Considering the change our world has undergone in the last 50, 15 or even 5 years, let’s assume we all agree that to call this change exponential would be an understatement. Who would’ve thought that a computer that almost filled an entire room at its inception, can now be operated with one hand and is only a few millimetres thick, or that six decades ago only astronauts could venture into space, yet now we’re planning its location as a holiday destination (albeit an expensive one at this stage!)
If we had imagined and had the ability to know what the year 2014 would bring us 25 years ago, we would’ve probably had the same reaction to this ‘imagined reality’ as what the experts say the world will look like by 2040.
Leeann C. Naidoo’s book, ‘The Mind Age™: Mastering the Infinite Mind for Success for 2040 and beyond,’ provides an insightful, fascinating and in some cases, worrying account of what 2040 will look like. She has incorporated extensive research, merged with her own management consulting experience and the opinions of international business leaders; affirming that at the core of every solution to each of the challenges described below, there is a single ingredient far easier to master than one might think.
Naidoo’s book quotes interesting findings based on extensive research on population growth and its impacts. Currently at approximately 7 billion people, the United Nations estimate the population will grow to approximately 9 billion people by 2040, according to a report published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, called the World Population Prospects. Populations of developed countries are predicted to remain stable whilst 49 of the least developed countries are projected to double in size. Life expectancy is also projected to increase and the consequence of increased life expectancy is the need for people to work longer, placing huge pressure on there being sufficient ‘employment’ opportunities available as well as the need for making adequate pension provisions. “The impact on the health of the population will be severe, with stress increasing phenomenally and depression likely to be the biggest killer by the 2040s,” says Naidoo.
Add another 2 billion people to the planet by 2040, compounded by an already decreasing landmass on Earth due to melting icebergs and rising sea levels, and we are faced with a fundamental shortage in habitable space.
Given the rate at which the population is predicted to grow in the next three decades, space colonisation will inevitably develop. Gerard O’Neill, the now late space colonisation pioneer and scientist, proposed ideas for human settlement in space. Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist and cosmologist, has in more recent years stated that we face the option of either inhabiting space within the next 200 years or face extinction. “Whether we are faced with a gradual decline in Earth’s resources, or whether there is a catastrophic impact to Earth’s biosphere,” says Naidoo, “there will inevitably be a need to create an alternative habitat, the beginnings of which are already in play.” South-African-born Elon Musk is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX regularly launching rockets into space via his commercial spaceflight company SpaceX Corp, which delivers supplies to the International Space Station using its Dragon Spacecraft. Add Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space programme to the mix, running passenger flights into space, and we suddenly have the beginnings of this reality.
The Environment & Energy
Reducing landmass and depleting energy reserves makes space colonisation all the more attractive, but does not solve the environmental problems we are faced with. “We are out of time,” says Naidoo. “Saving the planet has become an emergency! We’ve each contributed to the problem on varying scales; now it’s time to do our part in rescuing the planet!”Let’s go back to the origins of the problem …
Approximately 300 million years ago, much of the atmospheric carbon was converted into inert material such as coal and other fossils, but has been released in recent years by the burning of high volumes of coal, oil, and natural gas, resulting in excessive CO2. If the CO2 levels continue to rise, the Arctic is predicted to become ice-free in the 2040’s according to the US Centre for Atmospheric Research, permanently displacing all life forms. This cannot be allowed to happen.
The consequential impacts on our environment due to the current mining techniques like horizontal drilling and ‘fracking’ and how these techniques will radically transform the production of oil and gas, mean that energy sources will need to be re-evaluated – especially in light of methane leakage risks as raised by leading Environmentalists on the subject of ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing).
The costs of energy will continue to sky-rocket into the future and with the pressure of a growing population, new innovations are needed. Fortunately some clever minds are applying themselves to the energy solutions. Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, has started up a new company called TerraPower, which turns nuclear waste into nuclear fuel while providing affordable, low-carbon electricity. How many other Bill Gates are there in the making today to sustain such innovations, asks Naidoo, prompting us to think about whether we are encouraging creativity and innovation enough.
Water and Food
Inevitably, with a 30% increase in population we will need close to double the quantity of food and water, since many parts of the world still do not have access to fresh supplies. The three best solutions at present is to quickly figure out how best the containerisation of melting icebergs can be managed, and increasing the extent to and rate at which desalination of seawater is taking place. Artificial ‘energy island’ archipelagos where wind turbines and concentrated solar power will be driven by underwater turbine generators, is also currently being developed as another fresh water producing strategy. According to the Natural Resources Defence Council, sea levels could rise up to 21 feet in the next 100 years wiping out most islands and low-lying countries if Greenland’s ice mass melted.
A harsh warning, reported by the Guardian newspaper in 2012 from leading water scientists is that the world may have to switch to a vegetarian diet for the next 40years to avoid the shortage of global food supplies, because there is not enough water for the croplands, to feed the animals, as well as produce additional food for the extra 2 billion people. In her book, Naidoo asks whether we are adopting the appropriate mind-set around environmental sustainability and water conservation, and provokes thought as to whether we are educating appropriately to produce the food and water scientists of the future?. “Currently, 900 million people go hungry every day suffering from malnutrition – throw another 2 billion into the equation – what will that reality look like?” asks Naidoo.
Naidoo then goes on to describe the advances in Transport, Employment and Healthcare (all of this only in Chapter 1 of her book!) with thought-provoking insights on whether we are adopting the right mind-set in preparing for, educating and creating the appropriate environments for these innovations. She describes how most new vehicles produced in the future will be electric cars or hybrids due the fuel issues we’re being faced with now. Naidoo highlights the various high speed rail routes being created, anticipating that they will create a ‘web’ of transport connectivity.
Whilst that creates some employment opportunities, is this enough to sustain the masses, in particular with regard to the fact that many business operations will continue to decrease to a lean workforce, keeping only essential business functions and critical skills in-house whilst outsourcing the rest. The future will see a greater use of virtual teams and automated ‘employees’ based on interactive software and cloud based computing systems, although some complex and critical functions will still require strong human interaction. Is Generation Z effective enough in verbal communications to become the charismatic leaders of the future? Another challenge will be the need to create multiple income streams - both for individual households as well as for business, so as to accommodate the radical decline in employment opportunities.
With all these fundamental changes afoot, life will continue to be fast paced with higher demands on our health. We will need to increase brain function tremendously – and Naidoo goes into practical palatable detail on how to achieve this.
Rather than painting a picture of doom and gloom, Naidoo infuses her personal life story, knowledge and experience on how create a powerful mind-set, unleash it and then harness it to create a life of purpose and meaning. Naidoo is right to say that everybody, irrespective of age, really should be gearing up for the new world but believes that we’re not, because, ”We’re too busy, too tired, too stressed, have our own baggage to deal with, don’t have money, believe that it’s somebody else’s problem to fix, or we choose to live in blissful ignorance of the inevitable.” She goes on to dissect the 8 key aspects of our future and provides helpful tools and techniques on mastering the infinite potential of the mind to achieve a life of success and fulfilment.
Leeann C. Naidoo’s new book, The Mind Age™: Mastering your Infinite Mind for Success, will be available from 27 October 2014 in South Africa, the UK, parts of Europe and North America. To purchase your copy of the book, download your free ‘Building Mind Muscle’ support pack, or to contact her for speaking, coaching or consulting engagements, visit www.themindage.com.
Also look out for book listings on www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.com and Kindle.