The last thing I would ever have accused the UK goverment of doing would have been thinking ahead. But it turns out I was wrong (which is hardly a first, I’ll grant you). They have a department called the Foresight Directorate, whose job is to look into the future of the country’s infrastructures. They have produced a report (PDF format) entitled “Intelligent Infrastructure Futures” (PDF), which describes four possible scenarios for how changes to energy, environment, and society will change transportation systems in the UK over the next 20-50 years. Of the four scenarios, the ‘Urban Colonies’ one seems most appealing to a loony futurist like myself:
In Urban Colonies, investment in technology primarily focuses on minimising environmental impacts. In this world, good environmental practice is at the heart of the UK’s economic and social policies; sustainable buildings, distributed power generation and new urban planning policies have created compact, sustainable cities.
Transport is permitted only if green and clean – car use is still energy-expensive and is restricted. Public transport – electric and low-energy – is efficient and widely used.
Competitive cities have the IT infrastructure needed to link high-value knowledge businesses, but there is poor integration of IT supporting transport systems. Rural areas have become more isolated, effectively acting as food and bio-fuel sources for cities.
Consumption has fallen. Resource use is now a fundamental part of the tax system and disposable items are less popular.
In fact, anyone who feels that this country (and indeed the world) is in dire need of a serious shake-up of how we do things will probably find this pretty appealing also. Whether or not any of it comes to pass or not will, of course, remain to be seen. I can feel an email to my MP coming on.
Link discovered on the truly excellent WorldChanging.