In this book we study the physical circumstances that will shape the long-term future of our civilization. Why should we be interested? Perhaps we may have an idle curiosity for how the future will look. But there is more. The distant future will be very much constrained by what is physically possible and what is not. This may help us to select among our present options those that are viable in the future. If we were to follow a path that is a dead end, we may first have to undo the damage before we can follow one that shows more promise for the future, assuming this still to be possible. As an example, we all know that oil and gas will become exhausted in the not too distant future and also that the burning of these will lead to serious consequences for the Earth’s climate, though these may not be immediately obvious. So, in the long run we shall have to find alternative sources of energy. That being the case, is it not better to start work on these alternatives now than invest all our efforts in augmenting the oil supply only to discover later that it is not enough and that irremediable damage has been done to the environment?
KeywordsPast Climate Distant Future Ozone Hole Brundtland Report Chess Board
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
1.5 Notes and references
- McRae, H., 1994, The World in 2020, Harper Collins Publ.Google Scholar
- Darwin, C.G., 1953, The Next Million Years, Double Day.Google Scholar
- For example, Kastenberg, W.E. and Gratton, L.J., 1997, Physics Today, June, p. 41.Google Scholar
- Brundtland Report, 1987, Our Common Future, Oxford University Press. (The World Commission on Environment and Development for the General Assembly of the United Nations.)Google Scholar
- Meadows, D.H. et al., 1972, Limits to Growth, Potomac Associates, London.Google Scholar
- Malthus, T., 1798, An Essay on the Principle of Population, Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Lomborg, B., 2001, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- UN, 1998, World Population Projections to 2150, United Nations, New York.Google Scholar
- UN, 2004, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision, http://esa.un.org/unppGoogle Scholar
- Emsley, J., 2001, Nature’s Building Blocks, Oxford University Press, p. 315.Google Scholar
- UN, 1992, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, http://www.unfccc.int/Google Scholar