiful era, and it is about time we acknowlegde our accomplishments so far, treasure our goods ánd faults, and give ourselfs to the accummulating evolution we as a species now go through. And this with the most of respect for all that is, and lives. (We are) Gods alike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Monkey could NOT have written this book! Sept. 16 1998
By A Customer
And a monkey could not read it either. Eugene Linden makes this seemingly inane point again and again in different ways in this extraordinary book which shows how very not random world events come to be in the long run and how periods of calm will, in fact, be followed by periods of great instability. Just as the monkey may win a game of, say, poker or even 7-4-1 by sheer chance and luck, the author demonstrates very effectively that the monkey could just as easily have lost and given enough chances will in fact incur great losses as well as great victories. This is a book not just about the future but also about the very process that will take us there. This includes many external factors out of our control such as weather and disease, as well as those seeminly randam decisions made by humans, not unlike the many decisions made in a game of poker, which we are totally in control of and yet are made while still subject to the random elements. At heart we are all monkey boys, and the world is our big cage. Order comes by chance - again, just as in a card game. This book really makes you think. I highly reccommend it.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Effort!
Eugene Linden explains that most of civilization's history has included long periods of remarkable stability, including the last few decades. Read more
Published on May 29 2001 by Rolf Dobelli
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing here
This book is less than speculation. The flashpoints of the future cannot be recognized from our current perspective. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Look out -- Linden is right
Bought the book six months ago, read it and almost forgot it. But look out -- author Eugene Linden's bold predictions are coming true. Read more
Published on March 4 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Linden fills an important place in the public debate
At a time when our leaders all too often take credit where none is due and place blame on those least deserving, it is refreshing to be reminded that much of fate lies beyond our... Read more
Published on Feb. 28 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Accident or Design ?, the Author Misleads, Trust NO One !
This book is very suspect and stinks of mind control. When one looks to the future you have to look back and who,but the Illuminati have been controlling the world thru... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars This book is completely hilarious.
I cannot begin to express the degree of insanity present in this narrative. This book will do a very good job of raising the idiocy level of all its readers. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 1999 by Armand Tatevossian
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than five stars, this is a six star book.
As a life committed to the study and fulfillment of the future, I can say that I'm aware of no other book more prescient of the challanges humanity has created for itself. Read more
Published on Dec 22 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Heed the warnings
Dispelling the cyber-utopian and financial boom scenarios, exemplified by Wired Magazine and Harry Dent respectively, Mr. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 1998 by petlu@concentric.net
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary, the events are happening as you read it, a must read!
Got this a few weeks ago. Before I finished reading it (three days) events described in section one had already started to unfold. Read more
Published on Sept. 20 1998
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