One can't think of futurology without mentioning George Orwell (1984 fame) or Alvin Toffler (Third Wave). Whenever, one comes across Futuristic predictions we get reminded of Toffler or Orwell.I was reminded of them when I read the latest provocative forecasts of the Futurist Magazine.
Among its provocative forecasts for 2010 include: 1) Your phone will know when your in love 2) In the design economy of the future, people will download and print their own products, including auto parts, jewelry, and even the kitchen sink 3) Tomorrow's inventors will spend their days writing descriptions of the problems they want to solve, and then letting computers find the solutions 4) Micronations built on artificial islands will dramatically shift the face of global politics. New forms of government and unusual political models will begin to emerge, including corporate nation-states, religious states, tax-free zones, single-function countries, cause-related countries, and even rental nation-states, where organizations can rent a country for a year or two to test a specific project. -Thomas Frey, Own Your Own Island Nation, May-June 2009, p. 30
There are three specific forecasts that are related to commodities worth mentioning:
-Ammonia may become the fuel of choice for cars by 2020. As a candidate source for hydrogen used in fuel cells, ammonia (comprising one nitrogen and three hydrogen atoms) is plentiful, easier to liquefy than methane, and emits nitrogen rather than carbon, thus having fewer negative impacts on the climate. -J. Storrs Hall, Ammonia, the Fuel of the Future, Sep-Oct 2009, p. 10
-Algae may become the new oil. According to researchers at a Department of Energy plant in New Mexico, single-celled microalgae, grown in pond water, produce a biofuel that is lead-free and biodegradable, emits two-thirds less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than gasoline, and can run any modern diesel engine. Even better, algae require only a fraction of the land area of biofuel-producing crops. -Robert McIntyre, Algae's Powerful Future, Mar-Apr 2009, p. 25
-Radical methods of altering the planet may be the only way to prevent the worst effects of climate change. Geoengineering may be inevitable because, even if humans could instantly end all greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures would continue to increase for the next 20-30 years, triggering feedback loops and more warming. Potential megascale geoengineering projects include sending space mirrors into orbit, sequestering carbon in the ground in biomass charcoal, and increasing the amount of carbon that the ocean can absorb by forcing plankton blooms in the seas. -Jamais Cascio, author of Hacking the Earth, reviewed by Bob Olson, July-Aug 2009, p. 51
Last week China released their GDP growth figures for 2009 which showed it grew 8.7% recording $4.91 trillion likely to overtake Japan to second position. USA is still the largest economy with a GDP of $14 trillion. PriceWaterHouse Coopers and Goldman Sachs have come out with their set of predictions - China will become the largest economy by 2020 and on some parameters India will overtake Japan in 2012. If China or India emerges stronger, the obvious reason is because they produce more goods and services, utlising their human and natural resources in an efficient manner.
But the 'Futurogist' in me couldn't ignore the following report from Massachussets, USA which states that during the past 15 years, US new borns are getting smaller which is to be studied in detail by the medical fraternity in the coming years. Iam quoting the report in full before coming to my theory of why US hegemony will end in another 20-30 years as predicted by futurologists.
U.S. newborns have gotten smaller during the past 15 years, reversing a decades-long upward trend in birth weights, Harvard researchers say.
Researchers at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute's department of population medicine, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, analyzed data on birth weight, maternal and neonatal characteristics, obstetric care and other trends from the National Center for Health Statistics Natality Data Sets. The researchers looked at data from 36,827,828 U.S. babies born at full-term between 1990 and 2005.
Previous studies [covering periods into the early 1990s] have shown that birth weights have increased steadily during the past half-century, Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School said in a statement. We expected to see a continuation of those increases.
Instead, Oken and her colleagues found birth weights had decreased by an average of 1.83 ounces between 1990 and 2005.
The study, published in February's Obstetrics & Gynecology, also found white, well-educated, married women who didn't smoke, received early prenatal care and delivered vaginally with no complications had babies who weighed an average of 2.78 ounces less at birth during the study period.
The causes of this decline remain unclear and babies born small not only face short-term complications but increased risk as adults.
Future research may identify other factors not included in the current data that might contribute to lower birth weight, such as trends in mothers' diets, physical activity, stress and exposure to environmental toxins.
So apart from factors such as industrial production, knowledge capital, innovation, natural resources, I feel the above report on US new borns indicate that biological reasons could also cause US hegemony to be threatened by emerging nations of China, Russia and India. After all the US economy was built on free enterprise, capitalism and innovative spirit. All of it will be lost if indeed, a new generation of kids are born who are underweight who could face increased risk in their adult life as well. Who knows biological reasons may be the critical factor that determines how long USA will remain the world's largest economy. The fact that the finding has come from Harvard Medical School is sure to ignite further research into causes leading to low birth weight babies and how to correct them. (With inputs from Officialwire & PRLeap. Readers may send their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)