The next forty years

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
November 24, 2010, 1:41 AM GMT+0

As Eighties film sensation Back to the Future storms back on to cinema screens today in a digitally re-mastered, big screen cinema re-release, we polled the British public on what they see in their future 25 years on from the release of the original movie phenomenon.

When it comes to the next forty years, public opinion looks decidedly mixed.

  • 40% of the population think space travel will be the norm.
  • A staggering 87% of the population think they will have to work into their 70s, leaving them little time to enjoy flying through the cosmos.
  • 46% believe that astronauts will land on Mars and 47% think we will find life elsewhere in the Universe, but 71% doubt ET will phone home – saying we ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ won’t make contact with alien life.
  • 81% of population don’t think that we will own flying cars, but 60% think that there will be computers that can hold a conversation.
  • 12% think that an asteroid will cause ‘massive loss of life’ by hitting earth, compared to 67% who think we’re safe for the next forty years at least.

Environmental concerns also feature highly on the general public’s most probable list.

  • 79% consider a major energy crisis ‘definite’ or ‘probable’
  • 74% of Britons think that the earth’s temperature will increase
  • 68% predict that most of our energy will come from sources other than coal, oil and gas.
  • Almost half of the population (47%) think most of the UK will experience ‘severe fresh water shortages’.
  • And on a global scale, a substantial 63% of the population think China will overtake the US as the world’s main superpower.
  • Just fewer than one in three people (30%) think there will be another world war.
  • 23% of the population think the member states of the EU will become one unified country.
  • ‘A major terrorist attack on the UK involving a nuclear weapon’ is considered a possibility by 29% of the public, but unlikely by a further 53%.

Bad news for football fans, though, as perhaps the biggest revelation is that the British public thinks we are just as likely to abolish the monarchy as win the World Cup. 68% of the population say we will not see the England squad lift the trophy or an end to the royals within the next four decades.

See the survey details and full results