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May-June 2008 Volume 42, No. 3

Cover Story
Draining Our Future: The Growing Shortage of Freshwater
by Lester R. Brown
Global demand for water has tripled in the past half century. Water is a food, energy, and political issue as well as a resource issue. Since most of the water we consume comes in the form of food (70% of water use is for agricultural irrigation), the competition for water between rural and urban areas will impact future food supplies. Moreover, as water tables fall, more energy is required to dig deeper and pump it out; meanwhile, diversion of water for hydroelectric power is draining many rivers dry. The basic strategy for solving these problems involves both stabilizing population growth to reduce demand and improving water efficiency to increase supply. PDF Available

The Desalination Solution
by McKinley Conway on the  growing need to increase freshwater resources locally through desalination projects. Free PDF.


Bioviolence: A Growing Threat
by Barry Kellman
The nuclear threat has been the nightmare scenario for more than a half century, but an even more frightening possibility is the deliberate spread of fatal diseases such as Ebola, smallpox, or anthrax. Bioviolence is about the destruction of living organisms, and, unlike nuclear or even traditional bombs, its destruction can be executed quietly and anonymously, making its prevention even more challenging. As yet there is no single international authority tracking or preventing the use of bioweapons, and this "nobody-in-charge" situation could prove disastrous to humanity. The author, director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University, offers several strategies, including the  establishment of an international Bioviolence Prevention Office. PDF Available.

PLUS: Germ Warfare Under the Microscope: interview with Jeanne Guillemin, author of Biological Weapons, on what governments should do to reduce the worldwide threat of bioviolence. Free Q & A.


AND: Nanopollution: The Invisible Fog of Future Wars by research scientists Antonietta Gatti  and Stefano Montanari [Nanodiagnostics], on the environmental and health impacts of nanodust resulting from the use of high-tech weaponry. PDF Available

Discovering the Future
by Paul Crabtree 
 The author of future-oriented fiction works like The Time Machine and nonfiction works like Anticipations was uniquely able to draw trends together from across a spectrum of human activity and imagine scenarios that are both vivid and plausible. And uncannily accurate. What were the building blocks of Wells's predictive technique? He explained the basic principles behind his methodology in an address to the Royal Society in 1902. Read on.


Trends Shaping Tomorrow's World: Forecasts and Implications for Business, Government, and Consumers (Part Two)
by Marvin J. Cetron and Owen Davies
This special report (second of two parts) updates the major trends that have been tracked in a four-decade research project by Forecasting International. Trends covered in part 2 include the ongoing dominant role that technological change plays in the economy and society; the continuing rapid growth of the service sector; the disappearance of "retirement," or at least a meaningful "retirement age"; the growth of entrepreneurialism; the loss of multiple management levels; and the growing risk of exposure to terrorism among increasingly international organizations. The authors summarize the implications of each trend.



Tomorrow in Brief
Born to Cheat?
Reach Out and Thwart a Terrorist
Inventing a Better Search Engine
Rainbow Traps May Improve Computing
Fungi to Fight Disease

Playing Your Own Tune
So you want to slow the "Minute Waltz" down? Add a dance beat to Bach? New "active listening" technologies may soon make it possible to do whatever you want to your music, creating new sounds to suit your personal taste.

Discrimination Against Women
Despite the enactment of more laws and programs to eliminate discrimination, women have yet to achieve full legal, economic, and cultural equality with men even in some of the world's more advanced societies.

The Daughter Also Rises
The combination of a centuries-old preference for male children, new sex-screening technologies, and better opportunities for women in the workplace are playing out in some surprising ways throughout Asia.


Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
A global temperature rise of even 6C would be enough to drastically alter the world as we know it, with catastrophic consequences for human civilization, warns environmental science journalist Mark Lynas.

New Clocks: It's About Time
"What time is it?" is more than a casual question to physicists, engineers and other specialists whose work depends on ultra-precise measurements of time. At present, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures located outside of Paris calculates global time by averaging data received from 300 atomic clocks at laboratories round the world.
But this system of telling time may soon be out of date as researchers pursue ever more accurate time measurement.  

U.S. Forecasts for the Labor-Market of 2016
The United States is projected to increase total employment by 15.6 million jobs between 2006 and 2016. While the figure sounds impressive, that rate is slower than the previous decade, which added 15.9 million jobs to the U.S. economy. The numbers reflect demographic shifts and the increased effects of globalization on the U.S. economy.

The Arts as Engine for Growth
Tradition-minded economists may not have much respect for the arts as an agent of growth, but creative industries—music, books, painting and galleries—do earn a lot of money, especially for cities.

Social Machines
"Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, simple or direct than does Nature. In her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous," Renaissance painter Leonardo di ser Piero (of Vinci) once remarked. Former Apple vice president Donald Norman's Design of Future Things is very much rooted in this Leonardo-esque sentiment. The short, conversational book serves as both a meditation on the nature of human-machine interaction and a warning that invention that ignores the human, the artful, and the natural will fail both conspicuously and disastrously. Review by Patrick Tucker

From March-April
Making Poor Nations Rich
Editor Benjamin Powell, research fellow at the Independent Institute and assistant professor of economics at Suffolk University, has assembled a collection of essays by economists from several countries. Review by Lane Jennings

From Jan-Feb 2008
A New Bill of Rights for Americans
Constitutional protections authored centuries ago can hardly be expected to protect citizens coping with the massive changes wrought by technological progress and other trends, according to futurist Joseph F. Coates. Review by Michael Marien

Book Review Archive

April 2008 Futurist Update
Nanotech will be a "critical driver" of future growth in manufacturing. The economic costs of hurricanes have been doubling every 10 to 15 years in the United States. The U.S. State Department warns of an upsurge in anti-Semitism. And astronomers have found salt on Mars and methane beyond our solar system.

March 2008 Futurist Update
Workplace expert John Challenger evaluates “recession-proof” industries… Infertility could become common… The U.S. National Academies list top engineering challenges of the twenty-first century … A new report shows that children learn to act toward achieving specific goals at about the age of 3… and The Tech Museum calls for nominations for innovators. Check out these and other news items in the

Highlights February 2008

Bionic Eyes
Researchers create bionic lenses that would allow wearers to see electronic information superimposed over their view of the world ... A massive gas cloud is hurtling toward the Milky Way at a speed of 150 miles per second, set to strike our galaxy at about a 45-degree angle (in 40 million years)... The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations on preventing deaths by assuring access to effective health care... All of these stories and more are featured in the February issue of Futurist Update.

From FUTURIST UPDATE for January 2008
Robots for Handicapped Babies
Babies need to move around independently and explore their environments. Not doing so can impair their cognitive development. So the University of Delaware has developed prototype driving robots for babies. James C. Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, and Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering, have equipped the robots with environmental sensors and safety features that will help babies explore without crashing into pets, furniture, or other obstacles. The robot's simple joystick control is easy enough for infants as young as seven months to operate.


TOP TEN FORECASTS for 2008 and Beyond
Each year since 1985, the editors of THE FUTURIST have selected the most thought-provoking ideas and forecasts appearing in the magazine to go into our annual Outlook report. Watch the video on Youtube.
Attn: Teachers and instructors:
WMV or MOV Quicktime versions available for presentations upon request.  


The Top Ten Forecasts from
Outlook 2007
the first short film by C. Wagner. Watch the video now on YouTube.



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