The Future by Al Gore
The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore is a book under consideration, which raises one of the major issues of the modern world, the global change. The modern world has been subjected to changes for many centuries; however, for the first time in the world history, humanity is faced with such a significant number of radical and related changes that currently occur and have the global scope. In the book, Al Gore analyzes six major drivers of global change, their relationship, and impact that they have on the future, the future of people and civilization in general. According to the content, the drivers of the global change include Earth Inc., the global mind, power in the balance, outgrowth, the reinvention of life and death, and the edge. However, each of these parameters requires additional analysis and consideration. Earth Inc. refers to global economy and the ways how it influences the global change. Speaking about the global mind, the author analyzes the communication means and the possibilities emerging in the modern world. The driver of power in the balance refers to political and economic forces that influence human life and make people reconsider their vision of the modern society. The outgrowth factor looks deeper into the population growth and natural resources consumption as a factor for the global change. The reinvention of life and death is connected to the development of revolutionary biotechnologies and the way how they influence the set mode of life in the contemporary society. The final driver of global change is by no means less important than other drivers. Being titled by the author as the edge, the focus is made on the ecosystem of the Earth in general. People rarely think about how closely the events and phenomena are related, and often they do not have enough facts to see the full picture since only separate elements are considered. The book The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore highlights that the time has come to act and develop long-term integrated strategies that will shape the future and help people prepare for the new society that they are going to live in.
The emergence of the global economy, which functions as a single organism with a completely new system of relations between the flows of capital, labor, consumer markets, etc., is considered as the first reason for global change. The chapter about the global economy as a driver for global change starts with the following passage:
The global economy is being transformed by changes far greater in speed and scale than any in human history. We are living with, and in, Earth Inc.: national policies, regional strategies, and long accepted economic theories are now irrelevant to the new realities of our new hyper-connected, rightly integrated, highly interactive, and technologically revolutionized economy (Gore 4).
Having read this particular paragraph, it is possible to see what the author means talking about the global economy. Modern economies are not related to a particular country since the processes of globalization have occupied the whole world. The financial markets are interconnected, and the failure in one part of the planet will lead to serious negative consequences in another. Being engaged in the wholesale manipulation, the misbalance is created in different countries. Following the global economic change, some countries develop at a higher pace, while others remain at the same level. This specific tendency is observed all over the world, and it is considered as the basic characteristic feature of the future world: the global economy will be misbalanced; the richer people will continue becoming richer, and the poor people will remain at their level. Basically, this is the major characteristic feature of the future economy.
Searching for faster and cheaper manufacturing with the purpose of increasing productivity and lowering the costs, modern companies refer to outsourcing and robosourcing. The crucial role in outsourcing is played by the difference in the economic development. Many companies in the developed world work with the developing ones. Lower wages and larger population present favorable conditions for creating better working conditions. At the same time, the lower costs help the giants of the manufacturing save money. Robosourcing is the reference to the machinery. Substituting human labor with computers, the larger corporations want to reduce their costs. Therefore, the future of the economy on the global arena is seen as follows: the countries and the corporations with high income at the moment are going to increase their own prosperity, while the developing countries along with the middle and working class are going to remain at the level where they are without having any chances for improvement. The global economy makes the world change, and these changes are reflected at each stage of human life in each country of the contemporary world.
The emergence of the communication system unites billions of people all over the world, storing and distributing a huge amount of digital information. The Internet is one of the drivers for global change in the modern world, and it is impossible to reject this statement. The Internet has integrated into each part of human life, starting from daily activities and ending with communication and business making. Human behavior has considerably changed with the Internet development. Nowadays, people rarely communicate directly. It is faster and easier to use the innovation to share the news and discuss the events. Sitting at home, people have obtained an opportunity to talk to their friends and relatives from any part of the world. Even such daily procedure as shopping has become part of the change. People can buy whatever they want online without any extra movement. The peculiarity of modern people is their particular link to technology. People cannot live without mobile phones: they have got used to the social network, and it has become part of their lives.
The business world has also become part of the Internet world. Nowadays, many business companies use the benefits of online technologies. People do not spend much time on transportation. Documents and procedures are delivered through online services. Information has become the center of the modern world, and people can receive as much data as they need without living the office. The Internet has also improved education and scientific progress in general. People can easily share their experience and transfer it to any part of the world. Even the language barrier is not a problem in the worldwide network. The way how people live and think has changed with the Internet development. Gore has written in the book:
In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind (Gore 155).
This specific statement refers to the Internet since having the freedom of choice, people still remain dependent on the opinion of others and the data that they receive from mass media and their surrounding. The Internet creates an impression of being free, while people become more tied to it without any chance of gaining freedom.
The author has specifically highlighted that modern business is run in a highly competitive atmosphere. Information technologies play an important role in this respect. The companies have to work not only efficiently but also fast in order not to lose their positions in the international market. Advertising and public relations have also changed dramatically. The buying behavior of people has also altered, and it is important to pay attention to it. The main idea of the global mind section is to understand how modern technology and virtual life have changed the way of maintaining information. Being one of the drivers of change, the Internet has restructured the means of reading as it is not linear anymore. The information is perceived as something fast changing as well. Human brain functions in an absolutely different way in comparison to the pre-Internet epoch. The Internet with its influence on conscious and unconscious processes affects the development of the society in the future.
The new alignment of political and economic forces focuses on the balance of powers. The modern world changes not only because of financial or economy aspects. Politics is also not the only possible reason for change. Significantly, the balance between the political and economic aspects is considered as the main reason for driving the change in the modern world. The statements of the author can easily be confirmed with the modern events. The wars in the modern world in the East (Ukraine and Syria) show how the lack of financial power and political strength can lead to unfavorable consequences. The same situation can be considered from a diametrically opposite position, when political strength and economic power lead the country to more advances. The political system is a market where the financial aspects are considered as additional benefits. For a long time, the economical power was considered a central aspect, and the countries which possessed higher financial potential acquired more power and influence in the world. However, the role of politics in the modern world and the future change increased in the 1970s when the “balance of geopolitical power shifted slightly after the 1970 milestone” (Gore 144). The USA lost its leading positions in the oil market. The financial giant began to lose its positions due to perfectly applied political games. Another member in the energy market appeared much later, but it is impossible to ignore: it was China. Coal can hardly compete with gas and oil on the energy market: however, the political influence of China in the developing world guaranteed its success. Therefore, the example discussed in the sphere of the energy market confirms that changes in the role of politics in the financial market cannot leave the future situation without attention.
Uncontrolled population growth and natural resources consumption along with growing urbanization and pollution are the major drivers of the global change. The problem of population increase and the specific overpopulation issue in several countries lead to the changes in human behavior as well. The growth of populace on the planet causes numerous issues related to environment, nature resources, and other problems. According to Gore, “with the increasing population and rising living standards in developing countries, the pressure on resource constraints will continue, even as robosourcing and outsourcing reduce macroeconomic demand in developed countries” (143). As a result, it is obvious that the uncontrolled population growth touches most of the spheres of modern life and connects to other drivers of the global change. Therefore, the increase in population may provoke other reasons for global change since intensification and its effects are going to increase.
Striving for better lives, people go to cities, and it creates the problem since modern urbanization is not developed for allowing all people become its part. Uncontrolled population growth destroys the resource base of the planet, which influences the environment. Being connected to population explosion, uncontrolled population growth makes people act in a different way. Thinking on the ways how to cope with population growth, information technologies are involved, which leads to significant changes in the general mode of life. Innovative and newly developed ways of financing urban projects aimed at housing a great number of people will play an important role not only in the development of engineering approaches to urbanization but also in the application of clean energy technologies by populace. Solar, water, and wind energies are planned to be used for creating favorable conditions for the constantly growing population.
The danger of the situation is highlighted by the unstructured population growth. People cannot control this process, and they should simply adjust to the situation, accept, and get used to it. Cities are the places where people can have more opportunities. The bigger the city, the more opportunities people may have; at the same time, more problems are created. It is impossible to disagree that this is one of the drivers of the global change since having more people, they will have to search for the ways of resolving more issues.
The development of revolutionary biotechnologies that allow people not only to make changes in the nature of existing species but also create organisms and materials is another specific driver of global change, discussed in the book under consideration. The role of biotechnologies in the life of modern people cannot be overestimated. People have learned how to control and change the nature, and this particular knowledge cannot leave modern society without attention. The most important area of study in the modern world is the development of methods of growing cells of plants and animals. New scientific and technological approaches manipulate genes to create new products and modify the properties of the existing ones. This process allows to bring food to the areas where people experience problems in cultivating traditional crops, for example. The change pertaining to animal and crops cells helps develop new species that are more sustainable to some natural disasters. The main purpose of these methods is better utilization of the capacity of living organisms for the benefit of human activities.
Gene engineering is the most important tool applied in the modern biotechnology. The contemporary methods for cell engineering, aimed at designing a new type of cell, are used for restoring viable cells from individual fragments of different cells, combining the cells belonging to different species, forming new cells that carry genetic material of both stem cells, and other operations. Gene engineering becomes an important factor in medical development. Therefore, biotechnologies are changing the world where people live and the way how they behave. Modern scientists work to make gene engineering an essential assistance tool for people in their daily lives. Therefore, the characteristic feature of the development of biotechnology in the modern world is not only its rapid growth but its role in the daily life of the society. Biotechnology becomes an indispensable part of modern life and an important condition for sustainable development of the society.
The ecosystem of the planet, the breaking of which leads to imbalance in atmosphere and climate, is the sixth driver of the global change in the modern society. The ecological balance of the planet is under threat now. Such processes as global warming, population growth, and environmental degradation can lead to irreversible collapse of the global ecosystem. The modern society does nothing in order to preserve the ecosystem. Moreover, it even seems that a human being does all possible in order to see its collapse. One of the most important global problems of the modern world is the climate. The rapid increase in the rates of disasters, which has occurred in recent decades, confirms this presupposition. The analysis of the increasing number of natural disasters and extreme fads of weather in recent years allows to notice the increased number of the cases under consideration. The global climate change has already affected the health, living conditions, and livelihoods of many people all over the world. The significant number of global natural disasters indicates that this can lead to catastrophic consequences for the global civilization as a whole. Nowadays, humanity has entered into the era of global climate change, which appears to be an interdisciplinary problem that refers to social, economic, and environmental aspects.
The modern society does not think about the changes that they experience and that happen in the modern world. It is significant to see how closely related events and phenomena influence the mode of life of the modern population. People often do not have enough facts to see the full picture; however, they still have an opportunity to see the parts of the puzzle and make a try to combine them. The time has come to act and develop long-term integrated strategies that will shape the future and help people lead normal lives under the global changes that they experience. The author of the book concludes:
The cumulative impact of surging per capita consumption, rapid population growth, human dominance of every ecological system, and the forcing of pervasive biological changes worldwide has created the very real possibility, according to twenty-two prominent biologists and ecologists in a 2012 study in Nature, that we may soon reach a dangerous “planetary scale ‘tipping point’” (Gore 141)
The tipping point that the author points to is the particular consequence that the future generations are going to experience from the drivers of the global change that the contemporary society can observe.
In conclusion, the global economy, mass media led by the Internet technologies, the balance between politics and economy, overpopulation, biotechnologies, and ecosystem are the six drivers of the global change, according to The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore. It is particularly important to remember that each of the factors does not work separately; and having considered one of them, it is possible to see that another factor is involved, which leads to the creation of a scope of the factors aimed at restructuring and changing the future of the society. The world community lives in the period when everything changes too fast to notice it. People have got used to change, and they do not even notice how significantly their lives are altered. Each of the factors mentioned above draws a picture of the future. The author has made an attempt to describe the future of the world society, paying attention to the processes that take part in the modern world. The rich countries are going to remain prosperous, while the countries and layers of population with the low income are going to remain at the same level without any opportunity to improve their condition. The role of politics will increase, and the political and economic life of the state will play an important role. People of the future will pay more attention to information technologies, having left aside the climate problems. The ecosystem will be ruined, and people will have an opportunity to lead healthy lives due to gene engineering. This is what waits for people as per the Gore’s prediction.