As I see it, the future world — the medium-term future world — is heading into two parallel directions. One the development of super-cities; the other, the protection of the environment for the first time — ever — in the whole of man’s existence.
And the second is a consequence of the first. Without science then man would have never known that he’d been plundering the earth — as hunter-gatherer, farmer-pastoralist, or as industrialist-biologist — only the last giving us the first clues of the destruction we have made so far and would have continued without science informing us.
Science is the key divisor for the future of countries, into those which are right at the leading edge in at least one scientific area, and those which are not. The one sort will also have the chance of having super-cities — about a dozen advanced countries so far — the others — about 180 Third world countries. Some of these have large cities — indeed, some that are super-large at present but only in population terms — no basic scientific research and are not the super-cities which are the co-subject of this blog.
The ‘scientific dozen’ at present dominate the high-value trade in the world, but not all of them will necessarily remain so. In each case it depends on whether its scientific expertise leads into new tradable products and services that it can trade with the other dozen but also for the food and raw materials it still needs in the medium-term from the Third world, until we unhook ourselves from the high energy-intensive metals-based industries of the present and carbon-based alternative materials of superior performance start appearing significantly on the scene..
As regards the 180 non-scientific countries, they have only three things to trade with in the short-term — food and other natural products, mineral resources, and tourism — and only the last in the medium term — and only those which are blessed with good geology (for the adventurous young), good climate (for the typical holiday-maker) or good ecology (for the highly discerning and the scientist)..
There are some countries that I see poised between the ‘scientific dozen’ and the Third World — such as India, China, Russia, Brazil Iceland, the Nordic countries. I wouldn’t dare to suggest their ultimate direction, but each one will probably have to decide very soon because the consumer markets of those countries which can afford them are close to being sated now.
In order for the Third World countries to have any chance of any reasonable standard of living long before the medium- to long-term future when their only income will be tourism, they’ll have to reduce their population steeply. It’s not their fault that they’re over-populated. Rather it’s our fault in giving them modern medicine — beneficial for us but faulty for them because we were unable to supply the rest of the goods and services that make up the culture we have. We gave them a ladder that was broken halfway up
There we are then. It would be agreeable to think that we are altruistic enough and clever enough to the help the Third World countries but, to be realistic, I think we cannot. I would like to be wrong but I can only see two Futurotopias.