Megachange: The World in 2050 (Student review)

February 28, 2013

Editors: Daniel Franklin and John Andrews
Edition: First
Publisher: Profile Books
Pages: 320
Price: £15.00
ISBN: 9781846685859

The world as we know it is changing at an alarming rate. Technology that was new yesterday will be out of date tomorrow. It took 250,000 years for our population to reach 1 billion and only about 250 years to reach 7 billion, with approximately 4 billion of that growth occurring in the past 50 years. The warmest years on record took place in the past 18 years. These changes are not small, and neither are their impacts on our daily lives, the future of this planet and the people who will inherit it.

Megachange: The World in 2050 offers sharp and useful perspectives on the megatrends that have taken and are taking place, and from these trends extrapolates the possible scenarios that may unfold to shape our future world. Via 20 contributions from current and former journalists of The Economist, four main themes are explored: people and relationships; heaven and Earth; economy and business; and knowledge and progress. The chapter subjects are varied and highly topical, ranging from population growth to climate change, religion and outer space. Innovation is highlighted as the driver of a successful human future on Earth, with biology singled out as the key science.

At first glance the facts, figures and graphs that pepper the text may appear daunting, but these serve to give weight to the themes for readers with pre-existing knowledge of the subject areas, while the graphs in particular help to make the text more accessible to beginners. In fact, drawing on just a little of the perseverance that the weighty nature of the topics demands, readers will find that the layout of the book makes for easy reading, and the stand-alone format of the essays makes it simple to pick topics of interest. Students used to reading peer-reviewed texts, however, will search in vain for any easily traceable citations.

It is worth noting that the uncannily positive predictions given in this book should not be taken as read, and that some serious environmental stances are seriously overlooked or not given their true weight. However, Megachange does accurately and comprehensively explain the current megatrends that are sure to have major impacts over the next 37 years.

On the whole, this is a thoroughly thought-provoking and engaging book, and regardless of whether you agree with The Economist’s pro-business and economic growth-based values, it provides ample food for thought.

Who is it for?
The independently discerning student of any discipline.

Easily accessible essay format.

Would you recommend it?
Yes, as an additional thought-provoking piece of “outside” reading, alongside peer-reviewed papers.

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