Mega Trends...

Delhi at epicentre of global groundwater crisis 


We are surely and remorselessly being sucked into more terrifying climate change induced freak weather events. First time ever a regular storm Patricia metamorphosed itself to such a monster within 24 hours breaking all records in the Western Hemisphere. Yes like veritable frogs we are living in our comfort zones of judging the future based upon the past. The events in the past few years bear a grim testimony to our likely future. So far 2015 has been the hottest ever year month by month in recorded history. Flooding events in all continents have hit new highs. Arctic melting is accelerating. Sea levels rise is compounding. CO2 emissions mounting with peak levels still about 15 years away.

Even though we know that human actions and lifestyle is squarely responsible for this catastrophe waiting to happen, most of us are  hardened skeptics living in denial mode. Also big industry and the wheels of capitalism will not slow down and restructure society to avoid the coming climate collapse. The entire edifice of capitalistic society is based upon continuous improvements and newer and better technology models of cars, consumer durables, homes, armaments, digital devices.....these have to to be sold through hyper competition as there is excess capacity in all spheres. In the process we all are trapped in our ever rising so called standards of living and keeping up with the joneses. So there is no way we can cry a halt to the inexorable turning of the wheels of doom. 

The third mega trend is that of economic fragility which has been plaguing most of the world especially the advanced economies. Greece was the canary in the mine. Most of Europe is mired in perilous stagnation, rising unemployment...US is the biggest debtor country and ironically still the largest consuming society. It's in the interest of others like China and larger emerging economies to keep the albatross US afloat. The bubble is getting larger every month. With great difficulty the US congress just about manages to agree to ever increasing caps of fiscal debt which has crossed $18 tr. If we add the corporate and individual debt of Americans, the figure is around a truly staggering $60 tr, which is 330% of US GDP. The corresponding ratio for China is a mind boggling 280%. The entire world is awash on an ocean of debt. As I have mentioned elsewhere till debt does us apart! New paradigms of economics have arisen with negative interest rates! Imploding economies and black holes....

The next mega trend is the macabre violence, terror and conflict zones all over the world. All the continents excepting Australia have pockets of conflict zones which are expanding their sphere of influence. During the past half century or so the strife has been increasing. Now with hitech weaponry the war zones have become bloody with refugees and migrants who are seeking peaceful havens like currently flowing into Europe. The big powers like US and Russia are also involved in many of these wars ostensibly to broker peace or back one of the sides in the name of justice. This has spawned several terror groups which want to take revenge for atrocities suffered by their people. In a multi polar world with US as the big brother there are so many permutation and combinations of war camps. Apart from this, violence is creeping into our everyday lives with proliferation of guns and weak or no gun control laws. At the unsettling extreme trigger happy school kids in US toting guns. Also psychotic individuals especially in advanced nations who have perpetuated mass killings. Then the certain possibility of terror groups and rogue nations possessing dirty nukes. The future is indeed fraught with diabolical scenarios. 

The final mega trend is the robotesque future we are moving towards. Computers and their ilk are gaining a stranglehold on our lives. The rapid growth of digital technology during the past 25 years is truly chilling. Now a quarter of humanity has access to the Internet. Smart phone usage is spiralling out of control. Laptops and tablets have surpassed desktops. Nano chip technology is entering into cars, household durables, entertainment, surveillance, health care..... The cloud is gaining prominence. Humans are interconnected through multi devices and the social networks... The paradigms of governance, security, teaching, learning, sales, marketing, commerce, business, manufacturing, production, health care, entertainment, finance, banking, capital markets...are undergoing inconceivable changes...ushering a digital highway to a future which only the digiterate will succeed... At this rate robots are gaining intelligence at geometric progression.... The day is not far off when the intelligence will surpass that of human..!

Future shock is now. Truly we are looking at the Kurzweillian exponential growth of artificial intelligence leading to a brave new world of robots and machine intelligence controlling humanity, climate change hurtling towards irreversible environmental degradation, neo economics where negative interests and burgeoning debt as the new norm, mounting violence with nuke crazy terrorists and tin pot dictators...The sci-fi, cli-fi movies we are seeing are harbingers of the new age. Mankind is truly caught up between Scylla and Charybdis. The final game changer could be inexorable climate change which could lead to the sixth mass extinction. The pace of climate change as seen over the past couple of years could be the tipping point leading to exponential changes. Hence the staid climate models which have been relied upon may not be good predictors for the future. Yes. Climate change is going to be a major factor which will dictate the future of humanity over the next 35 years. 

Pradeep Das
(Creator of NGL)

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