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Carl Sagan predicted the present state of American life almost 26 years ago and it is blowing people's minds

He talked about climate change, a society full of division, insecurity, mistrust and authoritarian leadership.

Carl Sagan predicted the present state of American life almost 26 years ago and it is blowing people's minds
Cover Image Source: Portrait of American astronomer and author Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996) holding a globe model of the planet Mars, 1970s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 18, 2022. It has since been updated.

Global warming, climate change, a crashing economy, and poor administration are all too familiar to us today. We face the consequences of humankind's disastrous actions every day. However, one American astronomer reportedly predicted the current state of the US almost 26 years ago. Carl Sagan, the author of "Cosmos," is known for simplifying scientific concepts for the average person. He received many awards during and after his revolutionary career, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Pulitzer Prize, two Emmy awards and the National Science Foundation's Distinguished Public Service Award for lifetime achievement.


He died in 1996 at the age of 62, but his predictions about the US are still proving true today. Charles Bergquist, the director of a public radio science program, drew the internet's attention to Sagan's prediction of America's future in his book, "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," when he tweeted about it in 2017. People were shocked to read his prediction of the then-future United States as a dystopian society full of division, insecurity, mistrust and authoritarian leadership in only a few phrases.


He wrote, "I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries."

He added: "...when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues." Moreover, he predicted that people would lose the ability to question those in power.

"When clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness," Sagan wrote. The tweet gathered over 11.1k retweets and 14.7k likes.


Sagan didn't stop there and made several other predictions that have come true since his death. During his keynote speech at the 5th Emerging Issues Forum in 1990, Sagan outlined the impacts of climate change and the need of combating them, reports The Manual. He asked the audience a simple question, "How much money do you think the United States has spent since 1945 on the Cold War?" Sagan observes that "classic military thinking" always entails planning for the worst-case scenario. Even if it's only a remote possibility, being prepared for a severe, existential threat is critical. 

He then asks, "Why doesn't that same argument apply to Global Warming? If it's only a small probability of it happening since the consequences are so serious, don't you have to make some serious investment to prevent it or mitigate it?" Sagan was correct and can still make us think that the current scenario might have been prevented if we had asked ourselves these questions and decided to act.

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