The end of smoking

Posted in health, social by thenextwavefutures on 6 August, 2017

It’s been hard to write recently, for various reasons: or, at least, to write anything complex. (Notes on films have been stacking up on my ‘culture’ blog as a result of a “film moments” project that I started a few months ago.)  Here on the next wave, drafts for posts have been building up, with elegant beginnings and no conclusions. So I thought I should get back into the habit by writing some simpler and maybe shorter things.

Public health officials used to believe that we’d never manage to get the rate of adult smoking below 25%, according to a recent article by Clare Wilson in New Scientist (free, but registration required). Now, in a number of richer markets, it is well below that level: in the UK, it’s 16%, in the US, 15%. New Zealand plans to get its adult smoking levels below 5% by 2025, Finland by 2030 (this is a more aggressive target, since it includes chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.) At its peak, in the mid-20th century, half of American and British adults smoked.


Seven futures from New Scientist 

Posted in future, science by thenextwavefutures on 16 January, 2017

I’ve got round to reading the New Scientist‘s 60th anniversary issue, published in November, which tries to look forward in the general direction of 2076. There are 14 short “What If…” essays, on everything from “What if we engineer new life forms?” (we’ll need a ‘kill’ switch)  to “What if we found a theory of everything?” (it’s a very slow train coming) to “What if we discover room temperature super conductivity?” (it would utterly transform our energy systems).

In this post I’m going to review some of the essays on themes that futurists spend more time on, and pull out some of the ideas.


4 degrees and counting

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, food, science by thenextwavefutures on 25 November, 2012

I don’t often use this blog to summarise single articles, but a recent New Scientist has an article in it which is in urgent need of summary (the full article is behind the NS paywall).

The piece, called Global Warning, written by Michael le Page, observes that if the 2007 prognosis of the IPCC was gloomy, the next one ought to be even grimmer. Le Page offers seven reasons why: in a nutshell, our earlier climate change models didn’t have sufficiently strong system-wide feedback loops in them, and despite our knowledge of climate change science we’ve done nothing meaningful to change our behaviour. Here’s a summary of the seven reasons.


Imagining the 22nd century

Posted in climate change, future, technology by thenextwavefutures on 21 September, 2009

1220620524_mainNew Scientist gave the science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson some pages to edit on the theme of fiction, and he wrote an essay on the place of science fiction in creating meaning in the world of 2009, and commissioned eight British SF writers to contribute short pieces on life a hundred years from now. It works as a kind of snapshot of the literary “long imagination”. Without giving too much away, they don’t expect things to turn out well.