Note from the Editor
At the opening of 2012, the future seems particularly uncertain. The past 12 months have been a period of continued turbulence in financial markets – with seemingly more doom and gloom on the horizon – and sustained environmental and political instability around the world. In parallel, the Information Age is on warp speed; Twitter has turned from tool to trial and Facebook chronicles our lives. With life so rapidly changing, how can we begin to contemplate 2050?
We know this much: 9 billion people will inhabit the planet in 2050, and not only will they need to be fed and sheltered, but we are likely to face unstable climatic change, an uncertain energy landscape, and a widening divide between those who have, and those who have not. With these issues in mind, our contributors cast a shrewd eye into that murky crystal ball.
On the environmental front, David Fisk argues that, as efforts to stem climate change heat up in the next decade, the single track UN system is liable to cave under pressure unless parallel forums are established for consensus building. On the question of food, Colin Thirtle contends that without increased investment in R&D, our ability our ability to meet food demand in the future will be compromised, and this will be exacerbated by the rise of intellectual property issues in biotech.
How will we power ourselves in 2050? Greg Offer suggests that a range of technologies will be used to generate electricity, which in turn will power the massive surge in demand for cars. Nuclear fusion is touted by Philip de Grouchy & Arthur Turrell as a possible ‘panacea’ for future energy needs, with 2012 being the year of possible breakthrough.
Attached to your Mac? This Editor would not be surprised if rehab and retreats for Internet addiction become the norm in years to come – she already periodically orchestrates escapes to connectivity free zones as a basic survival tool. As communication via digital devices increasingly underlies every activity – both at work and at play – Herbert Wiklickly muses that quantum physics may help us develop secure encryption systems. Katarina Reinhardt tells us about an innovative scheme that enables health workers in the developing world expand their skills via eLearning, and Calypso Montouchet examines the responsibility of the media and the pharmaceutical industry in engaging patients online with clinical research.
Many thanks go to The Boston Consulting Group, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, Teach First and the Partnership for Child Development for their much-appreciated support.
Neave O'Clery is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Global Village