for the Future
By Nilooka Dissanayake
Lately I have been reading many things about the way of the world.
One of the more interesting, The Way of the World - From the Dawn
of Civilizations to the Eve of the Twenty-first Century By David
Fromkin. Another interesting article I stumbled upon was Eight Technologies
that Will Change the World. And it is interesting how you come across
things that are relevant to your interests. If you are looking for
furniture, you see all the furniture shops and advertisements that
never caught your eye before. Now things about the future are popping
up over my horizon, like the proverbial mushrooms. From all this,
there is one thing that becomes clear. Yes, just ONE. Change is
happening at a faster pace than ever before. And here’s something
that tries to make sense of that change of pace:
the overwhelming preponderance of human history, humans have lived
in societies that were characterized by 80% continuities, 15% cycles,
and only 5% novelties at best. Now I believe the figures are reversed:
80% of our futures may be novel, 15% cyclical, and only 5% continuous
with the past and present" says Prof. Jim Dator, Hawaii Centre
for Futures Studies. If the ways of the world are changing thus,
should you not also look at investment opportunities for the future
from that perspective? Do you recall the children’s verse
about the old man who was planting a mango seed? The little boy
asks why, because he knows the tree will take so long to grow and
grandpa won’t be there to eat the fruit. Perhaps this kind
of approach to investing is necessary. Going one step further, perhaps
we should look away from industries and investments that deplete
or pollute the environment and depend on coal, oil or gas. That
means, we should look at not mass scale, but small and medium scale
production units, high tech industries that are energy efficient
and are capable of transforming to non renewable energies of the
future as they become available - a whole new way of doing things,
in other words.
might also take a cue from India. Baba Kalyani, CEO of Bharat Forge,
India’s most successful auto parts supplier is quoted in the
latest issue of Fortune saying, “In India our competitive
advantage does not lie in cheap labour. It lies in cheap brain power.”
you think this is too dreamy coming from this column? Not at all.
Besides the list of broad investment areas for the future that I
listed last week, let us look at another, more specific list. This
stuff is definitely do-able on a small scale and you might laugh
at some of them.
Brown who was President of the Earth Policy Institute believes these
areas will hold great potential in an Eco-Economy. This list is
a summarized version of the many ideas he describes in Eco-Economy:
Building an Economy for the Earth.
Hydrogen Generation - Ocean waves and other sources may be tapped
to provide some local electricity and to split hydrogen from water.
Construction & Wind-Turbine Manufacture
Farming & Aquaculture – Holds great potential because
the oceans are tapped out.
Manufacture - If you don’t believe this will become important
read some articles on the next energy crisis. Bicycles also find
favour with health-conscious eco-consumers.
planting – Grandpa was spot on, wasn’t he?
Engineering – This means using the energies of the earth itself.According
to Glen Himestra, a speaker and consultant on the future, “many
of the enterprises in this list, while important and large in aggregate,
are small scale in terms of local production.
fail to immediately capture imagination and take decades to accumulate
impact.”But, one must also remember. None of this is new.
Alvin Toffler speaks of all these new energy sources and options
in his Third Wave (1980) except wind power.
what will you invest in for the future? Share with us your ideas
on this topic. Send your comments and questions to