Futurist pinpoints world's top ten long-term challenges

With the growth of unpredictability comes forecasts that are harder to believe. But good leaders plan for a wide range of scenarios that are based on trends we see today.

With the growth of unpredictability comes forecasts that are harder to believe. But good leaders plan for a wide range of scenarios that are based on trends we see today.

In his recent commencement address to the 2009 graduating class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Tory, NY, Peter Schwartz outlined ten top world challenges that the graduates should consider to make an impact. Schwartz is a business strategist, futurist, and author of The Art of the Long View.

Peter Schwartz an internationally renowned futurist, business strategist, and author, is cofounder and chairman of Global Business Network

Peter Schwartz is an internationally renowned futurist, business strategist, author, and co-founder and chairman of Global Business Network

He said that today’s number-one challenge—and opportunity—is to develop a long-term solution for our energy needs.

“That means it must be nonpolluting and inexhaustible,” he said.  He believes the world of 2050 will be one of clean and sustainable energy production, transportation, and manufacturing. But to achieve a peaceful and prosperous world will require “monumental innovation, collaboration, and leadership."

Below are the top challenges Schwartz outlined, as distilled by The World Future Society, a nonprofit nonpartisan scientific and educational association that publishes The Futurist.

1. Creating long-term solutions to meet our energy demands sustainably.

2. Launching a bio-industrial revolution with sustainable manufacturing.

3. Understanding and enhancing the human brain to avert age-related impairments.

4. Improving agriculture to reduce costs and increase its energy and water efficiency.

5. Building sustainable cities through better urban planning and “smart architecture.”

6. Stimulating job growth and economic development.

7. Fusing the technological with the spiritual and aesthetic dimensions of human culture.

8. Advancing technological instruments to drive scientific discovery forward.

9. Harnessing biological tools to advance human evolution.

10. Discovering new ways to lower the costs and environmental impact of space flight and development.

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