Discuss the future in just one hour? Reading and Media Group is so on it.
Inspired by London Futures, a postcard series that “brings home the full impact of global warming, food scarcity, rising sea levels,” we wanted to make some predictions of our own.
To help envision CoMo Futures, we borrowed from talks by University of Missouri Geography professors Dr. Mike Urban and Dr. Mark Cowell, who went to Copenhagen in 2009, documents from the United States Global Change Research Program on Midwest changes in climate, articles on migration and species invasion, our personal experience and current sustainability measures at the University of Missouri. Here are some future postcards we would make:
- Rain gardens and vegetable gardens fill formerly unused space on the MU campus, serving needs for both stormwater runoff mitigation and a campus-wide movement for locally sourced food.
MU’s population soars, as more students move away from danger zones along the coast.
- The MU Power Plant is coal-free, after gradually replacing coal boilers with biomass boilers.
- Kansas is a desert, Missouri a swamp. Because they can survive winters more easily, ticks and mosquitoes produce greater populations.
- Asian carp, now marketed as silverfin, is a delicacy in many restaurants. Demand for silverfin solved the invasive species problem that once plagued Midwest waterways.
- High energy and water costs prompted theme parks such as Worlds of Fun, Six Flags and Silver Dollar City to shut down. They sit abandoned like Six Flags New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
But before all that, we started one a century in the past. In 1901, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. wrote “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years” in Ladies Home Journal. He fills an entire page with predictions from the “wisest and most careful men in our greatest institutions of science and learning.” Some have been fulfilled:
- “Ready cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking.”
- “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance.”
- “Aerial war-ships and forts on wheels.”
some unrealized (see also: Thomas Edison’s 1911 predictions):
- “There will be no wild animals except in menageries.”
- “There will be no street cars in our large cities . . . cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.”
- “Everybody will walk ten miles.”
Come back in 2111 to see what we got right.
The Reading and Media Group will meet on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in the Student Center Room 2214. New readers are always welcome.