Seeing past the ‘big’ ideas
Original content by ChangeDriver™
So often, we assume we know how the future will unfold based on someone’s big idea.
In May 1968, scientist Paul Ehrlich published a book entitled The Population Bomb. In it, he argued that the earth’s increasing population would lead to mass starvation and destroy its ecology. Ehrlich’s book became one of the most influential of the 20th century.
This big idea – that we are headed for disaster due to out-of-control global population – remains powerful even today.
Countries around the world responded to this big idea. They took steps to rein in population growth, especially in India and China. China had a one-child-per-family policy for 36 years. The policy was relaxed in 2016 because a cultural preference for boys led to a large gender imbalance, as well as a shrinking work force and an aging society.
The world has changed a lot since 1968. The Internet has made us more connected than Ehrlich could have imagined. Now almost everyone has access to knowledge through smartphones.
Projections change depending on who you choose to believe. When demographers factor improved education for girls into their projections of the world’s population in 2100, the estimate is as much as 3 billion lower than the UN’s current prediction of 11.2 billion.
Some believe that educating girls is the key to controlling population growth. Perhaps it’s time to re-think a future overcrowded planet. Do we need to plan for increasingly long-lived populations rather than for overcrowding?
Are we planning our future based on myths or reality? How can organizations develop better knowledge to plan more effectively for the future?