On Eugene Linden's "The Future in Plain Sight" and Other Looming Disasters

Back in 2006 I stumbled upon a book by Eugene Linden titled The Future in Plain Sight, which is a little gem of foresight. Published in 1998, it predicted our present financial collapse, the rise of religious extremism and terrorism, and a host of other ills, most of which have already come true. (One of which is looming: global pandemic. I’m not at all convinced of the certainty of a bird flu epidemic, which is sometimes put forward in popular magazine articles, but there are a host of other viruses that could break out. Richard Preston’s Hot Zone is the scariest book in this category, nonfiction, too, about an airbone ebola epidemic that surfaced near Washington, D.C.) Linden also wrote The Winds of Change, about global warming. He’s had an influence on my new novel, The Bird Savior, with his clear-eyed focus on the troubles ahead. Both books are excellent reads, and make a good campion to, say, E.O. Wilson’s The Future of Life. In this category the best of all, I think, is still Jared Diamond’s Collapse. (I like his especially because the first chapter, set in a valley in Montana, south of Missoula, is much like my home in Westcliffe, Colorado.) Ultimately his perhaps is the most hopeful, as well, from a logical sense: We should be smarter than the Easter Island culture. Even if it seems sometimes we’re not.

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