2009 08 29, I went to a Humanism Meetup, which involved a bunch of debate, so I enjoyed it. Chew Lin used a bottle of lip gloss as the collective conch and passed it around the table, which rocked for getting normally reticent people to talk.
After the meetup, we talked about the future: one guy echoed Martin Rees' global catastrophe scenario, I boo'd that idea and said that the future will probably look just like today ( lots of incredulous faces: global warming, food crises, etc... ). As they say, the future's already here, it's just not evenly distributed. ;)
Imagine the world as an engineering problem: you want to stack as many people as you can. As you add more people, you keep hitting different engineering problems. So, we've not gotten to the 21st century without hitting previous engineering problems. Just like previous times, we'll see temporary increases in prices for some things, and while that won't really affect the wealthy (the developed world), it'll wreak havoc on the global poor; they won't be able to afford some staples, and we'll see more isolated conflict unless someone unites them. Regardless, we'll most likely just see more war in far off places on TVinternet.
So what can you do to reduce the odds of that future? Most people around the table talked about recycling, eating less meat, wasting less. I added Socially Responsible Investing, like buying land in a country with strong property laws and planting trees. It does more good to make money with SRI and then plow the profits back into SRI.
We went around the table again, and when I got the lip gloss conch again, I took out my Sharpie and told everyone that I was going to go without meat for a week, marked an M on my left hand and passed the Sharpie to the guy on my left.
Surprisingly, no one else was willing to even just promise to give up something for a week....