… and whoever does not believe that urgently needs a change in perspective.
May I invite you to open your mind to the universe’s abundance?
Undoubtedly, this could be your ticket to something better, since feelings of abundance attract even more abundance.
Having trouble believing me?
Do continue reading then.
It is good that you already possess solid financial knowledge—a cornerstone to prosperity; however, that in itself is insufficient. A strong awareness of abundance is also required, if you are to accrue wealth in a satisfying and sustainable way on our finite planet.
And now, we get to the key point that impedes most of us: Finiteness, scarcity, and a rather pessimistic outlook are hampering our feelings of abundance. And we have, like many times before, evolution to blame for that.
Evolution had shaped the human brain to be acutely aware of all potential dangers. Combined with the tendency of the media’s “only bad news is good news”, this has a profound impact on human perception: it literally shuts off our abilitiy to take in good news (“Negativity Bias”).
Unfortunately, because the human mind orients automatically, and powerfully, toward unfulfilled needs, our mind might be the biggest stumbling block on the road towards abundance.
Hence, pessimists are right when they say that, if the world were to continue as it is, it would end in disaster for all humanity. The world will not continue as it is. And that is the whole point of human progress, the whole message of cultural evolution and dynamic change. Because the real danger comes from slowing down change.
For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines, even though optimists have far more often been right, don’t you agree?
So, let’s look at these factual evidence supporting my rational optimism:
To live a life of abundance means to have the basics covered: Feeding the hungry, providing clean water, ending indoor air pollution, and wiping out malaria—four entirely preventable conditions that kill, respectively, seven, three, three and two people per minute worldwide. There is still a long way to go to get them covered in all parts of the world but the remedies are available, though not deployed properly yet.
From the sun: There is over 5,000 times more solar energy falling on the planet’s surface than we use in one year (= 18 Terawatts in 2012). And the amount of solar energy reaching us is so vast that in one year, it is about twice as much as would ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.
A patch of ground, roughly five yards by five yards, receives as much sunlight as you would need to run your techno life.
When critics point out that solar currently accounts for less than 2% of our energy, that’s linear thinking in an exponential world. Expanding today’s 2% penetration, at an annual growth of 30%, puts us 18 years away from meeting 100% of our energy needs with solar.
In many countries, solar is already one of the cheapest forms of power to build without subsidies. And Moore’s Law for solar would render conventional utilities completely useless. Last year, solar made up 34% of fresh capacity worldwide!
Till then, nuclear energy (still the most sustainable—wind turbines require five to ten times as much concrete and steel per watt as nuclear power plants—and the safest energy source) could experience a re-birth with its 4th generation running on liquid fluoride thorium. These reactors burn the element thorium, which is four times more plentiful than uranium, and doesn’t create any long-lived nuclear waste in the process. With merely 6,600 tonnes of thorium, the yearly world energy consumption could be met (based on 2007).
Exponential growth rate of technology:
Right now, a Masai warrior with a cell phone has better mobile phone capabilities than the president of the U.S. twenty-five years ago. Who would be crazy enough to have forecasted, say, in 2000, that by 2012, twice as many people in India would have access to cell phones as to latrines?
And Internet of Things (IoT) would make 40 billion devices work—behind the scene—on our behalf. Machines would be able to talk to one another, and there would be billions of sensors joining the conversation to increase efficiencies.
Specialization and Exchange:
Two of the most important economic ideas of all time have created the greatest abundance assets in history. The best definition of prosperity is simply “saved time”. The more human beings diversified as consumers and specialized as producers, and the more they then exchanged, the better off they have been, are, and would be. The lesson of the last two centuries is that liberty and welfare go hand in hand with prosperity and trade.
Human achievement is entirely a networking phenomenon. The secret of the modern world is its gigantic interconnectedness. Ideas are having sex with other ideas from all over the planet with ever-increasing promiscuity (eg., the phone had sex with the computer and spawned the Internet). It’s a history of ideas meeting, mixing, mating, and mutating. And the Internet is the biggest matchmaker of them all.
Is slowing and is not even linear in recent times. There is no country in the world that has a higher birth rate than it had in 1960, and in the less developed world, as a whole, the birth rate has approximately halved.
Nearly half of the world now has a fertility below 2.1 (= the replacement rate).
The rate of increase in the world population has been falling since the early 1960s. Why? Because the world has become better off; because people who are wealthier and healthier do not feel the need to have so many children.
Nevertheless, in the remaining regions of the world where birth rates are still very high, probably by far the best policy for reducing population would be to encourage female education. Undoubtedly, the correlation between widespread female education and low birth rate is pretty tight.
Would we have jobs for all these people?
Today, the fastest growing job category is the “knowledge worker”. Since knowledge is non-rival, most of the jobs in the future would produce non-rival goods, removing another constraint on abundance: it would allow the rising billion to earn a living in a way that would not not require burning through our ever-diminishing supply of natural resources.
Incidentally, roughly about 106 billion humans have roamed the earth thus far.
Since 1900, the world has increased its population by 400%; its cropland area by 30%; its average yields by 400%; and its total crop harvest by 600%. So per capita, food production has risen by 50%, and that is great news—thanks to fossil fuels and innovations.
We have moved from evolution, by natural selection, to evolution by intelligent direction. From 1996 to 2010, there was an 87-fold increase in hectares planted with Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). This makes genetically engineered seeds the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture. Seriously, that horse has already left the barn.
More than a trillion GMO-meals have been served, and not a single case of GMO-induced illness has turned up.
People opposing and criticizing GMO show “customary indifference to starvation”. Blanket opposition to all GM foods is a luxury that only pampered Westerners can afford. Ask the hungry and they would reply: “Nice discussions you have there, but in the meantime, can we eat please?”
Once water is properly priced by markets, not only would water be used more frugally, but its very abundance would increase through incentives to capture and store it.
Hydroponics, for example, is 70% more efficient than traditional agriculture. And Aeroponics is 70% more efficient than Hydroponics. Thus, if we used Aeroponics for agriculture, we could drop the water usage from 70% for agriculture to merely 6%. Quite the savings.
Zero-Cost Diagnostics with Lab-on-a-Chip would enable remote diagnostics and would expand the geographical coverage of health care providers.
Predictive, Personalized, Preventive, and Participatory: Soon every newborn would have his or her genome sequenced, and genetic profiles would be part of standard patient care. If done properly, all these efforts would yield a myriad of useful predictions: Changing medicine from passive and generic to predictive and personalized. Each of us would know what disease our genes have in store for us; what to do to prevent their onset; and, should we become ill, which drugs would be the most effective for our unique inheritance.
All of the above are existing technologies. And with their broad-based roll-out, all our needs could already be met.
The even better news is that our creativity and ingenuity would never stop and that humankind would continue to come up with further innovations to address the challenges along the way. There is not even a theoretical possibility of exhausting the supply of ideas, discoveries, and inventions.
We just require tolerance for risk, for failure, and for ideas that strike most people as absolute nonsense. Because revolutionary ideas come from nonsense. If an idea is truly a breakthrough, then the day before it was discovered, it must have been considered crazy, or nonsense, or both; otherwise, it wouldn’t be a breakthrough.
People’s responses to the risk/benefit ratio of cutting-edge technologies are often driven by fear of the unknown; by an irrationally conservative prioritization of the risks of change over the benefits, resulting in harmful consequences in terms of quality and quantity of life in the future.
In principle, fear of the unknown is not remotely irrational when “fear of” is understood as a synonym for “caution about”, but it can be, and generally is, overdone.
If the public could be brought to a greater understanding of how to evaluate the risks inherent in exploring future technology and the merits of accepting some short-term risk in the interests of overwhelmingly greater expected long-term benefit, progress in areas of technology would be greatly accelerated.
This leaves the last hurdle and, some say, the toughest nut to crack:
Governments must avoid the temptation to write codes and laws that require specific technologies; instead, governments should set bold, long-term performance standards, while leaving it to the market to determine how to lock in those improvements.
As consumers, we need to ensure that governments shape this transformation and, thus, use our votes to counteract the influence of incumbents vested in locking in an unsustainable status quo.
Abundance is both a plan and a perspective; the latter is key, because our perspective shapes our reality.
This is not, and will never be, the best of all possible worlds, but it can get much, much better.
“Count your blessings, focus on abundance, look only for opportunities. If you don’t have something that you desire, use the “vacuum law” of prosperity and create room for it by throwing out old goods. Make way for growth.” — Catherine Ponder
“Genuine prosperity is not won at the expense of the earth. More responsible behavior and better use of existing technology can restore our natural capital.” — Amory B. Lovins
“The record shows that, for society, the richer we become, the harder it gets to live within our means. Abundance is harder for us to handle than scarcity.” — Nicholas Nassim Taleb
“We are never limited in what we can give because the true nature of humankind is affluence and abundance.” — Deepak Chopra