New Organs Grown to Order, TV Beamed out in 3D, Ireland out of the Euro. and Scorching Summers; Fiction? Far from It, Say Seven Experts Asked to Imagine 2020 - When We'll All Be Slaves to Google

Article excerpt


COLIN FARRELL will be middle-aged, the taxpayer will still be paying through the nose for Nama and Kilkenny will probably be favourites to complete the 15-in-a-row... Beyond that, predictions for a decade's time are a little less certain. Will the country be under water by 2020 -- or even under ice? Will we all be wearing one-piece silver suits and driving hovercars, or will we have to return the age of horse and bicycle? It may be impossible to foresee the future, but TANYA SWEENEY asked seven experts for their 2020 predictions... JOHN SWEENEY John Sweeney is a climatologist and a lecturer in the Department of Geography at NUI Maynooth. He leads a number of nationally funded research projects examining various aspects of climate change in Ireland: In 2020, we expect Ireland to be around 0.2 or 0.3 degrees warmer than now. We're also expecting an increased frequency of freak weather events. It won't seem noticeable to the public -- they won't be happening twice as often or anything -- but statistically it will be detectable.

There will be wetter winters, especially in the west of Ireland -- but there may be drought-prone summers, with real problems for water supply in the Dublin area. It will be difficult times for anyone growing crops in places like Waterford and Wexford. Overall, summers won't be wet -- we'll look back at the summers we've had in the last few years as a sort of freak occurrence. Cork and Kerry will most likely be having frost-free winters, and we'll see daffodils blooming in January.

There will be a reduction in heating energy demands as winters become warmer. Carbon tax will be considerably greater by 2020. We'll be switching to electric cars; it'll be possible to get them charged and serviced by a local authority. They'll be setting up electric car-charge points in new housing estates. I think longdistance commuting will become a thing of the past as local employment will be much more popular. So will working from home.

'From an agricultural perspective, the Irish landscape will probably become dominated by maize, which it isn't at the moment. Farmers will be growing potatoes differently and problems will emerge with water irrigation and the like. In the west of Ireland, there will be more wind farms, and we won't be digging up the bogs for energy fuels anymore.

Globally, we don't expect changes as catastrophic as first envisaged in many areas. Parts of the ice-sheet covering Greenland will melt, and the Arctic ice is also set to dwindle.

The problems that will arise will be because of rising sea levels in places like Bangladesh. This will result in a swelling number of migration refugees by 2020. Because of lack of fresh water resources, there will be much more conflict, between India and Pakistan for example.

MARY CORCORAN Mary Corcoran is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at NUI Maynooth. Her specialist research areas include immigration and media studies: The whole economic meltdown will give us an opportunity to reassess society in the next few years. In the Noughties, we saw an 'economisation of life', where everything was seen through an economic lens. For example, your home was seen as a house to be traded. That has been challenged recently and really will collapse in the future. We'll become much more socially and culturally aware.

'There will probably be a realignment in the Irish political system; namely, politics will grow up. Politics won't be centred on a civil war division but a proper ideological division. I think by 2020, we will have a left-of-centre-dominated government -- Labour and various allies. Fianna Fail will almost certainly be out of power, and politics will be more radical and egalitarian -- Fianna Fail has dominated the State for almost 20 years -- and people will be much more politically astute and aware.

Marriage won't go out of fashion and family life isn't likely to change much but we'll be much less focused on Catholic rituals. …