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Preparing for the Twenty-First Century Paperback – February 1, 1994
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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Kennedy's groundbreaking book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers helped to reorder the current priorities of the United States. Now, he synthesizes extensive research on fields ranging from demography to robotics to draw a detailed, persuasive, and often sobering map of the very near future--a bold work that bridges the gap between history, prophecy, and policy.
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Kennedy talks about 3 key trends - Demographic shifts, Economic Aspirations and Ecology.
Developed countries are aging and developing countries are becoming younger. This demographic shift should lead to a need for shifting productive people to the developed economies. With the spread of communication, the poor in developing countries have higher economic aspirations. So they want to shift to richer countries, more than before. As Kennedy points out, the only hitch is resistance to immigration.
And it is interesting to see how the World solved this problem through fiber optic cables. So the developed World now has remote workers. And even Kennedy could not have foreseen that.
The other issue he talks about is not so easy to solve. He forecasts that economic growth aspirations will lead an ecological challenge. The emerging 'energy wars', and the consequence of industrial development in China and India are bringing us face to face with the challenges that Kennedy anticipated. So, the choice is to deny the developing countries the prosperity that the rich countries enjoy, or risk the World blowing up - ecologically. And who can decide. Such is the dilemma posed by Paul Kennedy's brilliant analysis.
A true historian and a forecaster.
He gets a lot right, and is only way off on a few things. There is an (in retrospect) annoying focus on robotics, which was very big in the eighties. Kennedy takes that and projects it to 2025 as if robots would be the measure of any industrial society. I don't think he goes five pages without using the word. Well, it hasn't turned out that way. For one thing, assembly lines and packaging machines have simply become far more sophisticated, so instead of programmable robot arms, we get entire systems in a room.
On the other hand, the anticipation of methane being released from Siberian permafrost, the rising of the oceans, the killing off of various species and inconvenient climate change is well underway as predicted. No one has the right to be taken by surprise.
I learned a great deal from this book, as I do from everything Kennedy writes. Worth the trip.
Demographically, he does not see how the 'population explosion' has turned into the 'birth dearth'. And he does not give real attention to the ' greying of mankind as a whole'. It is not simply the first world which will be facing these problems but China too will have a 'massive greying' in the years ahead.
He too does not focus on many of the biotechnological changes which are raising questions about the fundamental meaning of our humanity.
He does once again speak about the US' loss of manufacturing power, the deficit the likelihood of its decline.
He does too warn about environmental problems which no doubt are serious and real.
He is not to blame of course for not seeing some of the most important developments of the past thirteen years.. No one can y see the future which always offers surprises.
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No, Kennedy didn't know in 1993 how bad global warming might be, nor how strong...Read more