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Club of Amsterdam Journal, May 2013, Issue 157
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May 2013, Issue 157

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Welcome to the Club of Amsterdam Journal.

"I believe a United States of Europe is the right vision to surmount the current crisis, but above all to overcome the failings of the Maastricht Treaty" - Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

"Without Turkey we can forget our ambition to be a global player in the future." - Günter Verheugen, former Commission Vice-President and enlargement commissioner.

Join us at our next Season Event about the future of Europe - Thursday, May 30, 18:30 - 21:15! A collaboration with the World Future Society.

Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman


The Future of Europe

Next Event: the future of Europe

NASA | SDO: Three Years of Sun in Three Minutes

Club of Amsterdam blog

News about the Future

Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals

Recommended Book: The End of the West: The Once and Future Europe

The Future of Wearable Technology

Futurist Portrait: John L. Casti


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.The Future of Europe

By Joergen Oerstroem Moeller
Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.
Adjunct Professor Singapore Management University & Copenhagen Business School.

The model for European integration goes back to the European Coal and Steel Community from 1952. Its principles have not undergone fundamental changes albeit a tremendous development inside the framework of the model - almost to the extent that some observers will question the statement of no changes in principle - has rolled over the scene.

Sceptics and outright opponents may not agree, but the scoreboard is fantastic. The shake-up of the European picture after the collapse of the Soviet and Russian Empire in 1991 was met with an adequate response reaching out to the Central- and Eastern European countries. That established the EU as THE peacekeeping force in Europe through application of soft power. Even the negative performance in the former Yugoslavia calling for hard power could not overshadow this accomplishment. Over more than half a century economic integration has delivered an increase in living standards. The European nations have moved towards a close coordination of foreign and security policies even if it falls short of the label of a common policy.

Much has been accomplished. Yet the clock shows that the time has come for changes. The EU in one or two decades will likely have met crucial, even existentialist challenges to forge a new kind of European Union combining more pooling of sovereignty with decentralization. The model for Europe is found in the former great European constructions over centuries. They managed to strike the right balance knowing which elements to centralize and which elements to delegate to political decision making closer to the citizens. We talk here about the Habsburg Empire and the Holy Roman Empire both of whom do not rate highly in history textbooks despite managing to keep together for a long time, delivering peace and stability to citizens, rejecting uniformity and harmonization while acknowledging many ethnicities, religions, and languages inside the system.

Currently the eurozone undergoes a socio-economic experiment the outcome of which will determine its future and Europe's place in the world.

In good times welfare expenditure was allowed to grow even if forecasts showed incompatibility with the financial strength. It brought to Europe a political endorsement of a high degree of social and income equality

The global economic recession revealed that revenues cannot any longer finance the benefits. Privileges allow too many people to work too little earning too much. Too many depend on the state/government. Demographics turn against the welfare model with a higher share of population above 65 years.

The Europeans have launched a social-economic enterprise around three pillars. Trimming the expenditure level and maintaining the model's core. Restructuring the economic model - higher mobility & easier access to trim the workforce. Bringing unit labour costs of South European countries into line with their competitiveness vis-à-vis Northern European countries and discarding privileges.

The reform process is still incomplete and in some cases half-hearted, but once started it rolls on. If the Europeans succeed they will have managed to combine a welfare society albeit offering a lower welfare level than hitherto with more flexible economic structures accepting mobility - geographically and socially - a competitive economy. New label: The Competitive Welfare State.

The price to pay will be a multi layered EU where some member states constitute the core while others have a more loose connection accepting the inevitable consequence of less influence on decisions and future integration. This is not a la carte; there will also be a core of common policies where all member states are 'in'. If this is done adroitly finding a palatable way for both the core and the periphery it may keep Britain in the EU; if not, Britain will leave.

The world has grown used to nation-states irrespective that the idea of a nation-state and its accompanying political system was born not more than about 250 years ago - mostly during the Napoleonic Wars.

Most of Europe's nation-states are artificial creations with the cultural majority forcing the minorities to accept its culture, behaviour, norms, and language. That will come to an end. The regions accepted it in the era of industrialization because it was the door to participation in the international division of labour to reap the benefit flowing there from.

The emergence of the EU moved the key to be a global player to Brussels from national capitals. The regions like Scotland, Catalonia, Lombardy and maybe Bayern, Bretagne and several others will loosen their links to the nation-state and hollow out its sway over policy making; the nation-state will wither away. This is already seen for the Federal Republic of Germany where many EU decisions require the acceptance of the Länder.

The existing political structure does not allow this and therefore Europe will be pushed into the box of thinking about adapting to new circumstances. The two examples from history mentioned above serves as pointers to the principles that may be met and may give some inspiration. At the end of the day what we will see, is a European Union with enhanced powers in economic/industrial matters, foreign-and security policy plus a whole string of internal security matters (immigration, crime etc) while other issues like education (not R&D), environment etc will be left more and more - not to nation-states - but to the regions.

The main challenge, obstacle, or opportunity if that word is preferable is to find the Holy Grail, which is arousing a new the enthusiasm among European citizens for the project that incontestably has brought Europe so many benefits for so low a price. The political machinery now in place is incapable of doing that and yet without a solution the European project may run into stormy waters.

It is easy to diagnose the problem, but difficult to offer actions. It has to be found playing the old master card 'all politics are local'. The political system, in this case the EU, must relate to people's daily life - make sure that people connect to the EU. The first step is to find solutions to the economic crisis, ensure that people see these solutions as results of EU policies, and on that basis take on other problems high on the agenda of the European citizens. When that is underway the time has come to find a better way - possibly through information & communication technology to shape a new political system. Mr Grillo - Italian comedian and political activist - ridiculed by many, has brilliantly shown one of the ways to do it, rallying the citizens, offering them a real say, and discarding the old fashioned way not working anymore.

The lesson from the last decade is that the European citizens feel they have grown up and deserve a genuine influence on decision making not exposed to hollow statements from old fashioned politicians. Europe's chance is to intercept and endorse this reaction growing out of the economic crisis, mobilizing the citizens to demand a system that works and with their support.

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller is author of 'European Integration: Sharing of Experiences'.

.Next Event: the future of Europe

the future of Europe

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reception: 18:30-19:00, Conference: 19:00-21:15
Location: DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam Centraal Station, Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK Amsterdam
The conference language is English.
Tickets: Euro 30, Euro 20 (Members etc.) or Euro 10 (Students)

The conference language is English.
This event is in collaboration with the World Future Society.
The supporters are India House Foundation & Heineken.

"I believe a United States of Europe is the right vision to surmount the current crisis, but above all to overcome the failings of the Maastricht Treaty" - Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

"Without Turkey we can forget our ambition to be a global player in the future." - Günter Verheugen, former Commission Vice-President and enlargement commissioner.

The speakers and topics are
Stephen Aguilar-Millan
, Director of Research, The European Futures Observatory,
Director, The Greenways Partnership
Which Europe?

Fernando Lanzer Pereira de Souza,
Consultant, itim International
The future of Europe is not rational!

Wim J. de Ridder, Professor Futures Studies, University Twente, Founder & Director, Futures Studies Management Consultancy - FSM bv
The future creates opportunities for a leading role for Europe

Ali Tunga, Chairman
, Atayol Group, Turkey
Europe, Turkey, and the 21st century

Our moderator is Annegien Blokpoel, CEO, PerspeXo

.NASA | SDO: Three Years of Sun in Three Minutes

In the three years since it first provided images of the sun in the spring of 2010,
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has had virtually unbroken coverage of the sun's rise toward solar maximum, the peak of solar activity in its regular 11-year cycle. This video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day.

SDO's Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 Angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin. In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun's 25-day rotation as well as how solar activity has increased over three years.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits the Earth at 6,876 miles per hour and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Such stability is crucial for scientists, who use SDO to learn more about our closest star. These images have regularly caught solar flares and coronal mass ejections in the act, types of space weather that can send radiation and solar material toward Earth and interfere with satellites in space. SDO's glimpses into the violent dance on the sun help scientists understand what causes these giant explosions -- with the hopes of some day improving our ability to predict this space weather.

There are several noteworthy events that appear briefly in this video. They include the two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two roll maneuvers, the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. The specific time for each event is listed below, but a sharp-eyed observer may see some while the video is playing.

00:30;24 Partial eclipse by the moon

00:31;16 Roll maneuver

01:11;02 August 9, 2011 X6.9 Flare, currently the largest of this solar cycle

01:28;07 Comet Lovejoy, December 15, 2011

01:42;29 Roll Maneuver

01:51;07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012

02:28;13 Partial eclipse by the moon

.Club of Amsterdam blog

Club of Amsterdam blog

Oh, The Humanities! Why STEM Shouldn’t Take Precedence Over the Arts
The Egg
Joy Rides and Robots are the Future of Space Travel
The Transposon
10-step program for a sick planet
Public Brainstorm:
Economic-Demographic Crisis
Public Brainstorm: Energy
Public Brainstorm: Environment
Public Brainstorm: Food and Water
Public Brainstorm: Overpopulation

.News about the Future

The power of 2000 suns

Together with IBM Research, the Interstate University of Applied Sciences Buchs and the supplier of solar power technology, Airlight Energy, scientists of ETH Zurich are developing a new photovoltaic system. The so-called “High Concentration Photovoltaic Thermal” (HCPVT) system will deliver electricity, fresh water and cool air in remote locations and shall be capable of concentrating, on average, to the power of 2000 suns, with an efficiency that can collect 80 percent of the incoming radiation and convert it to useful energy.

The scientists plan to use a large parabolic dish, comprised of a multitude of mirror facets, to focus the sunrays onto a triple-junction photovoltaic cell mounted on a microchannel cooled module. The system should be able to directly convert more than 30 percent of collected solar radiation into electricity and further allow for the efficient recovery of waste heat above 50 percent.

Environmental Ship Index - ESI

The world’s key ports have committed themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while continuing their role as transportation and economic centres. This commitment is called the World Port Climate Initiative (WPCI). They do this through influencing the sustainability of supply chains, taking into account local circumstances and varying port management structures. They also cooperate with ships in support of measures to reduce emissions to air from ships.

One of the projects within WPCI is the development of an Environmental Ship Index (ESI). The Environmental Ship Index (ESI) identifies seagoing ships that perform better in reducing air emissions than required by the current emission standards of the International Maritime Organization, the Environmental Ship Index. The ESI evaluates the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOX), sulphur oxide (SOX) that is released by a ship and includes a reporting scheme on the greenhouse gas emission of the ship. The ESI is a good indication of the environmental performance of ocean going vessels and will assist in identifying cleaner ships in a general way.

.Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals

Global Monitoring Report 2013: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals provides an in-depth analysis on urbanization as a force for poverty reduction and progress towards the MDGs in the developing world. With less than 1,000 days to go before the MDGs expire, the report highlights the need to accelerate efforts to improve the lives of the poor in both rural and urban areas.

Special Focus: Rural-Urban Dynamics
Urbanization matters. In the past two decades, developing countries have urbanized on a massive scale and this trend will continue in the future, with 96 percent of the developing world’s additional 1.4 billion people, by 2030, expected to live in urban areas. Urbanization has helped speed progress towards the MDGs, including the reduction of poverty. However, urbanization is a not a cure-all. If unregulated and poorly planned, it leads to growth of slums, and increase in pollution and crime.

GMR 2013 also highlights that poverty is located along a continuous rural-urban spectrum, with the vast majority of the world’s 1.2 billion poor living in rural areas with less favorable access to basic amenities than people living in urban centers. The report, thus, calls for complementary rural-urban development policies and actions by governments to facilitate a healthy move toward cities without short-changing rural areas.

What Works

Creating communities of slum dwellers in Uganda
In the slum dweller communities of Uganda — where over 60 percent of the urban population lives – the purported benefits of urban agglomeration are not being felt. Despite rapid urbanization, urban areas are characterized by rising unemployment and inadequate access to basic services. Rather than waiting passively for the benefits of urban agglomeration, Uganda’s slum dwellers have adopted a proactive strategy that is harnessing the potential of collective action.

A sanitation unit is constructed in Kinawataka, a suburb in Kampala

The strategy is one that has evolved within the Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network. It involves the clustering — or federating — of community saving groups into urban poor federations. The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) is one of 33 federations in the SDI network. Founded in 2002, the NSDFU today comprises almost 500 savings groups and approximately 38,000 members. Savings are used to bring people together, build their capacity to act collectively, and build organizational capacity and trust.

[...] by Skye Dobson, Uganda Program Officer, Slum Dwellers International

Informality as the root of urban vulnerability

As cities grow, the poor and the disaster-stricken are induced to move from their villages, but the shortage of legal and affordable housing in cities pushes them into squatter settlements with no basic services. While India may be urbanizing more slowly than other emerging economies, in absolute numbers there are 377 million people in its cities. Of these, 93 million are slum dwellers, according to the 2011 Census of India report on Rural Urban Distribution of Population.

Surface drains, implemented as part of a waste water treatment system project, create a safer, cleaner environment

Slums in India are usually squatter settlements on public lands, and slum dwellers’ livelihoods are mostly informal, and therein lies the root of urban vulnerability. Slum dwellers occupy public lands along drains, ditches, railway tracks, roads, riverbeds, etc. that are affordable and close to work areas. Housing in these settlements is formally procured through an informal land market operative in the respective slums. House owners get documents to prove the sale, and that may be seen as providing protection from eviction or to get state compensation, although these house titles are not legal. Slum dwellers’ houses serve as collateral or investment to be sold in an emergency or given away in dowry.

Informal work can be exploitative. In slums, it pits the poor against the police, local bureaucrats, and foot soldiers of local bodies, who have to be bribed regularly. For informal workers, especially women, it is difficult to obtain a formal proof of identity. Proof of identify is often needed to access state subsidies and entitlements (e.g., housing, rations, school books, health care) or to open a bank account and get low-cost credit.


Slums are usually excluded from networks of underground sewerage because the state fears this will raise a demand from slum dwellers for regularization/formalization of settlements. Legal, technical, and engineering difficulties in providing sanitation infrastructure inside slums are often cited for lower standards adopted for these areas (e.g., open and shallow drains are used instead of covered and closed systems, and community toilets proliferate instead of private toilets).

Communal toilets do not have water, are dirty, and cost money to use, so some poor families build small pit latrines at home. Women manually clean these every day and keep the pits covered the rest of the time. Families with more money build toilets but since there is no infrastructure to connect to, they discharge directly onto the street or into city drains, water bodies, or open plots, generating unhygienic conditions for all. Greater tenure security and lower fear of eviction would encourage more households to invest in toilets. In the Savda Ghevra resettlement colony, the Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) is enabling households to build personal toilets in small spaces by creating access to common septic tanks, credit, recycled wastewater for flushing and technical knowhow.

Surviving slums is a challenge. Greater provision of infrastructure, however, gives people the confidence to upgrade their own houses. A Decentralized Waste Water Treatment System on a city drain, built by CURE in partnership with the people of Agra, has not only triggered development of high-quality housing in one settlement, but has been recognized by the state as an opportunity to connect slums to city networks — a win-win solution.

by Dr. Renu Khosla, Director, Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE), India

Organized waste picking improves lives and cities

Millions of people worldwide make a living collecting, sorting, recycling, and selling valuable materials that someone else has thrown away. Collecting and selling recyclables, in many instances, is one of the few livelihood opportunities open to newcomers (both domestic and foreign) to cities. In many countries, informal waste pickers supply the only form of solid waste collection. This work creates cleaner, healthier urban areas for residents, businesses, and visitors. In addition, waste pickers consistently make a significant economic contribution by saving municipalities money in their management of solid waste. According to the UN Habitat’s Solid Waste Management in the World’s Cities 2010, waste pickers perform between 50-100 percent of ongoing waste collection in most cities in developing countries – at no cost to the municipal budget.

Despite their significant contributions, waste pickers often face deplorable living and working conditions and suffer both extreme poverty and very low social status. They are the lowest paid in the recycling chain, face intimidation and exploitation by middlemen, and rather than receiving support from local authorities, are often harassed.

A large proportion of catadores in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, earn more than the minimum wage.

As detailed in many policy briefs by
Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Belo Horizonte’s catadores have engaged in widespread organization and mobilization, beginning with the formation of the first waste pickers’ association, ASMARE, in 1990, followed by many others. By raising their collective voices and forming strategic alliances, the waste pickers successfully negotiated for their inclusion in municipal waste programs. By the mid-1990s, the city’s policy framework established recycling, social inclusion, job creation, and income generation as the four main pillars of solid waste management.

Today, municipal support for equipment, facilities, and licensing are provided to waste pickers and their organizations. A large proportion of waste pickers now earn more than the minimum wage (although it should be noted that a gender discrepancy exists, especially at the higher income end, where men significantly out-earn women). Gains have also been made nationally. More than a decade ago, Brazil became the only country to include waste picking in its classification of occupations for official statistical purposes – lending validity to the work. In 2010, Brazil’s National Solid Waste Policy, which ensures the rights of informal recyclers, came into force.

[...] by Sonia Dias, Waste Sector Specialist, Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). Dr. Sonia Dias is a “garbologist” based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who specializes in solid waste management. Information and research on this topic are available in WIEGO’s
Publication Series.

.Recommended Book

The End of the West: The Once and Future Europe
By David Marquand

Has Europe's extraordinary postwar recovery limped to an end? It would seem so. The United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Italy, and former Soviet Bloc countries have experienced ethnic or religious disturbances, sometimes violent. Greece, Ireland, and Spain are menaced by financial crises. And the euro is in trouble. In The End of the West, David Marquand, a former member of the British Parliament, argues that Europe's problems stem from outdated perceptions of global power, and calls for a drastic change in European governance to halt the continent's slide into irrelevance. Taking a searching look at the continent's governing institutions, history, and current challenges, Marquand offers a disturbing diagnosis of Europe's ills to point the way toward a better future.

Exploring the baffling contrast between postwar success and current failures, Marquand examines the rebirth of ethnic communities from Catalonia to Flanders, the rise of xenophobic populism, the democratic deficit that stymies EU governance, and the thorny questions of where Europe's borders end and what it means to be European. Marquand contends that as China, India, and other nations rise, Europe must abandon ancient notions of an enlightened West and a backward East. He calls for Europe's leaders and citizens to confront the painful issues of ethnicity, integration, and economic cohesion, and to build a democratic and federal structure.

.The Future of Wearable Technology

by Moondial, Sabine Seymour

PBS Arts Online concept is the core of the PBS strategy for strengthening arts awareness, appreciation and education in America. PBS Arts will promote awareness, spur greater interest, and increase understanding of visual, cultural and performing arts.

As computing moves from our desktops to our phones, we look into the future to see how technology will become increasingly ingrained in our movements and our active lives. From the Nike Fuelband to Google Glass, consumers are already seeing hints of the future of wearable devices. They have the possibility to make us more knowledgeable about ourselves and our surroundings, and connect us with each other in an uninterrupted, more intimate way. From DIY wearables to high-tech sensors and smart fabrics, the years ahead will show how integrated technology can impact our lives for the better.

Sandy Pentland, MIT
Sabine Seymour, Parsons
Steven Dean, G51Studio
Becky Stern, Adafruit

.Futurist Portrait: John L. Casti

Dr. John L. Casti is a complexity scientist.

“One of America’s greatest pioneers of simulation, Casti has spent his career trying to simulate the real world in the virtual one – from games theory to traffic simulation and even insect infestations.” — London Times

Professor John L. Casti received his Ph.D. in mathematics under Richard Bellman at the University of Southern California in 1970. He worked at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, and served on the faculties of the University of Arizona, NYU and Princeton before becoming one of the first members of the research staff at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria. In 1986, he left IIASA to take up a position as a Professor of Operations Research and System Theory at the Technical University of Vienna. He also served as a member of the External Faculty of the Santa Fe Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, from 1992-2002, where he worked extensively on the application of biological metaphors to the mathematical modeling of problems in economics, finance and road-traffic networks, as well as on large-scale computer simulations for the study of such networks.

In 2000 he formed two companies in Santa Fe and London, Qforma, Inc. and SimWorld, Ltd, devoted to the employment of tools and concepts from modern system theory for the solution of problems in business and finance. In early 2005 he returned to Vienna where he has co-founded The Kenos Circle, a professional society that aims to make use of complexity science in order to gain a deeper insight into the future than that offered by more conventional statistical tools.

Professor Casti has written a numerous articles and seven technical monographs and textbooks on mathematical modeling. In addition, he is the editor of the journals Applied Mathematics & Computation (Elsevier, New York) and Complexity (Wiley, New York). In 1989 his text/reference works Alternate Realities: Mathematical Models of Nature and Man (Wiley, 1989) was awarded a prize by the Association of American Publishers in a competition among all scholarly books published in mathematics and the natural sciences. In 1992, he also published Reality Rules (Wiley, New York), a two-volume text on mathematical modeling.

In addition to these technical volumes, he has written several popular books on science: Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science (Morrow, 1989), which addresses several of the most puzzling controversies in modern science, Searching for Certainty: What Scientists Can Know About the Future (Morrow, 1991), a volume dealing with problems of scientific prediction and explanation of everyday events like the weather, stock market price movements and the outbreak of warfare, and Complexification (HarperCollins, 1994), a study of complex systems and the manner in which they give rise to counterintuitive, surprising behavior. He has also written two popular volumes on mathematics: Five Golden Rules: Great Theories of 20th-Century Mathematics—and Why They Matter, and its sequel, Five More Golden Rules (1995, 2000) both published by John Wiley & Sons (New York). His next work of popular science was Would-Be Worlds, a volume on computer simulation and the way it promises to change the way we do science. It was also published by John Wiley & Sons (New York) in 1996. In 1998 he published a volume of “scientific fiction”, involving Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alan Turing, J.B.S. Haldane, C.P. Snow and Erwin Schrödinger in a dinner-party conversation on the question of the uniqueness of human cognition and the possibility of thinking machines. This book was published under the title The Cambridge Quintet by Little, Brown (UK) in December 1997 and by Addison-Wesley in the US in early 1998.

More recently, his published books include Art & Complexity (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2005), a volume edited with A. Karlqvist, as well as a short volume on the life of the Austrian logician, Kurt Gödel, the book Gödel: A Life of Logic (Perseus Books, Cambridge, MA, 2003). In the same year he published the volume, The One, True, Platonic Heaven (Joseph Henry Press, Washington, DC, 2003), which addresses in a fictional format the question of the limits to scientific knowledge. The volume on art and complexity sparked off a continuing interest in the interrelationship between complex systems and artistic forms of all types, which is reflected in a set of papers currently in preparation addressing the complexity of scientific theories regarded as artistic forms.

His primary current research interests have also shifted somewhat to the exploration of questions in the social and behavioral realm and the relationship between social “moods” and their consequent social actions and behaviors. In this direction, his latest book,
Mood Matter: From Rising Skirt Lengths to the Collapse of World Powers, published in 2010 by Copernicus Books, NY, addresses the directions and patterns of social causation and their implications for future trends and collective social events, such as styles in popular culture, the outcome of political processes, and even the rise and fall of civilizations.

X-Events: Complexity Overload and the Collapse of Everything
"In his highly provocative and grippingly readable book, X-Events, author John Casti brilliantly argues that today’s advanced, overly complex societies have grown highly vulnerable to extreme events that will ultimately topple civilization like a house of cards. Like Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan meets Jared Diamond’s Collapse, Casti’s book provides a much-needed wake-up call — sounding a fascinating and frightening warning about civilized society’s inability to recover from a global catastrophe — demonstrating how humankind could be blasted back into the Stone Age by a meteor strike, nuclear apocalypse, worldwide contagion, or any number of unforeseeable X-Events."

Currently, Dr. Casti is a Research Scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, where he heads an initiative for the study on
Extreme Events in Human Society and Director of The Kenos Circle, a Vienna-based society of fellows devoted to exploration of the future.

How the World Works


Season Events 2012/2013

NEXT Event

May 30, 2013
the future of Europe
May 30, 2013, 18:30 - 21:15
DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam Centraal Station, Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK Amsterdam
In collaboration with the World Future Society
Supported by India House Foundation & Heineken

June 27, 2013
the future of Urban Gardening
June 27, 2013, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Geelvinck Museum, Keizersgracht 633, 1017 DS
Supported by Geelvinck Museum

Check for updates!

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