The Rough Guide to… The Future

Author: Jon Turney
Pub: Rough Guides
Price: £13.99

The Rough Guide to... The FutureOne of the problems with presenting an environmental argument as a book within the Rough Guides series is the format. Often designed to be dipped into in a fairly non-linear fashion, the typical Rough Guide is a heady mix of text, box outs, diagrams and pictures, usually – as is the case here – with one or two basic colours with which to breathe some life onto the page. Of course, I’m not dismissing Turney’s environmental argument on the basis of layout, but I am saying that his work is deserving of less cramped, eye-straining conditions.

Because this is a work. All 353 pages are full of facts, statistics and persuasive dialogue on some of the biggest questions humanity is currently asking. What’s going to come of nanotechnology? What problems will our ageing population cause? Will there be enough food to go around in just a few short years? And the crucial question posed on the cover itself: where do we go from here? All these topics (and a worrying number more) are covered objectively, and in depth. Indeed, in order to get a true picture of the future of the planet, this book needs to be read cover to cover – hence the format
gripes; a thick square paperback packed with text is not conducive to a comfortable reading experience.

Neither, though, is the content. Many of the conclusions drawn are quite unsettling, and the ‘Predictions Files’ used throughout – featuring mankind’s ‘highest hope’, ‘worst fear’ and ‘best bet’ according to scientists, experts and industry pros – offer little comfort in the face of the book’s generally harrowing conclusions.

However, as is the case with many books of this ilk, it notes that redemption is possible, but only if we take a dramatic U-turn in the way we treat the planet. So the real question is, are we able to do that?