The below shows possible futures. These, however, invariably spark strong reactions and questions that must be answered.
The outer graph shows the development over a period of 2 million years.
The smaller graph in the blue frame shows the development since the beginnings of agriculture, some 240 generations ago.
Humans with our potential and posture have existed since at least 100,000 years, which is 4,000 generations of 25 years each.
Modern time with our explosion of populations and resource consumption started around 1750, that is 10 generations ago. Present world population size is 6.5 billion (2006) - and growing at a rate of 80 million a year. Compare facing the future with on-line population counters.
Resource consumption and depletion is growing relatively faster than population growth because of economic growth.
This population and consuption explosion has occurred because of the easily available fossil energies and technological developments.
The end of fossil energy, however, is not too far off. We have already had Peak Oil, that is the maximum of daily oil extraction. The peak of all conventional fossil fuels - oil, natural gas, and coal - cannot be too far off - one to three generations, maybe four.
Then our life styles, i.e. resource consumption, and our population sizes will readapt to lower levels of resource availability.
The tiny orange dome represents the total past and an estimate of future fossil energy used by humans, till about 2100.
It seems inevitable that population size and energy use will be reduced because of scarcities and exhaustion of resources, pollution and their consequences.
Technology won't help much since it also requires resources which are being exhausted.
The open question is which key resource will be seriously depleted first and will it then lead to a collapse of the present structures.
A grim future appears to lie ahead, unless we decide to halt growth and convert back to a low resource use society. We will count ourselves lucky if full-scale resource wars can be avoided.
The below graph shows the development - past and possible future, from 1900 to 2100 - of some of the most important components of human existance. The graph was originally presented as the base model scenario in the famous 1972 book by Meadows et al. "The Limits to Growth".
In the 1970s a rising world population and the finite resources available to support it were hot topics. Then interest faded.
In addition the model has been widely contradicted and even disparaged by economists and technical optimists. Many thought that the model was wrong because the violent oscillations it predicted did not come to pass.
There was a problem in interpreting that orignal model, however. The original graph did not have tics on the horizontal axis but only 1900 and 2100 at the ends and few understood that the model oscillations were still in the future, i.e. in 1972.
This "past future" has now virtually become the present.
Dave Kimble, from Peak Oil Australia writes:
The utimate scenario could well be - but God forbid! - the flooding scenes as pictured here ... albeit not limited to the blacks or colored people. We believe climate change will also hit the white-collared whites.
The above graphs and perspectives raise important questions, which must be answered. You find some important questions here.
Also see scenarios and about ecoglobe.
One should not believe that existing and yet-to-be-invented technology will save us. Since technology cannot revive extinct species, nor can it recreate depleted resources. (Image source: "Revisiting the Limits to Growth
After Peak Oil
In the 1970s a rising world population and the finite resources available to
support it were hot topics. Interest fadedóbut itís time to take another look
Charles A. S. Hall and John W. Day, Jr. - american scientist May-June 2009")