UK Defense Ministry's Prognostications
I found this document (PDF warning), the UK Defense Ministry's DCDC Strategic Trends Programme, extremely interesting. The purpose of this document is nothing short of making quantitative predictions of possible future events and trends:
The Strategic Trends approach starts by identifying the major trends in each of these dimensions [resource, social, political, science/technology, military] and analyses ways in which these trends are likely to develop and interact during the next 30 years, in order to establish a range of Probable Outcomes.The following are two "discontinuities" that they identify. I picked them out only because, after all my reading and thinking about the housing mess that we find ourselves in, I have sensed that they are becoming a growing force IMO. If I understand their methodology correctly, the following are given an 11-59% probability of being realized:
The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.And
Declining youth populations in Western societies could become increasingly dissatisfied with their economically burdensome ‘baby-boomer’ elders, among whom much of societies’ wealth would be concentrated. Resentful at a generation whose values appear to be out of step with tightening resource constraints, the young might seek a return to an order provided by more conservative values and structures. This could lead to a civic renaissance, with strict penalties for those failing to fulfil their social obligations. It might also open the way to policies which permit euthanasia as a means to reduce the burden of care for the elderly.For the most part the following predictions are given a >95% chance ("near certainty") of occurring:
[Re climate change:] On land, some regions will experience desertification, others will experience permanent inundation, and tundra and permafrost are likely to melt and release methane, possibly in large amounts. Global climate change will reduce land for habitation and will result in changing patterns of agriculture and fertility, while tropical diseases, like malaria, are also likely to move North and into temperate zones. There will be an increased risk of extreme weather events, threatening densely populated littoral, urban and farming regions with eccentric growing seasons, flooding and storm damage. Climate change will remain highly politicized: although the relationship between causes and effects is likely to be increasingly understood as more evidence and computing power becomes available, responses will be contested and affected by selfinterest.