Historic and Future Economic Booms Offsetting Depressions and Disasters

Science Fiction, scenarios and visions of the future often emphasize fears and risks of collapse or depressions. Science fiction usually focuses on civilizations with major problems so that stories have tension and drama. A civilization with scarce resources is also a simple world to understand. Scenarios planners want to look at three to eight scenarios that are radically different. The implication is that the likelihood of each scenario has roughly equal probability. Scenarios with grave problems are emphasized to motivate consulting fees or massive spending to avoid the doomsday scenario. People who research an issue may also truly believe that a doomsday scenario that they study in detail has a higher probability or greater impact. This is the case with issues like Peak Oil, Global Warming or Climate Change.

There are several major offsetting positive trends and growing capabilities.

People think about the Great Depression but do not consider the post-War economic boom, PC boom, internet boom, the green revolution and the industrial revolutions. The post WW2 economic boom tripled global GDP from 1945 to 1970 (after adjusting for inflation). There has been a rough doubling (adjusted for inflation) of global GDP PPP every 25 years (1970-2020).

Economic depressions can drop GDP 25% over two to three years but they are more than offset by the economic trend to double the economy every 25 years. Technology and other improvements (shipping containers) can also provide surges in productivity.

The economic rise of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China are normalizing the economic miracle of converting poor countries into rich countries. India and ASEAN are rising now as well. Some countries in Latin America and Africa are performing better and could get onto the “economic miracle” track.

Air pollution (dust and particulates) was very bad in US, UK and western countries. The visible air pollutants have been greatly reduced since the 1970s. It can take several decades but once attention is focused to correct pollution problems, those problems are fixed. Clean energy and clean transportation solutions are clearly on track to scale across the entire world economy. Cars, trucks and buses will be completely electric around 2050. Fossil fuel energy usage will get reduced. Peak fossil fuel usage will likely arrive by 2030 and then the clean energy transition will mostly happen by 2070-2100. This reduction in absolute usage will need to counteract the doubling global GDP.

In 2020, the world produces 15 times more oil and steel production than in 1940. We make more steel and oil in a month than was used by the Allies and Axis during a year in World War 2. There was even more growth from 1870 to 1940. Will production be scaled by 15 times by 2100? That would match the move from 1940 to 2020.

What do those trends mean?

It means in 2050, five billion people in Asia will be at current East European to Western European levels of per capita income. Extreme sub-$1 per day poverty should also be mostly eliminated in Africa. Africa is struggling towards following Asia’s economic miracles.

A relatively wealthy world has the economic and technological power to more easily overcome major issues. Mass production of greenhouses is affordable to ensure a stable and abundant food supply that is resistant to external climate variability. Greater wealth means nations can afford medical systems, virus monitoring and active and rapid vaccination development. A rich population can pay for mitigation technology.

Rich and productive countries can build a lot of new things or rebuild or replace all old things. Things like the global fleet of 2 billion cars and trucks. Things like 4 billion buildings. Things like the power grid.

What are the economic and technological booms that seem certain eventual transformations?

Electrification of all vehicles.
Automation and Gigafactory productivity increase in most factories.
Space access revolution.
Space satellite revolution (mass production of sub-$1 million satellites)
Hyper-accurate GPS everywhere enabling robot productivity beyond the warehouse and factory.
Biotech revolutions. True disease cures.
Agricultural-biotech revolution. Cell-based food production will be ten times lower cost and a hundred times more productive.
Point to point travel with reusable rockets. Displacement of subsonic planes. 30 times the speed for anywhere in one hour.
Self-driving cars and trucks, small ground robots and drones for overall transportation, last mile and last foot logistics.
Greater than human intelligence AI (Expensive and narrow like self-driving but other applications). Reading and talking AIs.

Accelerated Doublings

The World GDP in PPP terms projected with 25-year doublings.
$220 trillion (2011 dollars) in 2045.
$440 trillion (2011 dollars) in 2070
$880 trillion (2011 dollars) in 2095.
This is a rough baseline of a world without technological acceleration. It if roughly comparable to the rate of progress of the last 50 years.

Nextbigfuture believes there is the booms listed above will kick in over the 2020s and have significant global economic impact from 2030-2045. This will be 50%-100% boost.

Level 1 Acceleration (one extra global doubling 2020-2045) : $440 trillion PPP GDP by 2045

Molecular Nanotechnology and hyper-advanced genetic control and next level space and antiaging should become scalable and mature for 2045-2100.

Level 2 acceleration (a second extra doubling in 2045-2070) $1760 trillion by 2070

Extra financial and technological capability means $100-500 trillion problems become inconvenient but highly manageable. It was always good to be pro-active and efficient but a stronger, resilient and richer civilization is better able to handle long term problems.

And a third extra doubling and possibly a fourth in the late 21st century

Level 3 acceleration (third extra doublings) $7040 trillion by 2095
Level 4 acceleration (fourth extra doublings) $14080 trillion by 2095.

SOURCES – Wikipedia
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com