The Environment

We had a visitor, Dr Joe Morabito, who talked to us about the environment. We’ll have more about him in our next edition.

One question during the discussion stood out;

"Yes but how do we make the environment matter?”

It’s a crucial question. We all feel we should care, do care, but it’s hard – we drive our cars, chuck our litter, bin our cans. What can one person do? What can one company do?

There is a theory at least that in the not too distant future businesses will be called to account in terms of their ability to handle the 3 ‘e’s:


The warnings are not news. It would be news if they were heeded.

Scientists - including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences – have been speaking out even more fervently.
When natural systems are destroyed, no nation or person can be safe. There is no escape.
We are on a collision course. The environment is already suffering critical stress, and it is fragile. Fundamental changes are needed. Urgently.

Living species
By the year 2100 one third of all species now living may be extinct. More than a quarter of all extinctions, where blame can be attributed, have been caused by human hunters.

The Atmosphere
Ozone depletion threatens us with ultraviolet radiation.Acid precipitation has been at serious levels for decades. So has air pollution.

Releasing gases into the atmosphere does more than just the pollute the air. Predictions concerning global warming are uncertain, but there is no denying the danger, nor the fact that the build-up of pollution and carbon dioxide is causing and will continue to cause the earth’s temperature to rise. The accumulation of carbon dioxide is caused by: the burning of fossil fuels and the depletion of forests (Trees absorb carbon dioxide during daylight hours)

Destructive pressure is extreme, especially in coastal regions. Too many fish are being caught –above the maximum sustainable yield. Waste in rivers very heavy, and in too many cases that waste is toxic. As the planet gets hotter we can expect a greater degree of evaporation.

Water resources
Heedless and careless exploitation of water supplies has caused serious shortages in more than 80 countries. Pollution further limits the supply

Since 1945 11% of the earth’s vegetated surface has been degraded – an area larger than India and China combined.

Tropical and temperate dry forests alike are being rapidly destroyed

The earth’s ability to absorb waste and destructive effluent is finite. Its capacity to produce food and energy is finite too. We are fast approaching these limits. The earth’s population reached 6 billion during 1999. The World Bank has stated that that the population will not stabilise at less than 12.4 billion. The United Nations concludes that the total could reach 14 billion.

One person in five lives in dire poverty. 1 in ten is seriously malnourished.

There are religious, political and social issues involved, but everyone on earth needs to understand the need for family planning.

Developed and Undeveloped Nations..
And they are consuming to extreme excess. The developed nations have so far neglected their clear obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations. Migration, social collapse or serious conflicts could result from spirals of environmental and economic instability

e-mail us with your ideas about the future:

An increased chance of finding life on other planets. More secrets of life will be revealed in the lab.

The genetic jigsaw
A large number of biology's deep mysteries will be solved little by little. There have been important signs of this already in early 1999. New drugs that conquer Alzheimer's disease, vaccines to wipe out AIDS, ec.

Health Testing
Genetic testing will determine our predisposition to a particular illness. We will take pills to lower the risk. But the pills may have side effects. And there may be pressure--from insurance companies, even from employers--to take the preventive medicine even if we don't want to. Our chances of survival may be greater. The costs of survival may be greater too.

In the 2020s, you may be able to buy a "recipe" for a PC over the Net, insert plastic and conductive molecules into your "nanobox," and have it spit out a computer. Computers could be embedded in your clothes, your walls, perhaps even in a single sheet of paper.

Machines will be cleverer than we are
Superbrains will change everything. Previously insoluble problems will be rendered trivial. Jobs and lives will be profoundly affected, in ways not yet imagined

Cook your own energy
You will have your own turbine, running on palm oil or manure gas, etc.

Different kinds of business leader Teamwork will matter most. Leave your ego on the pavement outside.

Immortal minds
We may expect something like the movie ‘The Truman Show’ - technology may be able to track every waking moment of your life and preserve it in a form that will allow your great-great-great grandchildren to quiz a virtual you

The internet as public forum. Everyone will get a chance to ask questions. Everyone will get a chance to make trouble.

The airport lounge is your oyster
Technology has freed us from the pain of travelling.It has also liberated us from staying at home.

Do the internet and the global economy unify the world or help communities to splinter?

Quantum computing
The imprecise nature of subatomic particles harnessed to answer questions beyond the reach of today's computers

The betting shop economy
We may find ourselves wagering on the future value of a career, or a house’s location, even a country in which to live. Back to the old days of the risk-taker.

Some will take the long-term view. For others everything will go faster and faster still. We will work different hours. Some inhabitants of the same city will have breakfast while others have their evening meal.

Today, silicon networks look nothing like the brain, but nodes of the Internet have begun to function as neurons. Hundreds of thousands of PCs working in concert have already tackled complex computing problems. In the not-so-distant future, some scientists expect spontaneous computer networks to emerge, forming a ‘huge digital creature’

Religion Science and religion will find some common ground. Scientists will continue to ask bigger questions about the origins and patterns of life on earth. The faithful will accept certain materialist insights.

Cities will be transformed by the extreme mobility of the workforce and by the fact that more and more people will be able to work from home. But population increases will exacerbate traffic problems and congestion. Citizens will campaign to reshape development and to preserve open spaces.

Youth and Age
People are going to live longer. There will be a large population of retired elders. It is hoped that people will have fewer children. Better education, advantages and ambition will have to drive pampered youths to greater productivity.

Millions will derive their university education from the internet. (The internet is going to make plagiarising for assignments increasingly easy). More and more bright sparks, bored at school will be heading for university aged 15 or 16.

Art and Communication
More and more technical means to express ourselves uncensored, free and without having to wait for that record deal of gallery opening. The distinction between performer and audience will become more blurred. As technology appears to dehumanise the world to an ever-greater extent, artists will seek better and newer ways of making their work more personal.

e-mail us with your ideas about the future: