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Environmental Scanning through a collection of:


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 societies.

Trend babies: 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.

Trend families: 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."

Confirming Trends: 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.

Geographical trend 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 innovation.

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.


Back to Signs of the Times.


from Oktober 27, 2005

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Health trend

Evolution of Global Consumer Trends

We eat based upon our values. According to a global study done by market analysts, Datamonitor, we will be choosing our foods based upon the following ten trends, age, gender, life stage, income complexities together with individualism, sensory, comfort, connectivity, convenience and health. A whopping 90% of us value health in Europe and the US. More people are living alone, because we are single or elderly. We want healthy and convenient foods. We appear to value adulthood or youth orientations, depending upon our age. Foods will be sold to us as ageless as to appeal to both markets. Women and a growing number of men see that the way to health is based upon what they eat. Foods will therefore be more gender neutral, with the possible exception of beer which will remain the macho drink. The value of individualism is growing and people will prefer to buy foods and products that reflect their special needs. We are more willing to try new foods and enjoy the experience of trying new things at the same time ethnic food helps people stay connected to their roots. Some foods will still be used to comfort us whether they are healthy or not.

There was no mention of how our valuing diversity and environment will affect our purchase of "fair" foods, those with a certificate assuring that the laborers who produced the product have been treated fairly.

Source: Datamonitor
Date: July 4, 2005
Report: Evolution of Global Consumer Trends




The search for identity and meaning trend

  1. Grammar analysis reveals ancient language tree
  2. Insight Into Eye Evolution Deals Blow To Intelligent Design
  3. Genetic Distance and Language Affinities Between Autochthonous Human Populations

In order to better document language families a new system has been developed using languages grammatical structure. Using similarities in words has only taken researchers back 10,000 years and with this new system they can go further back. Eventually this research is hoped to help in understanding the origins of language. Another group of researchers have formulated a conceptual framework for understanding how the eye has evolved in vertebrates.

A third, related research line shows, through new genetic research, the linkages between different population groups in the present and far back into history. All of these research lines are evidence for a trend of wanting to find out who we are and how we came to be what we are today is picking up power. Behind all this lies the difficult question "what are we here for?"

Source 1:
Source 2: Current Biology, Vol. 15, pages 1684-1689, September 20, 2005. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2005.08.046
Source 3: Friesian School

Date 1: September 22, 2005
Date 2: September 23, 2005
Date 3: September 26, 2005

Author 1: Jennifer Wild
Author 2: Sebastian M. Shimeld, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom; Andrew G. Purkiss, Orval A. Bateman, and Christine Slingsby of Birkbeck College University of London, United Kingdom; Ron P.H. Dirks and Nicolette H. Lubsen of Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Author 3: Kelley L. Ross Department of PhilosophyLos Angeles Valley College

URL 1:
URL 2:
URL 3:




Development of a new hegemonic power

China seen world leader in clean energy

China is quickly becoming the world leader in renewable energy. World Watch Institute President is quoted as saying that "35 million homes in China get their hot water from solar collectors" which is more than combined figures for the rest of the world. Between 1994 and 2004 China has experienced a yearly average growth rate of about 30 percent in wind power and 25% a year growth rate of 25%.

As a result of the Chinese dive into renewable energy, prices are expected to go down; new technology could rise and in the long-term, renewable energy might keep China out of energy based wars. These factors taken together, play into the thoughts of those who believe that China will be the new hegemonic power.

Authors: Ed Stoddard




Movement toward cleaner air

The New Clean Fuel: Coal Producer Goes Green

In our search for clean fuels, technology allows coal to be liquefied into a nonpolluting synthetic gas for the production of electricity or hydrogen. The coal rich south of the United States and Australia have two different ways of going about it. One advocates building plants above ground costing early $1.2 billion apiece to build which uses coal mined as it is today. The other, Underground Coal Gasification, in Australia drills down to the coal, makes it into gas and recover the gas up through production wells. See illustration. The result of this process, Syngas, used for fuel for power generation or used in another process out of which diesel fuel can be made.


This Australian process is already in use in Russia. It is being used in remote or difficult to mine fields.

Source: Businessweek, Green Car Congress
Date: August 15, 2005
URL 1:
URL 2:




Sustainability- Energy- Hydrogen

Making society independent of fossil fuels - Danish researchers reveal new technology - 07.09.05

More pieces to the hydrogen puzzle are coming into place. Danish scientists have developed a tablet that stores hydrogen, a gas, as a solid. It is both inexpensive and safe enough to carry in your pocket. It means that a car can store, in the space of one gas tank, the same amount of hydrogen that in gas form would take nine tanks. The trick is that ammonia (hydrogen and nitrogen) is soaked into sea salt. At the time of use a catalyst releases the ammonia and the hydrogen is freed for use. The tablet can be "re-fueled" with a new shot of ammonia.

The five, cross- disciplinary scientists responsible for the tablets have formed a company that is developing them for commercial use. There is no indication of how long this process will take place. See signs from June 21, 2005 Trend: Sustainability - transportation and energy
Revolution för elbilar (Revolution for electric cars) among others.

Source: Danish Technical University Press release
Date: September 8, 2005
Author: Michael Strangholt




Weak trend - the study of peace

How Freedom is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy

Nonviolent civic opposition appears to be a key factor in bringing about freedom in the world. This study looked at changes in countries between 1973 and 2000 that were non-violent or mostly non-violent and tried to understand how they moved to a more democratic position. Some of their findings were:
  • The stronger a nonviolent civic coalition, the larger the gains for freedom
  • The presence of strong civic coalitions improves chances for freedom
  • Transitions with high civic involvement lLead to more freedom than top-down transitions
  • Gains for freedom are higher when the opposition refrains from violence
  • Civic forces are major drivers of transitions to freedom

Non-violent change occurs when it initiated and driven by grassroots or civil organizations. These can be student groups or trade union or others. This civil society has to be quite large and well organized, overtly non-violent using such tools as mass protests, strikes, boycotts, blockades, and/or civil disobedience. Sometimes, when civil societies are less organized, mass civic protests, strikes, and other forms of nonviolent resistance can and have occurred. Support of civil society is important to democracy within a country. At the same time, international networks also play an important roll.

Source: Freedom House
Date: 2005
Authors Adrian Karatnycky and Peter Ackerman




Values shifts as the large, after war, population ages

Accessibility could take a step backward

A variety of changes are reported in different articles as to what is called in the U.S., the "baby boomers" move into retirement age. Issues now and in the future named are: long-term sustainability of pension systems, possibility of pensions tied to the individual, not the employer, life- long learning for those who want to keep working after retirement age, need for health care for aging populations, a need to raise the year of retirement and the growth in numbers of handicapped. All of the problems of an aging population will diminish by 2040-45 when populations will be younger and smaller.

This is an unusually large group of people born between 1946 and 1964. In other western countries and Japan they are designated differently, but the general effect of the second world war's end was an increase in births or babies born in the 1940's and 50's. These large groups are entering retirement and impacting everything around them. In the U. S. there are 76 million individuals born between 1946 and 1964. In Italy, Spain and Japan, 45 percent of the population will be over the age of 60 by the year 2040.

Source: CSIS Center for Strategic and International Studies The Graying of the Industrial World, and other articles on this site ZD Net Asia
Date: January 25-26 2000, July 26, 2005
Press Release: Frances W. West
URL 1:,39047352,39245353-39094248p,00.htm
URL 2: (This URL has been removed. A google search will give summeries of the conference.)


    Back to Signs of the Times.  
  from Septembet 21, 2005  


New research areas with cross- disciplinary approach and an ethical component

Neuroethics, a new hot research topic at Uppsala University (Neuroetik nytt hett forskningsämne vid Uppsala universitet)

A mixed group of researchers from philosophy, brain research and behavioral sciences are behind a new subject, Neuroethics. As the line between behavior and biological processes in the brain dims there is a need to determine what is "normal" and that is where the ethical questions enter. We can now measure the brain using a variety of different techniques and change it with medications. This is wonderful for those with brain injuries or illnesses. It is theoretically possible for even healthy people to "improve themselves", their memory, their learning and rid themselves of unwanted behavior.

Neuroethics is a new field concerned with the benefits and dangers of modern research on the brain, and by extension, with the social, legal and ethical implications of treating or manipulating the mind. Neuroethics critically examines the rapidly expanding fields of neuroscience. See the "Signs from last month on astrozoology.

Source: Uppsala University
Date: May, June 2005
Author: Pressmeddelande 2005-03-08




Growth of do-it-yourself health tests
Development of small batteries

Pee-powered battery smaller than a credit card

The invention is a disposable battery which supplies electricity in contact with biofluids, in this case urine and blood. Its design was intended for home-based health test kits. The biochip eliminates the need for external readers (scanner) and power. The vision is that the disposable chips could be purchased from any pharmacy. An additional use comes when one places a small cellular phone or transmitter on a plastic card holding the chip. It acts as a disposable biofluid-activated communication source in case of an emergency.

The scientist behind this invention is Ki Bang Lee, at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore. The urine-powered battery generates a voltage of about 1.5 volts - with a corresponding power of 1.5 micro-watts and uses 0.2 millilitres of urine. The biochip can be used again after 15 hours if one more urine drop is added. To quote the article, "The battery is made of a layer of filter paper steeped in copper chloride, sandwiched between strips of magnesium and copper. This "sandwich" is then laminated in plastic to hold the whole package together. The resulting battery is just 1 millimetre thick and 60 by 30 mm across - slightly smaller than a credit card." For an earlier "Sign" on another battery see Sustainability - transportation and energy, from June 21, 2005.

Source: news service
Date: August 15, 2005
Author: Shaoni Bhattacharya




Economic - Changing work paradigms

  1. Fighting for time: Shifting Boundaries of Work and Social Life
  2. The Time Divide: Work, Family and Gender Inequality
  3. From Widgets to Digits: Employment Regulation for the Changing Workplace
  4. Workplace Justice Without Unions

Working conditions designed for an industrial society and giving way to a new paradigm, sometimes called the knowledge or service society. As the industrial framework becomes less relevant, new issues arise. One of these issues is time, a societal construction, which determines how much one is expected to work. The need to work coupled with responsibility of a household and child rearing, who owns human capital (skills knowledge, organizational information) and the need to restructure laws for a service oriented, educated and varied workforce are all driving change in how we will work in the future. Other factors driving change are the need to find balance between jobs that pay low wages with structured hours and jobs that demand long days but pay well; the have-time-but-no-money or money, but no time dilemma.

The outlines of a new work paradigm are taking place. Although the state of workers globally is uneven, workers rights are growing despite the low level from which they may have started. Some of the new areas of negotiation are safety protections (physical and psychological), continual learning (where the employer does not own the human capital but pays for and "leases" it), new rights for part-time and temporary workers, new ways to enforce workplace justice, and a social safety net that is not related to a specific job (health insurance, continuing education costs, retirement package.

Source: Future Survey 27:3
Date: March 2005
Authors: 1. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and Arnie L. Kallenberg 2. Jerry A. Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson, 3. Katherine V. W. Stone 4. Hoyt N. Wheeler, Brian S. Klaas and Douglas M. Mahony
Publishers: 1. Russell Sage Foundation, 2. Harvard University Press 3.Cambridge University Press 4. W. E. Upfohn Institute for Employment Research




Sustainability - New energy sources

The Rebirth of Cold Fusion: Real Science, Real Hope, Real Energy

In 1989, cold fusion was judged by scientists as being impossible according to physics theories. In the ensuing fifteen years more experimental evidence world wide show that a new energy source in the form of excess heat has been measured precisely and convincin.

There is a push in the United States to get financing for cold fusion. Cold fusion is a term for any nuclear fusion reaction that occurs substantially below normal temperatures. More specifically it describes a low-temperature reaction using relatively normal experimental conditions. For more information: While there may be more interest currently in the U.S. for cold fusion, it is just one of a number of alternative energy sources that are fighting for funds in a negative political climate

Source: The Rebirth of Cold fusion: Real Science, Real Hope, Real Energy
Date: October 2004
Authors: Steven Krivit and Nadien Winocur
Publisher: Pacific Oaks Press




Understanding terrorism

Kennedy School Study Examines How Political Freedom
Affects Terrorism Risks

It is intermediate level political freedom that best correlates with the risk of terrorism. Countries, called anocracies, such as Iraq and Russia are examples. Political freedom is more important than economic performance. Countries with high levels of political freedom and highly authoritarian regimes don't show the same correlation with terrorism. Anocracies are often characterized as regimes that are weak and unstable.

When we understand more about the conditions which incubate terrorism (referrers to national and international terrorism) the easier it will be to stop it. Between 1985 and 2003 the numbers of anocratic countries have been on the rise.

Source 1: Kennedy School of Harvard University
Source 2: Integrated Network for Social Conflict Research, University of Maryland
Press Release Date 1: October 25, 2004
Press Release Date 2: 2005
URL 1:

URL 2:




Changing ethical questions

Future Ethical Issues

This chapter 4, Future Ethical Issues in the 2005 State of the Future relates the results of an international assessment to identify the most important future ethical issues. Those who were rated the highest for the future period 2005 to 2010 are (in order of significance):
  • What is the ethical way to intervene in the affairs of a country that is significantly endangering its or other people?
  • Should religions give up the claim of certainty and/or superiority to reduce religion-related conflicts?
  • Do we have the right to clone ourselves?
  • Do parents have a right to create genetically altered "designer babies"?
  • Should national sovereignty and cultural differences be allowed to prevent international intervention designed to stop widespread violence perpetrated by men against women?
  • Is it right to allow people and organizations to pollute if they pay a fee or engage in pollution trading?
  • What are the ethical ways to develop applications of artificial intelligence?
  • Should scientists be held personally responsible for the consequences of their research?

This assessment was developed using the Delphi Method. Four hundred and twenty-four individuals participated representing forty- three countries. For more information and to order the whole report, see See New jobs in growing ethics "industry" Signs of the Times Archives, Updated August 22, 2005.

Source: 2005 State of the Future
Date: 2005
Authors Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon
Publisher: American Council for The United Nations University, The Millennium Project




Growing knowledge of the genetic and biological causes of mental illnesses

Scientists Uncover New Clues About Brain Function

The mental disease, Williams Syndrome, causes people to be very social and empathetic. They respond to others this way, missing signals those without the syndrome would interpret as fear and anxiety. Their fear is transferred to things like heights and spiders. It is known that this illness is caused by 21 missing genes on chromosome seven. The question scientists had, was where in the brain's structure did this lack of genes manifest itself? By comparing the reactions of people with and without Williams Syndrome scientists were able to locate the dysfunction to the amygdala.

Other areas of the prefrontal cortex (front portion of the brain) work with the amygdala in a delicate network. Within that area there are three regions, the dorsolateral (establishes and maintains social goals having to do with interaction), the medial area (connected to empathy and regulation of negative emotion), and the orbitofrontal region (assignment of emotional value to a situation). In Williams Syndrome this system had significant abnormalities.

Source: NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Date: July 13, 2005
Press Release: Jennifer Loukissas


    Back to Signs of the Times.  
  from August 22, 2005  


A trend baby toward good news

South African good news
Good News India

Everyone is tired of the regular news. Periodically, I find myself wanting to cry when listening to the news. The regular news reportage goes on, but a new paradigm of news reporting does exist, reporting only the good news. A South African sight is geared to sharing the good news of South Africa with expatriates with an eye to getting them to return. It doesn't stop others from getting another view of SA.

Good News India was started by D V Sridharan and covers a wide range of topics, visionary, frontier, conservation, outreach, traditions, transitions, economy, milestones, institutions and friends. It extols the volunteer and the entrepreneur. One article reports that the citizens of Chennai brag about their wells after the whole region started collecting water on their roofs. In just a few years, the situation changed from drought and a few drops from faucets to clearer more plentiful water supplies, all with the help of simple technology.

There are 16, 800, 000 sites in a Google search for "good news". The search is definitely worth a look. What people judge to be good news is based upon their values and their world view. The consequence of each news item determines their worth.

Sources: South African good News, Good News India and Google
Date: May 25, 2005




Future human development

1. Conference Seoul Digital Forum : Quo Vadis Ubiquitous: Creating a new digital society
2. Conference TransVision 2005 :Towards a new world, a longer, better life for everyone
3. Human evolution at the crossroads: Genetics, cybernetics complicate forecast for species

Two conferences and an article all within the same period discuss the future of the human being. One of the forces at play is genetics which is helping us to understand the aging process. Once the aging mechanism is understood we will be living longer. At the same time we are increasingly becoming cyber (part human and part technology) beings. Glasses, pace makers, mechanical limbs that are digitalized and programmed, all of these innovations show a slow evolution of human dependence on technology. These changes have started now and could be very noticeable in the next 15 years. See Transhumanism - benefit or threat?

A summary of the scenarios for future human development are: genetic modification, transhumanism or blending ourselves with machines in unprecedented ways, fighting to stay the same (natural-born humans), making ourselves virtually extinction-proof by bending Earth's flora and fauna to our will, or gene pool convergence (traditional evolution requires divergence of gene pools without which our adaptability to disease and climate change diminishes). Three new types of beings might appear, the enhanced (those with means), the naturals and the rest.

Source: Seoul Digital Forum, TransVision 2005
Date: May 19, 2005, July 22-24, 2005, May 2, 2005
Author: Alan Boyle
URL 1:
URL 2:
URL 3:




New jobs in growing ethics "industry"

Birth of the Ethics Industry

So many companies' executives around the world and particularly in the United States, have broken laws and gone over ethical borders that a new consulting specialty is developing. Some of the services these companies will provide are legal and ethics education programs, customized courses on the company's business ethics policy, ethics hotline services, new reporting systems to receive complaints and tips and web-based education.

It is important for reporting systems to be outside the firm to avoid retaliations.
The growth of this specialty is opening up new employment possibilities, particularly in the United States, where the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (for more information see ) provides legal incentive to increase ethical behavior. Some of the job titles in this new field are: chief compliance officer, general counsel to vice president of human relations and various job titles in accounting positions. Call center personnel handle hotlines, where the subject can be suspected fraud, sexual harassment, ethics charges or a manager's behavior. Calls might take up to two hours before all the facts can be documented.

Source: Business Ethics on line
Date: Summer issue, 2005
Author: James C. Hyatt




Sustainability - Energy

A River Runs Through It

The Republic of South Korea has installed the award winning Gorlov Helical Turbine which is 100 inches long and shaped much like a screw or egg beater (see illustration below). It eliminates the need for dams and the huge costs of construction and flooding large land areas. Any type of moving water, canals, open oceans and rivers can be fitted with a turbine which harnesses kinetic energy. These turbines are 97% more effective than any other power source currently used.

Fish appear to swim around these devices, eliminating also the problems dams have in destroying natural fish runs and therein reproduction. This invention is just one of many to report on these days which can increase our electricity production without the use of fossil fuels. The invention is the brainchild of Alexander Gorlov, Russian born professor at Northeastern University.

Source: Utne
Date: July/August 2005
Author: Alyssa Ford
Illustration: Natural Resources Defense Council




Counter intuitive politics - The U. S. trend to control energy resources

1. Christians Call for Action Poverty, Environment
2. California Goes Solar
3. Artic Oil Fight Not Over

The National Association of Evangelicals with 52 fundamental Christian denominations under them and a total of 30 million members (Bush supporters) has begun a "Call for Civil Responsibility". Two papers released by the group define this responsibility in the areas of poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, an end to racism, and focus on human rights and social justice. The group says that Christians have a duty to protect the environment by practicing good stewardship. In another article in the same publication, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presents his plan to fulfill his campaign promise to utilize solar energy in the state of California. The plan calls for 1 million new solar roofs by the year 2018. At the same time, those who want to drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, with nearly 200 spices of wildlife are getting close to getting their wish. The Bush Administration states that the oil from this region would decrease dependence on foreign oil.

Those wishing to preserve the Artic National Wildlife Refuge recommend calling upon environmentalists to save the area from drilling. If they could think out of the box (or counter to intuition), they might enlist 20 million fundamentalist Christians and Gov. Schwarzenegger to help save the region and the Porcupine caribou who are central to the culture and livelihood of the Gwich'in tribe living in the Refuge!

Source: Yes! A journal of positive futures
Date: Summer 2005
Author: 1.Doug Pibel, 2. Megan Tady 3. Lisa Kundrat




More highly educated Africa

Education enrollment ratio

In the period between 1990 and 2001 there has been an increase in the percentage of children in Africa who are enrolled in primary school from 58.7% to 71.4%. The greatest jump in this percentage was in 2000 and 2001.

As the rate of those attending primary school increases, attendance in higher education will also increase. In twenty years, the results should be seen in a more qualified workforce. It could also impact democracy, birthrates, and many other issues. Many people are looking for positive change in Africa and this is clearly one of them.

Source: UNESCO, International Institute for Sustainable Development
Date: 2005




Humankind as a part of nature

Animals and us: Forward to the revolution

Evidence that people in western countries are looking differently at their relationship to animals continues to grow. The European Union is has added a line to its animal welfare legislation: "A sentient animal is one for whom feelings matter." Research into DNA presents scientific evidence that animals and humans are more alike than previously believed. A conference in early 2005 called "Compassion in World Farming" in London would never have seen the light of day ten years ago. A new discipline called anthrozoology has been created to study human-animal interactions. It has its own international society, formed in 1991, conferences and journal.

There are still many deeply ingrained ideas and feelings that would have to change before a truly compassionate relationship could be developed globally. The trend is well established in the western world evidenced further by a growing number of vegetarians in the U.K.

Source: New Scientist
Date: June 4, 2005
Author: Maggie McDonald


    Back to Signs of the Times.  
  from June 21, 2005  


More meaning

Ben & Jerry's and WWF launch climate change college
LIFEWORK: Meaningful Careers in the Emerging Sustainable Society

Ice Cream producers, Ben & Jerry's, have always had a strong commitment to society. Their latest adventure is a three year Climate College which will train 18 young people - aged 18-25 - to become Climate Change Ambassadors. Their work around the world will be supported by Ben and Jerry's and WWF (the World Wild Life Fund).

It is becoming clearer than "meaning" is a new trend, in work and in life. More people are leaving their jobs to find work that has more value and gives meaning to their lives. Those who believe in the transition to a sustainable society are looking at 17 major sectors where one might find new work that is important for the planet. Find companies already working in these areas or develop your own job.
Environment/habitat - Developing, marketing, selling or researching safe, pesticide-free living space and ecosystems throughout our watershed area and local ocean
Food - working for and promoting healthy organic food from local farms, backyards or community gardens
Water - educating or developing methods for frugal use, water collection and non-toxic recycling of scarce water.
Air - helping businesses reach high air quality standards
Shelter - Building, selling and promoting green housing and furnishings from local sources.
Clothing, textiles - selling and producing local, non-toxic fabric, clothing and textiles sewn under "fair trade" conditions
Commerce and trade - networking, promoting or owing a locally owned and operated business providing needed goods and services
Travel and transport - developing and maintaining systems for energy-efficient alternative transport, commuter trains, bikes, electric vehicles
Security - maintaining peace and order locally with positive external alliances for mutual benefit Finding and creating local sources of needed resources before they run out. Developing awareness and good local preparedness for possible emergencies due to fire, drought, earthquakes, climate change, food
Science/technology - Helping people to understand GM technologies and evaluating food content.
Energy - developing, selling, installing and maintaining wind, solar, and other renewables
Family/community/society - networking, initiating and enacting laws - building and maintaining strong local connections with everyone in the community.
Health care - providing, integrative medicine using the best of traditional and modern medicine, to all in the community who need it. Run preventive health care practices and health maintenance not just "repair."
Dependent care - work with children, the elderly, companion animals - integrating children, the aged, the ill, the animals back into daily community life.
Education - practicing customized learning where the best in each individual is nurtured for the benefit of the whole community
Arts, entertainment and communication - work in the arts, live entertainment, news gathering. Organizing parades and events of local interest. Providing global news from reliable alternative (internet, alternative TV/radio) sources.
Spirit, psyche, culture - work with people who want to learn mutual respect diverse ways of connecting with our highest selves and universal spirit.

Sources: World Wildlife Fund, For the Future
Date: April 28, 2005, 2004
Author: Linda Buzzell-Saltzman, M.A., M.F.T.




Sustainability - transportation and energy

Revolution för elbilar (Revolution for electric cars)

In 2006, Toshiba plans to have a battery on the market that can be recharged in just 10 minutes. The technology makes use of nano-technology to engineer particles less than 100 nanometers. They can store vast amounts of lithium ions and suffer no deterioration to their electrodes. The battery is slim and small, useful in hybrid and electric cars.

The three reasons that electric cars have not had larger success has to do with the batteries being too heavy, shorter driving distances, long charging times and expense of electricity. This battery seems to solve all those problems.

Source: GöteborgsPosten, The Register
Date: April 18, 2004, March 29, 2005
Author: Stephan Lövgren ,Tony Smith
URL 1:
URL 2:




Mobilization to end extreme poverty

The End of Poverty
Blair wins Putin's support on African debt relief

In September of 2000 under the umbrella of the United Nations one-hundred and forty seven heads of state came to UN's New York headquarters. It was the beginning of the new millennium and more leaders than had ever gathered before, set a group of goals with specific targets to end extreme poverty, disease, and environmental degradation. The result of their work was The Millennium Development Goals; eight of them, each with its own deadline and targets. See trend Fighting the hegemonic power.

Just as with other global treaties and agreements, there is no guarantee that the goals will be met, but the fact that such a document came to fruition is a huge step. It is a step toward bringing all those who believe in ending extreme poverty nearer to a critical mass which will have the power to change the downward spiraling trend. Jeffrey Sacks tells how the work of the UN was reorganized to give priority to the goals. It brought experts from different areas in order to better work toward the fulfillment of each goal and its targets. In order to see just what these goals and targets are look at

Source: The End of Poverty
Date: 2005
Author: Jeffrey Sacks, Ed Johnson
Publisher: The Penguin Press




Small production organics to big business - values change

Organic FUTURES - organic food industry - Industry Overview

Large food corporations are on to organic products. Interest has grown over the years and big business wants in on the profits. We know that innovations don't usually come from the larger companies, but from the smaller ones who are more liable to take risks. Once the way to profits is clear, they buy upp the pioneer producers.

In the late 2001 organics accounted for 2% of all foods sold. Large companies have the potential to bring that to 10%. Given the drives against obesity and sugar usage 10% is a consertative estimate. As the price goes down, consumers who wanted organics all along but were forced to price shop will also force up the statistics. Organic foods are a growing trend. What could stop the trend is the fact that large corporations "don't necessarily believe in the organics philosophy. This may have the effect of reducing the quality of organic food, cause demonstrations and legal actions against corporations, slowing the purchace of organic foods produced by corporations.

Source: Vegetarian Times
Date: March, 2001
Author: Mark Harris




Low-power radio growth

¡Presente! A radio station barn raising

Have you heard of license exempt free radio bands? They are short-range frequencies set aside by governments. These frequencies are controlled and allocated by governments without the usual expense of licensing. They generally have a power output of 10mW and are tightly controlled in terms of frequency accuracy, power output and false emissions. Short range devices aren't just used in Europe, but are found in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The frequency allocations vary, with Pan European using the same frequency range. Other areas use slightly different ranges; South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and China all have short range radio (around 3.5 American miles in range). The rules governing Short Range Devices have been changing in recent years. Europe has been harmonization regulations between countries. The USA has also just rethought their regulations. In order to place a product on the market, the market must demonstrate that they comply with the technical regulations. In Europe this means compliance with the R&TTE Directive.

Anyone can start a low power station from their home with a small investment in equipment, which is being constantly refined. What is low-power being used for?
Many are sending their own music programs without commercials. The following organizations in the United States are using them to offer diverse viewpoints to the public, Alternet, Democracy Now!, Free Speech TV. Two thousand five hundred Latino, Haitians, and Mayan Indians who work on farms in Florida, USA were helped to develop a radio station by the Prometheus Radio Project. The aim was to help them fight for wages and working conditions. With threatened governmental support of alternative radio and TV in the USA these low-power bands increase in importance

Source: Low Power Radio Solutions, Yes! Magazine
Author: Hannah Sassaman
Date: May 2005, Spring 2005




Growth of community among urban poor

Halving hunger: it can be done

The world population is mostly urban, with more people living in cities than in the countryside. Slum dwelling is dominant. UN projections suggest that over the next 30 years virtually all of the world's population growth will occur in the urban areas of low- and middle-income countries.

There are good things happening! Federations are formed uniting slum dwellers. They build community and facilitate local responsibility. Federations are at work in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Namibia, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe. Each has their own character and emphasis, but all have savings and credit groups, innovate and refine their programs, conduct surveys and mappings in order to assess their situations, construct model housing, and exchange information with other federations.

Source: UN Millennium Project, Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers 2005
Date: 2005
Author: Piatro Garau, Elliott D. Sclar, Garriella Y. Carolini




Fighting the hegemonic power

Democracy Now!

The list of countries refusing to repay their international loans is growing. We reported earlier that Argentina had refused to repay their bond debt and now there is a series of countries in South America that are refusing to repay their loans. They are told to privatize their natural national recourses as repayment, and often that repayment is in oil. Those who purchase these resources are large American corporations. Those "dissident" leaders and their countries have stood up to the United States, the IMF and World Bank. The first to take this stand was Omar Herrera Torrijos, popular president of Panama (assassinated in a plane crash by explosives) followed by, Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Alfredo Palacio in Equator, Lula Da Silva in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina with Uruguay, Bolivia and possibly Mexico following.

Linked to this resistance to hegemonic power is a trend of wins by popular progressive movements, in many South American countries including Ecuador. These actions against paying loans have resulted in the cancellation of the huge debt of $40 billion. At the recent meeting of the G-8, all debt of 18 countries, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa have been wiped out. The money was owed to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

Source: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Democracy Now!,
Associated Press
Date: May 18, 2005, June 14, 2005
Author: John Perkins, Amy Goodman, Ed Johnson


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  from April 29, 2005  


Humanizing prison

Prisoners trained to care for animals
Dog houses in the Big House

Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison for women in NY was the first to train prisoners to socialize the puppies that would eventually be trained as guide dogs for the handicapped or for bomb detection. The first project of "Puppies Behind Bars" began in November 1997 and has grown to work in five correctional facilities which raise fifty puppies. Another successful program is called Cell Dogs. It has been documented by Discovery Channel. It raises service dogs and family pets from strays found at animal shelters.

These programs have resulted in better relationships between prisoners, guards and the rest of the prison as dogs follow their trainers to all their activities, chapel, the laundry room and drug treatment programs. It is reported that inmates are taking responsibility for the first time in their lives; they learn patience and how to show feelings. In their role as "parents" they gain the parenting skills of love and discipline. Prisoners feel they are giving back to society in a better way than just serving their sentence. Programs can be found in both male and female prisons. Even horses are trained by prisoners with the same good results. Wild mustangs of Nevada are being trained and their trainers, many of which have never held a job learn hard-work, dependability and honesty.

Sources: Puppies Behind Bars, Corrections Corporation, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada
Date: April 7, 2005, July 14, 2003




Learning from nature

New Software Allows UAVs To Team Up For Virtual Experiments

It is still a while off, but testing is being done on software which allows unmanned airborne vehicles, called UAV's (uninhabited aerial vehicles) to fly in formation just like birds. The idea is that these vehicles communicate with each other similar to the way birds keep their formation without crashing into obstacles while still reach their goal. The technology will facilitate airborne monitoring and surveillance of natural disasters, such as fires. It is also thought to be useful for atmospheric sampling. Just like the birds they imitate, the vehicles have the ability "to avoid obstacles in a cooperative and synchronized manner".

The imagination can take this technology much further. Other innovations in the software, using "waypoints" on a grid developed individual flight plans, gave one new instructions to orbit over a virtual fire and giving that vehicles instructions to another vehicle in the "flock". At this time the "flock" is only two vehicles. In the future, UAV's could be flown stacked in a vertical column. The idea is to collect air samples at different elevations. One could also imagine that a larger "flock" could fly together, only breaking formation to join another flock on the way to the airport where they will safely land having avoided air collisions and making better use of air space.

Source: NASA
Date: March 17, 2005
Author: Elvia H. Thompson and Alan Brown




Sustainability - Aircraft propulsion fuels

Systems Analysis Initiated for All-Electric Aircraft Propulsion

Research is just beginning on electric aircraft propulsion. It unites three trends: that of increased use of systems analysis, increasing interest in ecological solutions and growing interest in fuel cell development.

Another part of the research will look at the "integration of fuel cell propulsion systems into aircraft and provide a better understanding of the interaction between system components and the resulting effect on the overall design and performance of the aircraft".

Source: NASA
Date: February 20, 2005
Author: Lisa L. Kohout




Increasing confusion for food consumers

Food Wars: The global Battle for Mouths, Minds, and Markets

The authors of this book feel there is currently a food policy in crises. The authors define three paradigms that exist simultaneously and illustrate the confusion. Three paradigms are 1. The Productionist Paradigm - grew out of the industrial revolution and has reigned over the last 200 years. It is based upon market economic goals for productivity and, to that end, uses advances in chemical transport and agricultural technologies to meet its goals.
2. The Life Sciences Integrated Paradigm - sees food as similar to drugs which enable people to be healthier. It uses biotechnical technologies (such as genetic manipulations) and has its base in mechanistic and medical thinking. 3. The Ecologically Integrated Paradigm: a blend of modern ecological principles, traditional knowledge and a selective biotechnology

Food is truly in the spotlight now more than ever before. It is not only about cooking shows and cook books, but the quality of the ingredients and their impact on our health. Food manufactures are in a war to capture our attention and our money. Our criterion for food purchases is changing, we look for the cheapest, freshest, the trendiest food we can find. We also look for foods with the least fat, the least sugar and foods that suit our special situations. Allergies to milk, nuts and a growing variety of foods also guide our purchases. Some of us buy a product because the quality is assured by organic growth or because it takes very little preparation. Others of us buy because those who actually produce the food are not being exploited. Some of us buy what tastes good or what the kids will eat. Who will win the war for our food budget?

Source: Book Food Wars
Date: April 30, 2004
Author: Tim Lang and Michael Heasman




The shift from industrial to service society in American trade Unions

The Decline of US Labor Unions and the Role of Trade

Trends in National and Regional Unionization Rates and in Union versus Nonunion Wages

Statistics from 1977 to 1999 show an increase in unionization of public sector jobs over private sector jobs. Public sector jobs are largly in service area (health care and education) while private sector jobs are examplified by manufactoring or construction jobs. At the same time that unions are less prominate among construction workers, there is a growing need for skilled workers. Statistics that reach to 2002 validate that the trend continues.

While some agree that this change is related to the increase of service jobs, there can be other reasons as well. The very nature of jobs is changing from manual labor to knowledge intensive jobs, workers feel less need to join a larger group to fight for their rights. Many service jobs, cleaning, maintainence gardening etc. are low-paid and require low skills. The current move to new liberal economics limits general support for unions in any sector. In such a culture, individuals are expected to fight their own battles.

Source: Institute for International Economics, Book: The Decline of US Labor Unions and the Role of Trade
Author: Robert E. Baldwin
Date: May 2003





Increase notice of psychological/psychological "protest" illnesses

Staying In and Tuning Out

Japanese youth, called hikikomori, people who withdraw, number as many as 1 million. Symptoms are: refusal to leave their bedrooms, angst, depression and withdrawal. While withdrawal is not unusual for teens in other countries, it is more widespread in Japan. The culture encourages people to be the same and if one isn't the shame drives the individual to pull away from the society that shuns them.

For a number of years Sweden has been dealing with the apathetic children of asylum seekers. They currently number 150, but the numbers are reported as conservative and are increasing. Apathetic children are in or on their way to a coma like state of psychological paralysis, they do not respond to outside stimulus, eat or toilet themselves. The thing they have in common is that all of their families are and have been waiting for many years for a positive decision to be able to stay in the country. Some families have gone underground

The above situations involve some kind of withdrawal from society, they both involve children or youth and they both are reactions to the cultural situations within which they find themselves. These dramatic responses to cultural pressures are not necessarily increasing, but notice of them is increasing with the spreading of modern media. Another Swedish example, where predominately women, often working in the public sector, become so ill that they must take a long- term sick leave, a type of physiological withdrawal stimulated by the changing values in Sweden during the last 20 years from a social economy to a market economy.

Source:, Swedish Network of Asylum and Refugee Seekers
Date: April 7, 2005
Author: Tim Larimer, FARR




Increased interest in changing jobs and lifestyles

Take Two

A radio series in the USA profiles people who made a change from one type of another. Recently a television program in Sweden had the same goal. Some examples are: from Aquarium curator to opening a coffee roasting company, from secretary to property manager, from military officer to cook, accounting to belly dancing, from ethnobiologist to librarian and from speech therapist to grocery bagger.

There appears to be a trend toward changing from one job to a completely different job. The motivation of many is job changes that might give them a better life. People have many interests and when a career starts to loose its appeal or stops providing meaning, people switch. Both programs reported these changes as highly positive. Many times they mean less income to the individual, but higher quality of life. Are more people reaching the top of Maslow's needs hierarchy?

Source: National Public Radio, NPR, Morning Edition
Date: February 3, 2005 to March 23, 2005
Author: Ketzel Levine


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  from April 07, 2005  


The trend toward sustainable economy

Holy Grail Found
Living wages aren't important to people who don't have to live with them

The discussion about whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) inhibits or encourages profits now has so much evidence in it's favor that it is well on it's way to acceptance by the masses. The first of two meta- studies show "a statistically significant association between corporate social performance and financial performance exists". This performance ranges on a scale from "highly positive to modestly positive". A meta- study looks at many different studies over time (in this case, 52 studies over 30 years).

The second study looked at 60 studies completed in a six-year period. Eighty-five percent showed a "positive correlation between environmental management and financial performance". Actors in the United States, the UK and Australia carried out these studies.

There are those that still hold on to the belief that social and ecological considerations draw from performance and negatively affect investor returns. They are a shrinking group. Costco Wholesale Corp. pays its employees well. It encourages union affiliation and offers health care while making a good profit. A retailing analyst from Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. thinks that "From the perspective of investors, Costco's benefits are overly generous", "Public companies need to care for shareholders first".

Source: Common Dreams Newsletter, Prometheus6 (Blogg)
Date: Winter 2004, March 26, 2004
Author: Marjorie Kelly. Ann Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal





Alienated young men

Women continue to outplace men in graduation in College

Females dominate males in colleges by two to one. Special activities to have been developed to recruit boys to the university. In classes, the guys are hesitant to speak up, they aren't heard. The University of California at San Diego's freshman class is 57% females and at San Diego State females make up 59% of the student population. Nationwide 200.000 women earned more bachelor degrees than men did. More jobs require college degrees and the message is not getting out to boys.

A similar situation exists in Sweden.

Source: Weekend Edition NPR
Date: January 23, 2005




Increase of wearable technology

Wearable Computers You Can Slip Into

Building computers into clothing for work and every day life has been mentioned before. Now production is expected to reach markets in two to three years. The first is a "purse" made of cloth with tiny computer chips embedded in it. Velcro is used to hold it together due to its capacity to conduct electricity. It looks and feels like any leather bag. This purse can keep track of your wallet and reminded you if it is missing, check the weather report and in case of rain suggest you take an umbrella or in case of sun, sun glasses. If you want to hear music on your way to work, your favorite songs can be loaded into your scarf.

Contributing to these advances are Aracon, made of Kevlar, that is extra strong, can conduct electricity, and can be woven into ordinary-looking clothes. A new packaging makes it possible to wash the chips with the dirtiest of clothes. Currently on the market are items for other uses as well, a band worn on the arm collects data on the physical state of the user. It is already on the market and sales are expected to double in 2005.The band can be used in dieting and is being sold through fitness firms.

Source: Business Week Online
Date: March 8, 2005
Author: Olga Kharif




Paradigm change from linear thinking to systems thinking

Bringing System Dynamics To A School Near You

Systems theory has been taught for a while in natural science in colleges and universities. Here is evidence that curriculum has been developed to teach small children systems thinking. It is not being presented as a separate subject, but is used integrated into kindergarten through high school subjects. The specific tools being used are: time graphs to find patterns, causal loop diagrams to focus discussions on unintended consequences and stock/flow diagrams to understand population dynamics.

Systems theory or systems dynamics helps students to understand the relative nature of life, and gives them tools for handling what those of us brought up in the linear paradigm regard as chaos. These new students will be able to appreciate the various systems that appear chaotic and have a better understanding of change. They can have hope in a new way, because they will learn that chaos is followed by order. They will also be less frightened of change and know that chaos is a part of the natural order of life. They will learn how to mitigate the ravages of chaos by making incremental changes, like learning how to say "sorry" in the playground before a student becomes so angry that he or she only wants violent revenge. Additional sources of information are: The parent site is about System Dynamics in Education managed by MIT. There are downloadable papers and curricula., The Waters foundation has a website focused on Systems thinking and modeling for k-12 Some on line simulators with student performance monitoring. (Not Free) For those interested the next International System Dynamics Society conference will be held in Boston, July, 17 - 21, 2005.

Source: Lloyd Walker (all URL's), International System Dynamics Society Conference
Date: August 2000
Author: Debra A. Lyneis




Tax structures slow move toward sustainable economy

Tracking State Environmental Tax Developments

Despite the lack of participation by the current American government in environmental issues, a survey of state tax policies by J. Andrew Hoerner, Harnessing the Tax Code for Environmental Protection: A Survey of State Initiatives found 462 environmentally motivated tax provisions were already in place at the state level as early as 1998. It was difficult to find an update on this report.

OECD and the European Union have combined their databases when it comes to tax instruments used in environmental policy. Some of the areas that are being taxed are for; air pollution, discharge of waste water, ozone depleting substances, excise on mineral oils, recycling and waste management, electricity, motor vehicles and registration, battery fees, nuclear waste,
hunting fees and scraped car fees. While the details are not news to many, the use of taxation as a tool to reach sustainability should not be underestimated .

Source: Redefining Progress, European Environmental Agency and OECD
Date: April 5, 2005




Growth of niche banking

Banking Entrepreneur takes Hispanic bank idea to public
Native American bankers targeting N.Y. tribes

A bank that would target the Hispanic population is under development in Washington D.C. Two financial institutions already exist in the area that serves the African-American community. Federal Reserve Bank records show that other banks serve the Indian-American community and women. Another article reports on a commitment to bank building within the Native American community in the area east of the Mississippi. The goal is to increase the number of banks from today's 20 to 35 in every region of the country.

Reasons for the increased interest in community banking for Native Americans include: tribal economic development successes, diversity in the types of businesses, accumulation of sufficient capital and experience for bank development and in a wide variety of business endeavors. Interest in banking services for Native Americans could not occur without a potential customer base. J.D. Colbert, North American Native Bankers Association president says "…And there has been the creation of some semblance of middle class in Indian country over the last 30 years, particularly in the last 15 years".

Source: Nubank
Date: June 14, 2004
Author: Tim Mazzucca, Thomas Hartley




Food moving from industrial society to knowledge society

Sign Jamie Oliver's petition and start a revolution in your dinner hall

A number of things are happening in relation to taking food out of the industrial revolution and into the knowledge society. The factory made foods that took apart raw products and fabricated something new, lacking in nutrition and freshness and being pushed out for foods chosen with knowledge of their nutrition properties. In England, well known Cook, Jamie Oliver started a "feed me better" campaign. As a result the Labour party has written a campaign document with a "children's policy" that includes" a commitment to raise the nutritional standard of school meals with a major programme of investment in new and renewed kitchen facilities and equipment and in the skills of Britain's 'dinner ladies' and catering staff." In Sweden, food in local restaurants has been found to make to give every fifth patron food poisoning. They study which produced those figured motivated the government to assignment the National Food Administration the task of analyzing the competence of those who work in local restaurants and come with a suggestion for the obligatory knowledge for hygienic food handling. Denmark and Finland currently require courses for food handlers.

The discussion about healthier food is reaching the food production industry which is trend sensative. A company reports, in a news releace that they are now putting a whole-grain soy flour on the market. Food production is moving into the local arena nearer to where it is consumed. Instead of pre- packaged foods prepared in central kitchens, more people will have to have the knowledge to prepare fresh and healthy foods at home and local eating establishments. According to food trend experts the future will bring a tighter relationship between nutritionists and grocery stores. Local supermarkets will become places of learning through brochures and information on food preparation, health and food contents in various media forms.

Source: MGTV, P1 Swedish Radio, Menu
Date: March 31, 2005
Author: MGTV
Program Leader: Sven Ekberg



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  from January 29, 2005  


Students drive school system change

A drug kids take in search of better grades

The medication Adderall, most widely used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) is being used to help college students focus on homework, or to cram for an exam. Adderall is an amphetamine prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD. Regular users of Adderall can develop a dependency and use it to get through the day. Current usage extends to increasing numbers of high school and college students across the United States. The consequences of use vary from school to school. Since there are a growing number of children legally prescribed this medicine, the inhibition against taking it when one is older is weak. Reinforcing further the use of the Adderall is the fact that they are taking it for "a good cause", one that is totally enforced and reinforced by all aspects of society.

When the school system does not change to meet the needs of children, and the rest of the world prioritizes education as the road, not just to success, but to survival, then change in the system has to come from somewhere else in the system. Now the children themselves are driving the change by using medication to increase their ability to succeed in school. The question, what are the possible consequences of such a change, especially as the trend grows. Which possible scenarios do we need to look at now in order to lower the chance that largely negative scenarios will become reality?

Source: The Christian Scientist Monitor
Date: November 30, 2004
Author: Rebecca L. Weber




The need to balance current conservative political thinking

Sweet Sounds Of Love: Lullabies From The Axis Of Evil

Norwegian Producer, Erik Hillestad has made a recording of lullabies from all of the countries listed on Bushes Axis of Evil. Local talent sang the songs.

For those of us who believe that "others", who do not behave or believe as we do are immoral and therefore evil, there is an equal number who believe that "others" are our equals with needs (love, care, knowledge, insight). Erik Hilestad 's work is a reminder of the fact that there is balance and order in the chaos we experience. It is also a reminder that trends are expressions of a change in a system and these changes have positive and negative attributes that drive more change.

Source: Pi2N (Music Industry News Network)
Date: January 20, 2005




The need to understand current conservative political thinking

Is God in our Genes?
The Political Brain
Moral Politics, How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Sign 1. "Which came first, God or the need for God?" Has belief in a higher being become a part of our genetic system through evolution? The authors present genetic studies for spirituality and conclude that if there is a gene for spirituality, there is not only one. Environmental factors like organized religion also play a large role.
Sign 2. This is one of a number of articles reporting on an study by a team of UCLA scientists of neural activity of Republicans and Democrats when watching political advertisements. MRI scanning showed different responses. The interpretations of those responses are not yet conclusive, but searching a couple of ways on the internet shows a high level of interest in this unfinished research in the form of many articles, with slightly different conclusions, by different authors.
Sign 3. A linguist, the author looks at metaphorical usage and through it defines two poles of moral code that guide our lives, political beliefs and behaviors. Lakoff is careful to mention that there are many versions of these two codes. The one is The Strict Father Morality and the other is Nuturant Parent Morality.

The last four years of extreme conservative government in the United States have left liberals with a series of question marks. The need to understand appears to be pressing. The contents of the recent inaugural address by President Bush appear to have increased the strength and conviction to understand how he and his sympathizers think. At the same time, MRI and other brain scanning methods allow us to look into the brain and try to understand how use of the different parts of the brain reflects in our values, beliefs and actions. Note: This Sign of the Times and the one just above reflect very similar trends. They took on extra weight due to personal scanning that is more difficult to document. After the 2004 presidential election I experienced; comments of depression, concern and fear by friends and family, reactions of anger, labeling people and actions as "crazy", and a search for examples of liberal solutions from alternative radio and press, and angry and searching debates by two on-line discussion groups of futurists.

Source: 1. Time Magazine, 2. The New York Times Magazine 3. Moral Politics
Date: 1. November 29, 2004, 2. August 22, 2004, 3. 1996
Author: 1. Jeff Chu, Broward Liston, Maggie Sieger, Daniel Williams 2. Steven Johnson, 3. George Lakoff




Growing resistance to loss of social benefits in change to Market Economy

The impact of Russian pensioners' demonstrations
Strikes disrupt French rail services, hospitals
Bolivian Province Seeks Greater Autonomy

Sign 1. Demonstrating pensioners protested the loss of as free public transport and free basic medicine for the elderly and disabled. In compensation, they expected a monthly financial compensation of between 750 rupees and 1 000 rupees, but instead they got 200. Economists and investors see pension plan decreases as a necessary step in Russia's economic overhaul.

Sign 2. Leary of economic cutbacks by the current conservative government and experience in changes in pension plans last year, French doctors, post office workers, railway employees, teachers, telecommunications and energy workers plan a week long strike. Their goal is to slow down reforms in the welfare system, public sector and labor laws.

Sign 3. In Bolivia, the City of Santa Cruz contributes one third of the country's gross domestic product and contributes much of Bolivia's tax revenue say the city's business and political leaders. Because of that, they are fighting with the controlling Indian majority. In La Paz there are consistent protests over free-market economic policies. Leaders in Santa Cruz claim the fight against free-market policies have scared off potential investors.

This is not a new trend for most of us. The idea that a country is responsible for the welfare of its citizens is not very old in the scope of things. However, the social benefit trend is well entrenched and is pushing the older free market trend which pushes back. We also have to remember that trend of movement from an unsustainable to a sustainable environmental situation is taking place and that supports the welfare rights champions.

Source: 1. Business Report, 2., 3. Yahoo
Date: 1. January 18, 2005. 2. January 19, 2005. 3. January 26, 2005
Author: 1. Christopher Boian, 2. John Leicester, 3. Kevin Gray, Associated Press Writer




Decrease in China's population, increase in gender gap

China Confronts Its Daunting Gender Gap

It took the Chinese 30 years to get their birth rate down. Due to lack of a social welfare net, boys have been preferred. The results if the latest official figures show 40 million more men than women in the population. The government understands this is a problem and is beginning to enforce policies against abortion and death of female fetuses and babies. There is some question that a crackdown will have negative effects such as underground and dangerous abortions. The good news is that the birth rate is coming down naturally in cities as more young women get into the labor market. Those who are only children and live in urban areas are allowed to have two children as a way to help keep the population in balance.

The result of China's attempt to get birth rates down has been the creation of a potentially large group of bachelors. Trafficking of women and children is rising, as men do not want to grow old without a spouse.

Date: January 21, 2005
Author: Ching-Ching Ni




Improvement in mental health


WHO (World Health Organization) has put together evidence that mental health can be improved. Some of the recommended interventions are: school-based psychosocial programs directed to decreased prevalence of conduct and substance abuse disorders, timely social and economic support which prevents mental and psychological problems among communities exposed to conflicts and disasters. In addition, they recommend early identification of serious mental disorders, improving nutrition, enhancing access to education, paying attention to the quality of the environment and housing, and strengthening community networks.

Mental Health is one of humankind's most difficult problems. One in every four people are affected. The solutions are not new, but it takes time to integrate them into existing systems. The studies are in and the evidence is that they work exists. The question for scenario planning is what is the integration time for these interventions that is, how long before the results start to show in the form of improved mental health statistics.

Source: World Health Organization
Date: September 16, 2004




Alternative energy growth (update)

Sign 1. Renewable Energy in Europe: Building Markets and Capacity
Sign 2. Mainstreaming Renewable Energy in the 21st Century
Sign 3. Report: Global Warming at Critical Point

Europe has had renewable energy goals since 1991 wherein rewabel evergy was 4% of of all energy consumed. In 1997, the goal was set to 12% for the year 2010. Current projections are 20% by 2020. This represents a conscious effort using strategies and action plans to facilitate growth. Wind and solar power are growing faster than any of the other alternatives. Wind power has grown most of all. Growth is excellerating for wind and solar power, which have grown more in the last five years than in the preceeding five. This growth is centered in six countries. Together Denmark, Germany, India, Japan, Spain and the US use 80% of this new capacity. Japan and Germany are the most successful. In all cases, it is policies of governments that make this growth possible.

The Institute for Public Policy Research in Britain, the Center for American Progress in the United States and the Australia Institute published a report by a task force made up of senior politicians, scientists and business figures. It formed last March. They are in the process of getting G-8 countries, to raise their use of renewable energy to 25% by the year 2025 in order to avoid the time when widespread drought, crop failure and rising sea levels will be unavoidable. The G8 are world's most important industrialized countries and is made up of the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia.

Source: 1. European Renewable Energy Council, 2. World Watch Institute, 3. Yahoo News
Date: 1. May 2004. 2. January 25, 3. 2005
Publisher: 1. London: James & James. 2. World Watch Paper 169
Author: 3. Ed Johnson, Associated Press Writer


    Back to Signs of the Times.  
  from December 28, 2004  


Women's liberation continues

Despite Restrictions Saudi Women Making Strides

A factory for women's underclothes has opened in Jedda, Saudi Arabia and the workers are all women. They sit in their black Abia's with only their eyes showing. They are some of the few women employed in a country where women cannot leave home without their abia, cannot drive, socialize with men, travel without a family members permission or vote in the first ever elections next year. The man who built the factory has provided childcare for his workers and recruited from the poorest citizens. At the same time, 58% of all college graduates are women although only 5% are in the workforce. New jobs are opening up in hospitals, banks, training and universities. There is even a private college, training women in science and engineering.

The driving factors mentioned are a lowered economy in Saudi Arabia and a population explosion. Some young men are actively seeking wives who have jobs as they realize that two incomes are and will be needed to provide for a family. Some scenarios of the middle east show that peace will not come from male war or diplomacy, but from liberated women who will find their counterparts in other Middle Eastern countries bring together Arab lands as well as Arabs and Israeli's.

Source: NPR News (Internet Edition)
Date: November 4, 2004
Author: Deborah Amos




Aging population

"Hälften av Europas barn kommer att bli 100 år", (Half European Children Will Live to be 100 years old)

Currently there are just as many people under 15 years old in Europe as there are over 65. In 2050 prognosis say that older folks will out number children 2 and ½ times. 2050 is the peak year when the last of the retirements take place of those born in great numbers after the Second World War. When those now 36 years old and over are all retired there will be one young child to every 2 and ½ mature adults. Driving this trend is increased life spans and lowered birth rates.

If we believe that the population should grow, then two children need to be born to replace one adult. Currently there are 1,2 -1.6 (it differs from land to land) children now being born in Europe. If we believe that we have passed the carrying capacity of the earth, (more people than the earth can provide for given current western standards), then this is a good thing and that population figures hopefully, will stabilize at a lower rate after 2050. It will be hard for an economy that is very dependent on growth to adjust to this situation.

Source: Göteborgs- Posten
Date: October 31, 2004
Authors: Ragnhild Berglund




From lawyers in politics to businessmen in politics

Executive Assistance

Traditionally most politicians in the United States have a background in law (the exception being entertainers!). A new trend is the entrance into politics of businesspersons. However one describes the split in American politics, red- blue, liberal- conservative or Democrat and Republican, voters are going over these borders to elect candidates with business background. The trend actually started in the 2002 election. They are mostly CEO's. They think their management, economic development, finance, economy and efficiency skills transfer to the running of a State and national governments. They invest large amounts of their own money (Remember H. Ross Perot who ran for president?).

Candidates with business background are attractive to traditional parties and to voters. They point out their financial abilities and management expertise they experience lacking in other politicians. Current financial concerns could be a driver of this trend. Parties can play on CEO's business successes. The candidates themselves seem to show a little distain for bureaucrats and a desire to bring some new thinking into the governorship, a position most of them have aspired to

Source: The Atlantic Monthly p.60 - 65
Date: December 2004
Author: Alexandria Starr




Military innovation needs met in the market economy

Army announces venture capital initiative - In The News
CIA Venture-Capital Firm In Silicon Valley

A new and revised version of the old military industrial complex is returning. Reports going back to 2002 relate how both the CIA and the United States Army are investing in new technologies that could play key roles in national defense and intelligence gathering as well as well as llighter, more efficient power sources for individual soldier systems.

The CIA has formed its own venture capital firm called In-Q-Tel. They identify companies developing products, for example those which could be of use in tracking and sorting information across languages. The companies then become partners as the CIA or Army make large investments in that firm.

Source: Looksmart findarticles , found originally in Program Manager and ExtremeTech
Date: April, 2002, June 15, 2003
Author: Charlie Gulac, Sebastian Rupley




Inadvertent ecological behavior

Energy Prices Altering Consumer Lifestyles

Since the turn of the century, Americans have been moving back to city centers. They are tired of the traffic and the long commutes to work. In a survey, those people who planned to buy a home in the next three years, 87 percent were looking for a shorter commute. They are willing to give up the larger lots and bigger houses in order to eliminate the commutes. In exchange, those with money are buying better appliances that produce less noise and use less water.

Since Americans are the biggest users of energy and the government is not actively interested in the environment, one has to look to the habits of individuals to see how committed the citizens are. According to this article, it is the traffic and long commutes, which are the motivator of an environmental lifestyle. Those with money prefer environmental appliances, which mean that they might be more accessible to those with less money in the near future.

Source: The Washington Times via American International Auto Dealers
Date: December 6, 2004




Small business leads job creation while big business still sets the standards

Familjeföretag skapar mest tillväxt (Family Companies create the most growth)
Små IT-företag stod för jobben 1993- 1998 (Small IT-companies accounted for new jobs in 1993 - 1998)

Small and medium sized businesses, SME's, account for the majority of new jobs created around the world. When asked where new jobs are created, a number of futurists from all over the world responded. This is what they said:

Almost 99.6% of the job creation comes from SME's, which employ 69.9% of the labor force and contributes 32% to the economy. While no figures are collected on women owned SME's the Philippine government has a program giving more access to women entrepreneurs. Michael Guanco, Philippines

Employment in the "Limousin" region of France rose by 21,8%, between 1994 and 2001. The largest growth was in firms of less than 10 employees. The most new jobs were in the crafts that included 30% carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters and 30% in food production bakers, pastries chefs, butchers. The rest were in services, hairdressers, artisans and tailors. Thierry Gaudin, France

The contribution of the SME sector to UK GDP (or these days, Gross Value Added) is heading towards 50 percent, as compared with perhaps 35 percent 20 years ago. Over 4 million SMEs exist in the UK today, of which 2.8 million have no employees except the self-employed proprietor(s). Ted Fuller, UK

In the EU 92% of companies have over 10 workers and are creating the new jobs. Large industry has not created a net job in the past 14 years.

In Spain 2 of every 3 new start ups are set up by women entrepreneurs, who of course are creating most of the new jobs. Myrtha Casanova. Spain

Two different research groups in Sweden report that family owned companies are growing faster than other companies and that of all IT companies in Sweden, the small and newer companies created more jobs than larger more established firms.

While this is an old trend, having long surpassed the international giants, the world still functions as if big business is the rule. This comment came from everyone who answered my question (about 10 people) and from articles from the world of research and small business associations. Yet politicians, bureaucracy or investors do not reflect this in their behavior. When will the trend change.

Source: World Futures Studies Federation (Global federation of professional Futurists) list serve
IVA-aktuellt 8/2004
Entré , 3 2004
Date: November 20, 2004
Authors of Swedish IVA article: Pär Rönnberg




From sin to sickness

Sjuk eller frisk? (Sick or healthy?)

The recent decision on wether the man who murdered the Swedish Foreign Minister, Anna Lind, should be sent to jail or be considered mentally ill and be placed in a closed psyciactric care facility, brought up the trend for human behaviors once treated as sins to become crimes and then illnesses.

When Christianity (with seven sins of Sloth, Greed, Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust and Anger), was the rule, behaviors that were wrong were sins and the punishment was death and eternal hell. When rule of law became the norm, behaviors that were wrong were those that broke the law and the punishment was jail or death. As science and human education increases, behaviors are, increasingly, seen as illnesses, particularly by people who's values are based on the belief that people are basically good. Many now consider alcohol abuse, narcotics use, gambling, and pedophile behavior as illnesses in Sweden. Many people see them as "treatable". There are 12step, Minnesota Method and other rehabilitation programs and pills for pedophiles and perpetuators of incest. It is becoming more difficult, as knowledge of the brain improves, to call a murder a sin, or merely breaking the law. Such anti-social behaviors stem from brain functions that, increasingly can be traced and treated.

Source: Program 1, Swedish Radio, Godmorgon Världen! (Good Morning World!)
Date: November 5, 2004


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