When politics breaks down

Posted in history, long waves, politics by thenextwavefutures on 27 March, 2010

The United States is the location for a huge experiment about the failure of political systems.

There’s nothing to add on the US healthcare bill from this side of the Atlantic, except for the bemusement that proposals which would be regarded as mild  by any Christian Democratic (right of centre) government should provoke such a grim catfight. But from a futures perspective the US offers an interesting living laboratory experiment, of what happens when politics breaks down. It’s difficult to tell whether what we’re seeing is just one of those 50-year realignments you see in electoral democracies, or whether it’s the end of the road for the whole idea of the separation of powers. But it could be that serious.



A pointer to the future of payments

Posted in digital, emerging issues, finance, technology by thenextwavefutures on 24 March, 2010

Over at The Futures Company blog, I’ve just posted something based on my panel contribution to the Digital Money Forum a couple of weeks ago on the future of payments. In short, it’s about fragmentation – of devices and of currencies. And mobile payments will take off, but it will take an ‘iTunes’ moment to make it happen – a market entrant who is neither a bank nor a mobile operator.

Eco-pragmatism and resilience

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, science, sustainability, technology by thenextwavefutures on 14 March, 2010

Why technological solutions to tackling climate and resource issues probably won’t work.

“We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it”. Stewart Brand’s brand of eco-pragmatism, spelt out in his new book Whole Earth Discipline, is prefaced with his knowing nod back to the Whole Earth Catalog, this time with added urgency. And being god-like involves solving the accelerating climate and resource crisis by adopting nuclear power, learning to love GM crops, and indulging in quite a lot of geo-engineering. A review by Jon Turney in The Guardian seemed to welcome Brand’s vision of “a new generation of science-led, environmentally aware ecoengineers who recognise that the state of the Earth is now in our hands”. I haven’t finished the book yet, but it’s worth unravelling some of this. The first point is that as the triple impact of resource scarcity, climate change, and increasing global population becomes more apparent, and as we continue to do little to mitigate them, the clamour for technology-based solutions grows louder. But they’re unlikely to be successful.