International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East, the Balkans and around the world. Dr J Scott Younger is a President Commissioner of Glendale Partners and member of IFIMES Advisory Board. In his text entitled “Looking ahead” he is writing about the impact we are having on the planet and how we need to change in order to protect it.
It is hard to conceive that the population of the world increased by approximately 50 billion over a mere 60 years from the late 1960s. That means a tremendous increase in people looking for jobs and more jobs to be found for them. However, the types of job, while still needing the more menial ones, are more diverse with some quite demanding as the age of digitisation merges into the Cyber Age.
Sir David Attenborough drew attention to the population growth a decade ago and joined the Optimum Population Trust. He has since produced in many telling TV documentaries the impact we are having on other species and resources and showing convincingly that they are unsustainable. To pick out one – water, which is essential to our survival.
We each have the ability in our memories to reach behind and envisage the lives of our grandparents. We potentially have the feelings for some 100-120 years of existence. In today’s world the pre-millennials and millennials look on those born earlier, say by 40 years, just as the older generation would have perceived the late Victorian age or World Wars. We grew up with that history as our foundations and, whether we like it or not, those days are part of what we are.
The young generation are born and brought up with computers and their myriad off-shoots and cannot conceive of a life without them. Nor should they, with apologies to the poor among us who can only dream; that is another sad story. As I said above there are approximately 3 times the number and they dwell significantly in the emerging market countries. But the trouble is that in some of those countries they are run generally by people, older generation, who fear the future. We see this regularly in the news. Some are enlightened but not enough. One will say it was forever thus! But we have to change the paradigm.
The people who manage the affairs of state by mid-21st century are going to be or will have to be digitally savvy and embrace all the advances that have emanated, take it all in their stride, from the amazing developments that have taken place from the properties of the silicon chip of mid-20th century. It is difficult to conceive of the excitement I felt on working on one of the very earliest commercial computers, a Sirius it was called, in the bowels of Strathclyde University, in 1964. It was noisy but, with assumptions that don’t have to be made with modern machines and while working at a fraction of the speed of these, we made an acceptable calculation we would not have been able to undertake by hand/ slide rule. Today miniaturisation takes us down to the laptop and smaller in a fraction of the time and even the assumptions made in the 1960s don’t have to be made.
To return to the state of affairs. There are too many countries run by a military dictatorship or elite which run matters that are on principles that are out of date and constrain ideas which are perceived to threaten their hold on government. These are being challenged by a growing number of mainly younger people who want to see change from the non-libertarian rules and regulations which they consider, often rightly, as making no sense and are forced to obey in a world and space where time is of the instant and which is conceived as being in their grasp. They are the future; they are large in number. The older generation have to be sympathetic, guide, and offer advice. Change is afoot and just as well. There is a world that has to be cleaned up, we have to change our habits and use resources more efficiently and use our knowledge to protect our flora and fauna.
We have the tools. Will we use them?
About the author:
Dr J Scott Younger, OBE, is a professional civil engineer; he spent 42 years in the Far East undertaking assignments in 10 countries for WB, ADB, UNDP. He published many papers; he was a columnist for Forbes Indonesia and Globe Asia. He served on British & European Chamber boards and was a Vice Chair of Int’l Business Chamber for 17 years. His expertise is infrastructure and sustainable development and he takes an interest in international affairs. He is an International Chancellor of the President University, Indonesia. He is a member of IFIMES Advisory Board.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect IFIMES official position.
Ljubljana/Glasgow, 24 February 2021