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2042 timeline contents




The majority of primate species are disappearing from the wild

During this time, most of the world's primate species are finally going extinct in the wild, despite many decades of conservation efforts. This includes the majority of prosimians, monkeys, lesser apes (i.e. gibbons) and great apes such as gorillas. More than 300 of the 504 known species are lost by the end of this period,* surviving only in zoos or private collections.

The relentless expansion of the global economy and the pressures to achieve ever more "growth" resulted in severe depletion of primates' habitat. Demand for palm oil, rubber and other commodities – along with a general increase in urban sprawl, road building, mining and other activities – led to millions of square kilometres of forest being cleared. In addition, climate change rendered vast areas more vulnerable to drought, fire and other damage. Poaching and the trade in body parts were yet more factors.

With a population now exceeding 9 billion, humanity's ecological footprint was growing so large and so rapidly that it was impossible to preserve these fragile environments on the timescales required. Although some conservation successes are achieved, they are few and far between; the overall outlook for primates remains poor. Preservation of DNA material is now being prioritised in the hope of resurrecting these species at some future date.


primates extinction timeline future




Global population reaches 9 billion

For the vast majority of human history, the Earth's population stayed below 100 million, and life expectancy was short. Between the mid-19th and early 21st century, however, it mushroomed exponentially. From 1812 to 1930, the number of people on the planet doubled from one to two billion. It took just 30 years to reach the next billion and a mere 14 years to reach the billion after that. Population growth hit its maximum rate in 1963 when it peaked at 2.2% per annum.* All around the world, there were unprecedented improvements in mobility, personal income and general quality of life.

The global population continued on its upward trajectory in the 21st century, reaching 9 billion by 2042.** However, a raft of new social, political, financial, demographic, environmental and other problems were now having serious impacts on economic growth and prosperity. Automation had made vast swathes of jobs redundant, for example.* Many countries had built up enormous debts, particularly in the West. Furthermore, humanity's ecological footprint was too large, and the Earth too small, to support the kind of materialistic lifestyles and throwaway culture that many had taken for granted in the past. The days of rampant consumerism were coming to an end, with people forced to adapt and evolve to new systems, often with heavy government intervention in the market. It was almost as though civilisation was feeling a "hangover" from the boom times.*

Though life became hard for many, and plagued with uncertainty, people and communities learned to live through each new crisis. Britain, for example, took on a "Blitz spirit" and became self-sufficient in food production – emulating what Cuba had achieved in the 1990s. Among the government programs enacted was the conversion of sports fields, parks, gardens, golf courses and other green areas of land into crop growing and biofuel sites. Extensive recycling of metals, plastics, glass, electronics and other such useful materials became mandatory all over the country – with strict penalties for wastage. The rationing of water became the norm in some counties, as droughts became ever more frequent. Amidst a surge in refugees, tight immigration quotas were enforced, with Britain effectively pulling up a drawbridge and admitting only the most highly skilled foreign workers.

Similar programs were enacted in nations around the globe. These measures were the only way to ensure society's survival, in light of the accelerating environmental and resource decline. Social media, communications and information technologies aided in the transition – helping to organise people and community efforts. From the economic wreckage of earlier decades, new forms of socio-economic progress were beginning to evolve. The world was gradually becoming more localised and decentralised.

Though Britain was successful in this transition,* many other nations were not so lucky. By 2042, resource wars have plunged some regions into chaos. Parts of southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East are dependent on ever-increasing levels of foreign support. Thankfully, population levels begin to plateau in the latter half of the century. Together with ongoing technology advances, this offers hope for longer-term solutions to humanity's problems.


global population 2050 graph

Data sources: Wolfram Alpha, US Census Bureau



White people are a minority in the USA

America is a country founded on immigration.* Today, its population is more diverse and multicultural than ever. Following the 1965 immigration reform (which grew from the civil rights movement), the number of non-white people increased dramatically. This was particularly true of Latinos, who went from 6.3m in 1960* to over 50m by 2010.*

By the early 2010s, non-whites had already begun to outnumber whites in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas and Washington DC, while nearly half of all children in the nation were non-white.* This trend continued over subsequent decades. By 2042, white people themselves are a minority.**

This rapid change in the demographic makeup has significantly altered the political disposition of the country. Latinos,* blacks* and other minorities tend to be left-leaning.* Other factors have influenced voters' preferences – such as the growing urbanisation of the country, with cities tending to favour more liberal and progressive policies than smaller, traditional rural communities. Generation X and Generation Y (the latter now entering their middle age) have also reshaped the political stage, most of them favouring the Democrats.*

This and other factors have converged to make the old-style Republican Party unelectable. By now, the GOP has been forced to drastically moderate its policies and rhetoric compared to earlier decades.*





The Diary of Anne Frank enters the U.S. public domain

The Diary of Anne Frank was a book of the writings by the German-born diarist, Anne Frank, who documented her life in hiding between 1942 and 1944 during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. She and her family were apprehended in 1944, with Anne herself dying of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp the following year.

Anne's father, Otto, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that her diary had been saved by one of the helpers, Miep Gies, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947. It became one of the world's most widely known books, with Anne gaining fame posthumously as perhaps the most discussed victim of the Holocaust. It was translated into more than 60 languages and formed the basis for several plays and films.

The diary received widespread critical and popular attention on the appearance of its English language version, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Doubleday & Company (USA) and Valentine Mitchell (UK) in 1952. The book later appeared in several lists of the top books of the 20th century.

The copyright of the Dutch version, published in 1947, expired in 2016, 70 years after the author's death as a result of a general rule in copyright law of the European Union. Following this, the original Dutch version was made available online. It then appeared on Wikisource, an online digital library of free content operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

However, the diary was soon removed from Wikisource, after concerns over copyright. The Wikimedia Foundation was under the jurisdiction of U.S. law and therefore subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – specifically title 17, chapter 5, section 512 of the United States Code. As the Foundation had noted in 2013: "The location of the servers, incorporation, and headquarters are just three of many factors that establish US jurisdiction ... if infringing content is linked to or embedded in Wikimedia projects, then the Foundation may still be subject to liability for such use—either as a direct or contributory infringer."

With 70 years having passed since Anne's death, her diary entered the public domain in the Netherlands on 1st January 2016 (although there was still some dispute about this). In the United States, however, the original text would remain under copyright until 2042.* This was due to a combination of several factors. Firstly, works published before 1978, in general, had a copyright of 95 years from date of publication, which in the case of Frank's diary was 1947. Secondly, foreign works of countries that were treaty partners to the United States were covered as if they were U.S. works. Thirdly, even if a country was not a treaty partner under copyright law at the time of a publication, the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) restored copyright to works that: had been published in a foreign country; were still under copyright in that country in 1996; and would have had U.S. copyright but for the fact they were published abroad.


diary of anne frank copyright 2042



The City of Trees project is completed in Manchester, England

The City of Trees is a project to plant three million new trees, one for every man, woman and child in Greater Manchester, England. Initiated by charities including the Community Forest Trust, it aims to transform over 20 square kilometres of unmanaged or vacant land into a productive and healthy state. This is achieved with help from public volunteers, community groups and local companies.

The trees are planted all over Manchester – in urban areas, streets, parks and gardens, as well as existing woodlands to expand their habitats and link to neighbouring areas of tree cover, which helps to improve biodiversity. Entirely new forests are also created.

The 25-year project is largely completed by the early 2040s.* Many of the first trees that were planted back in the early stages of the project have now grown to full maturity. Alongside the uptake of electric vehicles and other measures, the city is now enjoying much improved air quality, as well as better resilience to climate change. The benefits of trees include reduced heat* and air conditioning costs (saving up to 10% on energy consumption) and a reduction in flood risk (trees absorb surface water runoff, which would otherwise overload drainage systems, and reduce it by up to 80%* compared to asphalt surfaces). The presence of trees can also improve mental health,** increase educational performance and cognitive development, and create new jobs in timber and forest management.


city of trees project manchester 25 years timeline future 2040s 2042
Manchester, England. Credit: Moomusician



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1 Majority of primate species may vanish in next 25 to 50 years, New Scientist:
Accessed 19th April 2017

2 World Population, US Census Bureau:
Accessed 11th March

3 International Data Base (IDB) Total Midyear Population for the World: 1950-2050, US Census Bureau:
Accessed 11th March

4 World Population Clock, Worldometers:
Accessed 11th March

5 See 2025-2050.

6 Paul Gilding: The Earth is full, TED:
Accessed 11th March

7 Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats, Gwynne Dyer:
Accessed 11th March

8 History of immigration to the United States, Wikipedia:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

9 A Portrait of American Catholics on the Eve of Pope Benedict's Visit to the U.S., The Pew Forum:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

10 Hispanics Account for More than Half of Nation's Growth in Past Decade, Pew Hispanic Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

11 America's Tomorrow: Equity is the Answer, PolicyLink:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

12 United States Population Projections: 2000 to 2050, United States Census Bureau:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

13 Minorities set to be US majority, BBC:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

14 President's Approval Rating Drops, but He Leads 2012 Rivals, Pew Hispanic Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

15 Blacks and the Democratic Party, FactCheck.org:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

16 Exit Polls – Election Results 2008, New York Times:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

17 10 page report:
The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,
Pew Research Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

18 "Democrats are right when they say that demographic change will eventually make it impossible for a conservative Republican to be elected president. Following the 1965 immigration reform, the population share of Hispanics is projected to grow from about 4 percent in 1960 to 30 percent in 2050. Hispanics unmistakeably lean Democrat, in part because of low average income and support for redistribution. They and other Democrat-leaning minorities which are growing their population share will sooner or later make conservative Republicans nationally unelectable."
See Hispanic Vote Unlikely to Save Obama in 2012, Wall Street Pit:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

19 Wikimedia Foundation removes The Diary of Anne Frank due to copyright law requirements, Wikimedia Foundation:
Accessed 15th March 2017.

20 Project aims to grow a 'city of trees', BBC News:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

21 Urban trees can improve millions of lives by reducing air pollution and temperature, says report, Future Timeline Blog:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

22 Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, Transport for Greater Manchester:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

23 Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits, Science Daily:
Accessed 1st April 2017.

24 Green space keeps you from feeling blue, Science Daily:
Accessed 1st April 2017.




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