Global Trends in the 21st Century

The name of Andy Weir, the author of the novel The Martian, later a movie was made based on the novel which was partly shot in Budapest, crops up more and more in discussions among various NASA researchers and socials. This is no coincidence. Futurology and trend research are demonstrably among the activities that require the most imagination, and the United States’ global predominance in technology is partly due to the fact that it fosters and promotes the emergence and utilization of new visions.

Even among popular trend analysts, Richard Watson stands out: in ve of his books, he has a empted to outline and identify the trends that will shape the development of the period ahead. In his book, Future Files, Watson presents 50 trends, and in the end points out ve that will have a radical impact on the coming decades.

Humanity will become stronger and stronger, however, at the same time it will gradually age: due to technology, more and more diseases will be successfully cured, and more and more will be spent on healthcare, medi- cines and medical tourism. Everyone will be connected ever more closely to everyone else. Information and communication technology, cheap travel and migration will change people’s behavior, work and mindset. In 50 years, everyone will be accessible to each other worldwide. Meanwhile, localization gains momentum, tribal feelings are developed in the new city- states, local trumps global. We will experience the “rise” of the machines, and out of the fusion of Genetics, Robotics, the Internet and Nanotechnol- ogy, the GRIN technology will be born. The shift of power from the West to the East is a huge shaping force: China and India will be the winners  of the coming decades, and Russia, Brazil and Mexico will increase their clout. Pollution, global warming and the lack of raw materials and energy sources will cause ever graver problems: countries will become submerged, while the ercest ghts will break out over fresh water.

 Location of Today’s Countries on the Pangea Supercontinent 


Source: Massimo Pietrobon, Plymouth State University, museum-of-the-white-mountains/17604/secton-3-hiking-ancient-mountains/

Watson does not wish to support his predictions with scienti c research, yet it can be seen that in several regards his analysis tallies with our snapshot detailed in the previous chapter, i.e. the unique geo-moment at the intersection of con icting global developments. In the next chapters, we will immerse ourselves in Watson’s imaginary world while maintaining our grip on facts, and for this, the immense set of tools and knowledge base of geography provides a perfect basis. So what sort of future awaits us ?

Who Will Be the Winners of the 21st Century?

The unipolar world will once again develop into a multipolar one, and a new world order will arise in the 21st century. This phenomenon can be a ributed to several readily observable reasons:

  • Aging and migration have various economic and social implications in both developing and developed countries (the situation of refugees, new consumer groups, pension schemes, diseases, unemployment, poverty, radicals, terrorism).

  • The ght for energy and energy independence continues both domes- tically and abroad, while certain raw materials become ever cheaper. Germany and Italy will become renewable energy superpowers, whereas for example in Russia and the Middle East a diversi ed economy is considered important.

  • Geo-economic interests and economic warfare lie behind the struggle for markets, energy, competitiveness and knowledge (embargoes, new international development and nancial funds, for example in China). Both an economic and an ideological (value-based) clash may unfold between the East and the West.

  • In the global world based on new technologies, the door is open to everyone. The knowledge ow between developed and rapidly developing economies is a dual process: it forges connections (new alliances, catalysts), and at the same time the employer country in- creasingly becomes a mere provider of knowledge rather than its producer.

  • Global strategies are replaced by “regional” cooperations. Among the numerous alliances of the multipolar world, smaller countries may often be able to tip the scales.

  • If the paramount conditions for successful economic growth will be a highly skilled labor force, balancing between regional cooperations and resilience to crises, peripheral countries with a exible and knowledge-intensive economy might act as the new points of reference in the world economy.

  • After the crisis, new value systems will develop, in which maxi- mizing shortterm pro ts will be of secondary importance behind longterm value creation and preservation. In parallel with the transformation of responsibilities, new industries will reshape the markets.

The currencies of the localized but intricately intertwined 21st century are the unique idea, creativity and knowledge that can easily “in ate away” if we do not keep up with our competitors.

The countries that fail to create knowledge will have no choice but to buy it, thus ge ing left behind in international competition and pushed to the periphery of development, which leads to the solidi cation of their vulnerability. Therefore every country’s long-term strategy should include a vision that puts its own local strengths in the service of sustained eco- nomic growth, employment and improving living standards in the global geopolitical and geo-economic competition.