Now we have talked about one kind of predictions but how about the present and near future. What will happen on this blue ball in the next hundred cycles around the Sun? So much have happened in the past 100 years (from a human perspective) that it´s quite difficult to say what the world would be like in 2112. Here is my gestimation.
First few words about history of population growth, it took hundreds of thousands years to reach the first billion in 1800 and in only around 200 years we have reached seven billion that is seven with nine zeros after it. This is a hard number to comprehend so click on this link: http://www.7billionworld.com/ and just scroll down to get estimation of how huge mass of people live on this planet. Even in my lifetime the world population has grown by over two billion people, 2 BILLION. This growth has been possible due to industrial revolution, advances in science especially in medicine, social changes and cheap energy aka. oil. UN predicted in 2010 that according to medium estimate there will be 9 billion people by 2050 and 10 billion in 2100. Personally I now plan to do a service for Mother Nature and not add a single digit to that ever growing number.
Since most of the world people are living and more is moving to urban areas, I predict that before we reach 9 billion people something will stop the population growth. Nature has a tendency to balance itself and we are just one little piece of the ecosystem on Earth (even if we want to see ourselves apart from nature). When numbers of a species reaches too high limits they tend to drop down and in the case of humans this would happen by a global pandemic in a scale never seen before. The rate of traveling and fact that large number of people is living in relatively small areas will assure high rate of infected. This is not one of those end of days predictions I talked about before, just balancing of nature. I would estimate 1-3 billion deaths to this plausibly coming disease.
Now from population to future politics. We can now see the tilting of power to East with the help of China and India. However, I would state that in a 100 years importance of a nation state will decline and mega corporations will become more important. Politics will move into direction of a World Government where coalitions of nations determinate the future together with the mega corporations.
Capitalism seems to be the dominant economic model in the world today, this might be the case in also in 22th century but without expanding to use resources available in space, infinite economic growth is just not possible on a planet with finite resources. Future developments can be seen in the plans of recently founded Planetary Resources which aims to excavate minerals from asteroids and Chinese government plans to harvest Helium-3 from the Moon. National space programs have already lost their importance and private corporations are delivering resources to International Space Stations and space tourism is just behind the corner.
In the next 100 years the rich will probably get richer and poorest people will suffer the most (as it has always been) from present and coming economic and natural crises. It´s the incapability of mankind and individuals to learn from mistakes of the past that will most likely lead to a conflict when we run out the glue that holds this global society together. This can be seen in present conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and soon in Iran.
Though, in every crisis there is an opportunity. With the help of coming technical inventions combined to renewable energy sources we might have a green and bright future. Coming environmental, economic, armed and population growth crises might enable us to come together as a species. Focus on increasing wellbeing on a global scale, sustainable development with balance of nature in mind together with expansion to other planets in this solar system and beyond is the only logical way forward if we want to have a future. Either a species expands from its home planet to space or it faces extinction, there is no middle way.
In any case we are living in the most interesting age of mankind, I have looked in the history with nostalgic glance and thought how amazing it would have been to explore new continents 500 years ago, take part in hedonistic Saturnalia party in ancient Rome or see how the Pyramids were built and how did they shine when they were still covered with limestone. Still it doesn´t compare with modern day where the world is connected via internet, trip to another planet is not science fiction anymore, we are finding awesome new things about nature, ourselves and the Universe all the time. New planets have been found by the hundreds in recent years and we might be the first generation to discover that we are not alone in this Universe. The next 100 years will be a bottleneck for our species and determinate the way of future for the next hundreds of years. It´s going to be fascinating to see how things turn out.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”