Climate change, travel and complex futures

Authors


email: j.urry@Lancaster.ac.uk

Abstract

In this paper I examine various sociologies of the future. I argue that one future, of global climate change, is now exceptionally significant. This future is based upon certain sociological presumptions and thus sociology is central to its emerging contours and to its analysis. I examine one aspect of such a future, the role of travel and especially automobility within this emerging dystopia. I use some formulations from complexity theory to examine what might constitute an alternative to global heating and the scenario of ‘tribal trading’. It is suggested that one feasible alternative is a ‘digital panopticon’ and I examine some small changes that might tip the system to such a post-automobility system. But there is no free lunch here. It is argued that the world may be torn between two bleak scenarios as a consequence of the twentieth century's exceptional degree of resource use, between a Hobbesian war of all against all and an Orwellian digital panopticon. The twentieth century would seem to be reaping its bitter revenge.

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