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
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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.
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