One of the secondary effects of the latest set of crises to grip the world is the rise of essays and articles from various insightful folks, laying out scenarios of what the future will look like in an era of limited resources, energy, money, and so forth. Most of these follow a similar pattern: a list of reasonable depictions of a more limited future, and at least one item that seems completely out of the blue.
The best example has to come from James Kunstler's description of the world to come in his "non-fiction" The Long Emergency and his explicitly fictional World Made By Hand. Along with his schadenfreude-soaked claims about the end of suburbia, automobiles, and all things superficial, he comes in with stark assertions that we'll all be making our own music and acting on stage for each other, instead of listening to that damnable recorded "rock-roll" music and the disco and suchlike.
Yeah, I'm no big fan of JHK's reactionary futurism, but this points to a bigger trend, one that I'm seeing across a variety of political spectra: the vision of an apocalyptic near-future as a catalyst for making the kinds of social/economic/political/technological/religious/etc. changes that the ignorant or deceived masses wouldn't have otherwise made.
This isn't just Rapturism, where a glorious transformation happens, which may or may not have nasty results for some; in that kind of scenario, an apocalypse isn't a trigger so much as a possible side-effect. In this kind of scenario -- "aspirational apocaphilia" -- the global disaster is a requisite enabler.
It's a notable trend in that it's something that those of us who consider ourselves ethical futurists need to pay close attention to in our own work. I'd love to see the current crises result in a variety of more sustainable social patterns -- but I have to be careful not to mistake my desire with what would be a useful forecast.