There’s one more scenario I want to talk about, another fifty-year scenario. It starts, of course, with a global economic downturn, one lasting much longer than anyone expects. We slowly come out of, and see an explosion of new technological development; but in concert with that, more instability. Regional conflicts and military strategies
getting accustomed to new technologies lead into an almost accidental war, which escalates to the point of fighting all over the world.
Chemical weapons get used. Just as the war ends, we see the rise of a global pandemic. The combination of conflict and disease leads to what some call a “lost generation,” millions of people in their 20s and 30s dead.
We finally see an economic boom, though, and for parts of the world,
this becomes a glorious time. It doesn’t last, of course; an economic
collapse even greater than the one a few decades earlier takes hold,
driving hyperinflation in some countries, mass unemployment in others.
Governments fall, and totalitarian regimes take over, some using ethnic cleansing as a rallying cry. This inevitably leads to another global conflict, even greater than the last, one which ends in a shocking nuclear attack.
I’ve just described 1895 to 1945.
This is why I am, ultimately, hopeful about our future. We have lived
through terrible, almost unimaginably awful times. We have faced
brutality from nature and from ourselves. And we always come back. We learn. We build. We live.