Wool is one of man’s oldest materials. It’s been in use for at least 3,400 years, but it was not effectively utilized until selective breeding reduced the hard outer layer (known as kemp) that protects the usable fleece. While the industrial uses for this material have grown over the years, the potential now is rapidly expanding. Wool is both water retentive and water repellant, fire resistant up to 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit (and does not melt, unlike synthetics).
Tim Mack's blog
Much has been said about clean coal, and how it is a “wave of the future.” Clean coal refers to reducing or neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions at the burn point, but regardless of China’s continuing commitment to coal-powered electrical plants, the United States has a natural gas glut and increasingly cost-competitive wind and solar power. As well, mountaintop leveling, destructive chemical processing, and byproduct disposal challenges continue to complicate any solutions that billion-dollar U.S. projects such as the recently canceled FutureGen might have produced.
It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the globe in 2030 on a country-by-country basis, but one dramatic shift in employment opportunities is likely to center on the continent of Africa. Between now and 2030, population growth rates in Africa will be greater than for any other country, including China (which has in fact reversed its growth trends through its political one-child policies). Africa is expected to quadruple in population over the next 90 years, with its greatest economic and political growth likely in North Africa.
Older workers are a burden and a salvation for the economic future. We are all aware that the graying populations in developed countries now, followed by developing countries, are a demographic force whose impacts will be felt over the next 50 years.
Problems such as poverty, global health, basic education, and environmental quality are systemic in nature, have both political and technical dimensions, and tend to require cross-sector and cross-profession collaboration. But there is a knowledge gap in developing and implementing viable solutions.
During my last year as president of the World Future Society, I had a very interesting experience concerning people’s feelings about the future. I had been asked to talk about the future of communications technology to a group of senior corporate vice presidents, largely U.S. based. After delivering what I thought was a rather effective (and well received) analysis on the growth of “white noise” in modern society and response strategies, we came to the Q&A discussion, which turned out to be 20 minutes or more.
It has long been a given that the Chinese commitment to saving 40 percent or even more of gross family income would be a continuing element of that nation’s economic profile. While consumer spending is skyrocketing in many developing countries, Chinese citizens have tended to tie their wealth up in savings and real estate, in part because of the lack of social safety nets that are offered by many developed countries.
While I have written in the past about the revolution that the world of retail is undergoing, one interesting thing about the future is that it keeps unfolding. Like any lively crossroads of converging technologies, the principles of retail choice (or should I say persuasion) brings psychology, behavioral economics, and even neuroscience together with digital technology to change the mechanics of human decision making.
One of the most encouraging trends in medicine in recent years is the growth of systemic approaches to problem solving, much like approaches in foresight. In other words, a range of factors often affect an outcome, each requiring a solution that must work effectively in combination with other related solutions.
Over the years, I have written concerning the unexpected consequences for companies of moving into technologies completely new to them, encouraged by their success in other, unrelated arenas. The illusion that success is a quality that travels with its recipient to new endeavors is a form of hubris that seems most endemic to areas like Silicon Valley in California.