We are all adverse to catastrophism. We do not want to look like prophets of doom who only paint a bleak future. The Club of Rome went some way toward turning us against alerts that seemed premature. Today we are starting to evaluate the realism of these predictions in a more rational way. With information easily exchanged, the generalization and improvement of models, online accessibility to the most varied scientific data, allowing for the comparison of results from innumerous research centers, the future is no longer a vague threat, a wavering outline. In a way, and in our consciousness, the future has already arrived.
In this brief introduction, we shall focus on what seem to be four major trends that defy us, in the long term. We have to save the planet, to reduce inequalities, to ensure access to decent jobs and to correct production priorities. Too big a challenge? We are not concerned in reducing our fall from the 20th to the 15th floor. We are concerned with not destroying ourselves.
A threatened planet
The chart we show below constitutes a summary of megatrends during the historic period from 1750 until the present day. The scales had to be made compatible and some lines represent the processes for which we have only more recent figures. But as a whole, the chart shows the coming together of areas traditionally studied separately, such as demography, climate, automobile production, paper consumption, water contamination, extinction of ocean life and others. The synergy of the process becomes obvious, as does the size of the environmental challenges.
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