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More Visions

The term “national conversation” seems to be gaining traction as a desirable activity where people talk with one another at a national scale about matters of national concern—the United States talking about the security state, for instance, or Australia calling for discussions on population, the structure of future economies, and attitudes towards...
The year 2050 is a good time to look back on the major events in the United States since the turn of the century. There have been great hardships, but we have prevailed and achieved so much. Without question, our greatest challenges have been the unparalleled loss of life and the tremendous destruction caused by global climate change. Fortunately...
To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing. −Raymond Williams In a world at risk, those attuned to the dangers can feel a powerful temptation to sound apocalyptic alarms to awaken the somnolent. Arousing fear, though, without offering a compelling vision of a better path, raises only dispiriting anguish and...
This article is part of a regular section in Solutions in which the author is challenged to envision a future society in which all the right changes have been made. The year is 2071, and the world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 2021 Mumbai Earth Treaty. On this momentous day, it seems appropriate to look back at the dramatic sequence...
It seems impossible, until it is done. Nelson Mandela In 2050 it’s a pleasure to breathe. The air is fresh, even in the biggest cities. Commuters don’t reach home frazzled after being tied up in bad traffic. The world is simpler in 2050. There are fewer consumer goods but there is more time, more conversation, and more contentment. The most...
The following is an excerpt from a new book by James G. Speth, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy (Yale University Press, 2012). Speth envisions a future America in which citizens have created a sustainable and desirable society, and lived up to our present challenges. The vision is focused on America, but the lessons are relevant...
In a standard test of reasoning, you are given a candle, a box of thumbtacks, and a book of matches. Your task is to attach the candle to the wall so that it does not drip onto the table below. I thought about how to melt the wax and use it to stick the candle to the wall. What would you do? This challenge is designed to reveal functional...
She double-checks the name of the essay final exam—Global Environmental History 302—complete with her student ID number and the date, 23 May 2052. Deciding to use voice and gesture interface for input and edit, she is ready. She thinks OK, Jiera, just keep it organized. You studied for hours and you need to keep up those honors grades. Think...
This is an edited transcript of part of a talk given by Donella Meadows at the 1994 meeting of the International Society for Ecological Economics in San José, Costa Rica, and recorded by Peter Griesinger. Meadows, cofounder of the Balaton Group, passed away in 2001, but she has inspired a generation to hold onto, build, and share their visions of...
I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours. —Bob Dylan Mandela City, 2084 The world today, a century after George Orwell’s nightmare year, stands as living refutation of the apocalyptic premonitions that once haunted dreams of the future. This dispatch from our awakened future surveys the contemporary moment, scenes in the unfolding drama we...