Essay: THE FUTURISTS: Looking Toward A.D. 2000

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That closer inner space, the ocean, will be even more radically transformed. Rand experts visualize fish herded and raised in offshore pens as cattle are today. Huge fields of kelp and other kinds of seaweed will be tended by undersea "farmers"—frogmen who will live for months at a time in submerged bunkhouses. The protein-rich underseas crop will probably be ground up to produce a dull-tasting cereal that eventually, however, could be regenerated chemically to taste like anything from steak to bourbon. This will provide at least a partial answer to the doomsayers who worry about the prospect of starvation for a burgeoning world population. Actually, the problem could be manageable before any frogman wets a foot; Oxford Agronomist Colin Clark calculates that if all the presently arable land were farmed as the Dutch do it, it could support a population of 28 billion. Even the gloomiest forecasts assume a world population of not more than twice the present size, or 6 billion by the year 2000.

One of the more dramatic changes will be climate control. Tempo scientists estimate that the entire electrical energy needs of the U.S. could be supplied by a dozen nuclear generating stations spotted around the country, each with a capacity on the order of 60,000 megawatts (v. 1,974 megawatts for Grand Coulee). If one such station were built on Mount Wilson above Los Angeles, the heat produced as a byproduct could be guided into the atmosphere, raising the inversion layer that hangs over Los Angeles to 19,000 feet, thus ridding the city of smog. A sea breeze could be drawn into the space beneath, bringing rain that would transform the high desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas into a flowering land.

Medicine is in a similar state of exhilarated anticipation. Already widely discussed today, artificial organs—hearts, lungs, stomachs—will be commonly available by the year 2000. An expected development in immunology will make possible the widespread transplanting of organs from either live donors or the recently dead.

The blind and the deaf will have new sight and new hearing. A pocket radar will scan a blind man's surroundings, relay the information either through sounds or through vibrations. A comparable device will let the deaf "hear." Artificial arms and legs could be motorized and computerized, perhaps linked to the brain, so that the wearer will find his impulse translated into action. Medical men foresee fetuses grown outside the uterus (in case women want to be spared the burdens of pregnancy) and human tissues grown to specifications. The Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Willem J. Kolff prophesies "artificial skin with all the appendages built in, such as ears and nose." How they would look is a cosmetic problem that the doctors dismiss with a shrug.

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