2017, Issue 200

Welcome to the Club of Amsterdam Journal.

The Future Now Show:
Happy Rain with Isabelle Antunès

Storytelling is a fundamental part of what makes humans successful. This is a story about how farming communities in Bangladesh were transformed by an idea that allowed them to profit from the monsoon season instead of migrating away and waiting for it to pass. But it’s also a story about a story, about the documentary that was made and how this has been woven in to the evolution and spread of this transformative idea. - Paul Holister

Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman


Europe's slow suicide by Michael Akerib

Europe - too old to grow? by Miraç Yazici

The Future Now Show:
Happy Rain with Isabelle Antunès

Cryptocurrencies & AI with Quinn Michaels

News about the Future:
Metasonics / NexLoop

Build on Water

Recommended Book:
Eating Promiscuously: Adventures in the Future of Food by James McWilliams

Music with Plants with Mileece

Futurist Portrait: Morgaine Gaye

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.yEurope's slow suicide

Michael Akerib, Owner of Innovax, Rector, Swiss UMEF University.

'I felt that Europe, in its state of derangement, had passed its own death sentence - our sacred home of Europe, both the cradle and the Parthenon of Western civilization.'
Stefan Zweig

'The ageing of populations has touched several populations in history: Greece, Rome and Venice are the most famous examples. Every time, this has led to the death of that particular population.'
Alfred Sauvy

A brief history

The original European population was Homo antecessor and Heidelberg followed by Neanderthals eventually replaced by the Homo sapiens migrants. There seems thus to be an original bias in favor of Europeans as the Heidelberg man had a larger brain than the original Asian population. It is our ancestors who invented agriculture.

Migration is a phenomenon as old as humanity and is a well-proven strategy to have better opportunities for both the migrants and their children as well as for escaping natural catastrophes or political oppression. There have also been cases of forced migration, and the slave trade has been one of them.
The Dark Ages saw a general decline in Europe - of population, but also of trade, and conversely, an increase in immigration and epidemics. However, in the later period, and until the thirteenth century, the population tripled, reaching 60 million.

Europe had a period of intense technological progress in the first millennium, sometimes based on original Chinese inventions and sometimes on inventions that had originated during the period of the Roman Empire, then forgotten and rediscovered. Black Death, in the 13th and 14th century led to a population decline.

The 15th century saw the beginning of the Age of Discovery during which European explorers and sea captains sought new trade routes and new lands. Improved ships and firepower allowed them to succeed in acquiring precious metals such as gold and silver as well as spices, but also food and oil. It boosted several industries such as shipbuilding and fisheries.

Straddling the 18th and 19th centuries, Malthus (1766 - 1834) published his Essay on the Principles of Population, putting forward the argument that the exhaustion of limited resources such as land and food would limit population growth. Hence, population growth will be limited, he thought, by famines. He has been proven wrong due to technology, the import of foodstuff from the new lands, immigration of Europeans towards other countries and early forms of family planning.

The Industrial Revolution, which started at the same time as Malthus published his book, saw the European population grow by 100 million in a century, to reach 266 million by 1850. Technology no doubt contributed greatly by decreasing poverty and thus allowed more money to be used for bringing up the children. Population growth continued to reach 487 million by 1920. Urban centers, whether London or Paris, grew at an even faster rate. European population growth took place in spite of an important child mortality,, with half the children dying before the age of 5 when those with the poorest parents will be placed to work in factories in conditions unimaginable today.

Causes of death of the population generally are dysentery, influenza, plague, smallpox and typhus.

Even though worldwide population grew to reach 900 million by 1800 with both Europe's and China's population doubling, mostly due to a slight increase in the birth rates, by 1850, Europe's population overtook that of China in a demographic and economic breakthrough that has been called The Great Divergence.

The contribution of Europe and the Americas to world output increased to reach 51%, with a corresponding decrease of China's share. Europe's Industrial Revolution was the fruit of slave labor, unfair trade practices, and cheap energy from coal.

The impact of the Industrial Revolution also touched agriculture and allowed an increase in productivity and therefore an improved nutrition for the entire population. Families were able to finance and provide financing for the new industries.

Child mortality decreased due to the reduction in infectious diseases. Families reduced the number of births. Reduced smoking, improved nutrition and increased exercise contributed greatly in improving longevity. So did the frequent use of soap and the boiling of water.

Europe will thus take advantage of the demographic dividend.

The increased number of the working-age population led to an immigration boom to the American continent where labor was scarce. In fact, 60 million Europeans immigrated to the American and African continents as well as to Australasia in the 19th century. This allowed Europeans to control increasingly large amounts of land, with a peak of 84% of the world's land in 1914.

The twentieth century

The 20th century saw the world's population soar from 1.6 billion to 6 billion, infant mortality drop by between 70% and 80%, and life expectancy double to reach 60.

Since the medical industry was focusing on adults rather than children, it is the adults who saw their diseases being successfully controlled - dysentery, malaria, scurvy, syphilis, among others. Vaccination was also a major step in reducing mortality.

Simultaneously, a number of public health improvements took place particularly with regards to milk and water supply, the poisoning of rats, slum clearing and swamp draining.

The end result was the near eradication of death from infectious diseases, allowing a doubling of life expectancy.

Europe witnessed a fast growing economy from 1945 to 1973, making it the second fastest growing zone after Japan, by whatever economic measure. 1973 brutally ended that period. Production in many industries fell considerably, jobs moved from industry to services, high unemployment followed. Average salaries decreased.

Very large migratory movements occurred in the 20th century, essentially due to wars and to the decolonization process and the consequent break up of certain countries such as India.


The European Union is today the world's largest single market and its currency, the Euro, the world's second biggest currency. The level of unemployment which peaked at 12% in 2013 is now back to 9.5%. However, 40% of the jobs are not permanent positions and nearly 20% are part-time positions. Youth unemployment remains a major problem. This is partly due to the fact that legislation protects people who have jobs and therefore corporations are afraid to hire.

Many Europeans have doubts and even negative attitudes towards the European Union, viewing it as a bureaucratic organization to which they do not relate. The numerous rules and regulations are viewed as an infringement on freedoms.

There is also the issue of the refugees to which the EU does not seem able to give a coherent response.

Decolonization and economic expansion in Britain and France brought to their shores migrants from the former colonies with major population flows from 1960 to 1973, reaching up to 6% of the European workforce. It was a very different population from today's migrants.

Unemployment, large wage differentials between Europe and developing countries and inside their own country, are the driving factors of today's immigration flow. However, increasing salaries in developing countries appears to be counterproductive as it allows individuals and families to be able to afford a safer crossing into a host country.

Today there is an estimated 250 million migrants, of which only 10% are women, including both legal and illegal migrants, representing 3% of the world's population.

Immigration from Africa to Europe is not likely to shrink, in particular due to wars and climatic warming, to the delight of corporations but to the watchful eyes of governments that have to bear the cost of social services.

2015 saw over one million immigrants arrive in Germany. The total number of legal migrants in the EU is of 11 million and there is an unknown number of illegal migrants.

Many immigrants do not integrate and live in ghettos, uninterested by education and therefore limiting their access to employment with a carry-over effect of up to three generations. However, this is definitely not the case for all immigrants. Over a third of them have a college education and many of them have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Immigrants have been blamed by working class people of having taken their jobs, when in fact this is due to the transfer of production units to Asia. The labor pool has become global and a new category of workers retain a base in their home country which they leave a few months per year to work abroad and return with their savings.

A more serious issue has been the fear of loss of national identity. Systems and procedures to halt migration can be put in place and there are presently discussions in the EU to decide which, if any, are to be adopted, in particular concerning refugees and asylum-seeker. The United Nations refugee agency numbers them, across the world as being 10 million. Some have been admitted legally, others have reached Europe's shores by raft. In view of the diverging points of view of the various member states of the EU, taking a decision is not easy and has led to major tensions in the Union.

Immigration has been considered a problem to which the state should offer solutions. Nowadays, there seems to be some agreement among the Member States' governments in order to jointly deal with questions concerning immigration and asylum: the impossibility of tackling this problem independently. At the same time, the peculiarities of each State in relation to this phenomenon and the perceptions and national normative references regarding the content of the immigration process complicate the attainment of clear and binding agreements.

The future

The future is unpredictable, but trends can be detected and projections made.

With the present fertility rates, Europe's population in 2060 will represent only 5% of the world's. The continent's GDP will have dropped significantly. It will also be the world's oldest region with a median age of 45.

Immigration cannot be viewed as a reasonable solution as it would require allowing 13 million migrants per year if one is to keep the ratio of 4 to 5 active persons for each pensioner.

It seems we can safely say that Europe is dying by suicide both through the sharp decline in demography and through its attitude to the rest of the world, almost excusing itself for its very existence.

The massive entry of foreigners, in particular from the Middle East and Africa, is changing the ethnic composition and the culture of the continent in ways that were not predicted as assimilation has been the key word over the last fifty years. However, it has not happened. The hybrid culture that many intellectuals believed in has also not happened.

Instead, we are witnessing a rise in the number of Moslems entering the country and maintaining their own way of life and wishing to Islamize Europe.

The Islamization of Europe is unlikely to happen in the immediate future as the number of Moslems is not sufficient and unlikely to grow out of proportion. Further, the third generation is generally not sufficiently religious.

The death of Europe?

Europeans generally have lost faith in their political institutions and Europe seems to have gone into a decaying process like previous old civilizations before our time. One of the most important issues has become the change in Europe's ethnic composition.

The divide has been between those praising European culture, identity and liberal values, and wishing to maintain it, on the one hand and those praising diversity on the other hand. The position of this last group is based, among other thoughts on the fact that there is no country in the world that has a homogeneous population and identity due to the various migrations that have occurred over centuries. Diversity assumes that immigrants will want to blend and not maintain their own ethnic profiles. There is also the issue of access to jobs and to public services.

The confrontation between the two has led those in favor of diversity to accuse the others of racism.

What is certain is that the liberal values so dear to the Europeans are severely put into question. Movements closely recalling fascism are gaining ground and democratic forces seem reluctant to fight for their own values. Europe is committing a slow suicide. It no longer believes in its right of existence. The long build-up of European culture seems to have hit a wall. Our children and grandchildren will soon be taught at school that they should be ashamed of being European.

.yEurope - too old to grow?

by Miraç Yazici, Intern at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Nevsehir, Turkey

The elderly population is rising faster than all younger age groups globally. It is a global phenomenon and called population ageing. Population aging is the increase of the share of people aged 65 and over among other age groups in a society, due to rising life expectancy and fertility declines. Europe has the greatest percentage of population aged 60 or over, with 25 per cent. Hang on tight, population aged 60 or over will reach nearly 250 millions in 2050 and it is more than one- third of European population.

Facts about population aging
When looking at population aging from an economic perspective, the question is: can an ageing society sustain growth? A recent study conducted in US finds that a 10 percent increase in the population ages 60 and over decreases the growth rate of GDP per capita by 5.5 per cent. Two- thirds of the reduction is due to slower growth in the labor productivity of workers, while one-third is from slower labor force growth. It also finds that GDP growth will slow by 1.2 percent this decade and 0.6 per cent next decade due to population aging in US. [2] Population aging leads to declining workforce, lower fertility, and an increase in the age dependency ratio (the ratio of working-age to old-age groups).

The demographic age dependency ratio set to nearly double over the long- term.This implies that the The European Union would move from having 4 working- age people for every person aged 65 and over to about 2 working-age persons by 2060. Total workforce in European Union members is expected to contract by 11.8 per cent between 2020 and 2060.
[3] Population ageing will tend to lower both workforce participation and savings ratios, This process will negatively impact economics growth in European Union.

Total labour supply in The European Union is projected to stabilise between 2013 and 2023, while it is projected to decline by 8.2 per cent between 2023 and 2060, representing 19 million less people. [4] In addition to rising old-age dependency, declines in the share of young workers among working population are believed to have negative consequences on innovation.

There is a fresh study about population ageing and innovation relationship. Study on OECD countries, finds that population aging leads to declines in innovation activity. [5] Last but not the least, growing older population means higher healthcare costs and long- term healthcare spending may cause a fiscal sustainability risk. Increasing costs of public systems of health care, pensions and social protections for a growing older population will also have negative impact on economic growth through higher tax rates. [6]

Population aging is creating new opportunities
While having mentioned adverse effects of population ageing, there are also positive effects of this global phenomenon like big business opportunities. Baby boomers travel more than ever before, so travel and tourism industry will benefit from demographic transition.
[7] Additionally, companies in healthcare sector will also enjoy increasing profits. Based on US, an investment bank's research found that people over 65 spends five times more than under 25, on healthcare. [8] Also growing demand for independent living communities, assisted living communities and nursing homes will boost real estate sector. [9] Companies have their own methods to tackle with consequences of demographic change in their labor markets, which increasingly consist of older workers. BMW is one of them, a pilot production line was staffed with workers with an average age of 47, to represent a year-2017 mix of employees. which solve increasing older workers problem. [10] To some extent, there are more sectors benefiting from population ageing like financial services, pharmaceuticals and leisure services.

Growth of the elderly population in Europe is effecting society in economic, social, political aspects. In the next decades, Europe will face population ageing related challenges and opportunities intensively. It doens't have to be a time bomb. Every kind of change has pros and cons. Companies in European economies, which can adapt fast and efficient will mostly benefit from this unique demographic transition term.

[1] United Nations, Population Division, Population Facts, No:2017/1, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[2] The Effect of Population Aging on Economic Growth, the Labor Force and Productivity, Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen and David Powell, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[3] Europe's Shrinking, Aging Population, Stratfor, 13 June 2012, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[4] The 2015 Ageing Report, European Economy 3/2015, accessed on 31 August 2017, European Commision.

[5] Medium-Run Implications of Changing Demographic Structures for the Macro-Economy, Yunus Aksoy, Henrique S. Basso, Ron P. Smith, National Institute Economic Review, Volume: 241 issue: 1, page(s): 58-64, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[6] Population Ageing is One of the Greatest Challenges Facing the 21st Century,, Joseph Chamie, 16 August 2017, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[7] Forget millennial backpackers - globe-trotting baby boomers are transforming travel, 06 April 2017, accessed on 31 August 2017

[8] How to make money from the world's ageing population, The Telegraph , Richar Dyson, 20 July 2013, accessed on 31 August 2017.

[9] How To Make Money From The Global Aging Megatrend,,Forbes, Richard Eisenberg, 9 May 2016, accessed on 26 August 2017.

[10] The Globe: How BMW Is Defusing the Demographic Time Bomb, Harvard Business Review, March 2010, accessed on 13 September 2017.

.The Future Now Show

Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges - sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision - to make the best ones.

Shape the future now, where near-future impact counts and visions and strategies for preferred futures start.

Do we rise above global challenges? Or do we succumb to them? The Future Now Show explores how we can shape our future now - where near-future impact counts. We showcase strategies and solutions that create futures that work.

Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges - sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision - to make the best ones.

The Future Now Show
December 2017

Happy Rain


Isabelle Antunès

Storytelling is a fundamental part of what makes humans successful. This is a story about how farming communities in Bangladesh were transformed by an idea that allowed them to profit from the monsoon season instead of migrating away and waiting for it to pass. But it’s also a story about a story, about the documentary that was made and how this has been woven in to the evolution and spread of this transformative idea. - Paul Holister

Future Now Show

Support and collaborations required to use Happy Rain to provide 5 million people with food, jobs and improved livelihood in floodplains!

Turning floods into an asset
in Bangladesh

Project  proposal presented by  Dr. Isabelle  Antunès

The Future Now Show


Isabelle Antunès, Documentary film maker, France

Paul Holister, Editor, Summary Text

The Future Now Show

and join the dialogue in our
LinkedIn Group: The Future Now Show

yCryptocurrencies & AI

Quinn Michaels and Jason Goodman to discuss AI and investigate the connections between cryptocurrency and Artificial Intelligence.

The SingularityNET protocol
enables a global AI marketplace. As it matures, it will contribute to a decentralized, market-based artificial general intelligence for the benefit of all.

.News about the Future


Metasonics technology has been developed by a team of researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol.
Enhanced control over sound will give technology greater power to enhance people’s lives. From bespoke therapeutic wearables to personalised multi-sensory experiences, Metasonics will give customers the flexibility and freedom to do much more with products.
Controlling acoustic fields is crucial in diverse applications such as loudspeaker design, ultrasound imaging and therapy, or acoustic particle manipulation. Here, using a process of analogue-to-digital conversion and wavelet decomposition, we develop the notion of quantal meta-surfaces. The quanta here are small, pre-manufactured three-dimensional units – which we call metamaterial bricks – each encoding a specific phase delay. These bricks can be assembled into meta-surfaces to generate any diffraction-limited acoustic field. This powerful methodology dramatically simplifies the design of acoustic devices and provides a key-step towards realising spatial sound modulators

Team NexLoop developed the AquaWeb to help urban local food producers collect, filter, store, and distribute atmospheric moisture with a modular, all-in-one water sourcing and management system. AquaWeb harnesses freely available rain and fog and uses passive strategies to distribute this water so that urban farms, including greenhouses, indoor vertical farms, and container farms, can save energy and become more resilient to disturbances.
Each aspect of AquaWeb’s design was inspired by living systems. These include how cribellate orb weaver spider webs collect fog from the air, how drought-tolerant plants like the crystalline ice plant store water, and how mycorrhizal fungi like the Jersey cow mushroom distribute water. The team also looked to the dwarf honey bee’s hexagonal nest structure for AquaWeb’s efficient and modular design.

.Build on Water



Japan to build cities in the ocean

Building for the future featuring Koen Olthuis


The world’s first floating city will emerge in 2020


.Recommended Book

Eating Promiscuously: Adventures in the Future of Food
by James McWilliams

The human practice of farming food has failed. There are 7,500 known varieties of domesticated apples; we regularly eat about five. Seventy-five percent of the world’s food derives from five animals and twelve plants. Factory-farmed meat is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions (about 14 percent, larger than transportation) and consumes 75 percent of the water in drought-prone regions such as the West. We are stuck in a rut of limited choices, and the vast majority of what we eat is detrimental to our health and the welfare of the planet. But what if we could eliminate agriculture as we know it? What if we could start over?

James McWilliams’s search for a more expansive palate leads him to those who are actively exploring the fringes of what we can eat, a group of outliers seeking nutrition innovation outside the industrial food system. Here, we meet insect manufacturers, seaweed harvesters, road kill foragers, plant biologists, and oyster farmers who seek to open both our minds and our mouths - and to overturn our most basic assumptions about food, health, and ethics.

Eating Promiscuously generates hope for a more tasteful future - one in which we eat thousands of foods rather than dozens - with a new philosophy that could save both ourselves and our planet.

.AMusic with Plants

Mileece is a sonic artist and environmental designer who's developed the technology to give silent seedlings a portal to their own sonic expression.

Mileece is the stage name of Mileece Abson, an English sound artist and environmental designer. She makes music with plants.

Meet the Sonic Artist Making Music with Plants: Sound Builders

.Futurist Portrait: Morgaine Gaye

Dr Morgaine Gaye is Director of Bellwether: Food Trends, an annual B2B future-food trend research compendium and has her own healthfood product range of functional food blends called Dr Gaye, which is sold globally online. Morgaine looks at food and eating from a social, cultural, economic, trend, branding and geo-political perspective. Her work involves consulting for food companies and manufacturers, delivering bespoke trend briefings and new product development ideation.

"As a Food Futurologist, I don’t look into crystal balls and predict that the future is filled with tall, dark handsome waiters but I do get to talk about food in all different contexts and capacities (I don’t make tubes of food for space ships, or invent new substances like edible lycra – although I’d quite like to and I’m open to offers…)

I am passionate about what I do because of how food affects us all on a daily basis. I have a team of wonderful researchers who help me search, scour, interview, write and compile an food trend compendium Bellwether : Food Trends which forecasts 3 years in advance and I present and deliver some of that content or more bespoke research.

Food is a complex topic and involves society, behaviour, geo-politics, culture, beliefs, history, trends, fads, art, marketing, sensorial perceptions, biology and, well, almost everything. On this site you’ll see a variety of ways in which these elements inform different aspects of the work.

I apply modern scientific research to history, nature and global cultural theory, branding, marketing and consumer behaviour and help ad agencies, PR companies and brands with new brand extensions/NPD, future gazing and trend reports. Amongst other things, this also involves public and private lectures/seminars, keynote speaking, academic research and publications, journalistic insights into food trends and helping established companies to revive their food brands.

In short, as a Food Futurologist, I explore all the facets of food; future food trends, why we eat what we eat, believe what we believe and what the future of food looks like."



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