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The Future in Plain Sight

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The Future in Plain Sight

Nine Clues to the Coming Instability

Simon & Schuster,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Take to the lifeboats! The dangers of disease, pestilence, rotting cities, and social unrest in the twenty-first century.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening


Eugene Linden explains that most of civilization’s history has included long periods of remarkable stability, including the last few decades. However, stability is not the norm and indications show it is ending. Thanks to overpopulation, technological change and environmental degradation, profound instability is likely in this century. The clues to future instability are in plain sight. You can see them when you compare what has happened in the past to what is likely to happen in the future. In the first half of this book, Linden makes a persuasive case for some of his basic predictions, though he is definitely a pessimist. The scenarios in the second half of the book, intended to illustrate what will happen if these predictions come true, are really speculative fiction masquerading as futurology. Still, Linden’s basic premise is sound and his warnings should be taken seriously. getAbstract recommends the book to those involved in long-range business planning and trend research.


The Coming Instability

Predicting the future has always been difficult. Yet, the keys to understanding the future are hidden in plain sight. Most people miss them because they expect the future to be like the present and the recent past. Today’s baby boomers have never experienced true instability. Even the instability, wars and depressions of the early twentieth century occurred amidst a stable climate.

Stability tends to create more stability. But it is not necessarily that way forever. Global warming or cooling, or changes in precipitation patterns, could disrupt food supplies and change the sea level. Plagues could disrupt society and cause population crashes. Overpopulation could overtax the environment. Loss of biodiversity could create severe disruptions. Yet humanity has set the stage for the return of instability. Nine clues indicate the coming instability:

1. Hot-Tempered Markets

Despite talk of a new Golden Age, the “Asian Tigers” experienced stock-market and currency collapses in 1997. This happened despite the lessons the financial community supposedly learned from Mexico’s collapse in 1995. Multiple factors overwhelmed efforts to bailout...

About the Author

Eugene Linden is a science writer and has contributed to many major magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of Silent Partners, which The New York Times cited as a notable book in 1986. He is a frequent guest on radio and television programs in the U.S.

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