Societal factors are one area of Convergence that is shaping our future. The accelerating progression of science and technology gets a lot of attention, but our various societal issues are a major part of the story. For example, there have been various projections for global population growth during this century. Early projections had the globe exceeding 11 billion people by the close of the century (the world is currently at about 7.8 billion people). The number of people on earth – and where those people live – will have profound implications.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently posted an article describing the Global Fertility Crisis. As we look at the forces likely to shape our future, we spend a lot of time and media cycles analyzing the exponential progression of science and technology. This powerful force is having a profound impact on society. But the opposite is also true: society is influencing the path of innovation. Societal Factors play as big a role in establishing the path of our emerging future. I placed societal factors in the middle of the visual I use to connect an overwhelming number of dots. The two curves that surround them are the science and technology foundation; and the future scenarios that it spawns. Societal tension happens in both directions; out towards the curves, and in from the curves.
The global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 – up from 7.6 Billion today. This population growth along with city expansions are having major consequences, driving a lack of growing space and food in many parts of the world. Add to this the concerns of extreme weather events that will disrupt food production, and you have a scenario that forces us to find creative solutions. According to various statistics, 795 million people don’t have enough food; and keeping pace with population growth requires a focused effort on realizing food abundance.