Edition 52

Imagining the Future


It is time to envisage the future, without fear, as a landscape to be won through human striving and expression.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia, making it an ideal time to consider how the world will look in the next fifty years – and if it will be a better or worse place for most people. Griffith Review 52: Imagining the Future features original writing by two Nobel Lauretes, as well as leading thinkers and writers who consider what shape the future might take. They illustrate the truism that the future is already here, just unevenly distributed. As global warming becomes real, automation transforms work, cities change the way we live and genetic science promises remarkable longevity, the roadmap of future progress becomes increasingly blurred. Innovation and agility may be the new political buzzwords, but if they’re to mean more than increased efficiency and wealth for the few, the big task is to envisage the future before it arrives and to configure it positively.

AL GORE, in conversation with DON HENRY, examines how technological change is driving action to counter climate change – and how a globalised world can used to the advantage of those seeking to put the climate at the centre of the world’s political focus.

The tools that could shape the next fifty years in a positive and progressive sense are with us already – but despite impressive technological opportunities, the lack of foresight from planners, bureaucracies and governments often means that societies get stuck in old ways of thinking. TIM FLANNERY asks can this impasse be broken, in order to achieve meaningful progress in reducing carbon emissions?

Walkley-Award winning journalist KATHY MARKS reports on the uptake of alternative power supplies, a trend that is outstripping all predictions and expectations and has the power to revolutionise the relationship between consumers, government and central power generators.

PETER DOHERTY, the winner of the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1996, reflects on the need for ecological stability in order that life-forms continue to thrive. The phenomenon of climate change and global warming is alarming medical researchers who see the process as an unprecedented, unplanned experiment with potentially catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.

CATHY ALEXANDER reports on the political manoeuvering, posturing and theatre that made-up the Paris climate summit at the end of 2015. Is the agreement that was signed at the eleventh hour too compromised, or are there signs that the work to combat climate change is not bluff, but real?

Other contributors include Andy Merrifield, Siobhan Harvey, Paul Daley, Kieran Finnane, Tony Birch, John Wiseman, Graeme Davison, Jane Gleeson-White, Glyn Davis, John Kinsella, Ashley Hay, Richard King, Leah Kaminsky, Chris Womersely, David Carlin, Bruce Petty, Inga Simpson and Antony Funnell. Photographers Rob Blakers and Dan Broun explore the impact of the recent Tasmanian forest fires on the island’s fragile ecology, and Liam Young contributes a speculative vision of the urban future.

Imagining the Future, co-edited by JULIANNE SCHULTZ and BRENDAN GLEESON, uses telling insights from history, philosophy, science, economics, politics and lived experience to interrogate the present in order to evoke what is approaching.


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