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2041 timeline contents




Global average temperatures have risen by 2°C

At the Copenhagen Summit in 2009, a rise of 2°C was agreed as the maximum "safe" limit for global warming. In the early 2040s, this danger point is passed.* This occurs despite a plunge in crude oil production – CO2 emissions from past decades are yet to have their full effect on the climate system,* while other hydrocarbons (such as coal and "unconventional" oil) saw increased use in the years following peak oil. Although a transition to clean energy is now being achieved, global warming remains a deadly threat to civilisation. From this point onwards, any further increase in temperature will lead to runaway positive feedbacks, exceeding man's ability to control them.

It should be noted that 2°C is merely the average global increase. In some regions – such as the poles – the rise has been substantially greater already. The Arctic is now completely free of ice for several weeks a year,* while Greenland has reached a tipping point of irreversible melting.

In America, the arid conditions have continued to get worse. They are now spreading into the Southeastern states, where soybean production has been slashed by half, and a similar yield decrease has occurred for soyghum.* Meanwhile, invasive species of insects are migrating to new latitudes, driven by warmer temperatures. Bark beetles, for example, are moving north and killing off huge areas of forest that provide food to grizzly bears and other fauna.

In Europe, the Alps are becoming largely devoid of snow, for the first time in millions of years.* Having served a role as the "water towers of Europe", this is having a substantial impact on water supplies. Major rivers such as the Rhine, Rhone and Danube have until now relied on snow and glacial melt from these mountains. Switzerland is being especially hard hit, with much of its electricity based on hydroelectric power. In addition, record heatwaves are causing gigantic wildfires, the likes of which have never been experienced before. The Mediterranean has lost a fifth of its rainfall and now has an additional six weeks of heatwave conditions each year. At the foot of the Alps, rockfalls triggered by melting permafrost have caused widespread destruction to villages and towns. Tourism has been decimated, with skiing impossible in many areas.

In South America, a similar situation has occurred. Melting glaciers in the Andes have caused water shortages for tens of millions of people.* Refugee movements are now a major issue for the region. In Columbia, there has been a marked decline in coffee production – one of the country's main exports – accounting for a significant percentage of world harvests.*

In Asia too, there is a water crisis. Pakistan's major rivers – the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab – are delivering less than half of their historic supply. The nuclear-armed country is now at war with neighbouring India, following conflicts over resources.* Monsoon rainfalls have become increasingly unpredictable in the region, while sea level rises are causing further devastation to Bangladesh, which has yet to recover from the disasters of the 2020s.

Developing regions are disproportionately affected by climate change, and Africa is the worst-hit location of all. Biblical-scale droughts are becoming the norm here, with most of the continent seeing catastrophic declines in agricultural yields. In Mali, three-quarters of the population is starving.*

In the Western Pacific, Tuvalu is now sharing the same fate as the Maldives: most of the island nation has been washed off the face of the Earth, leaving its people effectively homeless.*


global warming timeline 2040 2050 climate change water drought



Annual deaths from cardiovascular disease have reached negligible levels in the U.S.

Cardiovascular disease refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, principally cardiac disease, vascular diseases of the brain and kidney, and peripheral arterial disease. The causes are diverse but atherosclerosis and/or hypertension are the most common. Additionally, with aging come a number of physiological and morphological changes that alter cardiovascular function and lead to subsequently increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in healthy asymptomatic individuals.

In the early 21st century, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of mortality worldwide – responsible for nearly 30 percent of total deaths each year. In low- and middle-income countries it was increasing rapidly with four-fifths of cases occurring in those regions.

In high-income nations, however, cardiovascular mortality rates had been falling since the 1970s, due to public health efforts and improved treatments. A dramatic reduction in tobacco use (which included smoking bans) – alongside recommended limits on alcohol, fat and sugar intake – as well as recommended minimum daily exercise, were among these prevention methods.

This trend began to accelerate as a range of new treatment options became available in the 2010s and 2020s. These included stem cells and heart muscle regeneration,* microRNA inhibitors to prevent heart enlargement,* gene therapy and drugs to treat obesity, 3D printed organs and blood vessels,* nanoparticles and nano-robotics. By the early 2040s, mortality rates for cardiovascular disease have fallen to negligible levels in the U.S. and many other countries.*


annual deaths from cardiovascular disease 1900 1950 2000 2050 trend



Orbital solar power is commercially feasible

After decades of development, energy generated from space-based solar power is now being added to the grid. This concept has been around since the 1970s – but advances in nanotechnology and transmission efficiency have only recently made it both commercially and technically feasible.**

The system involves placing several large satellites into geosynchronous Earth orbit. Initially, this is financed and carried out jointly by government agencies and private corporations. Very large, nanotech-based surfaces on each satellite's solar array (typically 1 to 3 kilometres in size) capture the energy of sunlight, which is then beamed down to Earth via microwaves or lasers. Large collecting dishes on the ground receive the energy and convert it to useable electricity. There are several benefits to this approach:

Higher collection rate: In space, transmission of solar energy is unaffected by the filtering effects of atmospheric gases. Consequently, collection in orbit is 144% of the maximum attainable on Earth's surface.

Longer collection period: High above the Earth, orbiting satellites can be exposed to a consistently high degree of solar radiation, generally for 24 hours per day, whereas ground-based panels are restricted to around 12 hours per day at most.

Elimination of weather concerns: Orbiting satellites reside well outside any atmospheric gases, cloud cover, wind, rain and other potential weather events.

Elimination of plant and wildlife interference.

Redirectable power transmission: Satellites can direct power on demand to different surface locations based on geographical baseload or peak load power needs.

The climate benefits from orbital solar power as well, since there are no greenhouse gas emissions (though the energy beamed down to earth is eventually lost as heat). These projects are initially expensive though, due to the hostility of the space environment. Panels require high-strength shielding to protect against space junk* and their huge surface areas can make them vulnerable to incoming debris. Some of the more hi-tech stations feature nanotechnology-based composites that can self-heal. Degradation of the solar panels comes close to making them uneconomical at first, though further advances in technology later solve this issue.

Though far from a perfect beginning, space-based solar power grows to become a hugely successful industry in the late 21st and 22nd century. Satellites also begin to appear in orbit around the Moon and Mars, greatly boosting the energy available on manned bases. It continues to grow around Earth for almost two centuries, until virtually all of the sunlight falling on the planet is being captured and harvested in some way.*


orbital solar power 2040 2050
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1See Global temperature.

2"...It takes at least 25 years for the greenhouse effect – or the trapping of the Sun's rays by the CO2, methane and nitrous oxide already added to the air – to have its full effect on the planet."
See An unnatural disaster, The Guardian:
Accessed 27th February 2011.

3See 2035.

4 Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas. Amazon.co.uk:
Accessed 3rd August 2009.

5 "If the melting goes on at this pace, glaciers will be gone by 2030 to 2050 except some high-altitude sites in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps."
Accessed 3rd August 2009.

6 Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas. Amazon.co.uk:
Accessed 3rd August 2009.

7 Two degrees too much?, New Agriculturist:
Accessed 7th March 2011.

8 Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, by Gwynne Dyer
Accessed 7th March 2011.

9 Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas. Amazon.co.uk:
Accessed 7th March 2011.

10 Two Degrees Warmer, National Geographic:
Accessed 7th March 2011.

11 See 2026.

12 Scientists prevent heart failure in mice, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 8th December 2013.

13 See 2025.

14 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics--2013 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association, AHA Journals:
Accessed 8th December 2013.

15 IAA says 'Yes We Can' to power plants in orbit, PhysOrg:
Accessed 21st February 2012.

16 Japan Plans To Launch Solar Power Station In Space By 2040, Space Daily:
Accessed 21st February 2012.

17 See 2030.

18 See 2250.




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