The Future in Plain Sight: Nine Clues to the Coming Instability

In This Review

The Future in Plain Sight: Nine Clues to the Coming Instability

By Eugene Linden
Simon & Schuster, 1998
256 pp. $25.00
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For those troubled by their ability to sleep soundly at night, this book provides nine reasons why the world may experience dramatic instability by the middle of the next century. Most of these nightmares are familiar: panics in the global financial system, overpopulation, widening wage disparities, rapid climate change, outbreaks of new diseases, and rising religious fundamentalism. The second half of the book consists of vivid scenarios for the future where the icecaps have melted or populations have succumbed to horrifying epidemics.

All this makes for entertaining reading. What is less clear is that any of these futures are "in plain sight," as the title suggests. Several of the phenomena that pose such frightful risks for Linden may actually represent positive trends: the growing wage disparities among Americans benefit workers in developing countries who are being drawn into the modern economy. The growth in religious belief represented by movements like the Promise Keepers may strengthen values and community.