Writer’s note: Originally written in 2005 as a fun exercise and not a prediction at all.
You would have thought that we’d had enough of these in the first few years of this century. George Bush Junior wanted to have his war with his war with Iraq and he got it, in the aftermath many countries borders changed and it led to the greatest mass migration since World War II.
The Australian government gave up on the Pacific Solution after unrest in the smaller countries of the South Pacific over being used as dumping grounds for unwanted arrivals.
Everyone remembers the old refugee camps in the Australian desert, but thankfully after a change in government the majority of new arrivals were settled in the community. You will have no trouble finding a good Middle Eastern take away in any decent sized town in Australia.
This has continued in Africa and also in the Middle East as a result of the Greater Middle Eastern War of 2003-2008. Eastern Europe also experienced widespread food shortages due to extreme weather conditions beginning with the floods of 2002 and compounded by another massive volcanic eruption in the Philippines that put Mt Pinatubo in the shade for the amount of ash that went into the atmosphere.
Contrary to the rest of the world the situation in Africa has improved compared to the end of the 20th Century. However this is mostly due to the large number of deaths from AIDS and related diseases which have decimated the population. (Some commentators compared its impact to that of the Black Plague in Europe during 1345AD.)
Despite hopes in the first few years of this century of a cure or vaccine AIDS is still as prevalent as ever.
The deaths in the Third World due to AIDS and related diseases have been horrendous and there has also been a resurgence of infections in more developed countries due to complacency. Of course the treatment for AIDS in the first world has improved to the point that it can be effectively managed by courses of drugs so that people can lead relatively normal lives.
Although there were some scaremongers who though Smallpox would make a reappearance, it has remained safely in containment and various governments looked a bit stupid after stockpiling vaccines for their entire populations. (They thought it better to be safe than sorry.)
This was a major concern in the first few years of this century, but its impact has faded since there have been no major attacks in many years apart from the one that the USA will never let anyone forget. (Some media outlets have now banned ‘that’ footage.)
The September 11th Conspiracy theorists have produced many books, lectures, videos, films, websites and so on which everyone is thoroughly sick of.
The attacks on the forces engaged in the Greater Middle Eastern War were mostly the work of suicide bombers, even though the organizations that were meant to be supporting them were no longer in existence.
The growth of scientific research especially genetic research has been exponential. Most likely it was accelerated by the dire situations in other areas of the world.
Human cloning was meant to have been banned, but about ten years ago a remote research facility was located in South America with many failed ‘experiments’ who were trying to live as best a life as they could – a modern day Leper colony. Some of the former residents of this research station became quite famous and travelled the world lecturing about taking responsibility for scientific research and the effects it can have on society.
The communications market has exploded with mobile phones turning into portable entertainment and communications centres.
Popular trends in mobiles include built in sound systems, mini movie players and multiplayer games. (There have been a few transporter crashes due to this.)
I remember I used to work in a job where I maintained the a website for a company. People eventually got sick of these and implemented digital secretaries on their home severs to answer customer queries. (I need not explain the DigiSec wars of Microsoft vs. AOL.)
Eventually the major movie studios got sick of people downloading movies from unauthorised sources and put in their own ‘pay per download’ services (which where hacked as soon as they were released – you can’t win.)
Hollywood only releases about half a dozen movies a year now, but they are ultra blockbusters with multi-billion dollar budgets and many concurrent interactive plot-lines.
Some studios have bought entire countries and destroyed them in the process of filming the movie. (The countries are rebuilt with the box office proceeds.)
This has backfired however when an attempt to film Armageddon III ended with the death of several million people when the ‘prop’ asteroid they were using actually hit the Earth when someone missed their cue.
The most popular movie at the moment is the Total Immersion Star Wars Saga which has grossed a record box office and is now in its fourth year of continuous top ten download.
Although there are still many old cars around many of them are sitting in garages un-driven due to the high cost of registration as part of the environmental regulations.
Running a ‘gas-guzzler’ is viewed as bad as smoking once was, but the people who can afford it don’t care that much as they have the highways to themselves mostly.
The reason cars aren’t so popular anymore was that there ended up being so many of them that the roads were in an almost permanent state of gridlock and it was quicker in the end to walk where you wanted to go.
Personal transports were also the height of fashion for a few years. They were about ¼ the size of a normal car so you could only fit about 1 other passenger apart from the driver. That didn’t stop people playing ‘sardines’ – the record was about 20 I think, at least
that’s what the accident investigators said.
As most of the highways had less cars on them, the trucks got bigger until the Mega Transports got their own roads for safety after one too many caravans was destroyed by a illegal gene modded ‘stay-awake’ driver.
Due to all the problems planet-side, there has been somewhat limited advances in this area. The former International Space Station has been a luxury hotel for quite a few years with discarded rocket housings providing the extra rooms.
The major movie studios have had their space operations licences suspended until they compensate for their damage to the Earth and the Moon caused by some accidents on set (it should only take the profits from two movies.)
Space is still the domain of the rich and powerful due to the high support costs, but a weekend away in the upper atmosphere has become quite affordable in the past few years.
Mineral exploration in space is a major success story with many precious metals being recovered from passing asteroids, leading to a bit of upset on the markets.
Interplanetary mining is very highly paid, but extremely dangerous and a lonely existence.
Some of the first people to mine off-world came from isolated mines in Western
Australia and other Australians are leaders in this field. (One of the first mining colonies in space was called Port Headland.)