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The Foreseeable Future, by Sir George Thomson; Utopia 1976, by Morris L. Ernst; Time for Living, by George Soule

- Abstract

Many human activities are marked by periodic fashion changes—the manufacture of women’s dresses being the most obvious example. Still, it comes as a surprise to discover that books about the future of mankind are also subject to fashion’s whims.

In the years following the end of the Second World War, the reigning attitude in this “science of the future” was one of foreboding and alarm. In 1948, Vogt in The Road to Survival and Osborn in The Plundered Planet expressed grave concern at the rate of depletion of the earth’s resources, and observed with Malthusian grimness that the world’s population was increasing faster than food production. In 1953, Osborn in The Limits of the Earth again took a rather dim view of future things, though one detected here and there in his work a cheerfuller note. Vogt and Osborn were looking gloomily ahead only a few generations at most, but Sir Charles Darwin, whose The Next Million Years likewise appeared in 1953, saw no hope for escape even in the most distant future from Malthus’s dictum that the growth of population would inevitably exceed the increase in the means of sustaining it.

By the next year, however, the style in prophecy had begun to change. Nineteen

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