Friday, October 30, 2009


Some things we can predict about the future, while others we can't. One thing we can predict is that the world in general countries has an aging population. This is significant both in terms of pure numbes and as a percentage of the population as an aging population typically drives up health and other social service costs. What will be the impacts in different countries, however, will vary as in some countries immigration of working-age adults will help offset the aging population. Also, it is too soon how societies will adapt to their aging populations. As an example, in some countries extended families may help provide care for their aging populations. In other countries and societies, however, the elderly may have to postpose retirement and remain in the work force longer. An aging population will also have a significant effect on housing as the elderly will typically look to move to smaller, accessible homes. This will potentially have the effect of greating an over-supply of large single-family homes as the elderly retire. Finally, one of the greatest impacts of an aging population will be the requirement that governments such as the U.S. government fund social security and retirement benefits as the baby boom generation reaches retirement age. At a time when the world is in an economic recession and the U.S. and other governments have run up record deficits, this will perhaps be the greatest problem posed by an aging population.


Futures planning - also known as futuristics - is the philosophy, science art and practice of postulating possible, probable and preferable futures and the worldwide views and myths that underlie them. Futures planning focuses not on one single projected future, but on alternative futures. Futures planning attempts to understand what about our environment is likely to remain the same, what is likely to change, what are the underlying forces that might bring about change, and what are the likely impacts of change. Futures planning began with such think tanks as the Rand Corporation which were employed by the U.S. government after World War II to help anticipate technological change, especially as it related to military planning. Futures planning was also embraced by international technology companies such as IBM and General Motors to assist them in their business planning. In 1970, Hawaii became the first State to engage in futures planning with its implementation of the Hawaii Commission on the Year 2000. Under the leadership of Hawaii's Governor John Burns and George Chaplin, who was the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser, the Hawaii Commission on the Year 2000 was intended to be an experiment in "anticipatory democracy." After the Commission's work was completed, Hawaii created a permanent futures studies institute at the University of Hawaii under the direction of Dr. James Dator, a noted futurist who had been a consultant to the Hawaii Commission on the Year 2000. Hawaii also developed and implemented a Quality Growth Policy under the direction of Richard Hopper, Hawaii's State Environmental Planning Coordinator who had also served as the staff person for the Hawaii Commission on the Year 2000. Subsequently, numerous other state and local governments have since undertaken similar futures planning efforts.