The “five mega trends” that are going to change the world.

I’ve spent the last few days at a conference in Birmingham on waste, energy, renewables and water. It’s been interesting it hear what market leaders in each of these areas are innovating and unsurprisingly there are lots of similarities between the UK and Australia

A conference highlight was author and UN gold medal futurologist Ray Hammond who framed the conference with what he called “five mega trends” that are going to change the world over coming decades. I thought these were worth sharing:

1st trend: asynchronous or uneven world population growth

The between 3 and 4 billion people yet to be born will use 2 to 3 times as much power as their parent will today. This means global demand for energy will double in coming decades but we need to provide this as low carbon, clean power.

2nd trend: Climate change

Ray Hammond said that only when rich places get hurt is real action is taken. But that is what is now happening with Florida and other places being hit by the impacts of climate change. The 21st century will see both growing impacts and growing global action on climate change.

3rd trend: ongoing energy crisis

Renewable energy used to be called alternative energy – now it is mainstream. The cost of solar panel has come down 80%in last five years while their efficiency has also doubled. Battery storage as reached the tipping point. Renewable energy has become a practical replacement and is at grid parity although fossil fuel suppliers will increasingly push cheap fossil fuels onto market potentially slowing the transition.  Eg. Oil price also dropped over 50% over last five years.

4th trend: post globalisation

For the first time in the modern globalised world as much investment is coming from developing countries to developed as from developed to developing. Furthermore automated industries are making cheap labour in developing world increasingly irrelevant.

5th – accelerating exponential technology development

Deep learning and AI or artificial intelligence is coming. Digital tech is developing faster than many recognise and will change our cities and our lives. This digital disruption of the global economy is gathering speed.

All of above are leading to a tipping point which will see global change at a pace never before experienced.

Interesting and inspiring stuff but the main reason we were here is to better inform ourselves over how Fremantle and neighbouring councils deal with our waste going forward. That less sexy topic will be my next post.


About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

One Response to The “five mega trends” that are going to change the world.

  1. freoishome says:

    Your 5th Mega Trend regarding technology has huge potential for disruption. I completed my honours in Information management in the mid 80s, so have seen the impact of IS on our working, domestic and social lives change. In my final year I studied AI, Expert Systems and Robotics, so the academic work behind these was well underway then. But during that time not many roles have been completely replaced, Typing Pools is one. Thinking back 20 years to 1996, most jobs have been affected by IS, there have been redundancies, jobs going overseas, as IS communication technologies have made international communication trivial. But CSIRO tell us that these AI and Robotic solutions will replace 40% of current job role types within 20 years. We aren’t just talking about redundancies, like Typing Pools those jobs won’t exist anymore! The likelihood of having new roles to absorb those 40% of job roles, within such a short time, is highly unlikely.
    If the western world continues to be driven by ‘productivity’, and that is what business leaders are pushing for all they are worth, they won’t want to employ people at all. You don’t have to provide a robot with a wage!
    We must start to give job sharing, shorter working week, etc, serious consideration. The western world is driven by spending money, so if the masses at the bottom of the pecking order don’t have much, our financial and banking systems will be in dire straights. Already the full time jobs are on the decline and being replaced by part time and casual. The proportion of underemployed people is the work related statistic showing the most growth; underemployment doesn’t mean they ‘enjoy’ a shorter working week, it means their shorter working week doesn’t support a normal lifestyle.

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