Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Predictions for the upcoming century

Since I've ridiculed virtually every prominent, self-styled prophet and seer on the paranormal circuit, I've often thought that it was only fair that I see if I can do any better. I'm not sure that I can, for several reasons. First, I don't believe that future events are laid out on a predetermined grid. And second, I'm not sure that even if some events are predetermined, we are allowed to see them.

Still, I thought I'd give it a try, based on some emerging ideas that I've tried to pay attention to. These are emerging probabilities (especially ones that preoccupy paranormalists) that I see for the next few decades, dosed with a fair amount of objectivity.

Climate change is real, and will have measurable consequences, but we do not yet know the outcome. Change does not always follow a straight line.  I think that we should be alarmed by global warming, but swapping out all our incandescent bulbs for fluorescent ones won't stop it. A decade ago, I was very alarmed over the issue of "peak oil." The data seemed irrefutable. There was only so much oil in the ground, and we had gotten most of it. Numbers don't lie. However, something miraculous happened, almost unnoticed. Improvements in extraction technology (most notably, with "fracking") have increased American productivity to the point that some commentators have predicted that the US will become "energy independent" within a few decades. While this was not unforeseeable, it was unpredicted.

Children being born in the coming decades will be quite unlike their parents, in ways not immediately noticed--particularly in the way that their consciousness interfaces with the material world.  I don't read about the so-called "indigo children" anymore, for good reason. This New Age idea was popular a decade or so ago. However, the predicted result--that in a few years, we would be awash with all these enlightened kids who would usher in a new world--has not materialized. Why? Probably, because the researchers shoe-horned a few isolated instances of gifted children into an emerging, universal trend that conformed to New Age dogma. However, I have noticed one unusual prediction in several "unofficial" sources, and it intrigues me: within this century, the "veil" between the material world, and the larger non-material world, will be dropped a bit, and those being born will be able to recall their pre-birth existence. This will obviously have a significant impact not only on science and philosophy, but also technology. Of course, if many don't "believe" in reincarnation or in a non-material world (a significant percentage) or have a distorted religious view of it (the majority), these children will go unnoticed or misunderstood. This change will be recognized only in retrospect.

Organized religion will become increasingly marginalized and irrelevant, supplanted in the short term by extremist offshoots that will continue to disrupt established institutions.  Since these extremist movements are anarchistic in nature, they are not sustainable in the long term and will remain in the margins. But, if Seth is correct, the "framework" that Christianity has provided the world will be increasingly unable to solve emerging problems. Science has filled the vacuum for the past few centuries and will continue to do so, but I predict that unless "scientific consensus" moves away from a strictly materialistic view of the world, it will also cease to be effective. The larger aspects of human consciousness that science denies will find expression in religious extremism and para-scientific superstition.

Artificial intelligence may be created very soon (perhaps within a decade), and this will have significant disruptive effects on civilization, mostly positive.  The question remains, however, whether this newly created intelligence will "believe" in the existence of a human creator, or will blindly worship humanity as a god.

The current western-based economic model, based on increasing consumption and the accumulation of capital, appears to be breaking down. Peak oil notwithstanding, virtually all of our current economic problems are caused by the simple fact that population growth is increasingly unsustainable. Hence, the current move toward "sustainability" that informs both the left and right political wings... The left thinks that we, as a whole, should accumulate less, whereas the right thinks that we (specifically, the "government") should spend less. Both are caused by the fact that we are hitting a brick wall in terms of growth: we have outgrown this planet, and we are running out of stuff.

Fears of increasing governmental authoritarianism are overblown. Some commentators on the paranormal scene like to obsess on the emerging "fascism" of the American government. Actually, I think the opposite is occurring: we as a population have become lazy and have surrendered too much prerogative to "government," which is showing itself as increasingly incapable of governing. The rise of extremist political groups in all political spectrums have a singular motivation: reclaiming rights and powers that were once "inalienable," and filling the vacuum left by ineffective government.

While we probably won't have a one-world government, globalization will cause increasing homogenization of nation-state governments. The debate during the last century was which would happen first: the Soviet Union becoming democratic, or the American government Communist. It was a silly argument in retrospect, but, arguably, the governments in Washington and Beijing are starting to look a lot alike in this century.

Which leads me to a final prediction: The human population will have to decline, one way or another. The accelerating increase in human population seems to be serving several purposes in this century.... I think that it might serve as a trigger, or a tipping point, that will cause specific changes at specific times: changes in consciousness, or changes in the environment, that would not otherwise normally occur in a stable population. All of the "unofficial" sources that I read indicate that our population growth is by design. However, the downside of this design is that once the changes occur, population will have to sharply decline. Some foresee mass extinctions in this century caused by famine or environmental catastrophe. I think that both of these are quite possible. If we continue on our present course, these will happen. However, I don't think that anyone knows yet *what* the final outcome will be. We are seeing only probabilities, and I think that it's possible that mass awareness of probable disaster scenarios--scenarios that may not actually occur--are part of the "plan" for purposes yet unknown.

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