Let’s have some fun. Most of us think about the future and what it will look like. Some well- known and even lesser-known people have engaged in trying to predict the future, by using logic, science or at times false science. It’s interesting to look back, sometimes with astonishment and see the results of these projections.
1. The World Will Run Out Of Food By 1980 – False
Dr Paul Ehrlick, an environmentalist, wrote a book in 1968 called the Population Bomb. The premise was that because of increasing overpopulation, the world would run out of food, and we would have mass starvations. This turned out to be totally false.
Improvement in both agricultural methods and in arable land has occurred. In fact, today, while there are areas where people go hungry, it is often due to mismanagement rather than a lack of food.
2. The north pole sea ice will disappear by 2014 – False
Al Gore, former U.S. President, made this outlandish prediction in 2009. Not only did the ice not disappear but from 2012 to 2014 sea ice actually increased around the north pole.
3. Landing a man on the moon within a decade – True
Former U.S. President, John Kennedy, made the bold statement in 1961 that America would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. In fact, the feat was achieved in eight years, well before the end of the decade.
This prediction was a vision that Kennedy had which instilled a tremendous effort by the aerospace industry in the U.S. and elsewhere to achieve the goal. The whole space program was geared toward this mission, and the result was of epic proportions.
4. The earth is on the verge of a new ice age – False
We hear a lot about global warming today, but those who are over 50 will remember when global cooling was the story. A 1977 issue of Time magazine had the title on its cover, “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age”. There seemed to be hysteria in some quarters similar to what we see today about global warming.
The reason for the prediction of cooling was because there had been a slight cooling of the earth in the previous 30 years. Of course, if the “experts” had just waited long enough they would have found that it was just a temporary trend.
5. Frequency of Violent Tornadoes Will Increase – False
The theory was that with a warming climate we would see more and more violent tornadoes. This is false despite the insistence of some. Over the last 60 years, the number of violent tornadoes has decreased consistently and the overall number of tornadoes has decreased the last five years, despite the fact that today there are more people with smartphones to film these amazing storms.
6. By 2014 we would see and hear the person on the phone – True
In 1964, the science fiction writer, Isaac Asimov predicted that by 2014 we would be not only speaking on the phone, but seeing the person that we were speaking to. Today, of course we have Skype and Facetime which are modalities that allow us to communicate with someone virtually anywhere in the world.
7. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity – True
Einstein visualized ideas in his mind then created the equations to describe his theories. His theory of General Relativity said that space and time are linked, and that any object––whether a planet or star––causes the space around it to bend, which is the force of gravity. It’s much like what happens if you sit on a trampoline; the canvas bends and if you throw a ball onto it, it falls towards you.
As strange as it seems, this was proven scientifically during a 1919 solar eclipse when starlight itself was bent around the sun.
8. “X-Rays will prove to be a hoax” – False
Lord Kelvin was a physicist who near the beginning of the twentieth century made the extraordinary claim about x-rays being a hoax. He was proven wrong on that, as well as when he stated that there was not all that much to be further discovered in science. Of course we know that x-rays are real and very valuable to our world.
9. Japan would be the number one economic power – False
Post World War Two, Japan had phenomenal economic growth. Many economists in the 1980’s were predicting that it would overtake the United Stated as the dominant economic power within ten years. This turned out to be untrue.
Japan has been in a state of stagnant economic growth for over a decade. It still has a fairly strong economy, fourth overall in the world, but it doesn’t have the dominance that was once predicted.
10. The world will run out of oil in 50 years – False
Approximately 10 years ago, some were making preposterous claims about the end of oil. Books such as “The End of Oil” and the movie, “A Crude Awakening”, implied that we had passed the point where the consumption of oil was surpassing the amount being discovered.
Since then, we have had a glut of oil due to decreased world demand––recessions help. There have also been new major discoveries in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, along with new technologies which have extracted ever-increasing amounts of oil.