The World is Still Functioning in 2099
The year is 2099, and the world is positioning itself to transition from the old 21st century into the new 22nd century. Now is a time to reflect on the past and anticipate the future.
I’m forty-nine years old, and I’m optimistic when I regard that future. My optimism sharply contrasts with the pessimism my grandparents expressed as they grew up in the early decades of the 21st century. Back then, they faced three daunting worldwide problems: economic inequality on the scale of ancient Rome, a vital energy source on the verge of failure, and runaway global warming.
All three problems were growing unchecked and pushing the world toward the collapse of modern society. Government officials often acknowledged the three problems, but couldn’t cope with any of them. Economic structures of the day resisted change. Those three problems spanned the globe, but no worldwide political body had enough power to overcome the resistance.
Our civilization continued to drift toward cliff edges in three directions. My grandparents felt helpless because all the politicians, academics, and activists in the world couldn’t slow their slide into disaster. They wondered what ordinary people might do about those looming worldwide catastrophes.
Yet civilization survived and modern society still functions in 2099. A happenstance combined with intent ushered humanity through the dangerous times.
The happenstance was the Great Energy Crisis in 2025 which boosted energy prices and focused everyone’s attention on the changing economics of energy. That crisis appeared apocalyptic until humanity realized that we could use those higher energy prices to make improvements. That led to the intent part, and it worked.
The actions taken during the 21st century resulted in a new economic order, one that has sustained us to the present, and one that can continue to sustain us into the future. Thankfully, the changes weren’t imposed by violent revolution or strong-arm dictators, but by an incremental and peaceful transformation of the energy foundation supporting our world economy.
I can best describe it by telling you the story of one typical increment of that change—my story.