After the World Economic Forum made predictions about what the world might look like in 2030, several experts from the forum’s Global Future Councils weighed in on eight trends we are likely to see by the end of this decade, if not sooner. Conspiracy theories aside, there is probably no better group of experts assembled that could make accurate predictions for what the world’s economy might look like in eight years.
But how could these predictions affect the average consumer? I am nothing if not average, and here’s how I foresee these trends impacting the typical American family.
1. All Products Will Be Sold As Services
It is hard to imagine a world where nobody buys anything anymore, but that is precisely the first of the 2030 predictions from the WEF. Of course, we already see everything from music to car-sharing being paid for as a monthly service rather than bought outright. For some people and some services, this might make sense. I remain solidly in the camp of owning most of the things I use daily, like underwear. Still, I believe we’ll continue to see new and novel products offered as a service, judging by the success of current businesses using this model.
2. A Set Global Price on Carbon Emissions
The second prediction is that by 2030 there will be a worldwide carbon emissions price and trading system whereby nations and companies buy and sell credits, a scheme started by China in 2017. The most significant consequence for the average consumer appears to be a likely marked increase in prices for everyday activities such as driving a car or taking a flight. When coupled with the high fuel prices we are already seeing, it portends the beginnings of a profound shift towards both mass transit and electric vehicles for many Americans.
3. No More Lone Superpower
As an American, this prediction hits me close to home but it’s hard to deny that many countries — including China, Germany, and Japan — are rapidly growing their economies to challenge American dominance in global politics. This is especially concerning as many of these nation-states don’t necessarily embrace traditional Western ideas of democracy and freedom. It is also concerning as they continue to build their militaries in preparation for potential conflicts, as we have seen in Ukraine.
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4. Home-Based Medical Care
Imagine a world where you don’t have to spend any time in a large hospital waiting room only to get moved to a smaller waiting room without any reading material or comfortable chairs. At least according to the WEF, many of us will be able to get remote medical care in the comfort of our own homes. Virtual assistants will also be more helpful and better able to diagnose and treat common ailments. I, for one, am looking forward to the time when I no longer have to go to the doctor’s office, and judging by the rapid adoption of telehealth, I’d say many Americans agree.
5. We’ll Be Eating Less Meat
I don’t see Americans voluntarily reducing the amount of meat they consume in a given year, but if prices continue to rise, I wouldn’t be surprised if this prediction came to pass. We will also see trends toward sustainable agriculture as well as more healthy options. There are a variety of factors that probably play into American meat consumption. Still, if these trends continue and prices keep rising at the grocery store, I will be finding other ways to get my protein.
6. Syrian Refugees Become 2030’s CEOs
It is hard to see how this prediction directly affects Americans on a large scale. However, I think the more significant forecast is that global populations will continue to be displaced at record numbers, and countries need to be prepared to receive and integrate these individuals. Instead of simply turning away refugees, I would prefer to see an America that employs a system of solid screening for dangerous immigrants, providing services for those people fleeing horrible situations,and integrating them into our culture and values quickly.
7. Western Values Will Continue To Be Tested
The WEF predicts that as we see more and more global displacement and refugees due to destabilization, conflicts, and climate change, we’ll see democracy pushed closer to its breaking point. Indeed, over the past few years we have seen several examples of countries electing leaders who push back against unchecked immigration. While these leaders often blur the lines between legal and illegal immigration, this American consumer wants to keep a focus on integrating new citizens to become productive members of society, which they often are.
8. We’ll Be Closer to Landing on Mars
The final prediction from the WEF is that we will continue to move towards manned missions to the Red Planet. While I don’t foresee the average American ever boarding a ship to Mars in my lifetime, this opens up some exciting possibilities for advances in technology here on Earth — and the potential to discover life outside our planet. Not to mention all the fantastic business opportunities for those companies that can capitalize on our quest to become an interplanetary species.
Adapting to the Seismic Shifts
There you have it, eight predictions from the WEF and one consumer’s thoughts on how they might impact his daily life. Trends toward automation, remote services, and changes in energy sources will create seismic shifts in how we do business and how Americans, in particular, will continue to enjoy the same standard of living. Opportunities will abound for those leaders who are visionary enough to see how their work fits into these global macro trends.