CoMo Futures: the Midwest landscape in 100 years

lilies, fish and wind turbines
London’s busiest urban hub becomes a haven of calm as water levels rise ever higher. Water lilies, fish and wind turbines drift quietly in the breeze, amid empty buildings which are only left standing to support the infrastructure of power generation. Civilisation as we know it has gone. Image © Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

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:

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.

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