Top News

The future is now

This year, there will be two elections which will impact the future greatly for all of us. Here in NL, we will go to the polls within weeks to elect the next provincial government, and later in the year to make our choice for the next federal government. 

It is already long past the time that we should all be very concerned.

Even seniors like me cannot cop out by saying “well, I’ll be long gone” because many of us will still be around in 2030, thanks to the amazing progress in medical technology which will eradicate most diseases in the world (as long as we ignore the advice of non-medical “experts” on social media campaigning against vaccination!). And we certainly have to be concerned about the world we have passed on to our children and grandchildren.

For decades we have ignored the projections of economic and societal experts concerning “the future.” We were always too busy worrying about the present! Fair enough. But there is a consistency in statistical projections that is alarming.

That consistency is 2030. It always seemed to be “down the road,” but it is only 11 years away in real time, and the factors which will culminate in that projection are actually in play now. So, in that respect, the “future” is here, now. It will all unfold throughout the coming decade.

We need leadership now to address the issues leading up to 2030. These issues exist and will continue because they are part and parcel of our progress in history to date. The challenge is how to cope with exponential changes.

In climate change, whether we believe the overwhelming scientific data or choose to deny it is not the point. The world is tearing itself apart with hurricanes, floods, or in some cases droughts destroying homes, jobs, and sadly lives of millions of people. By 2030 it will be too late to reverse the process by human means. What to do?

In the Economy, we are heading for another industrial revolution and/or upheaval. Millions of jobs in manufacturing will disappear by 2030. They will be replaced by automation through our progress in technology. Yet, manufacturing production and sales (wealth) will increase significantly with work being done by robotics. What to do?

The Automobile Industry is said to be the largest single industrial occupation on earth. In 2016, it was employing 50 million people. It has already moved aggressively into robotics for its assembly lines, and manufacturers are tripping over themselves in their headlong rush to go totally electric. (Several countries have already committed to ban the sale of vehicles powered by fossil fuels).

By 2030 all motor vehicles will likely be electric (EVs). While that will be good for the environment, it will be problematic for the oil industry. Well over half the world’s oil production goes to vehicles using either gasoline or diesel. With such a decrease in demand, it is likely the price of oil per barrel will drop accordingly (some experts say to $40 or less).

Our concern here in N.L., of course, is what effect would that have on provincial revenue from our oil industry (and our provincial budget)? On the positive side, if motor vehicles are all electric, it may create an increased demand for our hydro-power resources. Is anyone in Government looking at these two scenarios? What to do?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also move us into “driverless vehicles.” And not just in personal cars. Four major automobile manufacturers are actively testing the automation of 18-wheelers. In Canada alone, driverless vehicles (while probably making the roads safer from us human beings!) will result in the loss of 300,000 jobs. What to do?

Inequality of wealth has to be addressed world-wide. Here in Canada, we cannot tolerate reports of 87 families having a net worth equivalent to that of the entire populations of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island combined! It will probably be addressed through Universal Basic Income (UBI), but that will have to be the subject of another letter! For now, gentle readers, ask those campaigning for office where they stand on all the above. Now.

Edsel Bonnell
Mount Pearl

Recent Stories