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"We are witnessing
the transformation of consciousness and its influence in all our social
systems at a planetary level. Economics is at the heart of this change
as it profoundly impacts the ways in which society organizes, makes
agreements, trades and write laws. In the emergent economics scene we
are writing a new story, people are becoming architects, conscious consumers,
storytellers, creators and players of a world that works for all. At
the consciousness level we are entering into 'The era of flow' and a
new expressive capacity for humanity. Come to be inspired and share
about this evolution which potential is to shift humanity to a new order
of consciousness and creativity.
How can we generate and
maintain new economic models designed to create the most beautiful world
we can possibly imagine?
What are you witnessing that indicates the transformation of a life-affirming
to Survive and Thrive in the Emerging Global Paradigm
the signs are that we are right in the middle of the transition
from one global paradigm to another. The one we are leaving is
often called “modernity”. The one we are entering does not yet
have a name. But we already know enough about it to be sure that
it will profoundly affect all aspects of our lives. If we wish
to survive and thrive in what will be a very different world,
we need to learn how to navigate the transition. This will mean
major systemic changes in all our socio-economic institutions.
It will also mean major change in each one of us as individuals.
End of Modernity
is not generally known that the current global paradigm, modernity,
has many of its roots in my home country, Scotland. There
was a time when Scotland punched well above her weight in thinking
and creativity. Many things that we now take for granted had their
origin in Scotland.
The list is long – television, refrigerator, microwave ovens,
tarred roads, pneumatic tyres, golf, the steam engine, radar,
modern banking, antisepsis, antibiotics, quinine, the fax machine,
ATM machines, genetic cloning, logarithms, iron bridges, and many
other things. For reasons that need not concern us here, Scotland
used to be the most inventive country in the world.
inventiveness is relatively well known. What is not so well known
is that much of the intellectual basis for the modern world was
developed in Scotland,
during the Scottish Enlightenment (roughly 1740-90). Of the personalities
involved, Adam Smith and David Hume are the best known, but there
were many others who made important contributions, such as Thomas
Reid, Adam Ferguson and John Millar, as well as notable pioneers
in medicine, science, education and civic life. It is difficult
for us today to appreciate just how influential Scotland used
to be. Indeed, Scotland’s
intellectual leadership was so powerful that Voltaire was moved
to write: “...we look to Scotland
for all our ideas of civilisation.”
course, the Enlightenment was by no means confined to Scotland,
but I think it is useful to look at Scotland’s
contribution because it helps us to see what the Enlightenment
gave to the world. Scotland
was very active in the development of modern economics, modern
medicine, modern science, modern education, modern technology
and modern government. To express this another way, the Scotland
helped to give us modernity - the set of ideas, beliefs, values,
institutions and practices that have shaped, and continue to shape,
the modern world.
would deny that, for a long time, modernity made life better and
easier. It raised the material living standards of many; it increased
life expectancy; it enabled us to address many forms of ill health
that had gone unaddressed before; it brought education to the
majority; it vastly increased our knowledge of the physical world
(i.e. science); it has given us a lot of very useful technology;
and, in theory at least, it allowed many adults to participate
in the big decisions that affect them. All in all, we have much
to be thankful for. Any criticism I am about to make must be tempered
by my belief that there are many aspects of modernity worth retaining.
The bathwater must go, but the baby must stay!
modernity brought us many good things, something has gone very
wrong. We have just come through the most destructive century
in human history, with major wars on nearly every continent, in
which over 100 million people were slaughtered, and with more
damage to the planet and the biosphere than ever before in human
history. And the present century has not begun well. As the 21st
Century gets under way, wars are raging on three continents, inequality
within and between nations is very high and rising, mental and
emotional illness are epidemic, the financial system is in permanent
crisis, and nature and the planet are more seriously threatened
is a growing sense that modernity has outlived its usefulness
and that the benefits it still brings are now greatly outweighed
by the problems it causes. The economics, medicine, science, education
and politics ushered in by the Enlightenment served us well for
a long time but, in some important respects, they are no longer
fit for purpose. What we have long assumed to be the main solution
to our problems - modernity - may have become one of their main
causes. While it is true that many of us are materially richer,
we are in some important respects poorer. We have more money and
things than we ever had, yet how many of us are truly happy? We
receive more schooling and training than ever, yet greed and superficiality
are the hallmarks of modern culture. We have more technology and
scientific knowledge than ever before, but we struggle to use
them wisely. And although we continue to call ourselves “democracies”,
many of us wonder what the point of voting is when the outcome
of elections can be determined in a few marginal constituencies,
when there is little to distinguish the main parties, when big
money determines policy, and when leaders ignore the people’s
views on major issues, such as war. Since it has been, and still
is the dominant global paradigm, modernity must be seriously implicated
in all these problems.
time has come to replace modernity with a set of ideas, beliefs,
values, institutions and practices that are appropriate to the
very different conditions of the 21st Century. The
time has come, in other words, for a Second Enlightenment that
will take us beyond modernity to a new paradigm, and provide us
with an economics, a medicine, an education, a science and a politics
that are better suited to the conditions of today. But what will
these be, and how will we create them?In an attempt to answer these pressing questions, I am
going to ask not what modernity has given us, but what it has
taken away from us.
the very heart of modernity is a set of core beliefs that is,
effectively, the worldview of modern science. I think it fair
to say that these beliefs are as follows:
universe and everything in it, ourselves included, is physical.
All those things that seem to be “non-physical”, such as consciousness,
can ultimately be explained in terms of the physical
universe and everything in it is essentially a lifeless “machine”…a
very sophisticated machine, but a machine nonetheless. We human
beings and the universe can best be understood as “mechanisms”.
and consciousness is secondary. Consciousness is a product of
matter, and not the other way round. For example, consciousness
is understood to be an “epiphenomenon” of the brain.
human beings do not
exist before conception or after the death of our body.
upwards. This means that “ultimate reality” is at the sub-atomic
level and that all other levels, including our everyday experience,
are secondary derivatives of this.
universe has no intrinsic meaning.
On the contrary, it is full of “chance” and “chaos” and “randomness”.
and spiritual traditions
may be useful as a moral compass, but they are no basis for “real
facts”. The only real facts come from science.
we might not realise it, these beliefs have become so powerful
and influential that all metaphysical, religious and philosophical
claims that contradict them tend to be rejected. This has effectively
devalued and marginalised many important discussions and much
potential knowledge. And it has, to a significant extent, relegated
religions to the role of providers of a moral compass. The strange
thing is that the classic science worldview persists despite profound
discoveries in physics, cosmology and biology that suggest that
the universe is anything but a machine, that “chance” may lie
only in the eye of the beholder, that the universe is rich in
intrinsic meaning, and that some aspects of the human being may
survive the death of the body. The “near death experience”, for
example, has been extensively documented. Yet
if, as science continues to insist, the universe began
suddenly for no reason (the “Big Bang”) and life on this planet
emerged by chance, then the world that science wants us to believe
in must itself be totally meaningless. The fact that this statement,
as part of that world, must also be meaningless is little consolation!
my view, then, one of the big unintended consequences of modernity
has been loss
of deeper meaning.
Although it is true, of course, that religion provides a sense
of meaning to many people, it is equally true that many others
are struggling to find meaning in their lives. Some are lucky
enough to find it in their work. For too many, however, work is
a meaningless drudge, often poorly rewarded. By
removing deeper meaning, modernity has unwittingly created a vacuum.
Many people feel that something big is missing from their lives.
They may not be able to put this into words, but they feel an
empty space inside them that cries out to be filled. They experience
this in many ways, such as anxiety, discomfort, insecurity, despair,
or a sense of pointlessness. Understandably, they try to fill
the emptiness, and they do this in a huge variety of ways. They
eat too much, they drink too much, they shop until they drop,
they watch a lot of television or play a lot of video games, they
rush around too much (no surprise that being busy is regarded
as a virtue today), or they use sex, drugs or alcohol as pain-killers.
These behaviours, worrying in themselves, often lead to other
problems, such as alcoholism, obesity, addiction, depression,
and anti-social behaviour. So long as there is a vacuum of meaning,
people are likely to resort to desperate means to fill it.
I seem critical of science, that is not my intention. Science
has given us a great deal and will no doubt continue to do so.
What I am talking about here are the unintended consequences of
what science has become, and of the paradigm it spawned (modernity).
Another of these consequences is loss
of wisdom. But what do I mean by this? As Martin Luther
King once pointed out: “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual
power. We have guided missiles, but misguided men.” We know how
to create wonderful cars, planes and mobile phones, but we do
not know how to use these and other technology wisely, in ways
that cause no damage to ourselves and the planet. Indeed, many
of the big problems of our time – such as climate change, pollution,
and stress-related illness – can be traced back to the unwise
use of technology. This is what I mean by loss of wisdom. We have
lost much natural wisdom, common sense, if you like, because we
have devoted too much of ourselves to one kind of progress – economic
and technological – and not enough of ourselves to another kind
– spiritual and ecological. The consequences of this imbalance
are plain to see.
the decline of wisdom and common sense, “experts” in science and
economics have become today’s high priests. As a result, we pay
too much attention to them, forgetting Bernard Shaw’s perceptive
observation: “An expert is a person who knows more and more about
less and less, until, eventually, he knows everything about nothing.”
In the modern world, the “truths” of experts outrank all other
“truths”, and we have become overdependent on them. This dependency
has extended into other areas of our lives too. One
of the hallmarks of modern societies is their increasing dependency
on business, government and experts for goods, services and knowledge
that, in many cases, individuals and communities would be better
providing for themselves. As a rule of thumb, dependency is unhealthy
and self-reliance is healthy. Although we sometimes think of indigenous
tribes as “primitive”, the fact is that they are self-reliant,
empowered communities. They are living cultures, rather than vicarious
cultures. They do things for themselves, rather than having things
done for them. They recognise the central importance of basic
human capacities, such as caring, growing their own food, cooking,
healing, educating, creating, and entertaining, and would not
dream of having these things provided as commodities and services
by government and big business.
believe that modernity has had one other big unintended consequence,
and that is loss
of ecology. The few societies around the world that have
retained wisdom and deeper meaning at the centre of their lives
know just how important it is to live in harmony with each other
and with the planet. How many of us can put our hands on our hearts
and say that we truly live in harmony with each other, let alone
the planet? On the contrary, the modern world has made many of
us feel desperate and insecure. It is little wonder that we engage
in frenetic activity, such as work, shopping and travelling, when
we should be finding ways to live gently and simply, with ourselves
and with the world around us.
and Economic Growth
we add together loss of meaning, loss of wisdom, and loss of ecology,
there is not much left going for us, apart from making money and
spending it. This is almost certainly why we live in an era of
For many people, acquiring and consuming material things must
seem like the only meaningful thing left for them to do. Our economics,
our politics, our medicine, our education, our science and our
culture have become steeped in material values and beliefs and
the behaviours that flow from these. It is surely significant
that schools and universities have become little more than training
centres in how to participate in the economy, while hospitals
in the USA and elsewhere are often referred to as “profit centres”.
We are paying a high price for our obsession with material things,
as we exploit and damage each other and the planet. Meanwhile,
it is short step from materialism to economism,
one of the more recent and toxic additions to modernity.
is the tendency to view the world through the lens of economics,
to regard a country as an economy rather than as a society, and
to believe that economic considerations and values rank higher
than other ones. Economism is clearly evident all over the world
these days and is a powerful influence in business, political
and media circles. It is an extremely narrow way of seeing the
world, and it prevents us from seeing whether we are making genuine
progress. We assume that if there is more money and economic activity
(economic growth), things are getting better. In reality, they
might be getting worse and our devotion to economic growth and
money is probably one of the main reasons for this. Since the
pursuit of economic growth has become such a central feature of
modernity, I make no apology for discussing it at length.
is an almost universal belief that economic growth is highly desirable.
for example, is thought to be doing “very well” simply because
its economy has been growing rapidly in the last two decades.
This fact trumps all other considerations, such as human rights,
corruption, pollution and breathtaking inequality. Indeed, the
belief in economic growth runs so deep that it has a quasi-religious
feel to it. Any serious questioning of it is seen as heresy in
government and business circles. The
truth is that there is nothing intrinsically desirable about economic
growth. It simply means that more money was spent this year on
goods and services than was spent last year. It does not tell
us anything about the desirability or quality of these additional
goods and services. It does not tell us anything about the human,
social and environmental costs of providing them. It does not
tell us anything about income distribution and social justice.
Most important of all, it does not tell whether we are getting
happier, wiser, and healthier and more fulfilled, which is surely
the point of it all.
principal measure of economic growth – GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
- treats the good, the bad and the ugly as if they were all good.
So long as money legally changes hands, it counts towards GDP.
If there is more crime to be dealt with, more divorces, more pollution
to be cleaned up, more illness to be treated, and more debt being
incurred, then all of this counts towards economic growth. In
fact, nothing boosts growth more than a war or a natural disaster.
GDP gives us the impression that things are going well when they
may be going badly. There are several good alternative indicators,
such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). In essence, this
subtracts the costs of economic growth from the benefits, to give
us a truer picture of progress. It is significant that while GDP
in all western countries has been rising more or less consistently
in the last 50 years, GPI has been falling or static since the
late Seventies. Adopting a more accurate flagship indicator would
be a major step in the right direction. Meanwhile, it is worth
examining the main arguments normally made in favour of economic
advocates of growth tell us that if GDP is not moving, we have
“stagnation”, and that if it is declining, we have “recession”.
These are both emotive terms. Yet, there is surely nothing wrong
with a society that is not consuming excessively. And there is
surely nothing wrong with a society that actually chooses to spend
less money on some types of goods and services. Imagine a world
where people walk and cycle more, where there is less divorce
and less crime, where people take more care of their health and
need less medical treatment, and where there is more self-reliance
and cooperation. In such a society, there would be less spending
on goods and services. But, in conventional terms we would be
in “recession” and considered to be doing badly, such is the Alice
in Wonderland world of topsy-turvy values we have created for
there are those who constantly remind us that less spending leads
to unemployment and the closure of businesses. In the short term
this is often true. But it is worth pointing out that what we
regard as “stable levels of employment” is based not on sustainable
production and consumption, but on excessive production
and consumption. That excess cannot continue forever. It is causing
too many problems, including record levels of personal debt. That
is unsustainable. It is much better to spend wisely and moderately
and work out the consequences of doing so.
many people believe that economic growth is a kind of universal
panacea. They believe that if we have problems – poverty, inequality,
unemployment, injustice, disease, crime, whatever – then all we
need is more economic growth and the problems will eventually
disappear. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. Far from
being a universal panacea, economic growth may be a universal
problem because, in one way or another, it seems to be at the
root of much ill health, crime, social breakdown, inequality,
and environmental degradation. As Clive Hamilton points outin his book
not only fails to make people contented; it destroys many of the
things that do. Growth fosters empty consumerism, degrades the
natural environment, weakens social cohesion and corrodes character.
Yet we are told, ad nauseam, that there is no alternative.”
Meaning of Sustainable Development
course there is an alternative. It is sustainable development.
But it is not the kind of sustainable development that many people
seem to have in mind. Contrary to widespread belief, “sustainable
development” does not mean economic growth, while keeping a weather
eye on the environment. Growth means “getting bigger”, but development
means “getting better.” These are two very different things. Of
course, we have to sustain and enhance the natural environment,
but we also have to sustain the other systems that sustain us,
namely our health and the fabric of society. Just as the natural
environment is under serious threat, there can be little doubt
that health and society are under just as much threat, yet this
is rarely mentioned in the sustainability debate. If we take the
view that “development” means “making things better” and that
there are several things we have to sustain, then the concept
of sustainable development begins to look very different. It can
be redefined as:
development is the development of people, communities and planet
in ways that sustain the three vital systems that sustain all
of us – our health, the fabric of society, and the natural environment
in this way, it stands in stark contrast to economic growth, which
is increasingly identified in public consciousness with exploitation
and diminution of people, communities, nature and planet.
be fair, economic growth itself is not the only problem. It is
the set of values and pressures that lie behind it. As a society
we seem to value money and things more than we value people and
nature. And many of us feel under constant pressure to perform
and compete and consume. Such values and pressures wreak havoc
on our health, our families, and our communities, not to mention
the planet. Whatever else it does, economic growth does not bring
health, happiness, wisdom and meaning. And
trying to use economic growth to solve problems is like trying
to put out a fire by throwing petrol on it. It is true that
some things have improved over the years, but there seems to be
an increasingly high price to pay for this. For example, we have
more speed, but less time for reflection; more choice, but less
satisfaction; more competition, but less sense of being at ease;
more schools and universities, but less education in the true
sense; more doctors and hospitals, but less health; more communications,
but less listening; more public services, but less self-reliance;
and more police and prisons, but less security.
You can read the full
article on our blogclick
Event: the future of Economy and Consciousness
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 18:30
Location: Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam
[Center of the Nieuwmarkt]
Tickets: Euro 30, Euro 20 (Members etc.) or Euro 10 (Students)
between Waag Society, Dialogue Cafe and the Club of Amsterdam.
Ibarra, Co-founder, Collective Intelligence Research
Institute (CIRI) Invisible architectures: the key to a
healthy and thrivable Economy
Transforming the economics of payments to build sustainable,
inclusive financial systems
Poor people do not live in a static state of poverty. Every
year, many millions of people transition out of poverty by successfully
adopting new farming technologies, investing in new business
opportunities, or finding new jobs. At the same time, large
numbers of people fall back into poverty due to health problems,
financial setbacks, and other shocks. However, it is costly
to serve poor people with financial services, in part because
most of their transactions are conducted in cash. Storing, transporting,
and processing cash is expensive for banks, insurance companies,
utility companies, and other institutions, and they pass on
those costs to customers.
The Gates Foundations Financial Services for the Poor
program (FSP) believes that effective financial services are
paramount in the fight against poverty. Nonetheless, today more
than 2 billion people live outside the formal financial sector.
Increasing their access to high quality, affordable financial
services will accelerate the well-being of households, communities,
and economies in the developing world. One of the most promising
ways to deliver these financial services to the poor
profitably and at scale is by using digital payment platforms.
These are the conclusions we have reached as the result of extensive
research in pursuit of one of the Foundations primary
missions: to give the worlds poorest people the chance
to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.
Weve developed a method by which molecular hydrogen-producing
catalysts can be interfaced with a semiconductor that absorbs
visible light, says Gary Moore, a chemist with Berkeley
Labs Physical Biosciences Division and principal investigator
for JCAP (Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis). Our
experimental results indicate that the catalyst and the light-absorber
are interfaced structurally as well as functionally.
We look forward to adapting our method to incorporate materials
with improved properties for converting sunlight to fuel,
Moore says. We believe our method provides researchers at
JCAP and elsewhere with an important tool for developing integrated
photocathode materials that can be used in future solar-fuel generators
as well as other technologies capable of reducing net carbon dioxide
In the throng of the film set, camera operators have to determine
the camera angle, the aperture, and depth of field of the camera.
In the future, they will be able to change these parameters, even
in post-production thanks to a new camera technology.
The set resembles an ant hill. Actors, actresses, extras, cameras
and in between all of this, the director is calling out
his instructions. The camera operator has to make sure of the
correct settings, pay attention to the flow of the scene, and
instruct the camera assistants. Which camera angle should be assigned
to which camera? Which part of the image should be sharp, and
which should retreat, diffuse and out of focus? Because once the
recordings are in the can, as they say in the movie
biz, these parameters can no longer be corrected. At least, not
until now. An algorithm combined with a new type of camera array
i.e. an arrangement of several cameras should enable
these changes to be made retroactively in the future and
thereby allow for more creativity in post-production. Filmmakers
can then still decide afterwards which area of the scene should
be portrayed sharply. Or move around within a scene virtually
like in the film Matrix. The actor is frozen in the scene,
hanging motionless in the air, while the camera moves around,
capturing the scene from all sides.
Researchers at the
Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen,
Germany, have developed a camera array that makes this feasible
and will be exhibiting it at this years International Broadcasting
Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. The array consists of 16
cameras in total, arranged in four rows and columns, explains
Frederik Zilly, Group Manager at IIS. Instead of having just one
single camera as usual, which records the scene from just one
position, the 16 cameras collect the light rays at various points
in the plane over which the cameras are distributed. The researchers
speak of having captured part of the light field from the scene,
instead of only one specialized perspective. Although the array
consists of 16 cameras, its cross section is only 30 cm by 30
cm (12 x 12). So it can be conveniently and easily
employed on the set and in the studio.
But how does that
work, being able to edit the recording so much better retroactively?
The software estimates a depth value for every pixel recorded
by the cameras. It therefore determines how far from the camera
array the object portrayed is located. Intermediate images can
be calculated in post-production from this depth information,
so that we have virtual data not from just four columns and four
rows of cameras, but from 100 x 100 cameras instead. As the camera
operator films the subject, each of the outer cameras is able
to look a little bit behind the subject they have a different
angle of view than the cameras located in the middle of the array.
After the recording is made, the filmmakers are able to virtually
drive around a person or an object, and to change the camera angles
and depth of field.
have already developed the software for processing the recording
from the camera array. The graphical user interface is also ready
for recording on set. The researchers are still working on the
user interface for the post-editing at present; they should be
finished in about six months. The scientists are planning then
to produce a stop-motion film that is particularly suited as a
test run of the software. Later, we would like to use it
as a demo film, discloses Zilly. Then we can show
interested parties the kind of possibilities and opportunities
offered by employing a camera array.
We have entered
an age of disruption. Financial collapse, climate change, resource
depletion, and a growing gap between rich and poor are but a few
of the signs. Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer ask, why do we collectively
create results nobody wants? Meeting the challenges of this century
requires updating our economic logic and operating system from
an obsolete ego-system focused entirely on the well-being
of oneself to an eco-system awareness that emphasizes the well-being
of the whole. Filled with real-world examples, this thought-provoking
guide presents proven practices for building a new economy that
is more resilient, intentional, inclusive, and aware.
Michael Akerib, PhD
of Eurasia is a unique land mass including both Europe and Asia
with Europe barely accounting for 20% of the land mass but the
largest proportion of the land mass. With the exception of the
Sakha peninsula in Russia and the Arabian and Indian subcontinents,
these lands lie on a single tectonic plate.
Europe and Asia are
separated by mountain chains the Himalaya, the Hindu Kush
and the Karakorum as well as by the Mongolian steppes.
Eurasia and Africa,
prior to the opening of the Suez Canal, were called the World-Island
by sailors. This concept is supported by the fact that Eurasia
was populated by the same migration wave sometime between 20 000
and 30 000 years ago.
It is believed that
the original population settled around the Eastern Mediterranean
and then followed a centric movement towards the Atlantic and
the North Sea following trade corridors. Simultaneously, part
of the population moved eastwards and developed very different
cultures, identifying themselves clearly as Asians or Europeans.
These are, nevertheless, deep differences between the various
countries composing Africa or Europe.
There were very clear
differences between these two population groups in the speed of
development and the use of technology and explanations have diverged
from genetic differences going back to early prehistoric times
to the lack of availability of materials to develop tools such
The first major human
settlements took place along the Ganges, the Nile, the Po, the
Tigris and the Yangtze. At the start of the Christian era, the
two most populous countries were India and China with a population
of around 60 million each.
littoral became the center of civilized life with various civilizations
succeeding each other. From 500 BC to 1500 AD i.e. for
two thousand years four civilizations occupied this territory:
the Chinese, the Greek, the Indian and the Middle Eastern. Central
Asian barbarian nomads and Jewish traders called Radhanites ensured
that the contact between these various civilizations was maintained.
This form of trade disappeared as the Chinese Tang Dynasty collapsed
ant the routes became unsafe.
Culture and technology
migrated through their actions irrespective of their religions.
The population of Europe and of the Near East mingled more easily
in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean.
Asian geography did
not allow such close exchanges as rivers remain inside ethnic
and cultural borders, mountain ranges and deserts are difficult
At the beginning
of the Christian era the population of Eurasia was divided into
four fairly equivalent groups of approximately 50 million inhabitants
each. These were Europe and the southern Mediterranean, the Middle
East, India and China.
The period until
the end of the 9th century saw large movements of population:
the territorial expansion of the Slavic tribes, the invasion of
Celtic territory by Germanic tribes, and the Arab invasion of
the Iberian Peninsula.
During the Middle
Ages, agriculture had moved northward and westward in countries
such as France and Low Countries. Northern Europe and Russia were
only thinly populated until the seventeenth century. However,
their fast economic growth allowed them to overtake the Mediterranean
countries. A possible explanation resides in the lack of coal
in that part of the world.
Economic growth translated
into population growth, reaching the level it would have prior
to the Industrial Revolution, with France being the most populated
country. Generally, in the countries of Western Europe, people
married earlier and had more children. Deforestation occurred
to gain arable land.
The 10th century
saw a number of important innovations in farming in particular
protein-rich foodstuffs such as beans, thus giving more energy
to the population and the strength to build cathedrals.
Until the thirteenth
century, an economic system interlinked eight cities and their
peripheries. These were Flanders, the Champagne area, Genoa and
Venice in Europe; Cairo and Baghdad in the Near East; and several
cities in India and China.
The 13th century,
however, saw Europes population having problems feeding
themselves. At the time, Chinas population was of the order
of 100 million inhabitants. The situation worsened in the 14th
century, with a series of bad harvests leading to a general famine
and a lowering of the immune system that prepared the population
for the catastrophe that followed.
This was the Black
Death which, with the Second World War, can claim to be one of
the worst catastrophes of humanity. In Europe, it is estimated
that one third of the population died, but in some areas, the
figure reached 60%.
Just as the Second
World War affected a large number of countries, so did the disease,
spreading over a period of a few decades over the entire Eurasian
continent and killing 60% of the population of the Near East,
and up to 50% of Chinas. The military and tradesmen were
probably responsible for the slow spread of the disease. The resulting
scarcity of labor raised the survivors income and a large
number of peasants were able to obtain their freedom from forced
labor. This was not the case in Asia where for several more centuries,
the peasants would be cheap labor in fact so cheap that
modernization would not happen. However, demand for one of Chinas
main exports silk collapsed leading to a major economic
depression in spite of an economic development unmatched by Europe
at the time. The Confucian bureaucracy was highly educated and
constituted an elite in the country. China benefited from an agricultural
revolution. The countrys capital, Changan, todays
Xian, was a city of two million inhabitants.
In China printing
was common in the 11th century and large libraries existed. Cities
were larger in China than in Europe. Paper money was common. Iron
was produced in large quantities. Gunpowder and the compass had
already been invented. The junks were as big as galleons and military
vessels were numerous and very large.
The absence of bounded
labor in England led the British nobility to farm the land they
owned themselves, invest to modernize production and reduce the
number of agricultural workers, freeing them to first move into
larger villages and later work in the first factories that were
a product of the Industrial Revolution. Slaves were brought in
from Africa and Asia.
These changes were
The three centuries
that followed saw the worlds population increase by 20%,
10% and 27% in each of the subsequent centuries with 1750 being
the year in which the population figure increased considerably.
Europe saw the sharpest
growth. In the 15th century alone the population grew by 53%.
By the middle of the 18th century, Europes share of total
population would increase but would not equal Asias share
which went from 60% in 1600 to 67% in 1800. Chinas population
alone was twice that of Europe, rising from 60 million at the
end of the 14th century to 175 million at the beginning of the
17th century. Indias population, during that same period
grew from 50 million to 200 million.
Life expectancy in
Europe increased, and by the beginning of the 18th century one
percent of the population was over 70 years of age.
It is believed that
this phenomenon is due to the earlier marriages in Asia in general
and China in particular, and the more frequent sexual relations
between Asians as compared to Europeans where the clergy was celibate.
Europeans were also immigrating to the American continent, thus
further putting pressure on the population figures.
The lower population
growth in Europe allowed the continent to have a slightly better
economic growth as reserves could be created.
By the early 19th
century, 55% of the worlds population lived in China and
India and by 1950, a population explosion will take place. By
the mid 19th century, Europes population had doubled as
women had an average of 4.5 children.
Today, with a below
replacement fertility in Europe, in some countries reaching historical
lows, the continent accounts for just 7% of the worlds population
with Asia accounting for 60%. The most important component for
population growth in Europe is international immigration, very
often of Muslim origin. The net immigration flow is of 1.5 million
people per annum and this is a reversal of the situation that
lasted for centuries with Europeans immigrating to other continents.
The flow of immigrants into Europe, totaling around 45 million
and representing up to 15% of the population in certain countries,
is creating major problems due to large cultural differences and
a feeling by the nationals that they are losing the control of
Life expectancy has
doubled over a period of a century, thanks to better diet, hygiene
and living conditions generally.
The old continents
population is expected to peak around 2040 to 2045 and decline
from then onwards, in spite of immigration, while the worlds
population is expanding.
The larger ratio
of older persons in the population implies both a reduction in
the workforce and a higher old-age dependency ratio with social
could spell an economic catastrophe for Europe: inflation, reduced
investments, lower economic output and a decreased living standard.
This, in turn, means a decline in education and health care, less
impact in foreign affairs decisions and governance, and a reduction
in the influence Europe has on supranational institutions such
as the IMF and the World Bank.
A manpower shortage
would have dire consequences for the military. A shortage of funds
will make it difficult to fund the purchase of technologically
If these population
shortfalls are amplified and create power vacuums, they could
be exploited by other countries. If immigration is used to alleviate
the population shortage, and if the migrants come from too diverse
a culture in large number, the countries could be destabilized.
Even if fertility
worldwide reaches its lowest point, it is the least developed
countries that will account for the largest population. Europes
presence as a major actor in international relations will dwindle
This, however, is
not a purely European concern, as this same situation will affect
China, Japan and South Korea. Total fertility rate in these three
countries in 2012 has been, respectively, of 1.55, 1.39 and 1.55
- in other words, below replacement rate. Between 2011 and 2012
alone, the number of elementary-grade students collapsed from
200 million to 145 million.
Japan could lose
up to a third of its population by 2050. Cancer-related deaths
are expected to balloon in China due to the marked environmental
degradation and the poor quality of the healthcare system, further
decreasing the countrys population. Nevertheless, it is
expected that there will be 300 million retired persons by 2025.
Finally, these three
countries attract very few immigrants.
of the aging of China may well spell the return of industrial
production to the United States as cost of manufacturing in Asia
will increase substantially.
The end result will
be that the United States will retain their position as the worlds
hegemon if it so wishes and if it makes the required investments
to maintain that position. A victory by default until it too witnesses
a major demographic shift.
the 59 countries in which 44% of the population lives, the Total
Fertility Rate (TFR) i.e. the number of children a woman
will have during her lifetime has dropped, in the last
50 years, to below the replacement level. For the European Union,
this figure is of 1.5, with two countries, Italy and Spain at
excluding Russia and Turkey, accounts now for 11% of the worlds
population as against 25% only a century ago. Should the Italian
TFR become the norm, the population would shrink by 75% by the
year 2100. A positive immigration flow of one million persons
a year would ensure that by 2050 the EUs population would
be of 690 million thu shaving shrunk by only 40 million
in 50 years.
have been identified. Women marry at an older age thus reducing
the period during which they are fertile. Divorce rates have doubled
over the last 40 years and mono-parental families represent 21%
of all families in the EU. A variety of contraception methods
are available including safe abortions. The high unemployment
figures are also taking their toll.
If an active young
population is an indicator of a dynamic society, Europe stands
little hope of being amongst the worlds biggest innovators.
Portrait: Clement Bezold
is founder and chairman of theInstitute
for Alternative Futures.
Dr. Bezold established IAF in 1977 and in 1982 he started IAFs
for-profit subsidiary, Alternative Futures Associates, to assist
corporations in their strategic planning using futures methods.
He has been a major developer of foresight techniques, applying
futures research and strategic planning methods in both the public
and private sectors. As a consultant, Dr. Bezold has worked with
many Fortune 500 companies along with major organizations, including
the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health,
the Rockefeller Foundation, AARP and the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Bezold has published
numerous books and reports on the future of government, the courts
and healthcare. He is a consulting editor of the Journal of Futures
Studies and is on the editorial or advisory boards of Technology
Forecasting and Social Change, foresight, and World Future Review.
Dr. Bezold received his Ph.D. in political science from the University
of Florida. He has been assistant director of the Center for Governmental
Responsibility at the University of Florida Law School and a Visiting
Scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Clement Bezold - What's Missing in Government: The Future,
Fairness and Shared Vision
Clement Bezold - Converging Technologies
Season Events 2013/2014
7, 2013 the
future of Economy and Consciousness November 7, 2013, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam
[Center of the Nieuwmarkt]
A collaboration between Waag
Society and Dialogue Cafe and the
Club of Amsterdam
January 30, 2014
of ... January 30, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
February 27, 2014
of ... February 27, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
March 27, 2014
of ... March 27, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
April 24, 2014
of ... April 24, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
May 29, 2014
the future of Green Architecture
May 29, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15
Location: Geelvinck Museum, Keizersgracht 633, 1017 DS Amsterdam
Supported by Geelvinck Museum
June 26, 2013
of ... June 26, 2014, 18:30 - 21:15