Depending on the state of the planet and society, the world will reach one of four possible, highly contrasting outcomes by the year 2050. This is the central idea of Arup ’s recently published white paper , 2050 Scenarios: four plausible futures .
Previously we have discussed three out of the four outcomes already: Post Anthropocene, Greentocracy, and Extinction Express .
Now, we will consider the last hypothetical scenario. This one is called Humans Inc.
There are two main conditions that define this particular future:
- Planetary health has declined.
- Societal conditions have improved.
This scenario is the representation of the current trajectory that we are taking, according to Arup. If that is the case, then the future described by Humans Inc is of high interest. Let’s see what will hypothetically happen.
Business as usual
The world described by Humans Inc is what would happen if we just continue operating the way we do. Societal improvement is rapid but this is at the expense of the state of the environment.
The urgency of climate action is something which is acknowledged. However, the efforts to counter it have been scattered. With this, even though some portions of the world have nicely laid down efforts to mitigate environmental impacts, the overexploitation of the world’s resources remains.
Severe weather patterns are experienced throughout the world, primarily due to the continued deforestation. Potable water will run out, so the countries will be highly dependent on desalination facilities.
One counterintuitive development predicted by Arup will be in northern countries. Due to the increased temperatures, these areas will be thawed out and become more suitable for agricultural purposes.
With more arable land, some countries might even advocate for increasing the carbon emissions to hasten the expansion of usable land.
Much of the advances in this scenario come from the laser focus on improving societies. Living conditions are improved. The same can be said for access to education, as well as the availability of jobs and resources.
With this human-centric approach to policy, social services are drastically expanded. At the same time, there is also the Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those in need. Hunger and poverty are quickly fading out of the picture.
A glimmer of hope
Our trajectory may seem like a safe state to be in. However, we should recall that all of these developments come at the cost of our environment being destroyed.
In some aspects, our current world may be doing things right. Yet we must continue to persevere and shift our fate where there will be a balance between the state of the society and the environment where it is thriving.
We now have discussed the four possible futures the world will be in by 2050, according to Arup:
- Post Anthropocene
- Extinction Express
- Humans Inc.
Each of the four outcomes is situated in the four quadrants of varying states of the society and the environment. We have seen that by changing these states, the future can really drastically change.
These outcomes are just possibilities and by no means can they be taken as absolutes.
After all, apart from the environment and society, there are other factors that can alter the destiny of humankind. However, thinking about these possibilities provides us with a gauge that can guide us in strategizing for the future before us.