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2042 timeline contents




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 greatly aided the transition – helping to organise people and community projects. From the economic wreckage of earlier decades, new forms of socio-economic progress were beginning to evolve, based on more sustainable ways of living. The world was gradually becoming more localised, decentralised and longer-term focussed.

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.*





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

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

3 World Population Clock, Worldometers:
Accessed 11th March

4 See 2025-2050.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 10 page report:
The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election,
Pew Research Center:
Accessed 26th February 2012.

17 "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.




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