- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2000

In 30 years, the world is likely to be dirtier, but it will be filled with more people who are living long and prospering, say members of a top trend-watching society.

In a paper issued this month in honor of the start of the new millennium, which begins Jan. 1, World Future Society President Edward Cornish said that:

• Extraordinary numbers of people will become rich. Many people will remain relatively poor, but destitution where people lack the basic essentials will become "far rarer."

• The "golden era" of entrepreneurship will appear, unleashing incredible advancements in medicine, agriculture, technology and creation of goods and services.

• Superhighways will link continents, and high-speed trains and supersonic "space planes" will make traveling and shopping national pastimes.

• Internet-easy communications will lead to a global culture that selects clothing styles, foods, games, sports and customs from countries everywhere.

Futurists Marvin Cetron and Owen Davies concur with many of these predictions in their report, "50 Trends Now Changing the World," published this month by the World Future Society in Bethesda.

They also foresee greater deforestation and other environmental problems as populations grow and economic activity intensifies.

Garbage problems are going to "get ugly" in developing countries, where recycling is rare, and everything is dumped in vast, open landfills, said Mr. Davies, a freelance writer in Hancock, N.H.

Smog, air pollution and disease-causing particulates in the air also will increase, he said, adding that "China alone will almost inevitably end up producing huge quantities of … greenhouse gases."

In addition, as shortages of potable water appear in major cities in the developing world, the "water wars" that have been predicted for more than a decade will begin, they said.

Mr. Cornish sees other kinds of wars, in which new, lethal weapons are used against ethnic, religious or political enemies.

"The biggest single cloud hanging over the early decades of the third millennium is violence crime, terrorism and war," he said.

As with all predictions, however, there is no guarantee they will come true. "Probability is not certainty," noted Mr. Cornish.

And yes, "the world has no shortage of bad predictions," wrote Laura Lee, author of "Bad Predictions," who recapped some of her findings in a recent article in "The Futurist," the society's magazine.

A few of the not-so-right predictions Ms. Lee found that have yet to come true: "rocket mail" delivered by guided missiles, self-cleaning clothes and nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners.

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