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2022

India becomes the most populous country on Earth

India is now overtaking China to become the most populous country on the planet, with over 1.4 billion people.* The gap between these two countries will begin to widen as China peaks and declines, while India continues to soar ahead. An earlier estimate by the UN had forecast India to reach this point by 2030. However, its population was subsequently found to be growing faster than expected. By 2040, its economy is rivalling both China and the USA* with its population maintaining growth until the 2060s. A major driver of India's prosperity is the rapid expansion of its energy sector. Huge rural areas undergo electrification with solar playing a key role* – now cheaper and more efficient than ever before and even challenging the dominance of coal.* With its plentiful sunlight, India is geographically well placed to capture this energy source* and 100GW are installed by 2022.*

 

india population future trends

 

 

The ITER experimental fusion reactor is switched on

Human-engineered fusion was already demonstrated on a small scale. The problem has been finding ways of scaling it up to commercial levels in an efficient, economical, and environmentally benign way.

ITER – previously known as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – aims to be the first project to achieve this. Built in southern France at a cost of €20 billion, it has taken over a decade to construct and is among the largest scientific projects ever undertaken, second only to the International Space Station. This joint research experiment is funded by the US, EU, Japan, Russia, China, India and South Korea.

To demonstrate net fusion power on a large scale, the reactor must simulate the conditions at the Sun's core. For this, it uses a magnetic confinement device called a tokamak. This doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber generates a powerful magnetic field that prevents heat from touching the reactor's walls. Tiny quantities of fuel are injected into and trapped within the chamber. Here they are heated to 100 million degrees, forming a plasma. At such high temperatures, the light atomic nuclei of hydrogen become fused together, creating heavier forms of hydrogen such as deuterium and tritium. This releases neutrons and a huge amount of energy.

Following its operational activation in 2022,* it is hoped that ITER will eventually produce over 500 megawatts of power, in bursts of 400 seconds or more. This compares with 16 MW for the Joint European Torus (JET) in 1997, the previous world record peak fusion power, which lasted only a few seconds.

ITER will require many more years before its reactor has been sufficiently perfected. To generate the sort of continuous levels of power required for commercial operation, it will need a way of holding the plasma in place at the critical densities and temperatures. This will need refinements in the design of the chamber, such as better superconducting magnets and advances in vacuum systems.

However, it could ultimately lead to a revolution in energy. If this project were to succeed, humanity would gain a virtually unlimited supply of clean, green electricity.*

 

iter experimental fusion reactor 2018 future
Credit: ITER

 

 

Germany phases out nuclear energy

After the Fukushima disaster in Japan, a number of countries began to reconsider their use of nuclear power. Germany was among the nations to abandon this form of energy altogether. Its government had originally planned to keep plants running until 2036, but this schedule was brought forward. Seven plants which had been temporarily shut down for testing in 2011, and an eighth taken offline for technical problems, would remain closed permanently. The remaining nine plants would be shut down by 2022.

Prior to this phasing out, nuclear power in Germany had produced a quarter of the country's electricity and the industry employed some 30,000 people. The shortfall would be made up by renewables, a temporary increase in coal use* and the cutting of electricity usage by 10 percent through more efficient machinery and buildings.*

 

german nuclear phase out 2020 2022

Germany's nuclear plants in 2011, showing the zones of radiation in a potential worst-case scenario, as happened with Fukushima. According to this map, large areas of north and south Germany would be made uninhabitable if all plants were to meltdown.

 

 

Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics

The 2022 Winter Olympics take place from 4th February to 20th February 2022, in Beijing, China. The elected host city was announced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July 2015.* Beijing, along with Almaty in Kazakhstan, had been considered an outsider before the bidding process began. However, many European cities later withdrew for political or financial reasons. Beijing eventually beat Almaty by 44 votes to 40 with a single abstention. It becomes the first city to host both a summer and winter Games, having hosted the summer games in 2008. It is the third consecutive Olympic Games to be held in Asia, following Pyeongchang 2018 and Tokyo 2020. In addition to Beijing itself there is another city, Zhangjiakou – located 118 miles to the north-west, which hosts the snow events. As with Beijing's previous games, there are protesters concerned with the country's human rights record.

 

2022 olympics future timeline

 

 

Completion of the Northeast Corridor high-speed train upgrade

In August 2016, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced a $2.5 billion federal loan package to pay for upgrades to Acela – the flagship service of America's national railroad corporation, Amtrak. This route, also known as the Acela Express, ran along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) between Washington, D.C. and Boston via 14 intermediate stops, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City.

Avelia Liberty – a model of high-speed train marketed by French company Alstom – was chosen to replace the existing Bombardier-Alstom trainsets on the Northeast Corridor, adapted for North American railroad standards. This would occur alongside track, signalling and station improvements.

A total of 28 new trainsets were ordered, 40% more than the previous fleet, providing a half-hourly service between Washington, D.C. and New York City during peak times and an hourly service between New York City and Boston. An improvement in maximum regular speed to 160 miles per hour (257 km/h) was possible on some portions of the route, while future track and signalling upgrades would enable a potential maximum of 186 mph (299 km/h).

Each train had more carriages (two power cars and nine passenger cars), one-third more seats and featured a new "anticipative tilting system" to ensure a smoother ride quality. Their lightweight design, combined with minimal aerodynamic drag, would cut energy consumption by 20%. Onboard amenities included adjustable reading lights, disability access, an enhanced food service car, power sockets, USB ports, WiFi and other conveniences.

A prototype Avelia Liberty was completed in 2019 to allow for test running, with the first trains entering service in 2021. The final delivery of all 28 trainsets is completed in 2022, at which point Amtrak retires the previous Acela fleet.*

 

 

 

Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup

Qatar is a tiny Persian Gulf nation of just 1.7 million people. It has the second highest GDP per capita in the world, owing to its massive natural gas deposits. It becomes the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup.

Summers in Qatar can reach 50°C. However, each stadium employs state-of-the-art cooling technology, capable of reducing temperatures by over 20 degrees celsius. The upper tiers can be disassembled after the tournament and donated to countries with less developed sports infrastructure.

One of the stadia includes a 420,000 sq ft media facade, covering almost the whole exterior. This futuristic screen displays news, adverts, tournament information and live matches to viewers outside.*

 

 

 

China's first space station is complete

China's efforts to develop low Earth orbit (LEO) space station capabilities began with a space laboratory phase, consisting of three "Tiangong" space modules launched in 2011, 2013 and 2015, respectively. These were small and experimental modules intended to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed for a much larger space station complex. They were designed for short stays with crews of three.

The larger, modular space station begins to take shape in 2020, using the previous separate components which are arranged as a Core Cabin Module (CCM), Laboratory Cabin Module I (LCM-1) and Module II (LCM-2), a "Shenzhou" crewed vessel and a cargo craft for transporting supplies and lab facilities.

The multiphase construction program is completed by 2022. The complex weighs approximately 60,000 kilograms (130,000 lb) and will support three astronauts for long-term habitation. It has a design lifetime of ten years.*

 

china space station 2020 2021 2022
Credit: Chinese Society of Astronautics

 

 

New Horizons completes its study of the Kuiper Belt

In 2015, after a nine year journey across 3 billion km of space, the New Horizons probe arrived at Pluto. It surveyed this region for several months, returning a treasure trove of data and imagery from this previously unexplored world and its five moons. NASA intended to go even further, however, with plans for a close flyby of a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO)* measuring 30–45 km (19–28 mi) in size. This phase of the mission would start in 2019* at a distance of 43.4 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun. By 2022, the KBO study is complete, and New Horizons is heading towards the outermost reaches of the Solar System. By 2038, it will be 100 AU from the Sun.*

 

new horizons 2022 future timeline kuiper belt objects kbo

 

 

The AIDA mission arrives at Didymos

The Asteroid Impact & Deflection Assessment (AIDA) is a joint NASA/ESA mission to study an Apollo asteroid – Didymos – and its small moon.* It is the first spacecraft to target an asteroid known to have a moon (243 Ida was visited by Galileo, but its moon was a surprise). The Apollo asteroids are a group of near-Earth asteroids that orbit within about 1 AU of the Sun.

The objectives of AIDA are:

• to study and demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor into an asteroid moon.

• to test whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

• to gain new insights into the relationship between an asteroid's surface and its interior.

• to gain new understanding of how asteroids and binary asteroids form.

The mission consists of two spacecraft: AIM, which orbits the asteroid; and DART, which is deliberately crashed into its moon. The primary asteroid is about 800 m (2,600 ft) in diameter; its small satellite is about 150 m (490 ft) in diameter and orbits about 1.1 km from the primary. Didymos is not an Earth-crossing asteroid, and there is no possibility that the deflection experiment could create an impact hazard.

The DART spacecraft weighs 300 kg (660 lb) and impacts at 6.25 km/s, producing a velocity change on the order of 0.4 mm per second, which leads to a significant change in the mutual orbit of these two objects, but only a minimal change in the heliocentric orbit of the system. AIDA provides data on the asteroid's surface characteristics and internal structure, as well as the resulting impact crater and orbital/rotation changes. AIM is equipped with both a navigation camera and a thermal infrared imager, along with a radar, while DART has a 20-cm aperture CCD camera to autonomously guide itself to the target site. In addition to AIM and DART, three cubesats are deployed to assist with observations and to test new science and technology capabilities, such as intersatellite communication links in deep space. The mission is launched in October 2020, arriving at Didymos in May 2022.*

Didymos made a close approach to Earth in 2003, at a distance of 7.18 million km (4.46 million miles). It makes another close approach in 2123, at a distance of 5.9 million km (3.66 million miles). It also passes close to Mars: 4.69 million km (2.91 million miles) in 2144.

 

Click to enlarge

aida mission 2022 timeline

 

 

The Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE) is launched

The Dark Ages Radio Explorer (DARE) is a NASA spacecraft designed to investigate the early universe, between 80 million and 420 million years after the Big Bang. The observatory is placed in a lunar orbit, using the Moon's shadow to hide from the Sun's light and Earth's radio interference. DARE is 25 feet (7.5 metres) across when its antennae are fully extended. The craft's highly sensitive instruments can be used to measure redshifted emanations from primeval hydrogen atoms – revealing the moment when the first stars began to emit light.

In its early stages, the universe was opaque or "foggy". Light existed, but invisible to modern telescopes. When photons were released (or decoupled), the universe became transparent. At this point, the only radiation emitted was the 21 cm spin line of neutral hydrogen. DARE uses this precisely redshifted 21 cm transition line from neutral hydrogen (40-120 MHz) to identify and view these first illuminations. This faint radiation is an even more powerful tool than the cosmic microwave background (CMB) for studying the early universe, giving a whole new perspective that earlier astronomy was unable to provide.*

In addition, DARE returns data on the earliest black hole accretions, the reionization of the universe, ancient galaxy formations and dark matter decay. The craft is operational from 2022.*

 

dark ages radio explorer dare mission timeline 2021 2022

 

 

Water is becoming a weapon of war

A combination of rapid population growth, lack of fresh water, social tension and weak government has led to significant regional instability in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.* Worsening climate change is producing longer droughts and more severe flooding, with tensions erupting in shared water basins.

Upstream countries are now using their greater resources for economic and political leverage over their downstream neighbours. At the same time, reservoirs and hydroelectric power plants are being targeted by terrorists and rogue states. Public fear of these attacks is forcing governments to take costly measures to protect their infrastructure.

Some particular flashpoints include the Nile in Egypt, Sudan and nations further south; the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq and the greater Middle East; the Mekong in China and Southeast Asia; the Jordan River that separates Israel and the Palestinian territories from Jordan; the Indus and the Brahmaputra in India** and South Asia, as well as the Amu Darya in Central Asia.

Recent advances in desalination have made it easier to filter seawater.* However, these methods are patented and guarded by Western corporations. Just as food demands were taken advantage of in previous decades,*** the emerging water crisis is now being used as a means of exploitation and blackmail. Some developing nations are even being sued for attempting to develop cheaper versions for themselves.

 

water as weapon of war

 

 

Global reserves of antimony are running out

Antimony is a rare metalloid, used mainly as alloying material for lead and tin in products such as lead acid batteries, solders and bullets. It also functions in microelectronic products and in credit cards, as an additive for fireproofing, and in some pharmaceuticals. It is found naturally in the form of the sulfide mineral stibnite and was primarily produced in China, South Africa, Bolivia, Russia and Tajikistan.

Exploited by man for millennia, global reserves are finally beginning to run out during the early 2020s.* Since it now holds the bulk of the dwindling supply, China has been subject to controversies over trade. In an effort to control environmental issues and resolve safety problems, many of the country's mines and smelters were shut down in the previous decade. The local Government in Lengshuijiang, Hunan Province – accounting for 60% of world reserves – shuttered nearly all of its mines and smelters, sending the price of antimony soaring.

This pattern will play out again for other minerals in the decades to come. From this point on, business and industry are forced to rely on recycling of older products and/or shift to replacement materials.

For antimony chemicals in paint, pigments and enamels, the substitutes can include compounds of chromium, tin, titanium, zinc and zirconium. Combinations of cadmium, calcium, copper, selenium, strontium, sulfur and tin can be used as substitutes for hardening lead. Selected organic compounds and hydrated aluminum oxide are widely accepted substitutes as flame retardants. However, many of these other substances will themselves face shortages in the years to come.*

 

antimony global reserves

 

 

Nanotech clothes are growing rapidly in use

Fabrics that incorporate nanotech are becoming fairly commonplace. This includes truly waterproof garments, which are now a popular choice for consumers. These are made from polyester fibres coated with millions of silicone filaments, structured in such a way that water simply falls off, leaving no dampness whatsoever.* Nanotech *

 

nanotech clothing 2020 future technology
Credit: University of Zurich/Wiley Vch

 

 

Driverless hover-taxis are operational in Dubai

In 2022, a driverless flying taxi service becomes fully operational in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).* This follows testing that began in late 2017 and ran for five years. The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), as it is known, is supplied by Volocopter – a Germany-based specialist manufacturer – working with Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority.

The first service of its kind in the world, the AAT is a two-seater aerial vehicle resembling a cross between a helicopter and large drone. It has 18 rotors and fully redundant power trains, with an intelligent autonomous control system able to transport people without human intervention or a pilot. It can travel at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph) using clean electricity and a battery quick-charge and plug-in system, while also featuring low noise levels.

The AAT service is made available to the public through a smart mobility app. This allows customers to book flights, receive booking reference details and track the route of their vehicle. The AAT is part of an increasing trend for automated transport in Dubai – more than a quarter of all passenger vehicles in the city are self-driving by 2030.*

 

 

 

 

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References

1 World population projected to hit 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100, Future Timeline Blog:
https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2015/07/30.htm
Accessed 22nd August 2015.

2 See 2040.

3 Narendra Modi Plans To Bring Solar To 400 Million People, Electrify Rural India, Clean Technica:
http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/26/narendra-modi-plans-bring-solar-400-million-people-electrify-rural-india/
Accessed 22nd August 2015.

4 The beginning of the end for imported coal in India, Future Timeline Blog:
https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2014/05/16.htm
Accessed 22nd August 2015.

5 India to build the world's largest solar power plant, Future Timeline Blog:
https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2014/02/6.htm
Accessed 22nd August 2015.

6 Revision of cumulative targets under National Solar Mission from 20,000 MW by 2021-22 to 100,000 MW, Official Blog of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India:
http://inbministry.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/revision-of-cumulative-targets-under.html
Accessed 22nd August 2015.

7 "The original date for 'first plasma' was scheduled for November 2020 but delays with the construction and commissioning phases have pushed this back to October 2022."
See One giant leap for mankind: £13bn Iter project makes breakthrough in the quest for nuclear fusion, a solution to climate change and an age of clean, cheap energy, The Independent:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/one-giant-leap-for-mankind-13bn-iter-project-makes-breakthrough-in-the-quest-for-nuclear-fusion-a-solution-to-climate-change-and-an-age-of-clean-cheap-energy-8590480.html
Accessed 28th April 2013.

8 Steven Cowley: Fusion is energy's future, TED Talks:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6BLFdBfgfU
Accessed 23rd December 2009.

9 Despite Climate Concerns, Germany Plans Coal Power Plants, dw-world.de:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,2396828,00.html
Accessed 31st May 2011.

10 Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022, BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13592208
Accessed 30th May 2011.

11 Beijing to host 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/winter-olympics/33730477
Accessed 31st July 2015.

12 Amtrak's 'Liberty' will be the latest of Alstom's high-speed Avelia trains, Progressive Railroading:
https://www.progressiverailroading.com/amtrak/article.aspx?id=50291
Accessed 16th January 2019.

13 Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup bid: artist's impressions of futuristic stadiums are unveiled in Doha, The Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/picturegalleries/8006624/Qatar2022-FIFA-World-Cup-bid
Accessed 2nd December 2010.

14 China Details Ambitious Space Station Goals, Space.com:
http://www.space.com/11048-china-space-station-plans-details.html
Accessed 9th December 2011.

15 Beyond Pluto: New Horizons targets identified, Future Timeline Blog:
https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2014/10/17.htm
Accessed 18th July 2015.

16 Solar System Exploration: Missions to the Kuiper Belt, NASA:
https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/solar-system/kuiper-belt/overview/
Accessed 18th July 2015.

17 See 2038.

18 AIDA: Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment study, YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQ8vp-u-9A4
Accessed 13th October 2015.

19 AIDA double mission to divert Didymos asteroid's Didymoon, Europlanet:
https://www.europlanet-eu.org/aida-double-mission-to-divert-didymos-asteroids-didymoon/
Accessed 29th December 2017.

20 Universe's 'Dark Ages' May Come to Light with Moon Orbiter, Space.com:
http://www.space.com/31811-universe-dark-ages-dare-moon-orbiter.html
Accessed 19th April 2016.

21 Dark Ages Radio Explorer, Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Ages_Radio_Explorer
Accessed 19th April 2016.

22 "Beyond 2022 ... the use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism will become more likely, particularly in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa."
See US intel: water a cause for war in coming decades, Yahoo!:
http://news.yahoo.com/us-intel-water-cause-war-coming-decades-124621169.html
Accessed 24th March 2013.

23 See 2017.

24 A Volatile Brahmaputra River Will Grow Only More So, The New York Times:
http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/climate-change-will-make-a-volatile-brahmaputra-river-even-more-so/
Accessed 24th March 2013.

25 A step closer to affordable water desalination, Future Timeline Blog:
https://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2013/03/22-2.htm
Accessed 24th March 2013.

26 "...the federal courts have always protected Monsanto's rights to profit via a patenting system that increasingly impinges on individual and market freedom, allowing Monsanto to abuse its patent rights."
Monsanto versus the people
, Al Jazeera:
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/01/201311071754973439.html
Accessed 24th March 2013.

27 Corporate Evil – How Monsanto is Exploiting the Food Crisis, YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lym2eYuprTs
Accessed 24th March 2013.

28 Monsanto > Legal actions and controversies outside North America, Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#Legal_actions_and_controversies_outside_North_America
Accessed 24th March 2013.

29 USGS Minerals Information: Antimony:
http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/antimony/mcs-2012-antim.pdf
Accessed 3rd July 2012.

30 Earth's natural wealth: an audit, New Scientist:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19426051.200-earths-natural-wealth-an-audit/
Accessed 3rd July 2012.

31 Nanotech clothing fabric 'never gets wet', New Scientist:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16126-nanotech-clothing-fabric-never-gets-wet.html
Accessed 10th April 2009.

32 Article from 2012: "It's estimated that the new uniforms could be deployed in the field in less than 10 years."
See UMass Amherst Research Develops 'Second Skin' Military Fabric to Repel Chemical and Biological Agents, University of Massachusetts Amherst:
https://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/umass-amherst-research-develops-%E2%80%98second-skin%E2%80%99-military-fabric-repel-chemical-and-biological
Accessed 29th December 2017.

33 Hamdan bin Mohammed witnesses the first test flight, Government of Dubai:
http://mediaoffice.ae/en/media-center/news/25/9/2017/volocopter.aspx
Accessed 28th September 2017.

34 Watch World's First Flight of Automated Flying Taxi Soaring Over Dubai, Newsweek:
http://www.newsweek.com/dubai-video-shows-worlds-first-flight-automated-flying-taxis-over-emirati-city-671094
Accessed 28th September 2017.

 

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