ABC News is planning a two-hour special this coming September depicting how top scientists, economists, and historians see the world in the year 2100.
“Experts say that unless we act now, the ‘perfect storm’ of population growth, resource depletion, and climate change could destabilize the world with catastrophic results,” says ABC News’ Earth 2100 website (emphasis in original).
In a twist likely to excite some and concern others, the network is inviting the public to “invent” and “create compelling videos that tell the story of how the next century unfolds. Your responses will be woven into an evolving web-based story, and the best ones will be used as the spine of the network primetime show.”
A companion “massive online game” invites filmmakers and “creative minds from across the globe to imagine the unimaginable. What will our world look like in 100 years, if we don’t save our troubled planet?”
The project involves using data and projections from “top scientists” to present four scenarios of the world as it will exist in 2015, 2050, 2070, and 2100.
“We want you to be our reporters for the future,” the network says, apparently accepting the notion that anyone, with or without training, can be a reporter and seemingly without regard to the kinds of conflicts of interest that most traditional news organizations would seek to avoid.
Based on the “detailed scenario of the global threats faced in your specific location” – Africa, China, Europe, India, and the U.S. – and each future date, those interested are invited to submit “a gripping video (1-3 minutes long) about your future world as if you are experiencing it now, firsthand.” (News purists and traditionalists, those still standing, may of course see some inconsistency there, perhaps an oxymoron.)
So the routine is that ABC News outlines the scenario for each of the years, 2015, 2050, 2070, and 2100. Interested outsiders shoot and send a video, and several ABC News producers work with chosen videos to move forward: “The story you invent for the year 2015 will dictate the scenario we create for the year 2050, and so on.”
Beyond that, the guidance provided by ABC News is pretty limited: speak in first-person and use present tense; identify yourself and your location; keep videos to between one and three minutes; meet video submission deadlines.
As an example of the level of detail provided in the scenarios, here is what ABC News put forward for the U.S. for 2015, for which the deadline is June 23:
“It is seven years in the future and there’s growing unrest around the world as people begin to connect the dots. A new reality is upon us:
- Despite the promises of the 2008 campaign, a weakened economy and a continued presence in Iraq has kept climate change on the backburner. Global temperatures are rising faster than expected.
- Increasing global demand for oil and industrial metals, especially from China and India, is creating worldwide shortages. More coal-fired power plants are being built to compensate.
- A continued drought is turning the US Southwest into a dust bowl. Lake Mead has dried up, threatening the drinking supply in Las Vegas.
- Tensions rise between the U.S. and Mexico as water disputes break out over the Rio Grande.
- Crop yields plummet in the U.S. Midwest due to persistent droughts mixed with frequent hailstorms and flash floods. Record high food prices and food shortages lead to food riots in many countries around the world.
- Wildfires are raging out of control in Colorado and Southern California leaving thousands of people homeless.
- A powerful nor’easter hits the entire eastern seaboard, from South Carolina to Maine. Power is knocked out for millions of people in New York and New Jersey and the New York City transit system is shut down for 2 days.
- A Category 5 hurricane hits the coast of Miami, flooding a majority of the city and damaging much of its infrastructure. The situation is made worse by a continuing influx of refugees from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The National Guard is called in to lead the disaster response.”
Similar scenarios for 2015 are available online for Africa, China, Europe, and India. For more information, questions are to be submitted to Sarah.E.Namias.-ND@abc.com.