As a change of pace from the fiction that I usually read, I have been slowly working my way through Megachange: The World in 2050. Every year The Economist puts out “The World in…” but Megachange jumps ahead to 2050 and asks their contributors to give us insights and predictions of what lies ahead for us in the next 40 years. I said I was slowly working my through it, and that is not because it is not interesting-quite the contrary, it is one of the most stimulating books I have read in quite awhile! I have been going through it slowly because there is so much here to take in and understand and so much to think about!
Divided into four parts, Megachange offers insights into the following general topics: People and Relationships, Heaven and Earth, Economy and Business and Knowledge and Progress. Under each topic are several chapters written by various contributors to the Economist on various pertinent issues, so for example under the topic Heaven and Earth are chapters on religion, climate change, war, and government. “Megachange” as used by Franklin (this is a great video!) means change that happens on a massive scale- population trends, the increase of women in the workplace. and the accessibility of technology with things like IPhones, tablets and ebook readers are a few of the megachanges that they see as trends that will truly impact our world in the future.
What was fascinating to me was that on the whole, this book paints a rather optimistic picture of what the world will be like in 2050, rather than the gloom and doom that most futurists predict. That is not to say that here are not many big challenges from managing climate change or conflicts over scarce resources like water or feeding the 9 billion people that are predicted by 2050, but rather that with the right policies, progress is possible on all these fronts and “…that there is every chance that the world in 2050 will be richer, healthier, more connected, more sustainable, more productive, more innovative, better educated, with less inequality between rich and poor and between men and women and with more opportunity for billions of people.”
Although there are numerous variables at work in any effort to predict the trends and changes that will occur over four decades, I was pleased at the depth of knowledge and the even handed and yet accessible way the writers talked about their topics. So for example although it is quite clear that China will certainly become a much greater power economically and will probably surpass the US, their intrinsic problems of an aging population and their lack of freedom in intellectual and scientific pursuits will certainly impact their ability to dominate and control the world economy.
I also enjoyed the various insights that this book offered in terms of the value of new ideas, or inventions in considering the future. As the writer says, “A technology affects human living standards not when it is invented, but when-decades later-it becomes affordable.” In trying to predict what will become more affordable in the decades leading to 2050, the Economist states that energy- natural gas and solar power and biotechnology- the use of stem cells to repair or replace sick organs or cancer treatments based on vaccines and viral gene therapy are the two main things that will begin to be cheaper and thus more accessible to everyone. Both of these offer an enormous reduction in costs to the average person while improving their lives and life expectancies.
Even though you may not be all that interested in reading the whole book I do encourage you to at least dip into the final chapters which give their main predictions. It is so interesting to just glimpse the future and see what the world might be like in 2050!
Brenda’s Rating: ***(4 Stars out of 5)
Recommend this book to: Ken, Keith and Marian.
Book Study Worthy: Could be with the right people!
Read in ebook format