With 9 billion people in 2050 that decade will face crises beyond the scope of today’s institutions. As a Digital Earth we could gain new levels of working together, producing results and delivering them real-time, worldwide. Everyone will receive continuous know-how to overcome problems instantly. Our challenge is to prosper by ascending to a digital world that can produce universal success, no matter what the crisis.
One day in the future…
The CEO had called an emergency company-wide meeting for noon. He didn’t disappoint.
It was exactly 12:00:00 in New York, in the US’s Eastern time zone. Worldwide, every linked teleportal screen in the company turned black for a full three seconds.
The blackness stopped every online connection, every type of computing, every type of communication and media.
Then an alarm started ringing softly from every teleportal, with vibrating and moving abstract shapes faintly appearing on screens.
It grew for five seconds: The alarm grew louder and the abstract shapes started centering into a ball that was blue, green, brown and white.
Ominous rock music started playing as the shape morphed into a picture of a flooded Earth from Space. Europe was in its center with much higher sea levels. Most of it was under water.
As the music’s driving beat grew louder, that view of a flooded Earth faded into another flooded view, then another. Each new view moved East, showing another region sinking into crisis:
First Europe was flooded…
Then India and Eastern Asia were flooded.
Then North America and South America.
Then Europe. Again.
The music slowed, softened and turned sad as rapidly changing images took over the teleportal screens, the images dissolving from one to another: Children and adults suffering, crying, then dying, one after the other. People of all cultures. Individual funerals followed, then graves, then fields of headstones in cemeteries.
Finally the music turned uplifting, smoother, while images of the company in today’s world started appearing. Its offices, people, products, drivers, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and customers using its products.
It had taken less than a minute. Everyone had stopped what they were doing. Attention was complete.
Then the CEO appeared on the screen, a close-up so his face filled the screen. His eyes were bright, alive with the fearless intensity that he was known for.
“The sound of death sometimes starts quietly,” he said softly, with enough bass echo added to make him seem larger than life.
“For decades we’ve been told fossil fuels aren’t that harmful. But the Arctic sea ice melted faster than expected, and now the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are doing the same. Sea levels are rising higher than the climate models forecast.”
The camera started zooming out. The CEO was wearing a full bright yellow rain suit with a red utility vest and gloves. As the zoom out continued, black waders were on his thighs, and a yellow helmet on his head.
He was standing knee-deep in water in a flooded street in what was obviously a Northern European city. The camera held that view for about three seconds.
He held out one arm and turned to one side of the street, the camera followed his gesture to show a closeup of the knee deep water that covered the sidewalk, lapping against the fronts of flooded stores that continued down the length of the street.
The camera panned back so the CEO was re-centered on the screen, standing knee deep in the flooded street.
“Now we’re being told that higher tides are normal. Within decades cities like Miami and New York will start looking like this. So will other coastal cities on every continent.
“This is not normal. Over two and a half billion people live on the world’s coastlines. This is going to force many millions to move from where they live. In a few countries they’ll afford it but in most regions millions of people will try to move to places where there’s no room, no money and they’re not wanted.”
The camera zoomed back in so the CEO’s face filled the screen again. The bass echo in his voice was boosted a touch so his intensity hit home.
“The sounds of death sometimes start quietly,” he said softly.
Image credits: Shutterstock.