In Which World Will Our Children Live?


What are the forces that are shaping our human environment? What effect will our actions have on the world fifty years from now? It is obvious that the future cannot be predicted, but some futures are more likely than others, so the choices we make are important. For instance, the UN estimates the world population in the next century may be as low as 6 billion people if things go well, 8 or 9 billion if they don't. Our future population is likely to wind up somewhere between those high and low estimates; where it ends up can be influenced by what we do now.

Scenarios, or stories about possible futures, have been highly effective in business and military planning where choices have to be made with incomplete or even defective data. Allen Hammond uses scenarios to describe possible futures for send different regions of the world. The first scenario he calls Market World, a world of unrestrained free market capitalism: the second is Fortress World, a world polarized between the rich and the poor; the third he calls Transformed World, one where the economic dynamism of Market World is restrained both by humane considerations and our long term best interests.

Allen Hammond received a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Harvard University in 1970, then started a career in science journalism. He founded the popular scientific magazine Science 80, as well as a scientific policy journal, Issues in Science and Technology, for the National Academy of Sciences. He has been a consultant to the White House Science Office, and is currently senior scientist and director of strategic analysis at the World Resources Institute, a non partisan think tank in Washington DC that focuses on global environmental issues.

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