2000s | 2010s | 2020s | 2030s | 2040s | 2050s | 2060s | 2070s | 2080s | 2090s
The 21st century
century began with the United States as the sole superpower in the absence
of the Soviet Union, with China emerging as a potential superpower. The debate
over what should be done about fossil fuel pollution and alternative energy raged in the new century after most of the 20th
century was marked by rapid industrial expansion. As the Cold War was over
and Islamic fundamentalist-related terrorism on the rise, the United
States and its allies turned their attention to the Middle East.
technology – in its early stages of mainstream use in the 1980s and
1990s – became widely adopted by most of the world, though concerns
about stress and anti-sociality from the overuse of mobile phones, the
Internet and related technologies remained controversial. Over 1.5 billion people worldwide used the
Internet by the
end of the first decade and over 4 billion (more than half the world's population)
used cell phones.
financial downturn – triggered by a sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S. – resulted in soaring levels of personal and national debt.
This led to a wrenching restructuring of many socio-political systems,
but failed to address the growing divides between rich and poor. At the same time, citizens were becoming more and more aware of excessive surveillance, privacy intrusion and erosion of civil liberties by governments and the corporations influencing them.
A new set
of crises would emerge in the 2020s. Crude oil, no longer the cheap and plentiful commodity it had once been, was becoming subject to ever more volatility. Those countries heavily dependent on imports, in particular, were seeing economic turmoil. Alongside this, climate change was now beginning to have a major impact on worldwide
food and water supplies. In the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, growing instability led to a number of resource
wars. Perversely, the hunt for oil continued, with even the Arctic becoming a battleground as nations sought to claim
the last remaining deposits.
The 2030s were marked by a rapid, worldwide shift towards clean
energy, algae biofuel and other renewable sources – aided by startling breakthroughs in nanotechnology. This was followed by progress in nuclear fusion, though widespread adoption would have to wait until later in the century. Despite this, conflict was now brewing around much of
the world. Africa, Asia and other regions were suffering mightily due
to food shortages and a growing influx of refugees affected by climate
change, resource wars and political instability.
Exponential advances in computing power – in parallel with genetics, nanotechnology and robotics – continued into the 2040s, leading to what many called the birth of transhumanism. Ever smaller, more complex and sophisticated devices were becoming implantable and integrated within the human body – able to combat disease, enhance the senses and provide entertainment or communication in ways that simply were not possible before, such as full immersion virtual reality. Geopolitics was undergoing a revolution too, with India now surpassing the U.S. in terms of economic power and even threatening to overtake China in the near future.
began to escape the confines of its crowded home planet with a permanent colony on Mars in the 2050s. Even greater advances
in computing power saw AI beginning to play a major role in business and government decisions. Economic growth was now under severe strain, however, due to ecological impacts, resource scarcity, demographic trends, technological unemployment and other factors.
the world's population had begun to level off and plateau. This was
partly a result of declining fertility rates (aided by improvements in education and birth control), but also from
significant numbers of deaths caused by deteriorating environmental conditions. Entire nations were now being devastated by the effects of climate
change. Despite advances in technology, the fundamental problem remained that humanity was consuming too much, too fast, beyond what the Earth could sustainably provide. Desperate attempts were made to improve carbon capture and geoengineering methods, but the sheer magnitude of this crisis would persist for decades to come.
saw major growth in the use of fusion power. Accelerated space development
also marked this time, with expansion of the lunar colonies and their automated mining operations. By now, a full-scale environmental catastrophe was unfolding
on Earth, with sea levels forcing the large-scale evacuation of many
advances in AI, the 2080s saw an explosion in scientific discoveries.
This helped to slow the rise in global temperatures and pave the way for a more sustainable future in the 22nd century. Transhumanism was now a mainstream phenomenon, the average citizen becoming heavily reliant on brain-computer
interfaces and other implantable devices, contributing to a decline in religious adherence.
2090s, it became clear that Homo sapiens were
no longer the dominant species on the planet. Much of the day-to-day
running of world affairs was now handled exclusively by ultra-fast, ultra-intelligent machines, robots and virtual