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2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years

The new book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” by Jorgen Randers raises the possibility that humankind might not survive on the planet if it continues on its path of over-consumption and short-termism. 

In the report author Jorgen Randers raises essential questions: How many people will the planet be able to support? Will the belief in endless growth crumble? Will runaway climate change take hold? Where will quality of life improve, and where will it decline?

Read more about the book on The Club of Rome.

OECD: Future Global Shock – Improving Risk Governance

In this project, public and private experts explore how to increase resilience to Future Global Shocks. The Project will generate options for governments to enhance capacity to identify, anticipate, control, contain and/or mitigate large disasters.

The project recognises that shocks can provide opportunities for progress, not just negative consequences. Amongst the inputs from which the final report will draw are six background papers and case studies on the following themes: Systemic Financial RiskPandemicsCyber RisksGeomagnetic StormsSocial Unrest and Anticipating Extreme Events.

Read the entire report: “OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies: Future Global Shocks“, PDF.

Jeremy Rifkin: The third industrial revolution

We need to implement reglobalization from the bottom-up in order to achieve a more sustainable global economy. Geopolitics is an extension of the Enlightenment view of human nature, the idea that we pursue our utilitarian pleasures and individual self-interests. In geopolitics, the nation-state becomes a macro view of that. Nations deal with nations by being rational, detached and calculating, pursuing self-interests, excercising power and acquiring more capital and wealth. That’s why Copenhagen failed. The world leaders weren’t thinking biosphere, they were thinking geopolitics. Everyone was looking out for their nation’s self-interest.

What we need to do is attempt biosphere politics. Governing units are going to change–I think there’s going to be a shift toward continentalization. The EU is a first attempt at organizing a new frame of reference across continents, but it’s a transitional governing form. The Asian Union, African Union and South American Union are in their early stages.

Source: New Scientist.

Scarcity Bites – A Decade Too Soon!

Peak Plutonium?

It is our contention that energy is not the only resource that will be scarce in the immediate future. We envisage scarcities of food, water, and a whole variety of minerals that are crucial to the operation of a modern economy. Our thinking so far has focussed on the 2020s as the decade in which scarcity starts to be felt (we call it ‘Scarcity Bites’), but recent events have drawn our attention to a much earlier manifestation.

A recent article in The Independent (see below for link), has drawn our attention to the case of the Rare Earth Elements (REEs), a group of 17 rare metals that are essential to the manufactures of the modern economy which are in a situation of scarcity (demand outstrips supply). The picture is further complicated by China being the main source of the REEs (it supplies over 95% of the world total of REEs) and following a policy of restricting their export. This conjures up some fascinating possibilities for the future.

Source: The European Futures Observatory.

Nature: 2020 visions

For the first issue of the new decade, Nature asked a selection of leading researchers and policy-makers where their fields will be ten years from now. We invited them to identify the key questions their disciplines face, the major roadblocks and the pressing next steps.

Contributions include: Peter Norvig on search, David A. Relman on the microbiome, David B. Goldstein on personalized medicine, Daniel M. Kammen on energy, Daniel R. Weinberger on mental health, Leslie C. Aiello on hominin palaeontology, George Church on synthetic biology, John L. Hennessey on universities, Jeffrey Sachs on global governance, Adam Burrows on astronomy, Gary P. Pisano on drug discovery, Joshua R. Goldstein on demographics, Paul Anastas on chemistry, Richard Klausner and David Baltimore on the National Institutes of Health, David R. Montgomery on soil, Thomas M. Baer and Nicholas P. Bigelow on lasers, Robert D. Holt on ecology, Jeremy K. Nicholson on metabolomics.

Source: Nature.

Future Shock (1972)

Documentary based on the book with the same name by Alvin Toffler, narrated by Orson Welles.

Europe of the future: Germany shrinks, France grows, but UK population booms

Britain will overtake Germany and France to become the biggest country in the EU in 50 years’ time, according to population projections unveiled yesterday. A survey of demographic trends finds Britain’s positive birth rate contrasting strongly with most other large countries in Europe.

Source: Guardian.

UK population may double by 2081

The previously unpublished figures suggest the British population could hit almost 110m in 2081, if immigration fertility and longevity rates are high.

Source: BBC.

(c) Copyright Plausible Futures Newsletter 2013