Saturday, December 31, 2005

2006: the world of tomorrow

It’s been quite a year. Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of Great Britain. Communist countries signed the Warsaw Pact. A vaccine against polio has been introduced. “Disneyland” opened in California. James Dean died in a car crash. We had riots in Montreal after the suspension of Maurice Richard. And the Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the World Series. Now, as we prepare to welcome in the year 1956, our thoughts naturally turn to the future. But here at Windy Weather magazine, we’ve decided to look much further ahead. We assembled a panel of experts to give us all a glimpse into the world of fifty years hence: the world of the year 2006. We asked them to confine their predictions to the plausible and not engage in wild flights of fancy involving the clearly impossible – e.g., that people might travel to the moon in the 20th century.

In many ways, say our experts, the world of 2006 will be scarcely recognizable. The world’s population will have increased from the present 2.5 billion to 3.5 or even 4 billion. With continued immigration from Europe, Canada’s population could reach 25 million, ten million more than today. Skyscrapers of thirty or even forty storeys will be common in some of our larger cities, which will be linked by a network of railways for super-fast magnetic-levitation trains.

A cure for cancer will have been discovered. At home, Mother will have a household robot to do the vacuuming and take care of the baby, leaving her lots of time to watch her favourite shows during the afternoon on the family’s 21-inch colour television screen. Father will jet off to work in his new Hovercar, which will glide effortlessly above the ground, controlled remotely from the Municipal Traffic Centre by a powerful, three-storey-high IBM computing machine using hundreds of thousands of vacuum tubes. Children will spend most of their time at school engaged in supervised games and physical activities; most of their learning will be done at night while they sleep, wearing earphones that whisper multiplication tables and the names of capital cities.

The National Hockey League will have expanded to twelve cities, including teams from Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Seattle. Montreal, having impressed the world with the huge profit it made from hosting the 1988 Olympic Games, will have subsequently joined baseball’s National League, and won the World Series in 1994. A fifty-storey skyscraper will be built in Toronto to celebrate the year 2000. One of our panel members went out on a limb and predicted that by that year Canada would see a woman appointed to the federal cabinet. Music will continue to exert its charms. This past year saw frenzied teenagers dancing to the likes of Bill Haley & His Comets. Thankfully, the “rock and roll” fad will be long gone and forgotten by 2006 and no doubt young people will have returned to waltzes and square dancing, and to the mellow strains of a future Bing Crosby.

Despite all the wondrous changes to come, some things will remain to lend a sense of continuity. King Charles and his family will be welcomed by adoring crowds when they tour the Dominions or Britain’s African colonies. The Brooklyn Dodgers will continue their rivalry with the New York Yankees. The Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to win Stanley Cups. We can imagine North Americans’ favourite television show – now in colour – being “I Still Love Lucy”, with the leading role performed by Marilyn Monroe’s granddaughter. The Pope will still be Italian, Canadians will still proudly wave the Red Ensign on Dominion Day, and 2 plus 2 will still equal 4.

What’s strangest of all is to think that many of the younger among us will actually live to see the amazing year of 2006!

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