If you like 2020, you’ll love 2030

“If you like 2020, you’ll love 2030”; that could be the summary of Mauro F. Guillen’s book 2030

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

“If you like 2020, you’ll love 2030”; that could be the summary of Mauro F. Guillen’s book 2030.

Guillen’s point is very simple; every trend emerging in 2020 will emerge or accumulate with a vengeance coming to a brutal convergence in, or before 2030.

As with 2030, the catastrophes of 2020 were fairly easy for any observer to project.

The great fires of the west coast were a century or more in the making, pandemics emerge on a regular basis – even more often as habitats are disrupted, and what is more predictable than dips in the economic cycles?

Climate change, expressing itself in increased hurricane seasons, droughts, floods and fire seasons and related crop failures, property damage and sea level rise could not be more obvious.

Though published in 2020, which means mostly written and researched in 2019, in the years BC, (Before COVID) his conclusion is that the pandemic only confirms and consolidates the social, economic and cultural trends he outlines in the book (https://qz.com/1869405/mauro-guillen-on-the-future-impacted-by-coronavirus/).

Other books might have a focus on two global trends defining our era; climate change and the rise of authoritarian regimes, 2030 addresses the interplay and intersection of a range of forces underlying and responding to those forces.

These forces, Guillen posits, converge globally and, I think he would say, are largely unstoppable no matter the political climate or preference.

Here’s his cultural reference points, each one coalescing, if not exaggerating the effect of the others; fewer babies, new generations of people, new middle classes, more wealthy women, urban lifestyles, technological disruption, the sharing economy, and crypto-currencies.

Let’s take these one by one – population growth has been a given for most, if not all of our lifetimes. In 1820 for example, there were about one billion people.

It took a hundred years to make it to two billion. By 1960 world population hit three billion, four billion by 1975, five billion by 1987, six by 2000 and seven by 2010.

For a variety of reasons, this will change dramatically if not permanently.

Due to the cost of raising children, urban living, housing costs and increased education and career opportunities for women, large families, even replacement numbers, will be a thing of the past.

At least for most of the world – Asia and Africa have completely different dynamics at work.

More children will survive and more parents will be in or at least approach middle class options.

Even now, for every baby born in the USA, about four and a half are born in China, six and a half in India and more than ten in Africa.

Factor in decreases in the early mortality rates across Africa and Asia, and the math is relentless.

The sheer numbers across those continents will create, then dominate, economies (if they haven’t already).

Many nations, from Japan to Russia and most of Northern Europe, are currently, or will soon see a precipitous drop in national birth rates.

Immigration will be the economic salvation of those countries – as it has been in the USA for a couple hundred years, in spite of what cable news and talk radio say.

The “brain drain” of the most ambitious and talented will go, as it always has, to the highest bidder. That will not always be Europe and North America.

Instead of bearing children, more women will be working or will have careers in place before child-rearing occurs.

Thanks to demographics, and longer life spans, women will inherit and hold more financial power as each year passes.

Retirement will be even more illusory than it is now. More and more of us will demand, or require, or even desire, part-time continuing careers – and both young and old prefer work from home – or anywhere actually.

Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two,

one the city of the poor, the other of the rich. – Plato

Photo by Morf Morford

Photo by Morf Morford

Cities, even more than now, will be the centers of culture and commerce.

As Guillen points out, cities hold about one percent of the world’s land mass, yet hold more than half of the world’s population. About four billion of us live within cities with an average population density of 2,000 per square mile.

Cities also account for 75 percent of total energy consumption and 80 percent of total carbon emissions.

Cities, even more than now, will hold the peril and promise of the future.

Cities are where the money is; in 2018 for example, Hong Kong held 10,000 residents with a net worth of at least $30 million – besting New York City with 9,000. And the momentum is certainly in Hong Kong’s favor.

Hong Kong also leads with number of those in poverty; 20 percent. New York City has a 19 percent poverty rate.

The poverty divide is reflected in the digital divide.

Access to the internet is something like a basic utility. Like electricity, those who have web access have a multiplicity of options, while those who do not, have far fewer.

As Guillen reminds us, in the world of 2020, there are more cellphones than toilets.

We might think of toilets as more basic, and in a sense they are, but a cellphone has a multiplicity of uses, while a toilet has essentially one.

Oddly enough, Africa and much of Asia are far ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to web-based banking and business.

Banking, business and earning a livelihood in 2030 will have a completely different aspect if not landscape thanks to the sharing economy and crypto-currencies.

Instead of “jobs” or even careers, more and more of us will subsist on essentially the “gig economy.” From Uber to Airbnb to Instacart and TaskRabbit, the workplace is bifurcated and disseminated beyond recognition.

Standard currencies cannot keep up with the changes. Dollars, even “floating currencies” cannot flex around technologies and emerging trends from ride sharing to urban scooters.

By 2030, Guillen tells us, there will be more currencies than countries.

For those of us who spent our lives under the uncompromising eye of the “almighty dollar”, the idea of blockchain-based cyber-currencies seems surreal.

And it is, but only to match the surreal characteristics of the emerging and congealing economy.

Standard, nation-based currencies are as obsolete as the legal framework of patents and copyright ownership. Who under forty has not “stolen” software, videos or music?

When the rest of us weren’t looking, Estonia (also known as e-Estonia) has become the most digitized nation on the planet. Estonia is the first “Digital Republic” where all services from medical services to state benefits and voting are online with every aspect (almost three thousand services) are virtual, borderless and block chained – and secure.

With various “tokens” and cyber-currencies, who needs cash – or even standard currency at all?

To put it simply, all the rules are changing. Work, money, gender roles and expectations and everything between are in flux.

Hold on for the ride.