How globalisation ends – or not

Posted in global, politics, security, trends by thenextwavefutures on 26 March, 2008

I posted a couple of weeks ago on a paper by a couple of economists which argued in brief, that globalisation – taking a historical view – tended to fail for political reasons: effectivedly, those who lose from it put the brakes on. Cross-posting this to Shaping Tomorrow’s Foresight Network prompted a long and considered response by the futurist Stephen Aguilar-Millan of the European Futures Observatory (his blog here), who has done recent work on questions of globalisation. He argued that if you approach it from a geopolitical perspective you get a rather different perspective.



Physical theatre goes mainstream

Posted in culture, theatre, trends, Uncategorized by thenextwavefutures on 25 March, 2008

Fifteen years ago, or more I was on the board of the physical theatre company the David Glass Ensemble. At the time, physical theatre was still emerging from the shadow of mime. But going to two rather different productions recently, it’s clear that physical theatre is now right in the mainstream.


Arthur Clarke’s Three Laws

Posted in future by thenextwavefutures on 20 March, 2008

Arthur Clarke’s death at the age of 9o prompts the opportunity to re-post his three laws, evolved between 1962 and 1973. They seem to have some relevance for futures:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The erosion of liberties

Posted in civil liberties, law, politics, security, trends by thenextwavefutures on 16 March, 2008

I’ve written here from time to time on the evolution of Britain as a surveillance society, and the trends embedded in it. Now the journalist Henry Porter, in a submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, has produced a list of the ways in which surveillance has been increased in the UK since the 1997 election.


More evidence that noise kills

Posted in emerging issues, equality, health, reports, social, transport by thenextwavefutures on 15 March, 2008

The serious impact of noise on health outcomes is an emerging issue. I blogged last year about a World Health Organisation study on noise impact in Europe which suggested – among other things – that as many people died in the UK because of the effects of persistent traffic noise as in collisions. Now a similar study commissioned by the European sustainability group Transport and Environment has found that transport noise (car and rail) is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year in Europe and has external costs of €40bln a year (90% from traffic).


How globalisation ends

Posted in economics, emerging issues, global, international, trade by thenextwavefutures on 12 March, 2008

A short paper by a couple of economists (one American, one Irish) takes a long view of the preconditions for periods of globalisation – and the circumstances in which it goes into reverse. It suggests, perhaps depressingly, that war (and military power) is often a precondition, and sometimes a consequence.


And now for ‘peak coal’

Posted in climate change, economics, emerging issues, energy, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 12 March, 2008

Just as we’ve got used to the idea that the moment of ‘peak oil‘ might be upon us (at the moment 2005 is the year of highest oil production) new figures suggest that the figures for world coal reserves might have been inflated. The widely held view that we are sitting on hundreds of years’ supply of coal may be wrong. This could be good news for climate change.


Innovation lessons from James Watt

Posted in books, history, innovation, technology by thenextwavefutures on 4 March, 2008

I’ve been reading Watt’s Perfect Engine, by Ben Marsden, which I suppose can be described as the biography of an invention. Even allowing for the fact that it’s written from a modern perspective, it’s striking how many of the lessons resonate with contemporary innovation.


Woody, hydro-power, and plastic

Posted in culture, future, music by thenextwavefutures on 2 March, 2008

Guthrie, not Allen. I was listening to his song “Talking Columbia Blues” today, and heard this verse – a future vision from the 1940s of how hydro-electricity would transform America.