Monday, October 3, 2011

By the Year 2050

The latest number of Lapham's Quarterly has as its theme The Future.* Right up in the front is a two-page colored spread of a  world map entitled "By the Year 2050 . . . " I thought it might be interesting for me to list without comment some of the pieces of information from this graphic. The reason no comment is necessary will be obvious. What more needs to be said beyond the bare statement of these facts:
  1. Trash Superhighway: Five Texas-sized garbage patches will have formed in oceanic gyres crated by intersecting hot and cold currents. Two patches currently exist, one in the Pacific Ocean, one in the Atlantic.
  2. Drying Out: Land around the Amazon River may reach the tipping point at which the forces of deforestation and climate-change trigger desertification. 
  3. Trail Blazing: Arctic sea ice will have shrunk by at least two-thirds, opening up year-round shipping routes across the Arctic Ocean.
  4. Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner: No fish will exist in the wild in commercially viable quantities in gigantic swathes of every ocean. (Seafood will be raised in giant, robotic, remote-controlled fish-farm pods that rove around the oceans, raising fish for commercial consumption.)
  5. Troubled Waters: More than a billion people will lack adequate amounts of clean water. Situation will be most dire in Africa and across southern Asia.
*Lapham's Quarterly is one of my favorite periodicals. It is totally history oriented, profusely illustrated, and it contains only short pieces, which means you're not going to have to invest 30-45 minutes on an article like sometimes you have to do with Atlantic and especially The New Yorker. All of the articles are excerpts of previously published work by historically famous or influential people. This current issue, for example, has pieces by Gandhi, Thomas Paine, Livy, Jules Verne, Aeschylus, Boswell, Philip K. Dick, to name a few. Lapham was the former editor at Harper's, so I knew the quality of his mind and of his writing. I've been with the quarterly since Vol II and have enjoyed issues on such diverse topics as: medicine, food, travel, the city, religion, lines of work. It's not cheap ($60 a year), but it is fabulous.
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