Future Shock

A look ahead at some possible news stories.

Frightened by today's headlines? Just wait. The mess we're in is likely to get worse before it gets better. (And whether it gets better depends on a vast constellation of events largely out of our control.)

So sit back, grab a cup of chai, and contemplate the following news stories from the distant--and not-so-distant--future.

TUCSON, April 10, 2010--A group of concerned parents met with officials from Tucson Water yesterday to ask questions about the possible consequences of young children drinking and bathing in treated effluent. Since Tucson Water began using treated effluent in an attempt to conserve groundwater, an increasing number of residents are asking questions about the measure's safety.

Both city officials and Tucson Water executives have assured the public that drinking and bathing in treated effluent poses no health risks. But skepticism remains.

"Just think about it. All the added chemicals can't be doing our kids any good, no matter what they say. But I don't think they care. And don't forget, most of the people this hurts are the poor who can't afford to buy expensive filters," said Noah Rayne, the father of three children.

AFGHANISTAN, July 28, 2012--The bodies of six U.S. soldiers were discovered today in a remote area northwest of Kabul. All six had been decapitated. Since the collapse of the country's central authority, American occupying forces have come under increasing fire from a coalition of traditionally bickering tribes and unknown terrorist groups.

Department of Defense sources suspect the increasing chaos may be linked to Shakur bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's sons. Shakur has proven as elusive as his father, who, it is believed, is dead.

In Washington, President Jeb Bush promised to continue his father's and brother's policies on the war on terrorism. "America will stand firm in its resolve. We will destroy all who threaten our cherished way of life, and pay any price to keep our nation free. We will win this war, no matter how long it takes."

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2013--The Department of Homeland Security issued a new directive yesterday targeting U.S. journalists as potential enemy combatants. The action sent shockwaves through both the corporate and independent media. Cy Lance, director of the department, attempted to quell concerns raised by dozens of organizations and thousands of journalists.

Speaking from behind a bullet proof podium in the rotunda of the department's new headquarters, Lance fielded questions from an angry crowd of reporters.

When asked by a Tucson Weekly reporter if Lance could list with specificity the criteria used to name journalists enemy combatants, Lance replied that the information was classified but would be divulged at the appropriate time. The director assured the crowd that the new directive posed no threat whatsoever to a free press nor to free speech, since it would only affect those journalists whose writings were found to be critical of the government and thus provided aid and comfort to the enemy.

TUCSON, Aug. 12, 2019--A class-action suit was filed today on behalf of several hundred families. Plaintiffs' attorneys are claiming that the cluster of mysterious life-threatening infections affecting more than 1,500 small children can be directly linked to treated effluent Tucson Water began providing in 2008.

"There is no solid evidence proving any negative consequences from the use of properly treated effluent," said C. Moore Lyon, defense attorney for the water company. But Waylon Goode, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said an ample body of scientific findings will prove a causal relationship between the water and the children's illnesses.

ICELAND, Jan. 1, 2058--Panic broke out across the globe yesterday when a massive power failure affected virtually the entire population of the planet. The Global Grid Authority, a consortium of multinational oil and nuclear power officers, engineers and scientists, was unable to explain the unprecedented event.

The loss of power, combined with the coldest winter on record in many parts of the world, is beginning to take its toll. Seventy nations are reporting an undisclosed number of persons dead as a result of the extreme cold coupled with lack of heat. In the United States, communications were cut off with the top northern tier of the nation when a record-breaking snowfall isolated states from Michigan west to Idaho and as far south as Colorado.

The GGA was unable to predict when the power would be restored.

TUCSON, Oct. 12, 2100--If the efforts of a dedicated group of women and men are successful, this ghost town will hum with human activity. An outpost in the Sonoran desert, Tucson suffered a gradual population decline until 2085, when a collapse of all vital services, combined with three consecutive weeks of temperatures more than 125 degrees, led to the exodus of its remaining 50,000 residents.

"We are committed to making our vision a reality and a model for the rest of the world," said Ned Ludd, spokesperson for the group. "Through a combination of hard work and a solid commitment from each participant, we project a self-sufficient community within 10 years."

Ludd was adamant that the group was not modeled on the largely failed hippie communes of more than a century ago.

"We are not motivated by romantic or naive idealism," he said. "We are driven by the desire to create a human-scaled, sustainable community employing creative, low-tech solutions in order to heal the planet from the ravages brought on by centuries of greed and hubris. This time around, we pray we get it right."

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