Prompt 023: 100 Years From Now
23. One hundred years ago, authors and other storytellers thought we'd have flying cars and apartments on Mars by now. How do you think the world will look 100 years from now? How long might it take for the future to really look like "the future" and why?
Hmm. 100 years ago, it was 1919. There were a handful of pivotal inventions that year: short-wave radio, the pop-up toaster, the arc welder. In 1920, the tommy gun, band-aids, and the Fokker 2 passenger airplane was invented.
So far this year, there have been some tremendous scientific developments: a space probe landing on the dark side of the moon; inhalers and atomic-chemical therapies to treat and hopefully cure cancer; 3D printing "lifting up" processes that speed the fabrication process; an AI defeats human players in "StarCraft II" ten out of eleven matches; gene therapy to restore muscle loss and even hearing (in a lab mouse); a microSD card that holds 1TB of data; extremophile organisms from Earth survived outer space for as long as a year and a half; a computer has created a bacterial genome (a "designer micro-organism").
What's going to happen in 2119?
Well, the bulk of the Earth's surface will be a hot, muggy, waterlogged place. Unfortunately, only small pockets of that water will be potable. I suppose there will be massive water filtration/desalination facilities near any remaining large metropolitan centers. There will be semi-nomadic societies living on "city-islands" anchored not far from terrestrial remnants of higher elevations. There will be less sea animal life, much fewer land animals, and meat will be eaten only by the very wealthy due to the costs of raising and harvesting healthy livestock (or een pets, for that matter). There will be large hydroponic farms that desalinate sea water and grow edible plants, and maybe even gargantuan seaweed harvesting operations.
There will be fewer "oceanside resorts," and the most numerous permanent residents of those areas will be the working poor. I think there will be solar- and hydrogen-powered watercraft that allow the rich to jet around the planet wherever and whenever they want. Furthermore, large-scale solar and hydrogen plants will power the engines of water shipping vessels.
I doubt there will be anywhere near as much oil use, and gasoline- and diesel-powered engines will be going by the wayside due to the intense difficulty of harvesting those materials. Most of the remaining mineral deposits will be too far out of reach for basic mining operations to reach. Some - but not too much - land will be dedicated to harvesting wind power, and some of the wealthiest humans will have their own wind farms to supplement their solar energy reserves.
Although scientific research will indicate that life on Mars is theoretically possible, I doubt humanity will be able to make it there. It will be too expensive to execute and/or maintain, and there will be too much wasted on keeping the wealthy comfortable on the Earth. Self-contained and self-sufficient settlements and Mars colonies will not have been realized soon enough.
Maintaining life on these floating residences will be a chief concern, particularly as the climate still reels in the throes of climate change. Of course, only the rich will be able to find their way inland during the worst storms, and human population will decrease as more and more people die from lack of safety, lack of adequate food, and conflicts based on control of the remaining limited resources still harvestable.
So if humans make it to 2119, it'll be wet, hot, and turning wetter and hotter every year. I am glad I won't have to endure it, and that I didn't leave any children behind to suffer it.