The Futurian
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The Futurian

Editorial Issue #4

THE FUTURIAN #4

Photo by DIEGO SANCHEZ on Unsplash

This edition of The Futurian was inspired by the public reaction to the pandemic. If you recall, when the possibility of COVID causing a devastating pandemic first arose, it was met with shock and disbelief on the part of the public. Governments were asked why they hadn’t warned the public. Expectations were expressed that more ought to have been done. Politicians were questioned over why they hadn’t prepared for such a disruptive event.

As we hope to move away from the pandemic, and as we hope that some form of normality can be restored in 2022, now is a time to step back and consider what happened. Taking the three points in hand, as it happens, the public were warned about the possibility of a pandemic. They had been for many years. It’s just that those warnings weren’t heeded. The public may express a desire for politicians to do more to to solve the crisis, but the crisis was international in its nature and no single government could resolve the crisis fully on their own. Finally, we were apparently caught unawares because there has been no public demand — and allocation of funds - for disaster preparation.

This has led us on to think about what else might we be missing? What other potential disasters are there that would warrant a degree of forward planning? That is the theme of this issue. What are the blind side risks that we could anticipate, but which we currently ignore? Even at out peril?

These risks have two broad origins — natural disasters and man-made disasters. There is a very broad spectrum of possibilities that is almost limited only by the scope of our imagination, and much of which can be read in science fiction. However, our future concerns are normally fed by our fears in the present. These fears are reflected in the range of articles we have to offer. They fall into two categories — first, those resulting from our own actions (or inactions), with the climate being the dominant concern. Second, those fears resulting from natural phenomena that impact our way of life to such an extent that the future looks radically different from the past. Of course, these two categories are not entirely inseparable as the one can feed into the other. And yet, we find it a useful way of thinking about them. We can influence the man-made causes, but we just have to suffer those disruptions coming from nature.

It is here that we start our selection of articles. Charlotte Aguilar-Millan considers how a solar flare could disrupt our digital infrastructure, and possibly re-shape modern life. This is then followed by Tyler Mongan, who alerts us to the possibility that climate change may not necessarily lead to an ice free Arctic Ocean. David Bengston then discusses how natural feedback processes could lead to an acceleration of climate change, possibly beyond the point at which humanity is viable on the planet.

In a slight change of pace, Paul Tero looks at the possibility of nuclear fusion providing the ultimate cheap and green source of energy. This is before Guy Garrud considers the death of coffee as a consequence of cultivation belts moving due to modest climate change. We finally move onto a pair of articles that examine human responses to potential climate change. Kevin Jae looks at the potential for future pandemics and I ask where we might be if a form of ‘Greenlash’ were to derail attempts at climate mitigation and adaptation.

We hope that you enjoy this range of articles. Please feel free to contact us if you have any feedback on the articles. If you would like to write for future editions of The Futurian, please contact us. We are currently looking to expand our writers group.

Look out for Issue #5 of The Futurian, which is due to be published late March 2022, and which will examine a range of geopolitical futures.

© Stephen Aguilar-Millan (Editor) 2021

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Stephen Aguilar-Millan

Stephen Aguilar-Millan

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Stephen is the Director of Research of the European Futures Observatory, a Foresight Research Institute based in the UK, where he manages the research team.