2013-14 State of the Future by Jerome C. Glenn, Theodore J. Gordon, and Elizabeth Florescu; The Millennium Project, Washington, D.C.; $39.95 US + shipping (soft cover); 2014.   

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” said baseball great, Yogi Berra. However, you can get a big assist in foretelling what’s ahead by reading an important book produced by The Millennium Project, an international participatory think tank established in 1996.

“Humanity is slowly but surely becoming aware of itself as an integrated system of cultures, economies, technologies, natural and built environments, and governance systems,” the book notes.

The Millennium Project has gathered the insights from creative and knowledgeable people around the world to identify and update prospects for 15 Global Challenges to provide a framework for understanding what is important to know about global change.

In terms of making use of space and aerospace technologies, this volume underscores what humankind faces when pondering our collective future. The book, in a sense, is a solid primer on how the space program may contribute to solutions. In fact, one of the books contributors, Theodore Gordon, was manager for the third stage of the Saturn V rocket.

In one general observation, what is needed is a U.S.-China 10-year “Apollo-like” environmental security goal with a “NASA-like program” that other nations can join once established. Indeed, the book also notes that a global collective intelligence system is needed, one that can not only track science and technology advances – but also understand the potential consequences of new and possible future scientific and technological advancements.

The book reviews the trends of 30 variables used to create a global State of the Future Index and provides a score card on humanity’s performance in addressing the most important challenges.

Again, this is not a book specific to space. Nonetheless, if one tenant of the U.S. space program is to bring space down to Earth, this is a wise read. Once you have read this volume, you’ll realize we’re clearly behind in appreciating what’s ahead.

Note: Check out a video that spotlights the report’s release and observations, held at the Woodrow Wilson Center. A panel discussion involves Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center, Jerome Glenn, CEO, The Millennium Project, and Paul Werbos, Program Director, National Science Foundation.

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