After spending the last few months studying bold new ideas that could make a big difference to the planet and its inhabitants (beyond what I have been doing with Greenopolis and RecycleBank), I am happy to report that innovation is now more “in” than ever. In fact, our society appears to be every bit as inventive as it was at the dawn of the 20th Century when such life-transforming developments as airplanes, automobiles, telephones and electrification were making their debut. Today, to cite just a few examples, we’re seeing the introduction of sustainable food production “pods”; lighting that allows crops to be grown in year-round indoor settings; new lithium-ion batteries that hold a charge 10 times longer than existing models and recharge in one-tenth the time; technologies that monitor personal caloric consumption; software that counsels individual users on ways to reduce their energy consumption, and plastic–to-oil conversion technology. In short, we’re busy finding ways to accommodate the ten billion people who are expected to inhabit this planet by the year 2100.
One other really important population development is that by 2030, it is projected that some three billion more people will be moving into the middle class, primarily in countries like India and China. This will put an additional strain on resources, since members of the middle class consume 20 percent more calories and use significantly more energy – for example, by driving cars – than do people in lower economic strata. While that prospect may sound a bit scary, since it’s only 20 years away, I believe we will rise to this challenge — with a little help from the various companies and entrepreneurs that are busy turning all these new innovations and technologies into reality at this very moment.
The point is, when it comes to reinventing ourselves to adapt to changing conditions, we’re still every bit as much of a ‘can-do” society as we’ve ever been.