Monday, June 13, 2011

Everyone has problems

Just thinking out "loud", but these are the problems I think will become increasingly important to Canada and the world at large. Regardless of the headaches that this kind of thinking causes, sometimes it's good to take a look at the big picture, at the map ahead. In no particular order:

- Climate Change. This one's going to be huge for way too many reasons to list. "Climate Wars" by Gwynne Dyer is probably one of the most insightful books on the subject meant for popular audiences.
- End of cheap goods. There's every indication that the rapid Chinese growth spurred on by Western demand for cheap goods is coming to the end, due to currency imbalance, living quality growth in China, and growing consumer demand within China. Now it is likely that other countries will pick up Chinese slack, but for a confluence of reasons China was the ideal place to provide cheap manufactured goods to the rest of the world, and that might change.
- Growing polarization of politics, especially in Canada. I think that we are already well into our own Canadian Culture Wars and it's going to get worse before it gets better, especially with the latest election results and growth of Conservative media outlets and popular sentiment.
- Sustainable Development (or lack thereof): the problem is not that of technology. That much is very clear by now. The problem is that of political and social will. Our political system prevents any kind of meaningful long-term planning and development, and our social system prevents us from dropping our favourite childhood toys and grow up. The world's not going to stand still and wait for us to get our act together, but our leaders and masses are unable and unwilling to come to grips with it.
- Clash of Civilizations: personally I hate this term. I think it's misleading, dangerous, and smacks of high-blown rhetoric and demagoguery. However, looking at the current political climate, it might just become a reality. Whether this is a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, it remains to be seen.
- Peak Oil. 20 years ago the idea of global Peak Oil was deemed preposterous. Today respectable textbooks (McGraw Hill, Pearson, etc.) publish graphs showing that peak oil is happening right now. While the deposits in Alaska, the China Sea, Canadian oil sands, etc., might give hopes that there are still vast reserves of oil to offset Peak Oil and stave off oil production collapse for several decades, that's a little like arguing that an addict shouldn't abandon his heroin addiction because there's still plenty of heroin available.

Well, that's all for now. More thoughts as they come.