Rest in peace, Julia. Your hope and humanity are an inspiration.
In 2060, we will look back on the present era as a vast transition, a bottleneck between the past and present. The population will stabilize around 10 billion and begin to drop slowly. The developing world will then be the developed world, and with this development will come a worldwide reduction in hunger, disease, illiteracy and intolerance. With a better understanding of nutrition and the application of permaculture techniques on a broad, but locally based scale, everyone will eat well. A scientific research colony on Mars will highlight the riches we enjoy here on Earth while helping humanity take the first step in spreading wonderful life to the lifeless parts of universe, to one day creating ecosystems instead of destroying them.
The forces of social progress will continue — the rights of women and people with different colored skin will be brought as far again as they have been in the past fifty years, or more. Queer rights will be at least as universal as women’s rights are now, and we will in earnest begin extending some rights to other social, intelligent creatures. Animal rights will be granted a tremendous boon when natural animal tissue cultures can be grown in isolation. "Vat meat" will be cheaper and less resource-intensive than the present system. When people do not rely on factory farms or even death to eat meat, the justifications for the present system will be stripped away. Partisanship and in-group/out-group variation will always exist, and the world would be sad without diversity and stupid without disagreement … yet separate groups will find ways to work together on the issues that most can agree with: clean air and water, health and education, the importance of community and family.
Cities, towns, villages, and lonely farmland alike will be structured to support people. Walking and biking (and unicycling, rollerskating, skateboarding, skipping, hang-gliding, and dancing) to work will be a joy, a time to see your friends and the beauty around you, without any fearing for your life. The presently large and growing homeschooling, unschooling, and alternative education movement will come of age and begin working with the public education system to create free schooling that works, access to knowledge and mentors and tools that is an integrated, productive, voluntary part of society instead of institutionalization that segregates and silences its often-unwilling subjects. With the empowerment of children will come the empowerment of their parents and teachers and the minimization of bureaucracy. Radio/computer/communications technology will remain fairly decentralized, uncensored, and accessible to amateurs and hackers and everyone else.
Electric cars will be used for some public transportation, and emergency response, and perhaps the occasional road trip, but the days of a daily automotive commute will be a peculiar quirk of history. Global shipping will be by means of advanced LTA (Lighter Than Air) technology, safe, stately, silent, fuel-efficient blimps. The oceans and forests will fall quiet again and the native inhabitants of the ocean will be able to find their mates and prey. All lighting will be by means of smart LEDs, designed to reduce glare and eliminate wasteful spillover. Every child will know what stars look like; every child will know what silence sounds like. Productive gardens and native habitat will be everywhere, on rooftops and balconies, in houses and shared public spaces, outside of stores, lining walkways, and hanging in the air. We will honor warriors and lament wars. "Public breastfeeding" will be simply "breastfeeding".
Economics will become a science; the philosophy behind applied economics will shift away from growth and the idea that markets are self-evidently moral; markets will be treated as powerful but neutral tools that can be used to shape the world toward agreed-upon issues. Most people, even Americans, will be bilingual (or more), speaking from birth an increasingly global language as well as a local native language.
Cradle to Cradle design won; our technological resources will be recaptured with an efficiency asymptotically approaching 100%; it will become cheap and easy to recover our waste from an earlier, more thoughtless era and the landfills will be emptied and filtered clean. With increasingly efficient technology and the leveling off and then decreasing population and global development, misguided "growth" and further appropriation of resources will not be necessary — we will have "enough," and then we will have "more than enough."
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