For example, if I want to make a setting that is in year 3000, or 4000 (instead of 100.000 or other absurd numbers like that),

How do I go about figuring how Earth will look then? That is, assuming humanity didn't invent crazy terraforming or that singularity didn't happened.

Also, assuming global warming happened, or that it was reversed, or something like that, since is a current event, is valid. But meteor-strikes, sun blowing up, and other unlikely events aren't.

  • $\begingroup$ Some sea-level tools are mentioned in this topic, BTW. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ You can take Ideas from movies like "The time machine". $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say "sun blowing up" is unlikely if you look at equivalent events in real life - solar flares and the natural life cycle of stars seem to include "blowing up" type events all the time. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Dec 7, 2016 at 4:58
  • $\begingroup$ I am talking about Earth, "sun blowing up" is expected, but after some billion years... And solar flare doesn't count as "blowing up", even a really strong solar flare at most would kill all electronics and whatnot, but wouldn't massively change the shape of the planet. $\endgroup$
    – speeder
    Dec 7, 2016 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ I did not vote to close, editing instead to emphasize that this is for the asker's process, not a specific world. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Dec 13, 2016 at 5:29

4 Answers 4


The easiest way to look forward is to look backward and ask if anything is likely to change the general course. In most of Earth's history, climate was pretty stable over 1000-year windows. But right now, looking out 1K is pretty much unguessable-- humans are changing so much, and we seem likely to leave some major change, but what exactly that change is has some pretty wide error bars. In my opinion, the future in 1K is pretty much whatever the sci-fi author wants to make it. You just need to provide the story of how we got there.

  • $\begingroup$ 1000 years ago, humans were just learning how to navigate the ocean. Now we're learning how to navigate the planets. 1000 years ago getting a letter to a friend across town was not always an easy task. Now I can spam 1 million people an hour regardless where they live. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Tim So you're the person responsible for all the spam. Wonders will never cease. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:25
  • $\begingroup$ "can" not "do" :D - I have a firm belief that hackers and spammers should be treated for what they are: terrorists. I think a cruise missile being dropped on the house of some 15 year old Canadian kid or a Miami strip club would deter a lot of computer exploitation except by state actors. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:33

Tectonic Plate Movement

Tectonic plates move at a given speed-- about 2 to 5 centimeters per year (1 to 2 inches per year). Each one also moves in a specific direction:

enter image description here

So, you can easily figure out where the continents will be in the future, namely not far from where they are now.

Sea Levels

That leaves sea levels. There are many maps detailing how coast lines will change as sea levels rise due to global warming. The exact speed and amount sea levels will rise is still being debated, but if all the ice on Earth melted, sea levels would rise by about [70 meters / 230 feet].

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don’t think techtonic plates figure in at this time scale. 4000×5cm=200 meters worst case. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Dec 6, 2016 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ That was my point--in case OP didn't know how fast plates moved, now it is obvious it is not a factor. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the ice melt and sea level. If all the artic ice melts there wouldn't be a significant rise on sea level, because that ice is mostly over the ocean. On the contrary, the antartic ice is over land, so melting would cause a sea level rise (anyway antartic ice is stronger each year, so no worries...) $\endgroup$
    – roetnig
    Dec 7, 2016 at 11:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just deleted a comment or two that was less than friendly. There are ways to disagree with each other without using comparisons to other primates. To @ThomBlairIII: Nice answer. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Dec 14, 2016 at 3:05

The easiest answer to this is whatever you feel like! Heh, ya it's broad...but our knowledge of climate and everything that impacts it is still quite limited. Even our best attempts at climate modelling falls apart in the 100 year time frame and multiple runs of the model produces drastically different outcomes.

As present day examples...global warming might be a complete run away snowball. Warming arctic releases methane in it's permafrost which massively increases the greenhouse effect and within 3000 years, Antartica is the only habitable region with extremely warm tropical conditions. Ice takes an incredible amount of energy to warm, if all of it were to melt, it's possible the globe could warm by a degree or two a year until it's completely out of control.

Reversely, we might be entering a solar minimum once again and the melting sea ice could halt thermohaline circulation. These two events combining could see the earth freeze completely over (snowball earth) with the exception of a thin band of open water around the equator and a few geological features.

Hurricanes could become a daily feature due to warming sea surface temperatures, or they could become non-existant because the warming sea surface temperatures affect air currents causing greater windshears and never allowing hurricanes to form. A cooler globe would have cooler air capable of holding less moisture and may result in a cooler yet cloud free standard weather...a warming globe would have air more capable of holding moisture and result in far more violent rain events.

So as a conclusion, it's exceedingly hard to predict as there are far too many variables. You are better off stating what your world deals with it and picking out the events that brought the earth to that stage.


The easiest way would be to look into the past. The rate at which changes have been occurring then put them into the future, so if the ice caps are melting or tectonic plates moving at ... rate/speed (which you would know) then you can easily implement this. Also, by looking into the past and seeing how changes affected our world, you can probably have an educated guess at how our world and it's climate will look in the future. Eg hotter, higher sea level, maybe a free for all kind of country state as things like Europe are in a bit of a state at the moment etc :)


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