Author Philip Wylie's
dystopian final work, The End of the Dream
, published in 1972, looked ahead to the world of 2023, which Wylie imagined would be a shell of its former self, having been ravaged in the intervening half-century by a bewildering variety of ecological catastrophes, its population decimated. Most of the novel consisted of describing these catastrophes. They included (as summarized by the NY Times reviewer
): "Lethal inversions, volcanic aberrations, exploding rivers (from industrial waste), exploding people (from combustible flatulence), isotopes on the Spuyten Duyvil, sea leeches in the Gulf Stream, plagues of insects, failure of the earth's crust, epidemics of blue haze, green slime, black blight."
Here's a snippet from the book that details the combustible flatulence:
Father Trentchel, pastor emeritus of the Elk Hill Episcopal church... had recently been aware of abdominal discomfort—gas, he called it. He did not associate these unpleasant symptoms with the diet that Emily, his daughter and housekeeper, had recently been giving him. For at the supermarket Emily had discovered the new Master Mixfrozen Foods, so cheap, so tasty, so easy. It was a pity Father Trentchel didn't put two and two together, for one day he eased his flatulence by breaking wind as he was standing with his back to a blazing fire and... he blew up. When Emily, alarmed by the noise, ran into the room, his entrails were running down the walls.
The ecological apocalypse that Wylie imagined hasn't arrived quite yet, but who knows what the next fifty years might bring.
You can find The End of the Dream on archive.org.