Titanic. The irresistible force of the 250,000-ton ocean tanker cruising
through the water at 20 miles per hour strikes the immovable object of a
huge iceberg. See Movie.
Driving factors/forcing functions: Technological advances stall, economic recession, depression, rising and unmet expectations, corruption, ideological/religious fanaticism, epidemic diseases, terrorism, natural disasters, political breakdown of key institutions and countries.
Description: The future does not look like today. There is radical change brought about by economic, political and/or environmental collapse. Our worst nightmares come into being. This future scenario suggests a world where all the problems of the present grow in intensity and severity. The future is the present problems of the planet, writ larger. Even the mass and momentum of the Titanic was of little use when colliding with an iceberg. The global economy ceases to grow, then begins to shrink. In this scenario, there are more hungry, illiterate, diseased, poverty stricken people in a world of collapsing social order, increasing ecological and natural disasters, ethnic wars and crime. Governments collapse with increasing frequency as basic needs go unmet and social order breaks down. Ideology prevails over pragmatism and tribalism over interdependence. Terrorism is on the rise throughout the world and the use of chemical, biological and thermonuclear weapons by terrorist groups comes into use. The only sense of community that exists is family and tribal. Overall global birth rates rise as disease, famine, and war cut sharply into population growth and economic productivity. Parts of the world are almost totally cut off from international trade and foreign investment. Local and regional economic and environmental problems cause major emigrations from places where the environment can no longer support its population. Famines occur with increasingly regularity. Global environmental problems continue to grow in severity—an ozone hole opens over the northern hemisphere, the existing one over Antarctica expands to cover all of Australia and half of South America; global warming continues and the polar icecaps begin melting, flooding low-lying coastal regions throughout the world; acid raid and other air-borne pollutions lower agricultural productivity by over 25% while urban environments throughout the world are so filled with air pollution that respiratory diseases affect all those who cannot afford to live in filtered air. Education systems break down as social order declines, and global travel declines. The number of civil and ethnic wars increases, international trade declines, and global corporations are effectively shut out of major regions of the world, as the risk to investment grows too high. In the wealthier parts of the developed world the rich continue to get richer, while the poor get babies—and poorer—and the gap between the two widens. Global economic depression sets in and consumers begin hoarding basic supplies. The interconnections of globalization begin to fall away.
Statistical indicators/warning signals: Economic slowdown, global recession, regional depressions, stock market crashes, irreversible ecological collapse, famine, rising infant mortality rates, lowered life expectancy, increased illiteracy, decreased tolerance for ethnic and other differences, increased armed conflict.
“Turning and turning in a widening gyre
the falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
—William Butler Yeats
“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
“The world is in a race between education and catastrophe.”
—H. G. Wells
“If present trends continue, economic disparities between the rich industrial and poor developing nations will move from the inequitable to the inhuman.”
—United Nations Development Programme
“Hard times give you the courage to think the unthinkable.”
—Andy Grove, Intel chairman
Possible Future Headlines:
Arctic Ice Disappearing Quickly
China Confirms Its First Human Cases Of Bird Flu.
Millions Flee Environmental Degradation
Global Sea Levels Rise 30 cm
Desert Dunes Expand
Cigarettes Age Your DNA
Retreat of Antarctic Ice Gathers Pace
New York Underwater
Stock Market Hits 1000
Terrorist Attack Kills 500,000
China Splits Into Three Countries
Agriculture Production Down 25%
Global HIV Infections Hit New High
North Korea and Iran Explode H-Bomb
FutureGame Scenario 2: Brake/Break-Down