Tagged: Future Studies

The Earth Charter

The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. The Earth Charter is concerned with the transition to sustainable ways of living and sustainable human development. Ecological integrity is one major theme. The Earth Charter recognizes that the goals of ecological protection, the eradication of poverty, equitable economic development,...

World Urbanization Trends

“The city allows you to become yourself by making a stranger of you.” We are experiencing a historical transition – human civilization will more and more coalesce into very large urban centers. Cities are the manifestation of the cultural, economic and social acceleration that we have experienced in the last century. In 1950 about 2/3 of the population worldwide lived in rural areas, and 1/3 in urban settlements. By 2050, we will roughly see the reverse distribution, with more than 6 billion people living in the crowded environment of urbanized areas.

Kevin Kelly: Ten Rules for the Networking Economy.

This is a short summary from “New Rules for the New Economy“, originally written in 1998. Kevin Kelly is one of the co-founders of Wired Magazine and has been at the forefront of the technology revolution and its consequences for society. The following passages from Kevin Kelly’s “New Rules for the New Economy” maybe almost 20 years old, but they are still relevant today. The central focus is on the network and on what happens when a multitude of nodes connect and interact. Kelly explores possibilities already more or less visible around us, and he offers suggestions for operating in...

E.M. Forster: The Machine Stops. 1909

It is amazing that somebody in 1909 could predict our Internet age with such accuracy. This short story by E.M. Forster is a chilling account of the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it’s as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster had several visions of the future that materialized just as he predicted: instant messaging, video chats (cinematophoes), international travel, separation from nature, and reliance on technology. His vision, however, is dystopian. Here are some quotes, and then the short story. “Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer....

Demographic Trends and Economic Prosperity

I am teaching  a class on the philosophy of environmental science and policy, and the question that comes up again and again is how the earth will cope with the tremendous population increase that we are experiencing since 1900. This is an ethical, political, humanitarian, and environmental problem of historic proportions. Less population growth is good, but on the other hand, population growth fuels economic growth. A shrinking population not only causes economic contraction, but it also shifts the median age upward. This means that fewer and fewer young people have to support an increasing number of old people, to...

World Population, 2013 – 2050.

It’s interesting to look at some long-term world trends at the end of 2013. The graphs appear more normalized, for instance with the population growth rate above. Countries like Nigeria (see population chart below) are unfortunate exceptions. How will the world really look like in 2050? Trends are extrapolations from current and past data, enhanced with some mathematical modeling. Forecasts cannot account for unforeseeable events. We’ll see in 5 or 10 years from now, looking back, how good these numbers were. Nobody can look very far into the future, because it is really unknowable, even if we try hard to calculate...