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Another Place To Die

by Sam North

The Next Great Flu Pandemic is coming.
Are you prepared?

'It will keep readers in suspense, laced with gritty-gallows humor'
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'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, this will terrify you and thrill you.'. Roxy Williams -

'Fascinating, frightening and compelling read'.
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Another Place To Die

The International Writers Magazine: Futures Revisited

The World in 2050?
Sam North

n year 2000, many people had hoped that the 21st Century would bring solutions and provide answers to many questions. But the real story of the 21st Century was always going to be demographics and with the rising numbers of people, containing poverty, political strife and disease. It may not be the happiest or most comfortable future, but in the next forty-four years the world could end up with 11 billion people at the highest estimate and perhaps less than a quarter will live the life we have now, with clean water, regular food and a secure pension.

How we get there from here is the subject of this essay. This will be a changed world with differing needs and objectives to the present, one which is no longer dominated by the needs and wants of the West. The rise of Hispanic culture and their political aspirations will transform the North American (including Canada) landscape with awkward truths arising for the rest of the world as they slowly, but with gathering pace retreat into isolation, only bonding with South America to form a secure defensible world.

Even slight changes can alter much of what we do. Feeding the worlds poor or defending the west from diseases that can no longer be fought using 20th century antibiotics. Will there be a pandemic? Will we choose to consume less? Will China, now the worlds leading economy assume the role America has until now claimed its own? Will Japan prove to be a bitter rival? And Russia, by controlling Europe’s energy sources via it’s vast gas supplies and slowly raising the price, will it suck all the money out of Europe? As it does so, old wounds are opened. Will Climate Change devastate the planet or just our pocketbooks as we compete to go green?

This essay looks at the world as a whole, but in particular considers the fate of North America in the next fifty years. *This essay was originally completed in the winter of 2000 for a competition run by ‘The Economist Magazine.’

The abiding theme of the 21st century has been pressure. Pressure on natural resources, fresh water, wildlife, world forests, minerals, energy in all forms and the very health of the human race. Population estimates at the turn of the century by World Population Data Sheet estimated that USA and Canada would have 470 millions - and the world as a whole a probable 11 billion - discounting major catastrophes or world war.

The present total of ‘only’ eight billion has not been achieved through careful and judicious choices, but a series of accidents and catastrophes. Our world in 2050 has more than 20 cities with populations of more than 40 million, yet cannot supply fresh water or dispose of the sewage, for even a tenth of that number. This is a world of scarce resources, unequal distribution, not helped by political extremes and world pandemics.

The election of the second Latino President, Nino Chavez, is a strong indicator of how much the ‘Norte Americano’ landscape has changed in 2050. The demographic trends were all there for all to see fifty years ago, and even though it was an uncomfortable idea for many, Canada and the United States needed all the young blood it could get, as the population was ageing rapidly.

According to figures compiled by the UN population monitoring system in 2000, the incoming illegal immigration from Mexico amounted to 1,500 per day for the best part of 20 years, despite border patrols, fences and mass deportations. During the period from 1970 to 2000, between 365,000 and 468,000 Mexicans per year crossed the border to work and live in America. Surprisingly few of these were ever caught (or if caught, came right back) and actually most found employment. In addition women found husbands, men found wives and they had many children, as is the custom in Catholic families.

A population survey of California in 1970 showed an eighty percent white majority in that State. By 2000 it had already fallen to sixty percent. Projections at that time showed the Hispanic population overtaking the white population of California and Texas, Florida and other southern states by 2010. (Keens-Soper 1996) The decision to spend billions on a wall across Arizona's border with Mexico would be too little too late.

Estimates of the Latino population in 2050 are 125 million in the US alone: one quarter of the total population. The future of much of America would be Spanish, with all that that entailed.
*The birth rate of Latino child bearing women continues at 2.5 whereas for white females it is at the non-replacing rate of 1.60 (already the North European average at the turn of the century)

The transformation of the genetic make-up of the USA and Canada could alter political and social mores and risk the break-up of the Federation. Along the West Coast, the influx of Chinese and Korean immigrants has placed pressure on the Judeo-Christian white domination of culture and business. (No longer could a white society pass a law, as they did in California 1860, demanding that no Chinese women be allowed on US soil and that all Chinese dead must be buried in China).

From Vancouver B.C., where the Chinese immigration was at its strongest, it was not a case of the Chinese supplanting the white population but of the white population being squeezed by the growth of the Indian and Pakistani immigrant population. It was the rivalry between the Chinese, Indian and Pakistani cultures in the metropolitan areas that led to many clashes and a call for the city to be divided into ethnic areas in 2025. Religion and ethic origin proved to be volatile mixes and led to many ideological clashes at critical flashpoints all along the West Coast. White flight to the interior had begun long before this.

Molecular electronics and nanotechnology as well as key developments in artificial intelligence (robotics) have transformed the way we work and live in the West. New technology reduced the need for manpower in consumer and industrial production, but increasingly the 30 hour working week and problems it produced in advanced economies caused new tensions, reminiscent of 19th century labour strife. Who would pay for the increased leisure time? The most advanced technology was increasingly unaffordable or disadvantaged the worlds’ poorer countries.

The world found it could try to extend food production to support the growing numbers to a life-sustaining level, but as energy costs rose in line with diminishing supplies, social strife caused by mass migrations to cities caused real problems. In addition, crop yields began to drop as the price of fertilisers rose. Soil depletion (particularly in the Loess plateau of China) meant that although the world population was rising by one billion every decade, food production was actually falling as a percentage, thus exacerbating regional conflicts. Finding enough clean drinking water, irrigation for crops and water for manufacturing became a regular cause of conflict throughout the globe.

*The introduction of GM crops in the Third World reduced dependence upon fertilisers but concerns about long term effects on wildlife and human health meant take -up was slow.

With China now containing 1,590 billions, the cost of feeding them and moving them and manufacturing and distribution to all regions caused political strains. China began to revert to old traditions with localised power bases, Warlords and regional conflicts between urban dwellers and the agrarian populations. The economic powerhouses around the coastal areas began to detach from the more backward interiors. The general sense of increasing internalisation, the rejection of ‘global politics’ became the reverse of the 20th Century and is gathering speed as problems expand. China’s exponential growth in the early years of the 21st century where in ten years it began the world’s largest economy, sucking in the worlds raw materials and driving up energy and metal prices to record levels meant that they became the industrial powerhouse of the world. But fast wealth comes at a prices and corruption, land prices, pollution places huge strains upon China as a whole. At one point they were building the equivalent on one new power station a week and still the huge, underpaid population could out produce and out manufacture any other country. (As was witnessed by all at the spectacular 2008 Olympic games.) The West believed that China’s communist party would not survive this dash to capitalism – but hopes were crushed – along with those who tried to build labour unions and introduce health and safety legislation.

China moved on from producing cheap products to sophisticated luxury goods in every sphere in rapid time and as it flourished Europe’s economy withered on the vine. European jobs were literally exported to China and or India and although Europe was growing in size as countries such as Poland, Romania and Latvia joined – it was constantly being hollowed out and living standards declined overall.

The North American continent, rich in raw materials, land space and a highly organised social system, was best placed to survive the growing population strains. Yet even by 2010, the West Coast was looking to carve its own path. It was obvious that North America was not one country any more, but diverse regions, with several languages and different needs. Yet it held together at the Federal Level. By 2030, when the first native-born Latino president was elected, the trend was seen as unstoppable. Catholicism had supplanted Protestant values in all key areas and meant that a drift to conservative right isolationism was the result.

By 2030, most of the South, Florida, California and New York State were firmly Catholic, run by Spanish-speaking politicians who were predominantly anti-liberal, anti-abortion, intolerant of ‘lifestyle sex’ choices and freedom of speech.

The Gay Revolution died on the stake of ‘family values’. In the wake of the European and African influenza and sex –related pandemics, sexual freedom became the ‘sin’ it always had been. America was purposefully striding back to the Puritan values of its forebears and although it is ironic to observe this, the modern Catholic state in 2050 has much in common with the original settlers’ beliefs and mores. The schism in the Protestant Church where in North America it accellerated the acceptance of lesbian and gays as priests and Bishops, drove many into the Catholic Church and drove away in the whole the Anglican Churches of Africa and elsewhere in the world who could not accept these changes.

As the burgeoning population of the North American continent rose in the urbanised regions, it placed a strain on energy and food resources. Violent crime by citizens unused to having to pay more for fuel, water and food was matched by state counter-violence. Some cities - disadvantaged by weather, unemployment and racial tensions - become battle zones, not improved by localised corruption by officials. Increasingly there is a political momentum to exclude outsiders on one hand and to go back to the agrarian self contained ‘Amish’ past on the other.

The retreat to re-inhabit America’s past has not ended there. As white people began to be marginalised, unable to cope with becoming a minority without political or financial influence, they sold up and began to trek inland, mirroring the Afrikaners of 1890 in Africa, fleeing British rule. In Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan have become virtual White Protestant enclaves. Quebec, singularly isolated by its Francophone allegiances, has seceded, causing serious financial problems for the remaining territories in Canada.

Below Canada’s white enclaves there grows a white spine on the back of the continent, electing extreme right-wing politicians, arming themselves with defensive weapons and state laws to protect their viability. The landlocked homogeneous white states of this middle region are only restrained by their restricted trading access to the sea. (Oregon and Washington States, being Asian/White predominantly are not always predisposed to the harsh regimes of the centre.)

This white middle American ethnocentric powerbloc is likely laying the foundation for a future war with the East and West Coasts in the future beyond 2050.

*The now much regretted boycott of the 2030 election by several of these states led to the landslide victory of President Hernandez and defeat of the white candidate Chelsea Clinton-Kennedy.
In the East, even though the Spanish have a keen grip on the Southern States and half of New York State, the position of the Black nation is as yet unclear. Their history of population growth has traditionally and increasingly been marred by an extremely high mortality rate amongst young black males that continued throughout the century. The projected figure of 60 million black people failed to materialise and they remain a nation of people increasingly marginalised by the population growth and economic success of the Hispanic and Asian ethnic societies.

To the extreme North from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia, a highly developed (predominantly Caucasian) and politicised group assumes a numerical strength, fed by the powerhouse of Boston. Extreme political views are tempered by progress in education and technology that continue to sustain this region.

Water shortages in the Southwest States where the population was growing the fastest , created a great demand for fresh water and energy. (Phoenix in particular was a city grown beyond its sustainable limits) In the Northern states, (Washington State and British Columbia in particular), water is considered to be an exportable ‘crop’. During the hot summer of 2026 , when British Columbia itself experienced shortages, it raised the price of water to a level two times greater per litre than oil , rather than ‘deny’ the south its pipeline supplies. When the South attacked the pipelines, the water flow stopped completely and the first Water War began between North and South. Trade and food exports to the North were temporarily halted. The dispute and distrust are still simmering.

The Oil gkut of 2045 sees some producers burning oil to create shortages?
*Old energy companies such as BP and Shell still survive. The oil companies sustained by a long period of rising energy prices in the first part of the 21st century were able to gain control of most key fresh water sources, electricity generation and delivery - a key component for the production of hydrogen, the present fuel of choice for road vehicles.

**These same oil companies were later embarrassed when it was discovered that the exhausted oil wells were beginning to refill under pressure from new oil under neath. What was a shortage, has turned into a glut this mid-century.

It is discovered that in the modern developed society, where nano-electronic servants that handle much of the work in factory and food production, small is ideal. (This is the model for the success of Finland, Sweden and micro- states such as Singapore, with its newly reinstated one child per family policy and state controlled gender selection). These economies that are not on a ‘replacement population’ model are usually highly sophisticated economies utilising robotics to do much of the manual and dangerous work. Through life-extension medical breakthroughs, it is now normal to retire aged 80. A limited number of migrants are allowed into these regions to boost populations. Gerontology studies are most advanced in these regions. (Japan is closely following this pattern, using tax stimulants and generous cash bonuses to encourage births.)

The Retreat from the World
The changes in North America’s political and economic stance came with a new attitude in world governance. The Hispanic majority in Congress and Senate no longer desired to be the world’s policeman. The decision to withdraw US Military bases from the Far East and Europe was widely support by the Latino populations, reinforced by the devastating consequences of the ‘flu and TB pandemic of 2008 -09. It arrived with a vengeance in China and Europe cutting a swathe through populations unprepared for a virulent strain of avian ‘flu. The scaling down of US funding for the United Nations’ World Health projects exacerbated a bad situation.

* In 1919 almost forty million people died worldwide from Spanish Flu. No one is sure how it crossed from bird to man, only that in the winter of 1918, it did, with lethal consequences. We now know that the virus that killed everyone was H5N1.

In 2006 experts predicted millions of deaths in Europe and the USA, if the disease crossed over to man. In May 2006 the USA published a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and committed billions of dollars to a plan to save America. Also in 2006 it became possible to order, within the law, any DNA sequences over the internet and pirate labs with the right equipment could, in theory, develop lethal strains of smallpox, H5N1, ebola and other Schedule 5 pathogens to hold the world to ransom with. The world awoke to synthetic bio terrorism. (Stiching together shorts strands of DNA to make viruses. For example: Polio has 7,741 letters, ebola, 19,000 letters. DNA sequencing in a lab would be theoretically possible to make any lethal virus.)

Hospitals already weakened by MRSA (a bacteria highly resistant to all known antibiotics) were now filled with illegal immigrants and local populations with TB. Waves of illegal immigrants from the East to Germany and from Africa to the South of France and Spain, brought social and disease problems that completely overwhelmed the health systems. More than a third of the European population was severely affected. Russian figures, never reliable at best, put the figure at half the urban population.

*The viral nature of the disease (HN51) that originated in the southern regions of China came from huge populations living in close contact with poultry and other animals. That it coincided with the collapse of the effectiveness of 20th Century antibiotics developed to their limits, meant that the old diseases of TB, measles, chicken pox had firmly reasserted themselves as leading killers to a vulnerable western population, with little or no resistance to these diseases.

Following these events, America’s withdrawal from foreign bases was logical, but was in any case inevitable, given the lack of political will to ‘interfere’ in foreign lands. Isolationist inclinations went hand in hand with puritanical ideals. The withdrawal of the 38,000 US troops from Japan in 2008 led to the remilitarisation of Japan. Tension that began to grow between China and Japan was key to the region’s instability and sudden decline in GDP, as industrial expansionist investments in the economies were diverted to defence build-ups between the two nations. Nuclear weapons posturing grew more prevalent and the likelihood of limited nuclear engagement between the nations remains in the headlines to the present day with Taiwan being caught inthe squeeze. Japan, completely dependent upon imported oil and food feels itself particularly vulnerable to expansionist China.

*America’s withdrawal from Europe was expedited by the loss of many American soldiers to the ravages of ‘flu and TB. It left a bitter taste in the USA as soldiers were prevented from returning to US soil whilst under quarantine.

The consequential financial crash of 2009-2012 as Europe faced up to the fact that high energy prices, disease, illegal immigration, civil disobedience and rioting in most urban areas, coupled with terrorism from various religious ‘doomsday’ groups and Muslim or general separatist groups made safe travel impossible. Whole areas in Greece, Italy, France and Spain (already overwhelmed by mass invasions of African asylum seekers literally coming by the boatload) became economically devastated and as a result property values plummeted. Mass tourism was over.

Indeed, one of the effects of the ‘flu and TB pandemic was to reduce property prices right across Europe, as many of the fifty and over population groups died. Although this created long term buying opportunities, and pension surpluses, prices continued to fall for thirty years as the supply of dwellings outstrips demand.

The new European Federation Defence Tax was universally unpopular, but the American soldiering gap had to be filled. Everywhere America abandoned, a power vacuum was filled by aggressive minor nations, looking to take advantage of older European nations that had not invested in their armed forces.

In the aftermath of the 2009 pandemics, immigration to the USA from the rest of the world was finally and brutally brought to a halt. The US Army and Navy patrols of the extensive waters opted for a shoot-to-kill policy and the Mexican Border Wall was the greatest construction project since the building of the Panama Canal. (Began under President George W. Bush in 2006.)

* Even so immigrants continued to enter the USA in significant numbers aided and abetted by criminal organisations.

By 2029, it was noted in web-blogs everywhere that the world’s diverse animal and plant species had halved since the turn of the century; that there was only twenty years of commercially exploitable oil left; that Africa (after HIV/Aids) had just one third of the population it had at the beginning of the century. (100 million already infected by 2006) Source Sunday Times June ’06. Note too that global warming was being exacerbated by the headlong rush to hydrogen powered vehicles which churned out so much hot water vapour the rainfall levels in the world were rising to unsustainable levels.
That America abandoned research in hybrid powered cars meant that Japan really stole a march on them in the mid-00’s. Toyota became the worlds biggest motor manuafacturing company by 2006 and GM resorted to hiding the evidence by crushing all previous electric vehicles it had made in the past.
In the USA itself, the powerful alliance with the powers in South America created a ‘Fortress Americas’ effect (which included Canada, Chile, Argentina and Brazil). Together they acted against the Central American problem (cocaine) and it was finally neutralised with extreme force in 2031. It was considered that the Spanish conquest of the Americas was complete.

*In 2033, when Greater Miami, was flooded for a month it was obvious that Global Warming was a reality. In South America the last vestiges of the Amazonian forest disappeared. Ironically the newly cleared lands were quickly abandoned as unsuitable for crops and no gain was made either environmentally or in overall food production. Indeed the loss of the world’s largest rain forest increased the desertification of the region as a whole and may lead to climate changes elsewhere on the planet, not yet fully realised.

In 2001 it was thought that after 600 years since the Portuguese began to roam the oceans - new technology, advances in health programmes and science as well as the ubiquity of the web, creating English as a world language, it would lead to a kind of global pax Romana. But the reality of 2050, is that the world is divided into four unstable power zones, Oceania-Sino-Japan, North and South America, Eurozone and the Middle-East collective. Each are gazing at their own navels, strained by ever growing numbers, unable to focus on anything other than self-preservation.
In effect, the world is in retreat from the age of discovery and the sound we can hear is of minds closing everywhere.

© Sam North August 2000-2007

Sam North is the author of The Curse of The Nibelung – A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
and Diamonds – The Rush of ’72 and now Another Place To Die
The Next Great Flu Pandemic is coming.

READERS RESPONSES to the Orignal 2000 essay

What a wild piece you wrote! Some of it had me chuckling -- like the reference to Hillary Clinton. Ironically, while I was thinking that some of it was far-fetched, I arrived home from work (I read it on the subway), put on the TV news and there was a major report on how California is experiencing a serious state-wide lack of electricity that is causing huge disruptions for business and gov't functions. The report then went on to describe how large sections of the country are experiencing similar electricity shortages (the west particularly). So you may not be all that far off!
Actually, I DO give very serious weight to the consequences of environmental pressures for the future, and I'm not terribly hopeful. I think the planet is facing some very serious, dramatic problems. I see it every year with the strange weather conditions we have here and the weather conditions my family in Brazil tell me about all the time, as the years go by. I have to say that I'm glad I don't have kids.
One thing I had to disagree with was your assumption that a more Catholic U.S. would necessarily be isolationist. I thought that was a rather strange argument.
But the formation of different regional blocs around the world is something I think may indeed be happening, albeit slowly. I think your timeline was a little too hurried --major changes in national structures like this happen very gradually. But I think you're right-on about the seriousness of the trend itself. I think the world is definitely changing in terms of national and political boundaries.
One thing I found missing, tho, was the recognition of the increased dominance of the free flow of financial capital, and the increased concentration of transnational corporations past national boundaries. That old science fiction dystopia of a world without state boundaries run by one or a few giant corporations may be extreme but a version of that idea is where the world is heading right now, I think.
I've recommended your piece to some friends and colleagues -- I think it'll cause a lot of conversation. There's such a wealth of ideas in it. I have yet to read the rebuttal.
<< Yep the population stats don't lie. America will be brown so fast its going to hurt and I am not sure the whites with guns will go quietly either.... >> There may come a time when a lot of whites wake up and see what's happening, and may indeed react violently. Most of them are asleep right now, tho.

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN 1-4116-3748-8
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*Now look for a cruel and witty response to this article from the
writer John Lewell An Alternative Future

Thanks for responses, it's great to know people are reading.

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