Calendars, Clocks and Time, Part 5
The country in the next hundred years must deal with many complex financial questions. The stability of the country is changing with many economic factors, both within our country and from foreign influences. I asked Scott Owen, an Instructor for WVNCC at the Wheeling and New Martinsville Campus, to consider the possibilities for the country in the next 100 years.
Scott Owen: World economies changed rapidly during the last century. In the 22nd Century, the country remains highly competitive. International trade flourishes. People still purchase a multitude of consumer goods. Consumer prices rise annually 30 percent due to high inflation and devalued currencies. The world has a population of 17 billion humans, and the United States has 500 million people.
In the new century the world united economically and relies on digital cards to make purchases. People get paid with digital credits. Currencies are no longer printed. Cash is still accepted for commercial exchange, but taxed to discourage its use. Coinage is limited, and it has been relegated to coin collecting enthusiasts. The New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve System, and federal banks are very small organizations as their original purposes are no longer valid. Insurance companies control all retirement plans. Biometrics chips in humans track all financial, health, and security related activities.
Our national debt is now $50 trillion. A balanced budget has not occurred in the United States since the late 20th Century. A new national tax was implemented to pay off this debt. However, the individual tax burden, on employed households, is stifling work motivation. Tax liability challenges are constantly in federal courts.
Entitlement programs, provided by the federal government, are straining taxpayers’ limited financial resources. As the country grows older and birthrates decline, there are less people employed. Many Americans try to create their own businesses as entrepreneurs, since it is still rewarded with tax breaks. Available tax revenues cannot sustain these programs.
All public education is nationalized. Parochial schools peacefully coexist. However, budget deficits required radical changes. Most traditional school buildings were scaled back and converted to electronic resource centers; and classroom teaching is primarily delivered electronically.
The Earth’s climate has changed. Although pollution levels were overly regulated throughout the world, coal use was eliminated, and natural gas supplies were plentiful, the world’s electrical and industrial productivity remained stagnant. World productivity growth rates remain at 1 percent. Weather disruptions, from solar flares and the great Earthquake of 2066, disrupted energy transmissions for ten years.
Although life is complicated in the new century, like in prior centuries, Americans and the human race remain adaptable and hopeful. Spirituality experiences a rebirth in this century after constant secular challenges. The next century is always viewed with a glimmer of excitement and optimism just like those former New Years’ Day celebrations.
Larry Tackett has a BS/MS Chemical Engineer and MBA. He is co-author of: Reef Life: Natural History and Behaviors of Marine Fishes and Invertebrates and Essential Underwater Photography Manual: A Guide to Creative Techniques and Key Equipment. He currently works as campus dean for the New Martinsville and Weirton campuses of West Virginia Northern Community College. He is a PADI certified dive instructor with 6500+ dives. Larry’s time traveling the world has allowed him to see what the future may hold for our planet earth.
Larry Tackett: Our first view of planet Earth came from an Apollo moon mission in 1968 – a blue and white marble floating in the emptiness of space: so small, so alone, and oh so precious. It was these images that first allowed humanity to realize that our planet home is what it is, nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away.
We have what we have and if our descendants of 2116 are to have anything like we have today we must take care of our environment and protect it for them.
For the past 40 years I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and dive in most of our planet’s oceans and seas. More than 6,500 times I have dived into the ocean and seen amazing and incredible life, but even during that relatively brief period of time I have seen changes – changes that do not portend well for those of 2116. Reefs are dying, overfishing has depleted fish stocks (in many cases to the point of commercial extinction), and plastic pollution floats in our oceans in the tens of thousands of tons. Pollutants and pesticides flow into our rivers and ultimately our oceans, killing all manner of marine life that forms the basis of our complex food chain, from the smallest to the largest.
The same trends are happening on land as well. Vast areas of tropical rainforests, with their incredible web of living creatures have been cleared for cultivation or to raise cattle. The native animals and plants now gone forever, yes forever. Who knows what potential medicines might have been found there.
The damage and the problems caused are significant, but there are seeds of hope and change is taking place. Governments are realizing that something must be done. People of the world are doing the same. In the past five years several large marine parks have been established that protect reefs and fish stocks. Steps are being taken to protect endangered animal and plant species around the world. There is indeed good news on all environmental fronts.
To have any hope of leaving our descendants of 2116 with a natural world like we were given, action must be taken. The very good news is that we now know what to do and we have technologies available to help us do it. As technologies continue to improve, and peoples’ dedication to positive change grows, I am confident that 2116’s blue and white marble in the emptiness of space will be as good or better than it was when we first saw those images forty years ago.
Next week will be the final chapter in our travel through time. I will try and predict the future by what the past has taught us and what today offers us. Join me as I look one more time at Calendars, Clocks and time Through the Lens.