Trouble ahead, trouble behind

Posted in emerging issues, future, health by thenextwavefutures on 23 February, 2009

“While it may seem like the crisis is fully upon us, it will get worse”

That’s how the online official bootleg of the current edition of C-Lab introduces the five pithy and dystopian futures in its article, “Rogue States of Mind“. China (financial implosion) and Russia (collapsing energy revenues) both get a dystopia of their own, along with spreading drought and a boomer-led health crisis.

My favourite – because it works on several levels – is the picture of America deciding to sell off to other nations its “underperforming units”, meaning those states of the union which are no longer regarded as viable. Joe Biden gets to make the announcement because of his “working class credibility”.

Thanks to BLDG BLOG for the tip.

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Obama and long-term trends

Posted in energy, health, long waves, politics by thenextwavefutures on 6 November, 2008

In among the reams of Obama coverage one of the more interesting articles – certainly from a futures perspective – was by David Brooks in the New York Times.

In summary,  he argues that election day represents a unique conjunction of the end of three long-run cycles: economic, political, and generational.


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Lessons for the city from ‘The Ghost Map’

Posted in books, cities, health, history, medicine, reviews, science by thenextwavefutures on 19 October, 2008

I’ve been reading Steven Johnson’s book The Ghost Map, about the 1854 cholera epidemic in Soho,  London, that proved to be the breakthrough in linking cholera to infected drinking water, partly though John Snow‘s famous map. The book – which is wonderfully readable – is interesting for several reasons; as a social history of Victorian England; second, in tracing the battle between competing scientific and medical explanations of cholera; and third, for some reflections on the vulnerability of the modern city.


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).


Homesick without leaving home

Posted in blindspot, climate change, environment, health, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 27 January, 2008

The most interesting new word I’ve heard so far this year is ‘solastalgia‘, buried in some notes that Matt Jones made at a recent lecture by Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG. It was coined five years ago by an Australian, Glenn Albrecht, and seeks to capture notions of place-related distress. Albrecht was quoted in an Australian article thus:

Solastalgia describes the pain experienced when the place a person lives is under assault and destruction, a loss of a sense of belonging to a particular place and a sense of desolation about its disappearance.


Smoking and artistic integrity

Posted in culture, health, social, trends by thenextwavefutures on 13 December, 2007

I was at a play last night in which the fact that a character smokes cigars is important to the characterisation, if not essential to the plot. Now, since July 2007 in England it has been illegal to smoke in a public place, but it turns out that there’s clause in the Act which allows a performer to smoke where the artistic integrity of a performance makes it appropriate.


‘Darkening’ the soft drinks market

Posted in advertising, business, consumers, emerging issues, ethics, food, health, social by thenextwavefutures on 15 November, 2007

I pricked up my ears at news of the recent launch of the global ‘Dump Soda’ campaign – whose ambitions are pretty much as stated on the can, as it were. The reason: a few years ago my colleague Rachel Kelnar and I wrote some scenarios on the impact of obesity on the food and drink production sector, and suggested that one almost certain outcome was that the markets would get increasingly ‘dark’ – marketing restrictions would tighten – because of public pressure. (The full paper can be found on my Selected Articles page),


‘Healthy food’ trends in the US

Posted in affluence, consumers, food, health, social, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 8 November, 2007

CNN’s ‘health’ blog has a take on five healthy food trends. They’re a bit impressionistic – although some data is attached – and maybe apart from the first one won’t come as much of a surprise to European readers. The way in which consumer wellbeing (and lifestyle) trends are aligning with both health trends and sustainability trends suggests that there could be relatively rapid changes in this area. The food sector may have to run a little faster even than it thinks is at the moment to keep up.


Toxic consumption

Posted in affluence, books, business, consumers, emerging issues, environment, health, reports, retail by thenextwavefutures on 18 October, 2007

What happens if the pervasive chemicals in the everyday products we buy and use are the reason that we generally feel below par so much of the time? It could cause a backlash by consumers who increasingly regard their well-being as important to them. The thought comes both because of the wave of stories about product recalls from Chinese factories, and the recent House of Lords Select Committee report which said that allergies were reaching “epidemic proportions” – without their experts seeming to have much consensus as to why.


Health shows the limits of affluence

Posted in affluence, health, social, trends by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

Two stories in the past week remind us that health is one of the things that consistently shows the limits of affluent societies. The first is data which show that the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions have doubled in ten years. The second is a report from several charities which says that obesity strongly increases the risks of contracting dementia.



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