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In the year 2500, we could have raccoons picking our crops

Looking all the way to the year 2512, writer Charles Stross sees a world radically altered by climate change, but one in which genetically modified crops will amply sustain a gigantic human population pushed inland because of rising ocean levels. And raccoons that can be “programmed” to pick our crops.

Stross rang in 2012 by offering is predictions on a much closer pair of years: 2032 and 2092. He predicted that we would be seeing major effects from climate change in 2092, including mass animal extinctions. In his latest set of speculations, he tries to imagine life on Earth in the wake of climate change. Coastal regions (including many of the world’s major cities), would be underwater, forcing an inland migration. Some parts of the world would be uninhabitable to non-genetically modified organisms. Advances in technology would, however, would allow us to radically alter vegetation and change our relationship with animals:

I’d expect to see lots of - to our eyes - odd vegetation. Freeman Dyson’s suggestion of GM mangroves that can grow in salinated intertidal zones and synthesize gasoline, shipping it out via their root networks, is one option. Variant food crops that can grow in 50 celsius climates and still make stuff we can eat would be a bonus. Modified animal or bird pest species, re-purposed as agricultural stoop labour? It might be easier to work with the intelligences that nature’s dropped all around us rather than trying to design artificial ones from scratch. (Think racoons [sic]. Think racoons programmed to come out at night to harvest and wash fruit because we’ve invented racoon Heroin™ and trained them to take their fix in payment for crop-picking. Or something like that.)


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