Predicting the future? Not so easy

07-22-10 aeroplane (2)

By Sandy Vasko

Every time we turn around, there is someone telling us what will happen in the future. From climate change to Social Security running out of money. Should we believe them? Well, that’s up to you, but today we look at some predictions for the future, (our present) to see what the so called “experts” had to say.
Our first prediction comes from the federal government in July of 1909 – Washington – While there will be no coal for fuel in the United States 131 (2040) years from today the people who live in this land then will have ample gold and silver with which to buy something else to keep them warm. This information is given in a report of the United States Geological Survey.
“Waste in mining,” says the report, “loses forever about one-half as much coal as is marketed. This half is either left in the ground in thin beds or in the shape of pillars to support the roof.
“Coal has been extensively mined in the United States for not much more than half a century, but the consumption is increasing so enormously that if this increase should continue, all the easily accessible coal would be exhausted by the year 2040, and all coal by the middle of the twenty-first century. It will, of course, not continue at such a rate, for the increasing scarcity will raise prices and check consumption. Water power, too, will undoubtedly largely take its place.”
In petroleum and natural gas, the annual waste is even more extravagant, while the end of lead and iron ores is not far off. Phosphate mines will last but 25 years longer. Of gold, zinc, copper and silver the geologists have no fear that they will disappear.
The report is part says: “With regard to petroleum, the situation is a good deal more serious. Petroleum has been used for less than 30 years, and it is estimated that the supply will last about 25 to 30 years longer (1939). If production is curtailed and waste stopped, it may last till the end of the century. The most important effects of its disappearance will be in the lubricants and in the loss of illuminants. Animal and vegetable oils will not begin to supply its place. This being the case, the reckless exploitation of oil fields and the consumption of oil for fuel should be checked.
“Iron is very abundant in nature, but usually is found in ores so poor that it cannot be extricated at any reasonable cost. The best ores are being rapidly worked, and it is estimated that within 30 years (1939) they will have been exhausted.”
Although there were automobiles in 1909, the government failed to predict that soon everyone would be using them, thus increasing the need for petroleum. Also, that rich oil fields across the world were just waiting to be discovered.
Our next prediction comes from September of 1909. – “The Aeroplane to End War – The perfection of the aero plane simply means the end of war, says William T. Stead. “Armaments will go as armor went, while twelve-inch guns will be as obsolete as the bow and arrow. The aero plane is the next step. Like Lytton’s potent compound of electricity and dynamite, by which a child could destroy an army by waving a wand, the aero plane places illimitable forces of destruction at the command of anybody who can raise fifty thousand dollars and find half a dozen desperadoes to do his bidding.
“As Captain Tullock says, fifty miles of the concentrated essence of the empire in the Thames valley could be brought to ruin by a single airship planting a dozen incendiary missiles in certain spots during a high wind. Only a few minutes would be necessary to have the whole riverside, with ships, wharves, warehouses and also the arsenal, in an unconquerable blaze.
“The human race is absolutely unprotected from above. What, then is demanded? The governments should federate into one great world state, with international tribunals interpreting the laws and an international parliament without whose command no war could take place on the earth, in the air or on the sea.”
Two years later in February of 1911 saw some of that prediction come true. “Washington – The war department is about to establish an aeroplane patrol along the Rio Grande river, and for the first time in this country, aviators will enter the military service of the United States.
“So far as an air scout can discover, General Hoyt, the commander of the department of Texas, will soon be in a position to determine the facts as to the activities of the insurgents along the Mexican border.
At present, owing to conflicting reports, the army officers engaged in maintaining neutrality find the task difficult, and the troops are continually making wild goose chases after military expeditions reported to be crossing the Rio Grande, which rarely materialize.
“In the mean time, when the troops are on these false scents, it is presumed that armed parties make their way across the river at unguarded posts.
“General Wood, chief of staff; General Allen chief signal officer, and John Barry Ryan, president of the United States Aeronautical Reserve, held a conference Monday, and afterward it was announced that the war department has accepted the tender of Robert Collier of one of his new Wright biplanes, which is now in New York, and this will be rushed to the Mexican border by express and turned over to General Hoyt. The reserve is prepared to furnish half a dozen other machines for military use at short notice.
“With that number of machines soaring constantly over the crooked channel of the Rio Grande and back into the country where illegal expeditions may be organizing. It is believed the military will be able practically to establish an impenetrable patrol along the border.”
One hundred and twelve years later, we are still trying to make our border with Mexico “impenetrable.”

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