What will the world look like in 2050?

What will the world look like in 2050? Well – according to scientists attending a conference yesterday with the American Association for the Advancement of Science – the planet will be “unrecognizable.” With a population over 9 billion by then – we’ll have to produce more food in the next 40 years than has been produced in the last 8,000 years. And as income in the developing world is supposed to increase – more people will be eating more food – thus leading to a far higher rate of resource depletion in the world. We’re in for some dark time ahead – unless we can transform our culture and try to live WITH our world – and not opposed to it.


jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 12 years 14 weeks ago

REPUBLICANS ARE SOCIAL DARWINISTS -- they believe the government should help the rich live long and prosper! THE government should let the rich exploit the working classes until they die from hard work and exhaustion!! AND should let the poor die off from starvation and disease because they will never amount to anything and are a drain on society!!!

""Social Darwinism is a belief, popular in the late Victorian era in England, America, and elsewhere, which states that the strongest or fittest should survive and flourish in society, while the weak and unfit should be allowed to die. The theory was chiefly expounded by Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), whose ethical philosophies always held an elitist view and later received a boost from the application of Darwinian ideas such as adaptation and natural selection.

According to Darwin's evolutionary theory, nature is a "kill-or-be-killed" system. Those that cannot keep up are either left behind or cut off. The strong survive, and those best suited to survival will out-live the weak.

The seeds of Social Darwinism were actually planted before the publication of Darwin's "The Origin of Species"(though of course the name didn't originate until after). Herbert Spencer, the father of Social Darwinism as an ethical theory, was thinking in terms of elitist, "might makes right" sorts of views long before Darwin published his theory. The concept of adaptation allowed Spencer to claim that the rich and powerful were better adapted to the social and economic climate of the time, and the concept of natural selection allowed him to argue that it was natural, normal, and proper for the strong to thrive at the expense of the weak. Whether it be humans, races, or the state, Spencer's thoughts were clear: "If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do live, and it is well they should live. If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they die." In its simplest form, Social Darwinism follows the theory of "the strong survive," even in human issues.It is the application of the theory of natural selection to social, political, and economic issues. According to Social Darwinism, those with economic, physical, and technological strength flourish and those without are destined for extinction. This theory was used to promote the idea that the white European race was superior to others, and therefore, destined to rule over them.

Social Darwinism was used to justify numerous exploits which we classify as of dubious moral value today. Colonialism was seen as natural and inevitable; people saw natives as being weaker and more unfit to survive, and therefore felt justified in seizing land and resources. Finally, it gave the ethical nod to brutal colonial governments who used oppressive tactics against their subjects.

At the time that Spencer began to promote Social Darwinism, the technology, economy, and government of the "White European" was advanced in comparison to that of other cultures. Looking at this apparent advantage, as well as the economic and military structures, some argued that natural selection was playing out, and that the race more suited to survival was winning. Some even extended this philosophy into a micro-economic issue, claiming that social welfare programs that helped the poor and disadvantaged were contrary to nature itself. Those who reject any and all forms of charity or governmental welfare often use arguments rooted in Social Darwinism.

Social Darwinism has been used to justify eugenics programs aimed at weeding "undesirable" genes from the population; such programs were sometimes accompanied by sterilization laws directed against "unfit" individuals. The American eugenics movement was relatively popular between about 1910-1930, during which 24 states passed sterilization laws and Congress passed a law restricting immigration from certain areas deemed to be unfit. Social Darwinist ideas, though in different forms, were also applied by the Nazi party in Germany to justify their eugenics programs. With the development of the notion of eugenics — not only could you prevail over the unfit by making war on them, but you could improve the breed by applying "enlightened" notions of selection and genetics.

At its worst, the implications of Social Darwinism were used as scientific justification for the Holocaust. The Nazis claimed that the murder of Jews in World War II was an example of cleaning out inferior genetics. This view embraced the assumption that the strong were superior, and thus ordained to prevail. Social Darwinism applied to military action as well; the argument went that the strongest military would win, and would therefore be the most fit. Casualties on the losing side, of course, were written off as the natural result of their unfit status. Thus, if two countries were to make war on each other, the victor was biologically superior to the loser. It was therefore right and proper for that victor to subjugate or even eliminate the inferior opponent. Not only was survival of the fittest natural, but it was also morally correct. Indeed, some extreme Social Darwinists argued that it was morally incorrect to assist those weaker than oneself, since that would be promoting the survival and possible reproduction of someone who was fundamentally unfit.

A second way pseudo-evolutionary concepts were applied to human interaction was in the development of cut-throat capitalism in the United States. Here the ideology was that the cream naturally rose to the top; the successful made a lot of money simply because they were superior to the unsuccessful. Those who found themselves in poverty were poor because they were intrinsically inferior. It provided a justification for the more exploitative forms of capitalism in which workers were paid sometimes pennies a day for long hours of backbreaking labor. Social Darwinism also justified big business' refusal to acknowledge labor unions and similar organizations, and implied that the rich need not donate money to the poor or less fortunate, since such people were less fit anyway. This political philosophy resisted suggestions like universal education, welfare, minimum wage; in short, anything which interfered with the business of the "superior" ascending to the top of the heap and squashing the unfit beneath their expensive shoes.""



JonG41 12 years 14 weeks ago

Independent Women's Forum guest Charlotte cited six-figure teacher salaries to 'justify' budget cuts. It reminded me of calls I heard to Randi Rhodes last year also citing high teacher salaries to justify Chris Christie's budget cuts on state employee pay. Randi reported that Christie had vetoed a tax increase for millionaires. The program Randi said this on was hour 2 of her Aug 4, 2010 show. I still have the podcast. Maybe Thom's producer could ask her producer for permission to replay the audio. I am reluctant to post the audio on Thom's community site for now because of copyright infringement. Podcast may still be available for sale in her archive that I pay $60/year to access.

yankeerebel64's picture
yankeerebel64 12 years 14 weeks ago

i hope it wont be another asteriod belt by 2050

Political Fingers's picture
Political Fingers 12 years 14 weeks ago

The 401k generation is upon us. And guess what .. they have no money in their 401k. What a huge surprise eh.

So here's a little quiz for ya .. what does a 55 year old do with no money and no job? Answer --> lives with the ten year old grandson in a bedroom with Star Wars walpaper. No kids .. no problem .. there is always the street.

We don't have to wait until 2050 .. it is here and it is now. Good luck to all those Teabaggers without a trade and without medical insurance. They had just enough to invest in a gun.

Good luck to all those medicare puppets who sold their trust to an insurance company. I hope you like going to a doctor who's rating on Google is - "He killed my parents."

Good luck to us all ..

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 14 weeks ago



hippinator13's picture
hippinator13 12 years 14 weeks ago

I think we will have to do away with food as we now know it & move to something like a 'nutrient pill' that we take 1-3 times a day to give us our energy & nutrients. But the overpopulation problem may be very overstated as I have read a study that said we could fit everyone in th USA in France & they would have about 920 ft of standing room each. Now that may or may not be true but there are literally millions of unpopulated square miles on the planet.

What we need is a Hitleresque type figure in power that doesn't like repubes & then we could atleast start working towards some sort of solution to the problem once we got rid of them all! Now! Now! I am only kidding!

All those people could either lead to a police state or could be a good catalyst for a great revolution to tear down the controlling power structures all over the world?

Neuro1's picture
Neuro1 12 years 14 weeks ago

My vision is a little more darker, i don't know if the human species will survive the century. Not only because of global weather change, and the deterioration of the environment, and the loss of other species, but rather what is happening to the human genome because of the food additives (see the recent report by the EPA, and NIH on all the chemical additives to the food we eat). we need to wake up soon or there will be not species (us) or environment to save.

dowdotica's picture
dowdotica 12 years 14 weeks ago


just a quick thought on the state of the deteriorating social safety nets, etc. For all the jive I hear about the charity of the wealthy and for that matter even the charity of folks like me. I am most curious as to why the $1200 I give a year to the poor is worht less on my tax deduction then somone making twice as much as me? Isn't $1200 the same either way? Talk about the working class getting the shaft.

But its even deepe then that. Think about the sheer wealth of all the worlds churches combined and if its true that the catholic church has $$$enough to supposedly feed a nation then I say its high frikin' time they start showing some charity on a mass scale or loose the tax exempt status.

...the song goes somthin' like

Tax the churches

tax the mosques

tax the synagougues

tax 'em all

they kicked me out oh yes they did

for to question sunday and then come monday

they could not recall the word of the day before

KassandraTroy's picture
KassandraTroy 12 years 14 weeks ago

It's just not going to happen that way.

You're using Newtonian models of endless expansion here and they don't work anymore, if they ever did, except in small localized cases. We barely know how nature functions and yet we're releasing genetically engineered plants and organisms into our environment. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing when it's based on profit only. We're not using the advances made by Quantum physics which should have warned us what we were getting into, environmentally, economically and socially.

There's no way the human population will increase; not with the degradation of the environment,the poisoning of the rivers and oceans, the death of the land and the increasing ferocity of the weather. Wimmin's and other female animal's fertility will drop off precipitously, even in "developing countries".

It really IS the end times for the mammalian population of the earth. We had our chance in the 60's and 70's with the possibility of reining in the patriarchy/capitalism but, I swear, the Christains/capitalists and TPTB would rather kill the earth for another drop of oil than allow wimmin equal rights and say over human destiny. And that really was the only way to turn this around in time.

Sorry for the pessimism in that spirit, I say "Cha lalalala live for today"

We're not going to make 2050

RMR 12 years 14 weeks ago

Having worked in the Natural Resource fields for over 30 years, I find the whole topic a bit of the old, 'been around long enough where I've heard the same notion a thousand times before.', and probably thought of it about ten-thousand times more.

Honestly, the intellectualizing of the situation and topic is too late, as are most of the 'answers'. For thousands of years, humans have been beating on each and the planet has provided the resources for that endless, hopeless exercise. Now we are facing the piper because there hasn't been a 'wisdom of awakening' to compensate for the flaws, both from our 'spiritual weaknesses' and our violent, animal-like nature. We as human-kind, destroy everything we touch, we have yet to find as a course of daily living how to leave minimal footprints. We make choices for all kinds of reasons that keep most of us from that. But it gets back to one thing, our inability to say no, when we know inside what is best. Greed has stepped in to encompass the planet to believe that gross excess and consumerism and GNP is the most important goal. It is not.

There will not be enough food, the attempts will be made to produce through any of the existing technology available and the yet invented. Most land that is not in production will be soon, and wilderness that can be used will be if possible; if it's not used up already. Even if we find a way, any of us who know of the Earth in the past to this time, will not want to be around, that is if you have a conscience and understand what we lost because Humans are a flawed life-form. That's not an extreme thought, explain, outside our greatest gifts to human culture in all it's greatness, why we have yet to get a grip on ourselves to stop the destruction of an entire planet. But you see, that would be intellectualing the obvious again, and as the years go further and further to the past, our years as a viable species shortens. It's our reality.

I've seen exceptions made to build here, drill there, graze there, look the other way there; and it's that attitude of making exceptions to flatten out and destroy the exceptional for pure greed that is why this whole problem exists. It won't be pretty and seeing it all happen, headlong, as we chase the Sun to rest, will be the saddest times of human's existence.

bobcox's picture
bobcox 12 years 14 weeks ago

I expect a war of epic proportions, reducing the world to essentially ashes. Reason, according to Jay Forrester's predictions, converting available land to food production at maximun level and optimum delivery of equal food calories to rhe world population of slightly over 9B would be required.

Considering the massive gluttinous capitalists, and the starvation psychology of humans, it is more likely to result in massive killings than the result predicted to peacefully get 9V population by 2050. I predict we have about fifteen more years!

r4house's picture
r4house 12 years 14 weeks ago

I learned years ago of the ecological concept of the carrying capacity of biomes. Then my major professor related that his best guess for this value for human population worldwide was about 250,000,000. He thought this was a conservative number. There might be mitigating circumstances. Many studies have shown the concept to be valid in natural animal (not human) populations. When a population exceeds the carrying capacity the resultant environmental degradation lowers the carrying capacity and the population experiences events that lower the population. Such events as famine, disease, decreased fecundity, behavioral aberrations, accomplish that result. Harsh facts. As has been said "nature bats last." No judgment. The reactions to environmental degradation can be sloganized as: "adapt, migrate, or die." Apply that to your favorite population. Human exceptionalism is exciting and politically motivating but at root we are biological organisms subject to natural constraints. Can we select from the options natural animal populations are subject to for our future? Has the carrying been reached, or exceeded? What about the uniquely human mitigating factors of war and greed? Cormac MacCarthy's "The Road" is a particularly austere presentation of a fictional future. This future can be avoided. What do you think needs to happen?

dnarnadem 12 years 14 weeks ago

It is already upon us - visit any poor country! If you don't see the children and the poor eating in dumps, you are willfully blind! If you do see, then this is a small picture compared to what will be the fact 50 years from now if there is no 'Trying to Fix it"!

And the new Plutocrats, fascists and repugs have no intention to make this happen. Unfortunately, one can only have their heads in the sand for so long. And unfortunately they also have no consideration for their children and grandchildren as they themselves will be long gone by then!

Any Farmer with any modicum of brain cells knows that trying to raise a hundred head of cattle on 1 acre of land is quickly doomed to failure. He or she learns quickly - it has to be managed and cared for, for any sort of success.

Maybe we should all become farmers!

jkh6148's picture
jkh6148 12 years 14 weeks ago


BY 2050



beemerron's picture
beemerron 12 years 14 weeks ago

Soylent Green, "Now with more women!".

mikegeorge's picture
mikegeorge 12 years 14 weeks ago

Here is an interesting view by Shell of the next fifty years of the energy market--warning consumption will outpace supply, which pretty much agrees with the assesment of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Shell's analysis are dire, here are their bullet points:

"We believe that the world is entering an era of volatile transitions and intensified economic cycles.

We are seeing a step change in energy use.

In broad-brush terms, natural innovation and competition could spur improvements in energy efficiency to moderate underlying demand by about 20% over this time.

Supply will struggle to keep pace with demand.

Smart urban development, sustained policy encouragement and commercial and technological innovation can all result in some demand moderation.

The global economic crisis has coincided with a shift in geopolitical and economic power from west to east.

Environmental stresses are increasing."

Read the article here.

It just never ceases to amaze me that even though major oil companies like Shell are begining to get it, Republicons and those on the right still deny the handwriting on the wall. Glen Beck and his mononic minions would find a way to interpret the above as a Marxist plot to take over the world. And perhaps a world take over is just what we need, taken over by sane people working together with a commitment to save the planet and the people.

Berry's picture
Berry 12 years 14 weeks ago

Absolute Greed ! Raping the earth ! Depleting resources by making junk. "Just so you can throw it away and . (Greed) Bad management. . "Wars, junk, Pollutions of all kinds, water air etc. Alan Watts wrote ~ The confusion of money in any form whatsoever with real wealth is one of the major problems from which civilization is suffering. Round and Round in and out we go?

stradric's picture
stradric 12 years 14 weeks ago

I blame Religion. Christianity has taught people that god gave man dominion over the earth and it's ours to do as we wish. It has taught people that man is external to the earth -- that man has not evolved in this environment but was instead placed here by some magical being in the sky. The reality is quite different than the fantasy many religions teach. Ignoring the reality that we need to work towards sustainability rather than dominance will be to the detriment of us all.

Combined with the rapture fantatics that are themselves 100% certain that the world will end soon, it's clear to me that relgion is one of the most destructive forces man has ever conceived. For any creativity it has inspired, it has inspired destruction 100-fold. Working to undue that destruction involves ending religion through reason and logic. And in these times, that seems quite impossible.

Despite that, I am actually optimistic. The influence if religion in the US is actually on the decline. We need another Age of Reason to save this world.

the other 98 12 years 14 weeks ago

People got to eat. In the U.S we use over 1/3 of our corn crop to make bio fuels. Approx. 5 billiion(yes billion with a B) bushels of corn . If you do the calculation that amount of corn would feed 200 million people for a year. ( assuming 2000 calories a day to live and work) The ethanol that is produced is a negative energy scam. We produce it to reduce carbon and polutants. But as a fuel source it takes more gas and oil/ energy to produce the ethanol than you get out of using it. Bottom line feed the people not the cars.

If we don't make changes we will indeed have desolation by 2050.


gerald's picture
gerald 12 years 14 weeks ago

@Neuro1, You make a strong case for "if the human species will survive the century."

gerald's picture
gerald 12 years 14 weeks ago

Personally, I see the United States of Mortal Sin commencing a nuclear holocaust by 2020. Sixty percent of the people will be vaporized. In another twenty years thirty percent of Earth's popuation will die of radiation poisoning. By this time in another twenty years the westerly winds, saturated with radiation, will be upon our country in the Western Hemisphere and the final twenty percent of Earth's population will die off. I believe destruction and death await us through a nuclear holocaust. By 2060 or 2070 planet, Earth, will be a wasteland.

lsmft4's picture
lsmft4 12 years 13 weeks ago

Historians may look back and refer to this time as the beginning of the Great Lessoning. A time when human beings accepted the twin realities of burgeoning population growth and finite material resources. A time when nature made the link between human activity and climate change obvious. A time when we learned to measure human success in ways other than simply growth and consumption. A time to agree that as our natural material wealth is limited, to consume more than one's share should be viewed as a source of shame not pride. An economy based on waste is suicidal and yet that is the model for civilization America is promoting and much of the world is pursuing.

In order to save democracy, capitalism and civilization we need to consume less not more. We need to stop promoting and subsidizing waste, and find ways to include wear and tear on the planet in the price of everything. All goods will cost more and for this reason we need to strengthen our social safety net not shred it. For starters we should rescind the Bush tax cuts for all, not just the wealthy. We should abandon the hard won health care bill, agree it's unconstitutional and extend medicare for all. We cannot afford to cover everyone for everything but we can cover everyone at some basic level. The same is true for education. Let's decide what a quality basic education is and provide it for all. Public education has served our country well, let's not abandon it. I find the specter of uncontrollable climate change far more frightening than any likely terrorist attack. We need to invest in green technology as though our children's lives depended on it.

Everything will cost more in the future. This is likely to happen regardless of what we do. The question is what will be our prevailing narrative? Will we see ourselves as victims being robbed of our material wealth or will we purposefully find ways to minimize waste, so our children will inherit a planet that is still capable of providing for everyone's needs? The narrative is all important. During times of scarcity, it is natural to want to blame others for our dwindling lifestyle. It is in these circumstances that the worst of human behavior often takes place. But not always. History is full of examples of people overcoming fear and choosing to act in ways that put the welfare of others ahead of their own. They become our heros, and rightly so. Is America still the home of the brave and land of the free? We have an opportunity to be the people we like to think we are and lead the world to a better future.

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