Daily Inspiration: Leadership & Trends – “When the future becomes a culture war, watch the trends. Not the noise”


“When the future becomes a culture war, watch the trends. Not the noise” – Futurist Jim Carroll

It’s a weird time to be a futurist – have you noticed that the future has become a culture war?

While you deal with the realities of science, technologies, trends, and tomorrow, large groups of people seek to inflame and chase their agenda by pursuing falsehoods. It seems that all of a sudden, electric cars have become doomed to fail; protein-based alternative foods have become some sort of evil thing with an anti-meat agenda; wind and solar energy have transitioned into an awful sort of tool designed to harm the carbon industry; and the concept of protecting the environment and our future has now become a culture war test of loyalty to the ancient ideas of yesterday.

While all of this unfolds in the US during a heated election season, China and other advanced economies are solidifying their stranglehold on the technologies and industries of tomorrow. In that context, history has taught us that when a culture war ends, the winner is usually not the one taking the side that is anti-science and anti-future.

I was drawn to this thinking yesterday when this article inflated across my feed. I will admit that this issue plays regularly in my mind.

The math behind the acceleration of renewable energy is clear.

Wind and solar are growing faster than any other sources of electricity in history, according to new analysis from thinktank Ember.

It says they are now growing fast enough to exceed rising demand, meaning there will be a peak in fossil fuel electricity generation – and emissions – from this year.

Carbon Brief, 8 May 2024

The impact of this rate of growth is pretty profound.

Renewables met a record 30% of global electricity demand in 2023 and emissions from the sector would already have peaked if not for a record fall in hydropower, the analysis says.

The rise of wind and solar has been stemming the growth of fossil fuel power, which would have been 22% higher in 2023 without them, Ember says. This would have added around 4bn tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) to annual global emissions.

Carbon Brief, 8 May 2024

And compared to previous trends, the speed of change is astonishing.

No other sources of electricity generation have ever grown from 100TWh per year to 1,000TWh faster than solar and wind, Ember says. These took just eight and 12 years respectively, as shown in the figure below.

This sits far ahead of gas generation at 28 years, coal at 32 years and hydropower at 39 years. (Nuclear also grew from 100TWh to 1,000TWh over 12 years, the Ember figure shows, but tailed off more quickly than wind).

Carbon Brief, 8 May 2024

Math doesn’t lie.

The thing is, I have hundreds, if not thousands of articles like this, all having to do with the industries of tomorrow. To me and many others, the trend lines are clear – and yet the culture war is in full swing.

All I can suggest is – watch the trends. Not the noise.

I should follow my advice because I wrote about this as Strategy #1 in my 24 Strategies for 2024 series.

“Ignore the prattle of the anti-futurists!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

Negativity doesn’t become thee, and yet you are surrounded by it.

Ignore it.

Think about it – all of us are surrounded by those who are determined that our belief in a better future is a false hope; that the technologies, trends, and disruptive ideas that we see as opportunities are nothing but a sham of misplaced optimism; that our belief in the trends of tomorrow is misguided and wrong. I learned a long time ago to ignore much of what they say and have usually been right in my decision.

And yet as their voices get louder and their ranks steadily increase, it is more important than ever to simply tune them out.

If you listen to them, you would think that electric cars are dead, renewables are a hoax, and science is but a plot. They pounce gleefully on any small item or a study that might justify their viewpoint or give them the narrative they want; in doing so betraying their ignorance of the fact that the future is not linear – that goes forward in an uneven path with spikes and twists.

And more often than not, in the long run, they are proven to be dead wrong in their predictions.

I closed that post – full of statistics and trends and science and reality, with this bit of advice:

It’s in your best interest to ignore them, rather than fight them, and save your energies for the trends, opportunities, and optimism that tomorrow represents, and for the action that matters.

Ignore their prattle and their babble, and carry on.

I should follow my advice.

Watch the trends. Not the noise!



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.