Environmental Scanning through a collection of:
SIGNS OF THE TIMES, TRENDS AND TREND BABIES
What is a Sign of the
Times? Signs of the times are the result
of information gathering that looks for inventions,
innovations, attitudes and actions. Signs of the times
come from many sources, are systematically gathered
and have meaning for the future.
What is a Trend?
A trend is long-range and persistent; it effects many
societal groups, grows slowly and is profound. In
contrast, a fad is short-term, "in", effects particular
societal groups, spreads quickly and is superficial.
What is a Mega-trend?
A mega-trend extends over many generations, and in
cases of weather, mega-trends can cover periods prior
to human existence. They describe complex interactions
with many factors and they often represent the introduction
of several new paradigms or worldviews that arise
in hunting and gathering, agriculture, and industrial
Here you find general trends or signs of new trends
("trend babies") from the categories social, technical,
ecological, economic or political. Trend babies grow
from innovations in the above categories that have
the potential of going mainstream in the future (for
example: just a few years ago, alternative medicine
was truly alternative. Now it is big business and
very respectable). The choice of trends is naturally
influenced by the author's values.
Very often, the chosen Signs are members of a trend
family. A parent trend (for example, the change from
an industrial society to a knowledge-based society)
is well documented. The ways in which such sweeping
trends play themselves out in various parts of the
community represent the "members of that trends family".
Examples: Jobs in the industrial
sector have shrunk causing widespread unemployment.
Many countries see small business
as a solution to unemployment, driving unprecedented
attention to small business in many countries legislatures.
Another example of a trend
related to the move from industrial to knowledge society
is the privatization of the education industry.
As in all cases in Signs, sustainability
is one of the larger branches from which many other
twig-sized trends grow. Sustainability is "the property
of being sustainable", "using a resource so that the
resource is not depleted or permanently damaged".
In Signs, I use it to mean sustainable development,
"an approach to economic planning that attempts to
foster economic growth while preserving the quality
of the environment for future generations."
When does a "trend baby", gain acceptance as a bona
fide trend? When it gets enough confirmation in the
various media to show it is an increasingly accepted
value, behavior or technology.
growth and "bellwether" geographic sites:
There is also an attempt to follow the global spread
of trends that have started in the West (for example,
Women's rights are a generally accepted topic in the
media and on the Internet. Just how and when women's
rights develop in various countries can represent
global growth of that trend.) Some places seem to
lead development in one or a variety of areas and
are looked to as the source of new trends. California
has long been considered as bellwether for the United
States. The Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway
and Denmark have been considered bellwether in social
All trends, to a greater or
lesser degree affect our lives, our work and our futures.
Our ability to understand that effect can many times
make a positive difference in the quality of our lives.
Sustainable - Alternative Energy goes mainstream
Renewable energy gets a lift
The American Stock Exchange has a new index,
the WilderHill Clean Energy Index. It has only been in existence
since August but has increased 12 percent. The ASE says that it
is unusual for a new index to make such a large jump in just a
few months. The jump however is linked to the rise in oil prices
but even to a government tax credit. Even though the United States
has not signed the Kyoto global warming treaty, traders feel its
very existence could be another factor in the large increase in
Investors and Environmentalists can both share
in the early success of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index. This
is the new odd couple! Did you ever suppose that the Kyoto agreement
would have an effect on a stock market index even without American
participation? These and other consequences of changing other
energy sources will continue to have unthought-of results. Futures
Studies has tools that help delineate these unthought-of actions
and alliances before they happen.
Source: CNN Money
Date: October 25, 2004
Author: Steve Hargreaves
Ethics - Digital resurrection
Ford Brings Back Steve McQueen
Actor Oliver Reed was playing a role in the
filming of Gladiator when he suddenly died. Rob Harvey, John Nelson,
Neil Courbould, and Tim Burke were able to recreate Oliver digitally
and managed to finish his scenes with seamless precision. Steve
McQueen died in 1980, but that has not stopped him from achieving
immortality. Ford Motor Company plans to resurrect him digitally
for use in the advertising of a retro automobile.
Many questions arise with this technology.
Does a person's estate live after them so that they can collect
royalties for the use of name and image of the person who originated
the estate? Can those rights be inherited, if so to how many generations?
Will individuals need to put something in their will as to the
use of their digital images, whether playing a role or just as
themselves? Will there need to be limitations on what kinds of
things digital images can be say or do? This is another area where
the technology is exciting and brings a profit and even prizes,
but where no apparent consideration of consequences or ethical
issues has been done. Also see May 19, 2004, Fiction from fiction
- arts trend (or trend baby), notes how fiction is being created
from fictional characters.
Source: Film industry magazine Millimeter
through Find Articles, New York Times
Date: May 2, 2001, October 15, 2004
Publisher: PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.
Authors: Jeremy Peters And Danny Hakim
Häng med på cykelsafari genom storstadsdjungeln (Come
along on a bicycle safari through the city jungle)
Tales of Toronto
Three young men have become entrepreneurs
in a low-key way. Swede, John Grankvist shows people his city
from a new view, from the seat of a bicycle. For 270 crowns, one
gets the use of a bicycle, helmet and jacket. The tour takes three
hours and makes use of Stockholm's extensive bike paths. Tourists
can get some exercise and learn about both old and new attractions
in the city. Two fellows in Toronto, Canada give people another
way to get to know their city, through its oral history. Shawn
Micallef and Grabe Sawhney interviewed the citizens of the Kensington
area of the city. Signs posted at the sight where the citizen's
story took place give a telephone number. Anyone with a cell phone,
one can listen to the story told by the person who experienced
Another Utne story from Aug, 2004 tells about
an even kookier way to see a city. Psychogeographers (people who
use playful and inventive ways for exploring cities) led a group
of artists, writers and urban adventurers on a tour of the city.
The group got a walking pattern first right, second left, first
left, repeat. They chose a random direction and started walking
the pattern, called algorithmic walking. The walkers found a large
statue of a farmer, elegant graffiti, a busy swap meet and a set
of lane dividers with Nordic runes painted on them.
Yes!, a journal of positive futures tells about
the City Repair movement. An example is the corner of Ninth and
Sherrett Street in Portland, Oregon, named by locals Share-It
Square. On one corner sits a wooden bench with a carved earth
goddess and a wooden hook-tree with mugs, on the opposite corner
is a bookcase which serves as the community library, on the third
corner is a produce-sharing station and a kiosk with an information
book advertising services needed in the neighborhood, housecleaning,
gardening, massage, fix-it repairs. The last corner is a children's
playhouse full of games and stuffed animals. People living in
the neighborhood did the entire city repair
Source: SVT Swedish television program Packat
och Klart, Utne, Yes! Summer 2004
Date: October 17, 2004, October 2004, Summer 2004
Author: Anna Bowness, Stephen Silha for Yes!
more non-standard work schedules and arrangements
regulation of temporary employment
decline in the density of trade unions in many OECD lands
increases in education and training
increase in the impact adult learning has on an individuals employment
increase in education and training
When it comes to retirement and older workers
the end of early retirement
changing attitudes towards older workers
retirement starting later
eventual disappearance of the today's idea of retirement
lifelong savings accounts where withdrawals for learning or pension
can be made
mixed lifestyles with learning, leisure and work no longer linked
In the U.S.A., technology will be used as a
way to compete globally. There will be a global emphasis on skills,
preparation and ability to adapt, emphasis on caring, innovation,
persuasion, creativity, and flexible problem solving will be valued.
Source: Future Survey, Volume 26, Number
Date: August 2004
Editor: Michael Marien
Failed States projection to 2010
Nations at Risk for Violent Conflict
The ten countries at highest risk for civil
conflict, the most frequent type of deadly conflict are Burkina
Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Occupied Palestinian Territory,
Sierra Leone and Tanzania. The conflicts are predicted between
2000 and 2010 and are based upon the percentage of adults aged
15-29, 2005, the percent per year of urban population growth 2000
- 2005, cropland availability 2005, fresh water availability 2005
and working-age adult deaths 2000-2005.
This information based upon the book, is by
published by Population Action International. Tecken i tiden presented the concept of failed states in the March
2004 edition, which reported that conflicts were more numerous,
and longer. While presented as a single issue, at risk and failed
states are the result of global system failure with far reaching
consequences for the whole globe.
Source: The Futurist
Date: July/August 2004
The Security Demographic: Population and the Civil Conflicts after
the Cold War
Authors: Richard Cincotta and Robert Engelman and Daniele Anastasion
Change in societal roles - longer young adulthood
Growing Up is Harder to Do
New research is confirming what many of us
have seen among friends and our own families; it is taking longer
for young people to become adults. Social scientists call this
early adulthood. It is taking longer for youth to obtain what
have traditional been the signposts of adulthood, emotional independence,
getting a full-time job, economic independence from parents, finishing
school, being able to support a family, marrying and parenthood.
Young people are increasingly less likely to agree that married
couples should have children. An American study from 1993 found
that only 1 in 5 women of a sample believed that marriage and
children were not part of the same package.
The major reason given for these changes
in attitude is: the increased time needed to become educated in
order to earn a salary that will support a family and the new
numbers of women taking part in education and work life. In the
United State, other reasons were three government programs after
WWII. Those programs that helped GI's returning from the Second
World War were: the GI Bill for those returning to school, government
subsidies for affordable housing and the extension of Social Security
coverage of the elderly. In Sweden, housing subsidies, childcare,
health insurance, child allowances and subsidized education provided
security for young families. In both of these countries these,
these supports are highly diminished or non-existent.
During times of unemployment in Sweden, young
people have been defined as being between 18 and 35. More people
are living into their 90's. Many people are healthy and functioning
much longer that in any previous period, the available knowledge
base is larger than ever before and because of the driving technology,
jobs are more complicated than ever before. Jobs obtainable with
little or no education are becoming increasingly more difficult
to find in developing and developed countries.
Source: Contexts, published by University
of California Press, Vol 3, number 3
Date: Summer 2004
Authors: Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., Sheela Kennedy, Vonnie C.
Mcloyd, Rubén G. Rumbaut And Richard A. Settersten, Jr.
Macro trend - Growth in population brings fuel shortages
The End of Ancient Sun Light
The cedar forrests of Lebanon were depleted
from 90 percent to 7 percent in a 1, 500 year period starting
with the first sumarian King. causing the desertification of the
Firtle crescent. Without wood, societies went out to conquer new
lands where there were sources of fuel and building materials.
This was repeated by the Mesopotamians, the Greeks and the Romans
who also went to war looking for wood as well as new lands for
cultivation. When other fuels came into use, coal, peat and then
oil, we see the same pattern. This pattern is repeating itself
in our time. While attempts have been made to control oil production
through the use of business arrangements, wars are frequently
found in oil producing lands, and are waged by the strongest partner.
The trend of trying to control other lands
for their energy resources to meet growing populations continues
unabaited. Since all trends eventually give way to new trends,
one can speculate what the drivers to a new trend might be. The
United Nations indicated that the birth rate has gone down, world-wide
since the 1950's, however, the world population is still growing.
If birth rates continue to shrink, eventually the total population
will decrease for the first time since human's have existed.
Source: Yes! A journal of positive futures
Date: Fall 2004
Author: Thom Hartmann
Increasing requirements for CEO's
Background Briefing (Radio Australia) Psychopaths in Suits
PET Study: Looking Inside The Minds Of Murderers
The Psychopathic Brain: New Findings
Corporate leaders are expected to be heroes
and great saviors able to create transformative visions. Society
looks for business leaders to be better than those they manage,
to provide great visions and be charismatic. They are expected
to inspire us. As individuals they have views, expectations and
confidence in their vision to the degree that others are expected
to be inspired by it. For leadership one needs to be driven and
ambitious. Other qualities that come in the same package are pride,
envy and intense rivalry. In research corporate leaders often
experience events, words or even pictures as relatively neutral
when their colleagues experience them as strongly positive or
negative. Corporate leaders often have an inflated view of their
importance. We have many current examples of how they can go wrong
with the Enron collapse in the U.S. and the Scandia scandals in
Sweden. We desire the positive of the above qualities in our corporate
leaders; however both the positive and negative behaviors are
often found together and link strongly to the behaviors found
in people diagnosed as psychotic.
In 1995, researchers located parts of the prefrontal
cortex specifically the orbitofrontal or ventromedial frontal
lobes that have to do with psychotic behavior found in about 1%
of the population. The psychotic criminals tested were impaired
in these areas compared with a control group in both glucose uptake
and in ability to give a verbal label to odors. This is a task
that patients with known disorders to the orbitofrontal area have
trouble with. This does not explain the cause, but correlates
with the following behaviors: exaggerated preoccupation with sexual
matters, acting in a promiscuous and impersonal maladaptive way,
a lack of social and ethical judgment. Both neglect long-term
consequences of their actions, choosing immediate gratification
over careful planning. Scientists are using criminals for their
research. Corporate leaders have yet to be studied.
Source: ABC Radio National (Australia), Crime
Times Vol. 1, No. 4 , 1995, Page 6, Vol. 1, No. 1-2 , 1995, Pages
Date: July, 18 2004, 1995
Produced by: Ian Walker
Sustainable - economy
True Cost Economics
The current economic model has failed us
The Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) represents
a way of looking at the economy which looks at the associated
cost. The price of a new car covers the cost of production, materials
and salaries topped off by a profit margin. The price is much
higher when one considers the associated costs of health care,
pollution, roads, police and ambulance services The GPI is based
upon the accounting framework of the Gross Domestic Product and
then adds in the economic contributions of household and volunteer
work, and subtracts crime, pollution, and family breakdown. (for
a more detailed list see www.cyberus.ca/~sustain1/Question/GPI.html)
We are all familiar with the GDP, even if we
live outside of the United States. Its ups and downs guide the
psychological attitudes toward stock markets and economies all
over the world. The gross domestic product is the sum of all the
money spent, even if it is for repairs to something we bought
last week. If we spend more than previously, it is said that the
economy has grown. If not, measures are taken to encourage spending.
The GPI is being used in Atlantic Canada, and in the San Francisco
Bay area from where it has originated."
Date: August 26, 2004
Author: staff, Adbusters
Sustainable biodegradable plastics
Biopolymers: Plastics from Plants
New ways to produce plastics: a cloned gene
from a common plant will allow materials to produce plastics in
crops without damaging the plant's health, biodegradable plastics
from food starch, plastics from plant oils in wheat or canola
crops, fermentation of food wastes by bacteria which result in
carbon dioxide and alcohol. The carbon dioxide is then used in
While this is a commercial site with a vision
of "Creating value in agriculture, food, health and bio-based
industries through leadership in the application of science &
technology for the benefit of Saskatchewan people", it repeats
methods found on other biodegradable plastics sites.
Source: Ag-West Bio Inc.
Date: August 23, 2004
Ethics - Biotechnology
The Next Big Test, Gene Doping
Scientists are working with changing genes
that can help people with genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy,
such as the gene that increases muscle development. In experiments
with rats it was found that the rats developed more muscle power
in the leg that had been genetic manipulated that in the one that
had not been manipulated. As research gets published athletes
call researchers offering their bodies for the possibility of
getting the gold at the next Olympics. Some are willing to pay
for the service. Research has only reached the level of testing
on animals and is not moving as quickly as originally thought.
Most of our readers are not so interested in
the future of sports, but for those of you that are; the next
ethical problem after doping will be genetic doping. Researchers
warn gene therapy could go from a way to cure genetic diseases
to genetic doping. Genetic doping will even be a more difficult
problem to solve than regular doping because the inexpensive,
non-invasive tests now available for current doping cases are
not yet invented in the case of genetic doping.
Source: Canadian Broadcast System. Quirks
Date: June 26, 2004
Author: Bob McDonald
Sustainability - global warming
Attorney Generals from seven American states
have initiated suits against the largest utility companies in
the country for their high levels of emissions of green house
gases, demanding that they reduce emissions of the gases thought
to be warming the earth. The American Electric Power Co. is looking
into methods for more cleanly burning coal. They are also investing
in renewable energy projects. DuPont cut its greenhouse-gas emissions
by 65% since 1990; Alcoa Inc. has a goal of a 25% cut by 2010.
General Electric Co. (GE ) sees a growing market for wind power
and energy-efficient appliances. General Motors Corp. is investing
millions of dollars to develop hydrogen-powered. For more examples
In futures studies we talk about a critical
mass, that is when so many people act or believe in a particular
way that it is a sign that a trend is unstoppable and well on
it's way to maturity. Global warming has been accepted by so many
that it is now generally accepted by the general public. The last
to change has been the American government. The pressure is on
and it appears that business is leading the way in a country where
the political leadership couldn't.
Source: MarRay, Business Week on line, The
Date: August 16, 2004
Author: John Carey, with Sarah R. Shapiro in New York
Growth of need for global governance
New ideas about global governance
A sign of the times can also be reflected
in the thoughts of futurists about the future, in this case the
future of governance.
Idea 1. Why couldn't a global body have representative
on each government? (As opposed to each government having a representative
on the external global body) Instead of creating an external body,
such as the UN, and keeping it isolated, why couldn't the global
come from within national/continental governments? Imagine governments
with a global futures representative - the global futures representative
communicating with other global futures representatives around
the world - working towards global communities and advocating
the various alternative models, each feeding in from other locations
and providing feedback to those other locations. I guess I am
not talking about governing, but highlighting, at least, the way
in which conversations could commence. Edited contribution of
Debra Bateman, Australia.
Idea. 2. A global legislative body can only
deal with human rights and nature conservation (laws have to fit
to local cultures; it is not possible to imagine one law for the
planet except for the minimal basis. It is the judicial power
that has to be completed, in a shape of an international supreme
court, with judges that are not politicians, nor dependant of
political nomination like in United States. Edited contribution
of Thierry Gaudin, France.
Idea 3. (1) The UN should gradually be transformed
into some sort of world government. This implies transfer of executive
power from nation states. Following a strict subsidiary principle,
the UN mandate should, in a first phase, be limited to international
security and peace keeping (monopoly of military power) and to
global ecological problems. The General Assembly would become
the major legislative body (one nation one vote). Within the UN
mandate, the GA would take legally binding decisions, binding
also the Security Council.
(2) The Security Council will be transformed into the Board of
the General Assembly. Permanent Members would not be individual
countries but continents, with
Veto rights. Thus, it would not be UK, France, and certainly not
Germany but rather the EU who holds a permanent seat, etc.
(3) The World Bank, IMF, and WTO come under the umbrella of the
UN and are bound to UN decisions, including a one nation-one vote
rule, but also UN legislation like
human rights instruments, international conventions, decisions
taken at major world conferences.
(4) Citizen involvement can be organized in a NGO consultative
body. However, NGOs expose a strong middle class bias and ways
should be found to correct for this.
(5) Given the present power structure, there is little chance
to reform the UN in such a ways as not to reflect this power structure.
Rather it seems that the
US, possibly followed by some in the Western alliance, will continue
earlier efforts to dismantle the UN. Edited contribution of Bernd
Hamm. Bernd has submitted more detail to these ideas. Request
them from Visionscentret
There are many more ideas for global governance.
What are your ideas? Naturally, we all need to think these out
in more detail, especially the consequences they might have, both
positive and negative. For a list of other sites with ideas about
global governance, send a request to Visionscentret
Source: World Future Studies Federation list.
serve, individuals noted above, list of global governance sites
from Richard Mochelle, Australia
Datum: October 14, 2004
Author: noted above
Growing link between social and health factors
Unhappy childhood link to heart risk
An American study of 17,000 people was able
to corrolate different types of child abuse with emotional abuse
and heart disease. A child who has experienced emotional abuse
has a 70 per cent higher chance of being diagnosed with heart
disease between the ages of 50 and 60. A child who has experienced
physical violence has a 50 per cent chance of receiving the same
diagnosis. Children growing up where there is mental illness,
substance abuse or criminality also increases the risk för
heart disese as well. Any combination of abuses compounds the
risk. This study comes at a time when more scientific studies
suggest that the psycological factors have great importance in
the development of physical disease. This trend is amplified by
the fact that in Australia and elsewere in the world political
acknowledgement is rising of the need and importance of early
childhood and family support services.
Implications for policy- makers are that better
resourses in the earliest years save more than money. For the
last 10 years North Carolina, USA has had a program called Smart
Start which targets programs for the youngest and most volunerable
children. It is a variety of programs funded with both public
and private funds. Each county designs programs based on parents
needs. The children who can be helped are as young as premature
Source: The Sidney Morning Herald
Date: October 9, 2004
Author: Julie Robotham. Medical Editor
The development of cyberspace
Services at the First Church of Cyberspace
There is an attempt to create religious services
for Christians in Cyberspace. They are available to people who
don't like the structure of organized religion but still want
to worship in a traditional church setting from time to time.
Visitors get an avatar (a figure that represents them) but if
the church is full, you get a ghost like figure than can wander
around and sit down, listen to the others talk. This is a three
Avatar's can kneel in prayer, talk or whisper
in text messages, extend a hand in blessing or raise both arms
in ecstatic praise. They can also sit in pews or gather for conversation
in a crypt equipped not only with chairs but with a "holy
water" water cooler and vending machines as well". Later
they will be able to hear a weekly sermon from different priests
and ministers. This site was created by the Methodist Church.
Source: New York Times
Date: May 15.2004
Author: Barnaby J. Feder
Toward new definitions of "life" and "quality
When Alzheimer's Steals the Mind, How Aggressively to Treat
Patients in the last stages of Alzheimer's
are getting aggressive care to prolong their lives such as feeding
tubes, intravenous fluids and antibiotics and hospitalizations.
They get more life-stretching treatment than those patients with
cancer, but less palliative care, care that relieves suffering.
The average costs of the care for patients are $150 a day.
Big discussions are lying in the future around
life and quality of life. Some countries save the lives of tiny
babies born long before their natural gestation period and Americans
keep people alive long after their brains have stopped functioning.
Generally speaking people live longer lives and there are more
people on the planet every day. Different opinions depend upon
our cultural orientation. A quote from Dr. Diane E. Meier, a professor
of geriatrics and ethics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine: "If
the technology exists, we feel we must use it. Our colleagues
in Europe consider what we do bizarre to the point of disbelief."
Source: The New York Times
Date: May 18, 2004
Author: Gina Kolata
Increased interest in values
Values-based management movement growing
Middle management and workers in large organizations
are leading the change toward more ethical accountability. They
are motivated by a need to follow religious, spiritual or humanitarian
convictions at work as well as all the recent business scandals.
Just like sustainability became a selling point for companies,
ethical practices are becoming the new selling point for companies
in the future.
Smaller companies are also involved and the
change here is that their leadership has strong religious or spiritual
convictions. Some see this as a good sign, but the American Civil
Liberties Union fears that religion, not values will be pushed
in the workplace and some religious groups fear that "new-age
humanism" will take over. This new movement could fail if
businesses can not differentiate between religion and values.
It could succeed, at least in the larger organizations because
it is driven from the bottom and middle sections of the organization
and not by leadership.
Source: Trend Letter
Date: May 10, 2004
Editor in Chief: Corinne Kuypers - Denlinger
Paradigm Shift - traffic patterns
Traffic Calming in Australia, Canada, and Europe
What is second-generation traffic calming?
A new paradigm in traffic planning is taking
form. There is a multi- discipline, theoretic background to traffic
calming and as new ideas are added it becomes third and forth
generation traffic calming. What it means for your neighborhood
is that the differentiation between the road and the sidewalk
disappears. Cars, pedestrians and cyclists (and I assume horse
back riders and horse drawn wagons) all use the same space, slowing
traffic down and giving it back to the community. Even children
playing in the street are acceptable. The white marks that usually
distinguish one lane from the other are removed as well as traffic
signs and lights. All types of traffic travels where it wants
to and the need for concentration reduces traffic accidents. It
means that everyone has to pay more attention.
This traffic revolution is going on in Canada,
Europe, Australia and in the United States. It is mostly found
in residential areas and accident rates are drastically lowered.
It is described as a growing trend. Behind the concept are a number
of disciplines which is also typical of many trends now days where
a multi- disciplinary group or a combination of cultural inputs
from many sources.
Source: US Roads (Journal), Lesstraffic.com
Date: 1998, May 2004
Introduction of global taxes
Globaliseringen tvingar fram skattesänkningar (Globalization
forces countries to lower taxes)
In the short run governments have to compete
for tax revenues with other countries that have lower tax rates.
In a global market economy, the growing sales on the Internet
are driving pressures for this globalization of taxes. Countries
with higher taxes like Sweden are rethinking in order to compete.
Alcohol taxes are a key example. Swedes can purchase as almost
as much alcohol as they wish in neighboring countries and do because
it is so much cheaper. It is the taxation that makes it cheaper.
The consequences are that the state owned liquor stores are loosing
business. However, the going wisdom is that higher taxes inhibit
the use of alcohol and therefore the costs of abuse are lower.
But the higher taxes are not having the desired effect. In fact
drinking has gone up and the lower price due to lower taxation
is said to be a major factor.
In the long run some types of taxes are being
discussed globally. There is a lot of discussion and interest
in this topic. A simple Google search for "global taxes"
brought 2,150,000 responses and the topic has been discussed since
1996 and probably earlier. The use for taxes might be as a revenue
source for international programs and institutions like the United
Nations. The two most discussed taxes are the Carbon Tax/Energy
Tax and taxation to reduce currency speculation (Tobin Tax/Currency
Source: Metro, Global Policy Forum
Date: August 2000 May 28 2004
Author: Peter Wallberg
Globalization - "us and them" world view over a "one
world, one people" world view
Police Access to Federal Files Questioned
Two states in the U.S. are testing a new
"resource", access to federal (FBI) terrorist files
by state police. While this is a pilot program the goal is to
spread it over the whole country. The Civil Liberties Union, a
well known advocate of civil liberty in the United States, is
opposed. No specific criterion was named for what was called the
"investigative" basis for access to terrorist files.
If civil liberties are not protected there is an "enormous
risk" that non-terrorists will be arrested and detained.
Particularly vulnerable are people with Arabic sounding names
This is not the first nor will it be the last
test of how to keep the balance between individual integrity and
public safety. Behind it lies the way in which we value people,
as basically good or as basically evil. The market economy approach
highlights the individual, choice and integrity (ability to choose
what is best for personal survival and well being). In other words,
the individual is basically good and having integrity. The attempt
to protect national safety against terrorist activity has valued
individuals as basically evil with no integrity (ability to give
up personal survival and well being for a cause). Both of these
values are operating not only in the United States, but in all
the countries with which they have security agreements. Since
both values can not be applied universally at the same time, then
they must be applied to different groups, which gives an "us
and them" division.
Source: Associated Press, Yahoo!
Datum: July 1, 2004
Author: Joel Stashenko
Raising the quality of life
A Different Kind of Education Sugar Industry Threatens to Scupper
A school principal used her experience of
losing weight by leaving sugar out of her diet to develop a school
plan that excluded sugar in all parts of school life. The result
700 students not only lost weight, they also increased their test
scores 10 to 15 percent. These were also students who took more
responsibility for their lifestyle, made a drop of 30 percent
in visits to the school nurse, 20 percent drop in disciplinary
problems The only thing that was up were test scores, 10 percent
to 15 percent higher than normal.
More evidence that a war on sugar is growing
keeps coming. But sugar isn't all bad; the wastes from sugar processing
can be used to make Ethanol, and ecological fuel. Production has
started in Australia and Brazil. The clash between the Sugar Association
and WHO, World Health Organization, started a year ago when WHO
set health guidelines saying that sugar should not be more than
10% of a healthy diet. The industry's response, was characterized
as furious, questioned its scientific base, threatened to force
a cut in WHO funding from the United States and more. Much of
the current sugar production is in the developing world, with
Brazil leading in production and exports in the mid-90's. Given
the obesity problem, look for this conflict to continue until
other uses for sugar can be found.
Source: ABC News, Guardian/UK
Date: June 4, 2004, April 21, 2003
Author: Sarah Boseley
Sustainability - new area for job creation
Recycling creates employment Companies bow to new electronic-waste
While no comprehensive studies are available
on just how many jobs are being created by recycling, studies
conducted in France and Austria, and several in the USA showed
that recycling creates more jobs. The amount is different with
the different types of recycling: 5 to 7 times the number of jobs
in incineration, and ten times more than land filling. The number
of jobs created in recycling is generally more than for production
with new materials. New EU directives, Waste Electrical and Electronic
Equipment (WEEE) and Restrictions of Hazardous Substances Directive
(RoH's Directive) will add even more jobs in manufacturing companies
and in the consumer countries of Europe.
Highly qualified jobs as well as less qualified
jobs are being created. The problem with moving into a knowledge
society is that physical jobs and jobs needing little education
disappear. A percentage of any population is kinesthetically oriented
and enjoys more physical work. Some of them are, for various reasons
lacking education. Jobs in sorting, dismantling and recycling
of end of life products are necessary for society and for this
group of workers. Because the non-profit sector is also very active
in recycling people have the opportunity to gain experience through
volunteer work and then move up to a supervisory position and
with education move into the profit making sector.
Qualified jobs requiring environmental studies
as well as another major ar: Program Manager (Recycling and solid
waste), Pollution prevention specialist, Sales/Marketing Recycling/Waste
Diversion, Recycling/Resource Recovery Specialist and Recycling
Educator/Broker to name a few. A sample of those seeking jobs
in the field have: twelve years experience in the recycling environmental
waste industry, experience as recycling educator for schools,
experience in businesses and community groups, six years experience
in Waste Management. Examples of education individuals have who
are currently looking for jobs are: Certification in Environmental
Technologies, Journalism degree with environmental studies minor,
MS in Environmental Science & Policy with an emphasis in Waste
Management & Resource Recovery.
Source: EU financed project Association of
Regions for Recycling, Resource Recycling: Journal, Trend Letter
Date: April 30, 2004, April 26, 2004 Vol.223 No.9
Combinations of compatible religions grow
Why God Loves JuBus
The last two generations have grown up in
a multi-ethnic world in the west. Intermarriage is growing. Music
mixes are well known. Have you heard Jewish Regge? Even food is
mixed, Thai and Chinese with Swedish. While today there are only
a small number, Jews who practice both Judaism and Buddhism represent
a growing group of "hyphenated" religions. Some examples from
the Jewish religion are: UUJews or Jewnitarians for Unitarian
Universalist Jews, HinJews, for Jewish followers of Hindu teachings,
and Jewfis, for Sufi Jews.
It seems that some religious combinations work
well together and others don't. Since Judaism doesn't define god
in any specific way, preferring to see God as a light (knowledge)
then Buddhism, which doesn't offer a description of God, fits
right in. This means that certain hyphenations will develop and
others will never get a foothold. "International migration is
at record levels and is unlikely to slow in the near future. An
estimated 150 million persons reside outside of their country
of birth or nationality." said Susan F. Martin, Director Institute
for the Study of International Migration Georgetown University
in 2001. www.jha.ac/articles/u041.htm.
Migration means exposure to new beliefs, philosophies, religions
Date: May 10, 2004
Author: Rodger Kamenetz
Trend toward more state control
Dawn of the Daddy State
At the same time as nation states are losing
control to regions and the infant global structure, writer Paul
Starobin points out the trend of nation states to take more power
due to terrorist pressures. He calls them "Daddy States". He points
out those anxious citizens fears drive the Daddy trend and gives
the example of the re-election of Vladimir Putin with 71% of the
vote. It gave him a mandate to continue his crackdown on Chechen
terrorists. In Israel there is support for the barrier to keep
out suicide bombers and in the US Bush's Patriot Act gets support
from the people. Europeans are demanding more control of their
When the kids feel insecure they run to Mommy
or Daddy to protect them. In the case of countries there are 185
Daddies and about 7 mommies to go to. This trend shows just how
complex trends can be. While the nation state looses power as
it becomes more a part of a trade region or a regional organization
it gains more power over its citizens when it comes to internal
Source: The Atlantic Monthly
Date: June 2004
Authors: Paul Starobin
Sinking readership of newspapers
The audience for newspapers is shrinking
in the United States, the resulting decline in revenues. The news
sectors seeing growth are online, ethnic and alternative medial.
Is the romanticism of reading the paper before
work, on the commuter train or in bed disappearing? With more
of us getting our news from the T. V., the internet and radio,
who bothers reading the newspaper!
Source: The State of the News Media
Date: May 10 2004
Economic change - farm subsidy
WTO ruling may spell end of farmer's subsidies
The World Trade Organization has decided
that the United States must eliminate its farm subsidies on cotton.
This ruling, if upheld could be the beginning of a massive change
in the global economic system. Brazil, who brought the case, has
$600 million a year to gain. Another case pending was brought
by Brazil against the EU regarding massive sugar subsidies.
Subsidies got their start around 1950 when
there was a food shortage. It encouraged farmers to produce more.
The obvious threat is to farmers who traditionally fight to maintain
the subsidy system. The removal of subsidies would shift more
agricultural production from richer countries to the poorer ones.
For example, if Africa's share of world exports went up by 1%
it could earn $70 billion more per year. That is five times what
they currently receive in the form of aid. The environmental problems
engendered by crop production (pesticides, soil depletion etc.)
could be transferred to poorer countries at the same time their
Source: New Scientist
Date: May 7, 2004
Author: Debora MacKinzie
Sustainability - chemistry
Forskare vill göra kemin grön (Researchers want to
make chemistry green)
Scientists in Sweden's Lund University and
Lund's Technical College have gotten funds to find replacements
for raw material coming from fossil fuel. They plan to use micro
organisms' enzymes as material in medicines, hygiene products,
cement and surface treatments.
There has been a lot of talk about lessening
our dependence on fossil fuels. The Swedish government has provided
the first 34 million crowns for the first level of research. It
could be years until the results are in our homes, buildings and
Source: IVA- aktuellt
Datum: April 2002
Author: Kenneth Leverback
Publisher: Kungliga Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademien (Swedish Royal
Toward the elimination of autism
Too much testosterone blights social skills
Autism and lack of social skills is a difficult
problem. A small study of 58 children has opened the way to further
research which could eventually lead to the elimination of autism.
The test used testosterone levels pregnant women to try to discover
a relationship between fetal testosterone and social competence.
While not conclusive due to the size of the study, the results
have been encouraging enough to start again with a larger research
The theory being tested is that "high
fetal testosterone levels push brain development towards an improved
ability to see patterns and analyse systems tasks males tend to
be better at. But it also impairs communication and empathy which
are usually more highly developed in females". The abilities
to see patterns and analyze systems tasks are necessary abilities
and good social skills are important for our future and needed
by children of both genders, although not in the extremes that
we find in Autistic children.
Date: May 12, 2004
Author: James Randerson
Fiction from fiction - arts trend (or trend
Example 1:Game Over is an animated TV program
based upon characters from video games, due to go on the air the
10th of March in the United States. It looks at the every day
lives of superhuman characters. It explores what happens it the
lives of these characters when the video game is turned off. Example
2 Avenue Q is a Broadway puppet musical loosely based on the children's
TV show Sesame Street. This however, is an adult version. Example
3 Fan fiction is described like this "Fan fiction, very simply,
is the genre of stories, poetry, novels, filk (sic) songs, and
top ten lists written by fans of a particular series, be it television,
literary, or what have you. If you've ever written a story about
something you like, involving characters created by someone else
with a legal right to them, you've written fan fiction."
Here are three examples of entertainments that
have based their stories on fictional characters. A couple of
these entertainments are inspired by or use the Internet to communicate.
Swedish "trend watchers" think that all the stories have been
told, so we are reusing old characters in new situations. There
is a possibility that this is linked to the retro- fad that we
are experiencing. If younger generation can not relate to Baby
Boomer's retro references, they find their own references, such
as video game roll figures. "Live" is also connected to this trend.
If one can act out roll play figures, why not take them into other
media. When characters become so real, or give us such a good
feeling that we want to stay with them and give them new stories
and plots are we building a new reality? It is important to look
at the values that underlie these characters in order to truly
understand the roll they will play in our everyday lives.
Date: March 2004
McDonald's to Eliminate Supersizes by Year-End
Mc Donald's is removing its super sized option,
which includes a 7-ounce carton of fries and 42-ounce soda drink.
It is also to introduce a meal for adults which come with advice
from a fitness expert. Earlier it has offered entree-sized salads
and healthy alternatives in children's meals, including milk and
Critics say that this is a PR move. They sight
the rise in Mc Donald's shares after the announcement of its removal
of the supersized option. This is the same pattern that followed
the first steps toward environmentally friendly products. People
thought the steps were hollow and just words with little conviction
behind them. What ever the motivation, there are always bell weather
companies, countries, branches etc. In this case Mc Donald's is
the bell weather company of fast food. Look for other companies
to follow. If the stock market buying public is smart, it will
support companies that are good corporate citizens. Now it is
up to government regulators, NGO's, consumer organizations and
the general public to monitor these changes and support those
that have substance and expose those which do nothing but promote
the bottom line.
Source: Yahoo! News
Date: March 4, 2004
Author: Deborah Cohen
Communities increasingly sophisticated fight for survival
Love Those Young Professionals
Communities are trying to get their young
people to return after college in order to provide an educated
work force, attract business and keep the community alive. They
are doing this in the United States by attracting young people
with: social events, entertainment and gathering places. This
includes sports stadiums in mid-sized cities. Chambers of Commences
are offering after-hours gatherings, leadership development programs.
The authors are "half-expecting" dating bureaus to be offered.
For some rural communities the process starts
earlier. Students are asked to explore their community - "its
place in national and world events, its relationship to the natural
environment, and its cultural heritage as expressed in traditions
and celebrations, literature and arts, economic practices, responses
to crises, and everyday life." A program called ALERT helps teachers
form research questions so that students can apply research techniques
to their own communities. The idea is that they develop so much
knowledge and appreciation of the history of their communities
that they will naturally come back after college or time in the
Source: The Herman Trend Letter, The Montana
Date: March 4, 2004
Authors: Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia
Sustainability - lowering the effect of nuclear waste
EU satsar på omvandling av kärnavfall (EU prioritizes changing
nuclear waste to a lower length of life)
Transmutation is a technique now being explored
by which to handle radioactive waste. It can reduce the proportion
of long-lived isotopes it contains, reducing their radio activity
from around 300.000 years to several thousand years. It can take
up to 20 years to build the necessary facilities. The social and
economics are being studied at the Royal Technical College in
Another solution to radioactive waste management
was reported in an earlier Signs of the Times which tried to identify
microbes living without oxygen, which feed on radioactivity. The
question of what to do with our radioactive wastes is huge and
only now in the research stages. However, the awareness and activity
has started the trend and enough money is being invested to consider
that this trend will continue. It will be strengthened by the
difficulty in finding safe ways to deal with the wastes. Communities
don't want such dumps near them, no matter how deep within the
earth they are placed.
Source: Swedish Radio P1, Vetenskapsradion
Date: March 16 2004
Resource depletion - Fish
Gösfisket i Hjälmaren världens första miljömärkta (Pike/perch
in Hjälmaren (lake) is the worlds first fish to be environmentally
approved Local taboos could save the seas
Behind the environmental certification of
fish species is the Worlds Nature Fund. Pike/Perch is the first
of the sweet water fish to be certified. Another international
system for salt water fish is issued by the Marine Stewardship
Council. They have a certificate in preparation for Alaska Pollock
found outside Alaska and Western Canada. Communities in the South
Pacific are being helped to organize their cultural taboos and
local customs to form a network of laws which will control over
fishing and preserve biodiversity. The centralized fishing regulations
of western cultures, intended for large nations with industrial
fishing industries don't fit local, small fishing cultures in
places like Fiji.
In 2001 we reported on rising cost of fish.
It isn't only about the cost of fish for western restaurants,
but the food supply for a large part of the third world. The consequences
of decreasing food supplies, especially a major protein source
are migration, starvation etc. Slowly, researchers and activists
are trying to change the trend. Just like small business needs
regulations that fit them, small, local fishing communities need
laws that grow out of their own circumstances. Environmental certification
of fish takes into account biologic, economic and social aspects
of the fish population in question.
Source: Swedish Radio, Station P1, New Scientist
Date: April 20, 2004, April 17, 2004
Author: Emma Young
Abuse of the Elderly
With the predicted global growth of those
aged 60 years and older is expected to double from 542 million
in 1995 to about 1.2 billion by the year 202. With this growth
elder abuse is expected to grow. Currently, elder abuse goes unreported
or drastically underreported; much like abuse of women once was
in western countries.
Elder abuse includes physical, sexual and psychological
abuse, as well as neglect and economic abuse.
Source: World Health Organization; World
report on violence and health
The system gone wrong
U.S. Finds Fault in All 50 States' Child Welfare Programs Placerade
barn och ungdomar (Placement of children and youth, a report)
The Department of Health and Human Services
of the United States government has looked into the situation
for children who have been placed under State care. Of those children
placed, approximately 900,000 children had been abused or neglected
under state care in the year 2002. One thousand four hundred of
that group died. The purpose of having children in State care
is to protect children who have suffered from abuse or neglect
with their biological families. None of the states fully met all
of the standards required by law.
BRIS (Children's rights in society) is a
private non-profit organization serving children in Sweden. One
of their services is a phone line where children can call and
talk to a trained adult. In the year 2000, they looked at the
calls that came from children living in foster care. The study
showed that many children spoke about loneliness, fear and abuse.
Only a few children were happy with the situation they found themselves
in. The resulting study showed Swedish laws and the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child were being abused
It has been common knowledge for years that
when the state takes over care of children that the chances of
abuse and quality care often become worse than they experienced
in their homes. The complaints are getting louder, often voiced
by parents of children who have been forcibly taken without good
reason. The same laws that allow authorities to forcibly take
children from their homes are also found in Norway, Denmark and
Finland. The question is if there is enough pressure on these
countries to make a difference. The European court has been involved
in a case in Sweden with little result, so there seems to be no
authority that can actually enforce The Convention or laws of
individual countries. The Convention on the Rights of the Child
has been signed by 192 nations. Only two have not signed - the
United States and Somalia.
Source: The New York Times, BRIS
Date: April 26, 2004, May 2002
Author: Robert Pear, Ingeborg Moqvist
Increase length and "failed states"
The Reluctant Imperialist: Terrorism, Failed States, and the
Case for American Empire
Failed states are those whose infrastructure
has dissolved into violence and chaos due to civil wars or invasions.
There is a tendency for orderly societies not to intervene. The
World Bank studied 52 conflicts since 1960 and found that the
wars started after 1980 lasted longer. These conflicts tend to
spill over to new countries. Disorder develops into a self-sustaining
Factors that indicate a 40% or more chance
that a state will fail are high birth rates, a high proportion
of young adults (aged 15 to 29 years), a rapid rate of urban population
growth, a very low availability of cropland and/or renewable fresh
water, high AIDS and other infectious disease rates, criminal
sales of natural resources (ex. Diamonds), production of illegal
drugs and high pressure to immigrate. This pressure to immigrate
is connected to a lucrative traffic in illegal workers.
Source: Foreign Affairs, Population Action
Date: March/April 2002
Author: Sebastian Mallaby
Increase in preparations to reverse aging
Clinically Proven Growth Hormone Releaser shown to Reverse many
of the Symptoms of Aging
Here is a "natural" anti-aging capsule that
claims to increase your growth hormones by 402% The companies
website claims that 4 capsules a day improve the immune system,
reduce wrinkles, heighten sexual potency, enhance energy, improve
sleep, sharpen the memory, reduce fat, increase lean body mass,
and promote healing. Everything we all have dreamed about. Look
for more of these products.
One can find trends everywhere. Even in SPAM
mail. SPAM drives me crazy and I am sure it does my readers, but
I know from SPAM that medicine sales have exploded on the Internet,
that the new fad is how large the male sex organ is in circumference
as opposed to how long. (Is this an influence of the women's movement?).
Date: February 10, 2004
URL: The source will not be reveled as we do not wish to in any
way promote the product
Non-predictive futures studies on the rise
"What, if any, foresight activity is going on in your geographic
In response to the question "What, if any,
foresight activity is going on in your geographic area?", sent
out to the World Futures Studies Federation list serve, Riel Miller
from OECD reported that while "there is still a huge yearning
for a world where prediction is doable and useful" the role of
traditional planning with its dream of predictability is declining.
This sort of planning and thinking about the future is still dominant,
but is on its way out. " ...there are many who still think that
futures thinking is about prediction and hence they expect elaborate
models and 'factual' econometric type statements about what will
happen." New futures thinking, which is "a more narrative, anti-planning
approach which calls into question the current assumptions about
the potential for change is on the rise.
The World Futures Studies Federation is a global
network of practicing futurists, researchers, teachers, scholars,
policy analysts, activists and others from over 80 countries,
established in 1967.
Source: Riel Miller, OECD-CERI
Date: February 10, 2004
Possible weakening of IMF/World Bank power
It Pays to Get Tough with the IMF
The International Monetary Fond is charged
with giving countries economic advice and is a source of credit
when all else fails. In January 2004 Argentina, who has a debt
default of $88 billion, the biggest in history, said no to the
IMF proposal on what they need to do to handle their debt. This
was the second time Argentina had refused to follow IMF advice.
This is an unusual situation as most countries are so cowed by
their debt that they follow the advice given and do as they are
This is a break in the trend to follow IMF
and World Bank without question. The IMF and World Bank are known
for creating plans that deepen countries debt by spreading it
to future generations, forcing them to sell crops needed to feed
their own people and forcing them to purchase the products of
richer countries who have lent them money. If refusals of debtor
nations continue, it could mean a rethinking of the nature of
assistance the international community offers. Increasing the
possibility of this trend growing is that some economic analyst's,
conservatives, liberals and advocates of the "free market" are
beginning to ask why the IMF (and the World Bank and other multi-lateral
lenders) don't share private sector losses with other lenders.
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research
Date: Feb. 5, 2004
Author: : Mark Weisbrot
Increase in one person house holds and house holds without children
Growing Power of single adults
The number of single adults living alone
is growing more popular in the United States and Scandinavia.
In Norway one person households were 28 % of all households in
2002. This is an increase of 34% since 1990. Larger portions of
an individuals' life are spent living alone.
It is interesting to note that US researchers
look at one person and adult households as a marketing group.
Sweden looks at them in relation to their social costs due to
handicaps, poverty etc. It has ramifications for salaries, tax
structures and housing. It also has ramifications for the education
of children. Adult education is growing (often private). How willing
are single adult households going to be to pay and fight for good
public schools? Educational quality is already a problem with
complaints heard from employers that basic reading, math, conceptual,
communication and problem-solving skills are lacking. Universities
in Sweden are complaining about the lack of knowledge in the natural
sciences. OECD defines the problems as huge. They are defined
as "widespread teacher shortages, changing social conditions and
increasingly diverse student populations." What they don't seem
to be taking up is the content of education in a quickly changing
work environment. What do children need to know when it is uncertain
what kinds of jobs will be available when they decide to specialize?
There is even controversy in Sweden as to when they should begin
to specialize - gymnasium or college.
Source: Trend Letter
Date: February 2, 2004
Editor in chief: Corinne Kuypers-Denlinger
Falling between paradigms
OECD Urges Reforms to National Career Guidance Services
OECD has looked at the way 14 different countries
provide career guidance to those looking for a job, young and
older. One apparent problem is the lack of link between current
job statistics and the advisors giving career guidance.
Things are changing so fast in the job market
that the traditional ways of counseling job seekers are no longer
working. They need more training, more contact with the latest
information in different career areas and more knowledge of national
policy priorities. What makes training difficult is that a new
description of the way we see work is needed. In 2002 traditional
industrial jobs in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and
mining made up 22% of all the available jobs. The greater percent,
79, went to service jobs in trade transportation, finance, business
and professional services. The largest category was education,
health and social services. This trend toward a service economy
has continued since these figures were collected. Yet, our economic
reports are still based on productivity not service. Protectionism
co-exists with finding less expensive labor in other countries.
We have heard about the change so long, that many of us thought
it had already occurred, but actually we are in the middle of
Date: February 16, 2004
Paradigm shift in psychology
Konsten att ungås med röster (The Art of living with voices)
A radical alternative psychiatric values
shift is taking place. It is stimulated by psychotic disturbances
like schizophrenia. Symptoms such as hearing voices have been
traced to areas in the right side of the brain and therefore are
seen as "normal". A magnetic camera can show just where this activity
takes place in the right side of the brain. When asked, large
numbers of people reported hearing voices, but they were benign
and even helpful. This information triggered the thought that
a new way of looking at the presenting symptoms was necessary.
The traditional model looks for an illness, identifies symptoms,
sees behavior as irrational, sees people as objects and illnesses
as having a specific cause. Illness is seen as being a biologic
defect that is determined; in need of treatment and that there
is a diagnosis that applies to all with similar symptoms. The
new paradigm looks for a strategy as opposed to an illness. Symptoms
are seen as an expression of something meaningful. The individual
is a subject with views about his or her own situation. Symptoms
are inner emotional conflicts which present choices, potential
for development. Symptoms are not the ingredients of a diagnosis,
but unique occurrences in the life of an individual.
The leaders of this new paradigm are Marius
Romme (Holland), Loren Mosher (California), Sashi Sashidharin
(England) och Thomas Bock (Hamburg). These Dr's se psychic disturbances
as more or less conscious strategies in order to understand and
handle inner conflict, defense mechanisms for survival. Some of
these strategies don't work and the individual needs help in trying
Source: Ordfront Magasin, Nr. 3/2004, p.19
Date: March, 2004
Author: Gottfried Grafström
From racial pride to racial ambiguity
Generation E.A.: Ethnically Ambiguous
The younger age group, those under 25 (the so called Generation Y) are the most racially diverse population in American history. Those under 18 were twice as likely as their adult counterparts to identify themselves as multi-racial. This is also true in Europe to a lesser degree. It is now possible to check more than one racial background on census reports, so the 2000 census shows nearly seven million checked more than one racial category. Magazines are publishing these mixed racial identities in their publications and are redefining beauty based on these mixes. Other evidence is the Open-source (free use) comic book character Jenny Everywhere, who appears to be Native American or Asian.
Marketing, which is so alert in identifying new groups to sell to, accounts for the new identification of beauty. That is the superficial level. It does give status to the mixtures. The next step in such a trend is that mixtures will be so common that they will not even be noticed and it will be the "pure radicals" that will be highlighted in the magazines. Will modeling find their new exotic looks from the few remaining hunting and gathering cultures? What all of this will do for individual identity is unknown. Psychologists can expect higher self-esteem for the racially mixed, the same kind of kick that Afro-Americans got during the "Black is beautiful" period of the sixties and seventies.
Source: The New York Times
Date: December 28, 2003, September 15 2003
Author: Ruth La Ferla, Jean
Constant change in the fields we study
New fields of study are indicative of what might be common knowledge or at least taught in schools as basic curriculum in the next 25-50 years. One such field is Neurotheology. The field is cross-disciplinary and looks what effect the workings of the brain have on religious belief. Some disciplines writing in this field are anthropologists, archeologists, neuroscientists, evolutionists and theologists. It is related to the study of the workings of the brain and the location or description of consciousness (reported earlier in Tecken i tiden).
Amazon, a major on-line book store has a Neurotheology section with several books on the topic. Sources of information and publication on Neurotheology come from Arizona State University, Laurentian University (Canada), The Center for Congivive Liverty and Ethics, New York Times (Journalist Daniel Goleman), The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.
Source: Net search on Google for "Neurotheology" (1,140 hits)
Date: December 28, 2003
Sustainability - decreasing pollution
Next Generation Nanocatalyst Technology For Fuels
A British company has put a new nano product on the market which, after trials, can improve fuel efficiency, reduce carbon deposits in the engine, and lower diesel fuel emissions from 10 - 12 %.
When a product has come so far as to be placed on the market then it will effect our near future first. There are a number of universities and institutes behind this company, primarily the University of Oxford, which is a trend in itself, the university spinning off viable companies. Now we are in a period of reducing emissions which is a transition to a no emission, sustainable future.
Source: Oxonica, NewScientist.com
Date: January 2, 2004, October 15, 2003
Globalization - democracy
Be pioneering! Open 2004 US presidential election to world citizens!
Stimulated by the upcoming Presidential elections and recent world events in which the United States has taken the lead in the role of world hegemonic power, the article author wonders if Europeans, Iraqis, Arabs in general, Russians, Asians and in fact the whole world should not be allowed to vote in the presidential elections since such a decision effects the fate of the whole world. The Author makes the argument that it would serve world democracy. It challenges American voters, the 50% that vote that is, to be aware of its responsibility and consider that they are voting for the whole world and not just themselves.
As globalization develops it is not hard to begin thinking how global democracy could work. The article suggests a possible future scenario where there is one power that guides the world, but the rest of the world, in good democratic form get to influence the decisions that impact them.
Source: New Europeans Magazine Bimonthly Report
Date: January 7, 2004
Author: Macha Loyack
Increase in methods to censor and control the Internet
How Norway is tackling Internet regulation
Norway has applied for funds from EU to start SAFT (Safety Awareness Facts and Tools). Half of their financing comes from EU and the other half comes from industry and governments. Their goal is raising awareness of the positive potential and the dangers of the Internet to youth and kids. It also facilitates communication between technology firms, Internet service providers, European governments and nongovernmental organizations.
There are a number of ways of handling the negative aspects of the Internet. The United Kingdom is using Internet filters which are produced in the United States. Filters select specific items for censorship. Each culture has different things they find objectionable, for example nudity or violence, so those filters can only be used in countries where they have a similar list of objectionable subjects. Another tool is based on the European Data Directive which you can send to anyone that might gather personal data receive information on how your personal information has been handled. Children in Norway will be taught how to use this in schools. Other tools are a "cookie opener that displays what information your browser leaks and a port scanner that says what services such as a peer-to-peer network client are running on your computer."
Source: ZDnet UK
Date: November 07, 2003
Author: Declan McCullagh CNET News.com
Global weapon market shrinks; USA share increases
U.S. Still Reigns as Top Global Arms Seller
Weapons of Mass Availability
The United States has led the world in arms exports to developing countries since the beginning of the cold war. US totals of delivered arms were 9.9 billion in 2001, 10 billion in 2002 continuing an upward trend. Developing countries are defied as all those outside of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the United States. The global market is temporally shrinking due to erratic oil prices or the late-1990s Asian financial crisis. Several countries made large purchases after the 1991 Persian Gulf War and are still integrating them into their armies. Over the past 3 years the largest weapon sellers besides the USA have been The United Kingdom, Russia and France. Who do they sell to? China, India, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan have made the largest purchases between 1995 and 2002.
The Federal web site that offers weapons material at auction has been shown by The General Accounting office of the United States to offer biological safety cabinets, bacteriological incubators, laboratory centrifuge and chemical biological protective suits. The materials could be had at bargain prices, $4,100 for $47 000 worth of equipment, all necessary for the production of biological weapons. Some of the gear's final destination was the Philippines, Malaysia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, India and Pakistan.
Source: Arms Control Association, The Atlantic Monthly
Date: October 2003, January/February 2004
Increase in individualized education
Internet search "Self-learning" (google.com) 3,690,000 hits
The concept of individualized education in the Swedish school system, home schooling in the United States and distance learning are all signs of a growing movement in individualized learning. New research in how learning takes place in the brain, the discovery of new areas of intelligence and dissatisfaction with school systems all over the world have been drivers of this trend.
Self-learning is directed to both children and adults. The concept of life-long learning is linked to the very real needs of adults to continue to learn in order to keep their jobs or get new ones has made a new industry of adult education. The need to fit education to the interests, budget, and characteristics of the learner is growing by leaps and bounds. Traditional school systems were developed in the era of the industrial revolution. Since we are in a transition from the industrial revolution to the information or knowledge society schooling where everyone learned the same material using the same learning methods some new forms were bound to arise. Self-learning is a trend of the knowledge society. Self-learning does not mean that a person will always sit alone at a computer to learn as they will also have a choice to get support from "learning-communities".
Date: February 2, 2004
Sustainability - Water
Never thirsty again
Rain Water Harvesting or RWH is a creative, local solution to water shortages in Chennai. India. In an area that gets most of its rain during the monsoon season and is dry the rest of the year there is a need to make the best use of rain when it comes. Sekhar Raghavan has developed two approaches, one of which is to capture rain from the flat roofs that are typical of Chennai and use it after filtering water from the kitchen and bathroom. For well owners, the rest is piped into a sump made of brick gravel and sand 2´x 2´ x 1´. The rest of the rain water is channeled over paved surfaces into the soil to replenish the water table, eliminating flooding in the city. The cost is modest, about $60 for a house or $600 for a block of flats. A slum dwelling can be simply outfitted for $4.
While this solution is local, there are certainly applications for other areas. Besides slowing down flooding, this solution keeps salt water intrusion from developing in this costal area. It is mentioned in Australia, Kenya, and probably other locations. Rain water harvesting also keeps the need for purchasing water to a minimum. The privatization of water is becoming an increasing problem and this is one solution that keeps it in check.
Source: The Economist
Date: May 29, 2003
Suggested by: Sudhir Desai
Politics and Music
In a few weeks a new rap artist will be on the market, British politician, Tony Benn. He doesn't actually rap, but like Malcolm X, Mandela, Palme, Luther King and Kennedy his speech will be set to rap music. In another political setting, the referendum vote in Sweden on whether or not to become a part of the European currency system, senior citizens were targeted by the "No" side, with information handed out as they gathered for a social event outside Skansen in Stockholm on Aug. 22, 2003.
Marketing has been targeting special groups in society for a long time. In the US special advertising is directed to the poor, the Mexican/American, Blacks etc. Using this technique for marketing politics in an interesting trend that both:
- contributes to democracy by bringing in a new variety of voters and
- potentially devalues it by manipulation (connecting something valued like the political grass roots aspect of rap music to somewhat more conservative politicians).
Source: Swedish Radio P1, Aktuellt TV2
Date: August 17, 2003
Program leader: Elisabeth Hedborg
The belief that technology solves all problems
Top ten biotechnologies for improving
health in developing countries
The Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto has used the Delphi method to obtain a list of the ten top biotechnologies (genomics and related biotechnologies) that will improve health in developing countries. The assembled international group of eminent scientists with expertise in global health issues came up with the following list:
- Modified molecular technologies for affordable, simple diagnosis of infectious diseases
- Recombinant technologies to develop vaccines against infectious diseases
- Technologies for more efficient drug and vaccine delivery systems
- Technologies for environmental improvement (sanitation, clean water, bioremediation)
- Sequencing pathogen genomes to understand their biology and to identify new antimicrobials
- Female-controlled protection against sexually transmitted diseases, both with and without
- Bioinformatics to identify drug targets and to examine pathogen-host interactions
- Genetically modified crops with increased nutrients to counter specific deficiencies
- Recombinant technology to make therapeutic products (e.g. Insulin, interferons) more
- Combinatorial chemistry for drug discovery
New technologies are often thought of as expensive, too expensive for developing countries. However, this study focused on affordable technologies. The study was intended as the basis for policy decisions. One policy might focus allocation of research monies to just these areas of research. Recently we have heard about Botswana's problems in getting AIDS patients to come and get the low-cost drugs that many have fought so hard to obtain. They do not come as no consideration has been given to the enormous shame feelings built into the culture. These seem to be stronger than the genetic will to survive. Hard technology focuses on the affordable needs the social sciences in order to truly be effective, anthropology, the study of change, psychology and other fields have much to offer here.
Source: University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics
Date: November 10, 2003
Study: Top ten biotechnologies for improving health in developing countries
Sustainability - global warming (Critical Mass)
Industry moves proactively to reduce environmental harm
Marketing to the LOHAS consumer
Business and local political leaders in the United States have come to realize that global warming is a problem that will cost billions and result in environmental damage that will effect economic growth. They are taking action proactively, before the Congress and the Executive branch. At the same time, marketers have identified a new market niche, LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability), who make up 1/3 of U.S buyers. These consumers prefer to buy from companies who share their values and their trade organization is called Natural Business Communications.
Even thought it appears that a trend is not developing, once it has started, in this case Sustainability related to global warming, it is hard to stop. This article is a sign that the trend has reached its critical mass, given that even the President and the Congress of the current hegemonic power can not stop it. Critical mass means that a trend, accepted by 15-25% of the people it is well on its way to leaving trend status and becoming mainstream thinking, no longer a fringe idea.
Source: Trend Letter Vol. 22. No. 20, Vol. 22 No. 18
Date: September 29, 2003, September 1, 2003
Editor in chief: Corinne Kuypers-Denlinger
Food - decreasing availability and quality
Global Food Trends
A picture of global food trends shows: The global grain harvest has not met demand for 4 years, world grain reserves are only 20 percent of what is now consumed annually. Thirty-five percent of all grains (including 60 percent of corn) and virtually all soy world-wide go to livestock while production of the three major cereals, wheat, corn and rice fall.
Friskare mat ska ge nya jobb (Healthier food will give new jobs)
Framtidens rena matfabrik (The futures clean food factories)
Last year's meat production was double that of 1977 and has been growing since 1950 illustrating the world's growing appetite for meat.
Over fishing by commercial fleets are decimating fish stocks around the world.
A view of the future is sterilized food factories, many producing functional foods, using robots, and fewer and more educated workers. They will serve those with money and lifestyles prioritizing health and sustainability (LOHAS, see above). Currently, food production has to compete on global markets. The poorest people, the 800 million people who regularly go to bed hungry (greater than 2.5 times the combined population of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.) will have less grains and fish, food produced without consideration to pesticides and chemicals under less clean conditions.
Source: Science News Online Vol. 163, No. 22, Mål och Medel Nr. 11
Date: May 31, 2003, November, 2003
Author: Janet Raloff, Gunnar Brulin
Values change - Greater rights to animals
Animal Rights / Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation
This book, Animal Rights/ Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation, makes a social analysis of both animal oppression and the oppression of "devalues" humans. It is based on the fact that both have contributed financial benefit to a relatively small group of humans with power. Professors Framcioni and Charlton from Rutgers school of law talk about animal rights as a field of study. Ten years ago the first courses were taught and some of the fields of animal rights discussed are the rights of wild horses, animal sacrifices, breeding issues, rights of animals serving as companions and animal freedom of expression.
Traditionally, human rights began with men who owned property. They were given certain rights such as voting. Since then we have widened our criteria to all men, then to women and much later to children. Humans that were different than us in values and behavior, the poor and people with other physical characteristics were considered, if not animals, not truly human. Much of this thinking lives today and is experienced as discrimination. However the trend is to the widening of rights, and hence our relationship to animals is changing.
Source: Furture Survey 25:7,Rutgers University School of Law
Date: July 25, 2003, 2002
Authors: David Nibbert Bk.), Professor Gary Francioni and Adjunct Professor Anna E. Charlton (Web site)
Editor: Michael Marien
Growing controversy between science and religion
Gud på hjernen (God on the Brain) Schrödingers katt
Frälst eller psykiskt sjuk? (Saved or mentally ill?)
Researchers in England found that a minority of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy have religious hallucinations, after taking brain scans of those with and without temporal lobe epilepsy. It is believed that the temporal lobes of the brain are the source of religious experiences. Patients with and without temporal lobe epilepsy were measured for changes in their hand sweat when they looked at any type of religious imagery or words. The results were dramatically strong for those with the disease. In another program, psychologists tried to define the difference between a religious experience and a psychosis. Some of the symptoms of a psychotic episode are: proselytizing in a forceful way, disturbing and or screaming at others. It can also be characterized by an overdriven involvement with a particular question and the hearing of voices of both god and devil that create intrigues. Religious Christians believe that a person having a religious experience is not sick and should not be forcibly hospitalized. Psychologists discuss schizophrenia as the source of psychotic experiences for which individuals need relief. One schizophrenic patient reported that a positive and respected acceptance of her beliefs resulted in a lessening of the psychotic condition began to dissolve and she remained healthy for twelve years after that date.
Is it God talking through a human being or are religious experiences triggered by specific illnesses in the brain? Which argument will win can be seen in the current paradigm or world view. Futurist Lawrence Taub, in "The Spiritual Imperative; Sex, Age and the Last Caste" calls the current western world view, the Worker Age in which the laws of science explain most of what we see and experience. Taub speaks about a religious/spiritual age which is now in the process of taking over from the Worker Age where the world view will be mainly explained in terms of religious feeling and spiritual sensitivity rather than science and technology. His is a macro-historic history (covering prehistory to the future) and to understand the theory one has to read it in its entirety. It is well presented in seven pages at larrytaub.tripod.com/interview.html.
Source: Schrödingers katt, Människor och Tro
Date: December 11. 2003, NRK, December 19 and 20, 2003, SR P1
Author: Kari Hustad (NRK)
Local communities liven up
The Consumption Cocoon
"Local-area nesting," has replaced cocooning. People are going to the gym seven percent more now than last year, dining out in casual restaurants, visiting the library and going to farmers ' markets, which is up 10 percent. Dinner parties and church attendance has increased as well.
One could add going to the local coffee shop to the list. Trend watchers reporting this are looking at American cities. This might look very different in other parts of the world.
Date: June 9, 2003
Author: Otis White's Urban Notebook
Instant mobilization - global, local, serious and fun
The Dublin Mob Project
This is more of a fad than a trend, but Flash
Mob show the possibilities for global healing as well as global
terrorizing. It started with a group in Dublin, possibly tired
of all the negative associations around mobs. Through a web site:
people sigh up for a Mob Project. When it is time, an e-mail is
sent to everyone telling them to meet at one of several places
at a specific time. There they receive a slip of paper telling
them where to go and what to do. One of the Mob project people
come with little slips of paper telling exactly when to meet at
the Flash Mob sight (a local business usually). They all go in,
look around till all are in and at the pre-arranged time, one
minuet later say something in unison, like "I like cheese",
or just clap their hands. The next minute they all walk out and
disappear. Flash Mobs are reported to be working in: San Francisco,
Minneapolis, New York City, and London, Tokyo, Brazil and South
Africa. One is reportedly planned for Melbourne.
With all the terror in the world people need some good laughs.
Thanks to our
wired youth to give us this harmless, funky fun. We certainly
need it. This use of E-mail to quickly mobilize protests against
the war in Iraq and SMS to get people in South Korean to come
out and vote for President Roh Moo-hyun is the real trend here.
Date: August 5, 2003
Author: Leander Kahney
Related links: www.cheesebikini.com
Towards more powerful weapons
Gamma-ray weapons could trigger next arms race
The American military is creating a new weapon that lies between the nuclear and conventional weapons. When exploded they would release high-energy gamma rays that would kill any living thing in the immediate area. Any bits that had not been detonated could cause long-term health problems if inhaled.
Compared to a nuclear bomb, the deterrent quotient is reduced with such weapons and it is feared that creation of them could create another arms race. All technical issues are not solved, but it is possible that these weapons could be in use in the next decade.
Source: New Scientist
Date: August 13, 2003
Increase i holistic measurement of human development and quality of life
A multitude of ways to measure quality of life and development
In earlier "Signs" we mentioned the UN's HDI (Human Development Index) a more holistic way to measure the health of a country over the linear BMP. This idea has grown and here are some examples:
||Measures or dimensions
|Human Development Index
||Life Expectancy at birth
Adult Literacy rate
School enrollment at all levels
GDP per capita
Life Expectancy Index
||Same as HDI
|Human Poverty Index
||Measures deprivations in
basic human development using the same measures as HDI measures
deprivations in basic human development
|Development Report Card
||Corporation for Enterprise
||US States Economies
|Genuine Progress Index
||UN Platform for Action
Committee (UNPAC) Manitoba, Canada
||Time Use Surveys
Valuing unpaid work
|Quality of Life Measures
||City of Sunnyville CA.
High quality of education
Efficient, Safe Transportation Systems
Healthy, sustainable environment
Community pride and involvement
Diverse and growing economy
Quality, diverse, affordable housing
Diverse cultural opportunities
|Sustainable Development Measures
||Employee health and empowerment
Diversity and non-OECD job's
Community involvement and public perception
Needs assessment and life cycle assessment
Revalorization and natural resource use
Loss of primary containment and waste generated
Greenhouse gasses and Emissions
Water and energy use
Non-OCED sales and Non-OCED production
Business NPV changes and business economic profit
Corporate economic profit
Source: see chart
Date: August 20, 2003
URL: see chart
Increasing clash between health and market economy
Saturday Interview of Gro Harlem Bruntland
Smoking and the tobacco industry, obesity and the sugar industry, magnetic radiation and the electronic industry are three health problems caused by specific products which Gro Harlem Bruntland, head of WHO World Health Organization, points to as international health issues.
We have seen what has happened to the tobacco industry in the United States where class action suits have cost the tobacco industry dearly. Now WHO, the World Health Organization is campaigning against tobacco use world wide (reported earlier Signs of the Times). Another of the global diseases highly exacerbated by the use of sugar is obesity. WHO has taken notice and the sugar industry should be preparing to take responsibility for warning the public about the over use of their product. The growing effects of magnetic radiation (even on Gro Harlem Bruntland herself) have been characterized as an allergy to electricity and look to be legitimized by interest from WHO.
Source: Lördagsintervju (Saturday Interview) Swedish Radio P1
Date: June 14, 2003
Interviewer: Tomas Ramberg
Bacterial Fuel Cell Demoed
Researchers from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University in Germany have found a way to harvest the energy needed to power a fuel cell from chemical reactions that occur when E. Coli bacteria consume sugar. The researchers' prototype microbial fuel cell captures the hydrogen produced when the microorganisms metabolize carbohydrates like sugar in the absence of air.
The actual production of hydrogen has been one of the largest hurdles in achieving a hydrogen based economy, which would be renewable and environmentally friendly. The most popular method of producing hydrogen currently requires the use of fossil fuels. If hydrogen could be produced using natural processes as described above, we could fully realize the benefits.
Source: Technology Research News
Date: July 25, 2003
Submitted by: Eric Kellum, Engineer
Youth- New directions for values
Youths more conservative than their elders on issues involving religion and abortion, new UC Berkeley survey reveals
A study has found youth to be more conservative than their adult counterparts on the following issues: School prayer (Adults 59%, Youth 69%; Federal aid to faith-based charities (Adults 40% 59% College students, 67% younger teens; Feeling of warmth towards religious conservatives on a scale of cold (0-50) to warm (50-100) (Adults 26% over 50; Youth 33% over 50); Government restrictions on abortion (Adults 34% support, Youth 44% support) support such restrictions. Youths are more inclined to look expect the federal government to: do more when it comes to job discrimination against women, racial minorities, gays and lesbians and to assist the poor and protect the environment.
On the other hand youth are less likely than adults to attend religious services on a regular basis or use religious guidelines to structure their daily life. For this study adults 26+ and youth 15-2.
Source: Survey Research Center, Campus News, University of California at Berkeley
Date: September 24, 2002
Suggested by: Steven S. Little, UHCL student, Introduction to Future Studies course