Kipling misses one other health feature of 2000. The crew begins the morning with tobacco. Tobacco? No way would they have gotten away with using that poisonous substance inside the enclosed environs of their workplace in the real year 2000.
There are a few other oddities floating through Kipling’s 2000 skies. Among them is the ship of the Hudson Bay furriers, carrying sable and black fox to the “insatiable markets.” Kipling did not foresee endangered species or animal rights. Were he really prescient, they would have been carrying loads of fake fur. Then there are the fruit transporters, who use ventilated hulls for cooling which whistle like kites. And, there are even airships carrying ore and petroleum. These items are still shipped by water today, but Kipling recognizes the high cost of transporting such items by air by saying this is only done in the far northern climates where transport by water is too dangerous.
Another development that escapes Kipling is the computer, or even the more basic recording tape. However, he does accurately predict that we will want data recordings of flights, in particular, changes in altitude. Today we can go back to radar records to see such changes for a flight. But, since Kipling did not foresee radar and computer memory, he imagined a long, printed tape, probably in graph form, showing the changes in altitude for every flight. “A postal packet’s dip-dial (what we would call an “altimeter”) records every yard of every run.”
While Kipling may have underestimated how far we would advance technologically by the end of the 20th century, he certainly didn’t underestimate how little we would advance socially. Like others, Kipling expected we would develop the social skills appropriate for our new technologies. And, as we know, we haven’t. We are still killing each other in ways Kipling must have believed we would, by now, have outgrown.
In 1949, the A.B.C, Aerial Board of Control, was formed. The A.B.C. is not a world government, but it’s quite a bit more than just an air traffic control board. They are authorized to control the world’s traffic “and all that implies.” So, for example, nations still have the right to wage war, but only if it does not interfere with international traffic. That’s not easy to accomplish. The result is war “went out of fashion.” We hear the sad story of an inventor of a rudder to help “war-boats” going out of his mind because he could no longer serve his country.