Cimate Alpha

with Parag Khanna

Climate Alpha

with Parag Khanna​

In this week’s episode of The Futurists, bestselling author of MOVE and futurist Parag Khanna joins us to talk about climate migration, geopolitics, real-estate and agriculture in a world impacted by climate change. Khanna is the founder of futuremap and climate alpha, and has worked with the US government, World Economic Forum and others on climate change adaptation strategies and policy. Follow @paragkhanna

this week on the futurists i’m just not sure what you know if people can fully grasp if you live in you know the us or europe what it’s like to have quote unquote five billion neighbors you really have to come and experience it and that’s what that’s part aesthetically that’s part of what this last 10 years has been even as someone who was born in india but grew up outside of india i really made the most of having those five billion neighbors over the last decade so there’s a lot of dynamism built in so we’re not predicting that miami is going to sink in fact in many ways we are no i don’t want to say doing the opposite it really depends on the time skill if you just take a typical climate risk company they’re going to say oh my god all of south florida is screwed that’s not how we approach it we say well actually if they do x amount of infrastructure spending in coastal areas and they do this kind of new real estate well then actually miami does remain uh livable longer than we think so we can’t rule out human ingenuity we try to code for that ingenuity and price that ingenuity

welcome back to the futurists uh i’m in the hot seat with my pal robert tursek we’re going to be talking to parag khanna today he’s a leading global strategy advisor he’s a global citizen and he’s a best-selling author he’s the ceo of a climate focused business called climate alpha closely related to that is his latest book move where people are going for a better future which he published last year and preceded by the future is asian commerce conflict and culture in the 21st century uh parag khanna welcome to the futurists well thank you both so much it’s great to see you again prague how are you how is singapore yeah sunny and uh you know 28 degrees celsius as always yeah exactly and and friday afternoons at four o’clock you can depend on a thunderstorm that’s exactly waiting for a taxi right uh-huh exactly um well we’ve all spent time in singapore but um you’re based there how long have you been in singapore it’s been exactly ten years as of this part last summer actually we’ve done sabbaticals in and out and you know long trips and stints but you know it’s more and more the place where uh we call home you know can’t imagine going home at this point anywhere else and it’s become more and more of you know what we could could probably agree is the sort of capital of the future i’ve called it capital of asia and uh now it’s sort of capital of asia and capital of the future uh all rolled into one and we’ve just witnessed this incredible you know evolution and dynamism of this place in just the past decade and it’s been great to be here and have a front row seat to all of that singapore is an astounding city and it’s obviously benefiting a lot from um you know hong kong’s more recent fall from grace particularly in respect to regional headquarters and so forth but another element of this which sort of closely relates to your second book is um you know singapore is able to make some of these bets because of its proximity to china and the fact that soon china will be the world’s leading global economy how much of that weighs into your decision-making in terms of you being based in singapore well there’s a couple of things there one is that you know my approach to asia is a much broader geographical framework in which asia is more than just china and a lot of people you know to this day in markets you know in the business world see asia as just sort of china writ large but we would not have moved to china neither to mainland nor to hong kong we wanted to be in a city that considered self-control that acts in the ways that i kind of call multi-alignment being friends with everyone obviously an anglophone city of a very safe city and all of those other kind of virtues that one associates with this place proximity to china has been very useful but i was traveling to kind of frequently even before moving here mostly in terms of this city economic strategy it doesn’t hit itself only to the china train remember that singapore is one of the so-called tiger economies that move much faster much earlier developed and modernized sooner than china to be very very clear in terms of the chronology and this is in you know a matter of factual record as well as lore singapore is the inspiration for china the chinese miracles such as we know it is a result of deng xiaoping you know visiting singapore and other cities that were chinese populated or just broadly around the pacific rim and seeing japan and the tiger economies developed and then seeking to initiate those reforms exactly 40 plus years ago so it’s it’s an important point because a lot of people say that uh what can small countries teach big countries that doesn’t happen i’m like wait a minute the single most important episode of my national modernization in any of our lifetimes is exactly a case of the largest country in the entire world learning from one of the exact absolute smallest countries in the entire world so i’m not sure why people say that um and obviously the more we look at the future and governance driven by data and data management and and other kinds of practices the more you can scale those learnings from a place like singapore it’s a really extraordinary story i had the occasion to talk to i had an audience with the king of bahrain a few years back and at the time we spoke about singapore and he has he had tremendous respect for singapore he said back in the early 1960s the two countries had similar gdp and similar population but since that time singapore has simply outstripped every country not just uh not just his kingdom but every country in terms of the improvement to gdp and the living standards and so forth what were the factors that drove you to decide to live there you had the luxury of choosing to live anywhere in the world and at the time when i met you a few years ago actually three couples that i knew had moved from the united states to singapore tell me some of the factors that went into that decision for you personally well we were already expats we were living in london uh sort of on an academic stint both my wife and i had done our phds at lse in london and our second child was born so we decided that we needed to go you know to a place where child care was more sort of you know accessible affordable you know convenient we certainly were thinking about at the time this being the early obama administration post financial crisis you know what’s the food and the vibe and where do we sense that it’s going to be a good place to live you know professionally and so forth and you know as an an expat kind of the first step out of the country is always the hardest so just relocating to london but beyond that we really could have gone anywhere because we were already abroad and then we kind of looked and said i had already done work for the singapore government i had already been a fellow at the unusual here back in the mid-2000s when i was researching my first book i knew the place well um and you know we had very good relationships so we started kind of just having those conversations and they made it very you know attractive for us to come and to be here to settle here relocate here and indeed as you said many many other people first of all came way before us you know very uh illustrious well-known people like jim rogers and um in general as a former good guy yeah you know it has a very large you know uh western population we already knew quite a few others i even have relatives who had lived here um so it became pretty straightforward quite frankly there was almost a fate to complete to come here but but indeed knowing all along as i did even prior to that this was kind of you know a place that was doing the right things and uh so you know i had a sufficient kind of understanding of what going on here and how to be able to access the region and kind of have in this radius i call it the kind of one laptop charge radius you know how many places how many people can you see on a flight within a you know and this is a pre kind of new macbook air like 13 hour battery i’m thinking more like four hour battery you know you can reach a good you know three four billion people in that radius so when i did the the asia book a couple years ago i dedicated it to my five billion neighbors and i’m just not sure what you know if people can fully grasp if you live in you know the us or europe what it’s like to have quote unquote five billion neighbors you really have to come and experience it and that’s what that’s part aesthetically that’s part of what this last 10 years has been even as someone who was born in india but grew up outside of india you know i really made the most of having those five billion neighbors over the last decade and and i think that you just have to experience it firsthand you grew up in the us right yeah partially so first uh grew up in abu dhabi in dubai and then in new york and finished high school in germany definitely a global citizen um you know when when you are you know obviously if if you know as rob and i live both here in in the states at least um you know part-time um and and you speak to americans about china there’s a lot of political connotations to that um as there are more broadly um you know around around the world but you know how do you explain to westerners the potential of asia um i know you’ve written about it but um for those that are skeptical um you know that are very pro western models you know you know how do you explain the advantages or the benefits that asia is going to have in the 21st century well being sort of explaining asia isn’t necessarily to be anti-western as a western product you know myself and so being pro-western also shouldn’t mean being anti-asian and one of the obviously key entry points into that conversation is to say that you know if you look at the the bottom line the revenue of most major western multinational companies what would that be absent asia right and then china within asia of course it would be a whole lot less so we do live in a world that’s highly interdependent and the rise of the economic fate and fortunes of much of the west are tied to the rise of asia and there is that symbiosis so it’s not an either or thing and that’s also the difference between people who view geopolitics as a neces inherently conflictual process by which one hegemon must you know uh war against its rising challenger and the winner of that duel becomes the next hegemon and that’s not actually how the the kind of grand sweep of history works it partially explains partial dynamics of the past 150 years it doesn’t explain anything more than that yeah world history is multi-polar world history is multi-civilizational absolutely and we are re-entering a multi-polar multi-civilizational world and asia is a multi-polar region in that multi-polar world with china india japan other great civilizations that have populated this region defined it for the past you know five six seven thousand years and that’s going to be the case now more than ever and just lastly part of it is i then this is not about being um if you will you’re pugnacious or anything but just to get people on the right in the right frame of mind because there can be that kind of um that sort of self-referential you know default view that you know the west is still the center america is still the center i just remind people the facts you know most of the human population is asians in asia most of the world economy is asian economies it’s not that it is

it’s not the rise of the rest if you sit in asia you are the rest you meaning yourselves and you are the rest right asia is not the rest and language like that in plain american english you know is kind of how i try to explain people what it is like to be here you may still disagree in terms of narrative perspective you know polemics whatever but facts are facts and uh and and so that’s how i’ve started to see it by being here you know prague it’s um in the united states we very often see uh or hear about china when people are talking about asia the point you just made a moment ago um you know in a way we kind of airbrush out or or gloss over the fact that there’s large countries like indonesia malaysia india you know with enormous populations and enormous economic heft very important growing countries as well where china’s population isn’t really necessarily growing but in the united states it seems almost necessary for politicians to speak to it in this side fashion with a very simple black and white contrast and the us always seems to rely on an external enemy in order to create internal cohesion and distract people away from any of the internal issues of which there are quite a few they could address we could talk about many things i’m sure you’ve noticed this and your trips back to the united states you know where a country like singapore is affordable it’s very safe there’s very little crime your you know children can walk around the streets safely at night um and what you get for your money is is more better than most other places public education is available for healthcare right and uh in the united st are not available and they’re not certainly not equally available to everybody here uh talk to me a little bit about your perception as a person of the world not just from singapore but as a as a man of the world talk about that perception and maybe some of the blind spots that you notice that the us or the uk or other nations have when they consider the rest of the world so there’s a lot going on there i think you’re kind of uh addressing both the individual perspective and experience of lifestyle as well as the big geopolitical questions about how we perceive asia and america and china within that or distinct from that so maybe starting with the personal level again as you said you know i could live anywhere in the world but you know travel just about everywhere and and you know there must be some reason why we decided to settle here and have it left here especially as a parapathetic person you know who’s generally uh on the move a lot so there are those virtues which again i think that first-hand experience really matters when people come here they don’t want to leave right no one is forcing them to stay uh but they don’t want to leave and there’s obviously a lot of reasons but now this is again an exceptional country and it’s an exceptionally small country so much like i don’t think that china represents asia nor of course does singapore represent asia but in one sense and this also gets at the the primary question there is an appreciation for how the ideal form of government is not necessarily the sort of you know fukuyama model and of history uh western style capitalist uh liberal democracy um without any of the kind of you know bumper guards or guard rails around it and what i’ve written about more recently is what i call kind of asian democratic technocracy you know i still very strongly believe in democracy i still i believe there should be universal mandatory voting you know like australia has singapore’s too i believe that multi-party parliamentary democracy is the highest and most uh accountable and most legitimate form of government there’s zero doubt about any of that that said there needs to be some institution of in you know or or sort of entities within the executive branch of government that provide that long-term kind of vision and agenda where you have uh kind of again a sort of a commitment to certain ideals and goals without changing them every year or two because what we are doing right now in the us and in much of europe is sort of half building roads right are we going to have health universal health care are we not going to have universal health care are we going to commit to infrastructure or not and these kinds of things and that doesn’t work as someone who thinks long term you know how can a futurist you know have a long term vision if it’s you know going to be uninterrupted so there is something to be said for again an accountable technocracy which is not again to say that it operates at the expense of democracy a place like singapore of course is not considered to be a fully liberal fully free democracy but what it is because it’s inherited those british parliamentary traditions it is actually a multi-party system it does have competitive elections but it does have a very strong technocratic executive branch that set certain you know guideposts and certain rules and norms some of them are too onerous i’m myself critical of those but what i see them is in the context of their own evolution and where they are at any point in time and what degree of openness and liberalism they’re willing to stomach but the key thing is that the end of history is not therefore that they must eventually become like us right and on behalf of the five billion people of asia you know the kind of uh yardstick the metric the goal post that most societies have around here going as far as precisely bahrain as you mentioned um is to be like singapore right and uh you know i started observing i think in 15 20 years i was just an early 20-something american backpacker you know doing my research and i heard the kazakhs and the saudis and the indonesians and everyone else saying you know lee kuan yew’s got it figured out we want to build our political system to look like that and i wrote that in the mid at this point it’s i think pretty much obvious to everyone and it does not because of our internal decay and our own self-delegitimation just to be absolutely clear because there’s we’ve had already had a number of political cycles where people have said aha well once we get rid of bush and you know he’s replaced by john kerry which didn’t work out in o4 or once obama wins and you know we will then be the shining city on a hill again in 2008 again that’s such an unbelievably self-centric narrow perspective

without policy yeah exactly when you travel around europe and in particular in south asia you encounter quite a few people who are quite skeptical of the american style of government uh the deeply divisive politics the two-party system these entrenched two parties that kind of trade the white house periodically but you know the u.s president doesn’t have that much control we really need a stronger congress our congress hasn’t been very functional in the last two decades and so there’s some uh deep skepticism about that and this notion of kind of a heavy hand you know a guided democracy if you will with a lot of uh industrial policy to back it up well even recognize the economy that has a lot of traction in other parts of the world i think americans would be very surprised to learn that how widespread that perspective is even singapore’s success with tamasek and you know their infrastructure investment and so forth has really become a model that we see you know um certainly um abu dhabi and dubai and saudi and others now following you know ardia in in you know out of the uae and so forth um that that you really need if you’re going to modernize your economy if you’re going to be the quintessential smart economy and smart then have a smart city like singapore you know you have to make significant investment in the people in the infrastructure in the way you think about technology infused into the economy and you know we you just don’t have that sort of dialogue in in the united states it’s not stable enough to do do that so prague now you’ve published this book move the title of the book is move where people are going for a better future and given the context what we’re talking about we’ve just been kind of skipping around the globe comparing systems how much of that factors into into move is that what the book is about or is the book more focused on climate and and how to live safely uh with climate change you know i think that you know there’s uh what i do is to kind of look at the last hundred thousand years of human history and the relocation of peoples and the reasons why the fundamental buckets are drivers and it is of course political it’s demographic it’s economic technological and also environmental so i try and create a complex picture that leaves all of that together but in particular i focus on today’s young generation because they are the kind of most mobile generation in human history um and therefore their preferences are driven very much by you know seeking political stability and affordable lifestyle good additional opportunity and a safe environment all of the above not just one thing so climate change good internet access yes exactly and cheap and cheap and cheap beer yes you know you know that’s a risky thing to forecast i would imagine uh in the early 90s i moved to hong kong and i lived there for a couple of years and at the time there was this kind of uh friendly rivalry between hong kong and singapore and at that time you could compare the two systems uh and actually hong kong came out favorably for many people and it was because it was viewed as a more uh dynamic economy uh it was even freer in some respects than singapore uh it was kind of like the wild wild east you could go set up a company in about three hours in hong kong and then the view was also in you know uh from the time i was there just in a few years it was going to be part of china and that was looked at as a great big opportunity now you can imagine someone in your position writing a book saying hong kong therefore is a really great place to move to that forecast would not have held up very well over the last five years uh how how are you able to make it forecast like that with confidence what’s your methodology for predicting or recommending where to go to fortunately i didn’t recommend moving to hong kong and i didn’t of course take that advice by itself but um it is actually one of the case studies in the book of complexity because what uh where what the this project started out as wanting to forecast the places that will be the winners and then i realize that that’s not how it works what you’re looking for is uh kind of shifting your goal posts and yardsticks of what qualifies as a livable stable desirable place and people will move among those places so i came to the conclusion that we will not just move we will be moving and i think that is really the key thing so for example hong kong was attractive at a certain point in time but you could of course have identified that there were risk factors on the horizon like the handover to china and inevitable pressures on their democratic political system uh for example so when people say that aha you know canada is just uh going to be a climate paradise so to speak um well don’t be so sure because what happens when lots of people go and overrun you know those parts of canada then suddenly it becomes a nightmare and uh that you they haven’t built enough infrastructure you have uh you know cultural uh tensions and violence these kinds of things that they’re not used to so uh you know what i kind of focus on is the complexity the process you know that’s the method method is really about complex systems and looking at how these different factors affect each other and whether or not the place itself maintains that balance of sort of ticking the boxes across all of those criteria assignments if it was to do so it will lose people yeah who is your who’s your audience for a book like this like who do you expect is going to be reading and benefiting from it i mean you know the title would suggest that it’s you know people who are in the market to sort of relocate but of course it’s much more than that i’m not a tour guide right this is fundamentally it’s political science it’s sociology uh it’s economics uh all of those things into one um and of course you know futurism you might say so i tend to you know i think with each subsequent book focus on an ever broader audience for example this book was adapted to the human geography curriculum of the ap sort of class so there’s an ap human geography guide and ap human geography course in america is one of the fastest growing aps you know 200 plus thousand students every single year who take it and so you know that was actually by design in the sense that fundamentally this is a book about human geography even if it doesn’t read that way even if it reads like a tour of the world and you know evaluating places based upon whether or not they stack up and and how they’re coping with complexity but you know very fundamentally i really my heart of hearts i think about geography from in from many different angles and in this book i explicitly wanted to tackle human geography yeah so listen i want to get into the whole in quieting people movement and so forth after the break but let’s have a quick break paragon after the break let’s get into the potential stress on economies from eco refugees and how this might play out in cities like miami and shanghai and guangzhao and calcutta and so forth who are potentially going to have some problems you’re listening to the futurists uh we have our guest uh khanna on uh you with rob tursek and myself we’ll be right back after this quick break welcome to breaking banks the number one global fintech radio show and podcast i’m brett king and i’m jason henricks every week since 2013 we explored the personalities startups innovators and industry players driving disruption in financial services from incumbents to unicorns and from cutting edge technology to the people using it to help create a more innovative inclusive and healthy financial future i’m jp nichols and this is breaking banks

welcome back you’re listening to the futurists with brett king and myself rogerson is from singapore prague’s been talking to us about his perspective as a man of the world a person who’s lived in many different parts of the world who voluntarily chose to move to singapore as the ideal place we talked a bit about that in the previous section his recent book move is all about predicting the future of places in the most desirable places where you might want to set up your own residence in the future now one of the things that you do prague is you run a consulting firm a forecasting firm right that’s called climate alpha that helps people make database decisions about real estate and i’m really interested to hear about that how that works particularly in light of the rapid changes that we’re experiencing in the climate well what we’ve done is to kind of do what’s called risk adjusted evaluations so we’re looking at property values by location based not only upon the historical trends population density income building permitting you know climatization levels also model broad and climate models of you know pessimistic optimistic base case scenarios and looking at the relative impact of those models on geographies and then forecasting what human behavior market behavior is going to be so we’ve done it for the entire country the u.s now we’re expanding globally the ultimate vision is that you can you know put a pin drop on place on the planet literally any terrestrial location on earth and we would give you some kind of uh forecasted asset value for property in that location and is this a service for individual residences or is it for companies that are trying to set up a factory it can be we haven’t deployed our retail level kind of b2c dashboard that we have it and that would allow you to kind of zillow style plug in your address and we’d be able to tell you what you know your house will be worth in the year 2025 or 2030 whatever your target you choose but it’s mostly meant as a very large because it’s a software platform so it’s meant to take hundreds of thousands of buildings and locating simultaneously and model them individually and against each other because again it’s all about complexity and relative performance of location ultimately are we going to face um you know a dramatic rethink of real estate and commercial property as a result of climate change because you know you talked about canada earlier and displacement of eco refugees and so this is obviously potentially a massive problem the scale of this could be so large that it could be the greatest humanitarian disaster humanity has faced since the black plague conceivably that you know eco refugees from climate although there’s still debate on how big that that number’s going to be but ultimately when you have sea level rise and all of you know and and livability uh survivability issues as a result of um you know global warming and so forth what does that do to the the viability of just the real estate business i mean that’s the big part of the book and what we do as a company is looking at how the decimal place has been moving to the right over the centuries in terms of the number of people who migrate in any given century from the 15th century through today we’ve gone from millions to tens of millions hundreds of millions and now in this century based perhaps potentially just purely on climate drivers alone over a billion people could be displaced from their present uh domicile and so that’s exactly what i’m forecasting this book where will the nine billion people of the year 2040 live where physically on in the world where will they start where will they finish why do they go to where they’ve gone how do they get there which places welcome them which place has rejected them and again this is a book of scenarios which is what futurism fundamentally has to be about as scenarios and i paint four scenarios in the book three of them are not particularly positive just to be clear so you know when brett you’re saying this could be a disaster yes it could be but i also obviously try and you know paint that road map in the fourth scenario which i call northern lights about a world population that is more mobile more better able to circulate to geographies that are stable but also more sustainable at the same time so that we don’t inflict this tragedy of the commons everywhere we go you know you know when i was a young man uh i grew up in a world where it seemed like the world was expanding uh the in the the world of the east uh soviet bloc was falling um you know the borders were coming down there other parts of the world that had been previously closed off were opening up and it seemed like the whole world was opening up but i recently spoke to a climate scientist who pointed out to me that for the first time in history the world is actually shrinking and she meant this quite literally in the sense that climate change is now rendering certain parts of the world uninhabitable and that will continue so you know the percentage of the surf we can live in is going to increase arable land decrease 58 by

that we should be genuinely concerned about on a global basis like which regions do you view as kind of like the red hot regions uh well red hot can be you can now mean multiple things i’m going to assume you mean the unlivable places i call them vacant states in the book you know the word state has a very literal meaning it must have recognized borders and a permanent settled population and there will be some will be geographies countries that will be completely abandoned and therefore no longer even definition of what a state is under international law so i i’m looking at exactly those questions and there will be again it’s not about entire countries that you know where this phenomenon maps neatly onto our you know more or less arbitrary post-colonial borders but rather you know based upon topography and climate uh modeling so there will be parts of countries where people can no longer live in the same way that no one lives in uh you know much of the sahara desert or the empty quarter of uh you know the sort of persian gulf but there are remember at the same time that the world is shrinking it’s also shrinking demographically right we’re reaching what i call peak humanity and that’s one of the points of departure of the book we’re only 8 billion people as of this year and the world population is not in my view going across 10 billion so most of the people who will ever live are alive today and we don’t have a a spatial problem right we have 150 million square kilometers of land area in the world and even if arable land is shrinking the fact is that those eight billion people can fit you know in manhattan island you know we can fit on the planet and so i address the distributional question of what are the geographies if even if people had to leave all the vacant unlivable you know decimated uh geographies in the world we still have plenty of space on the planet right but where should people be redistributed and how would we get to that point is the question i’m answering and there’s the answer to that there’s plenty of space right we have more than enough space but of course this is becomes a moral question an ethical question a political question a diplomatic question and an and a commercial question how soon how soon should cities like miami i mean i would say now because miami is identified as the city in the united states that’s going to have the most economic impact from climate change flooding yeah it’s flooding um you know uh and and of course the the very famously the governor the previous governor of uh um of florida was was did not allow the mention of climate change um which i think is you know you know head in the sand off streets type stuff but um you know what would you say to people living in miami what would you say to um you know the the the planners there in respect to what their strategy should be on real estate and you know the problems that miami is going to face over the next 30 years well this is where you know again uh adaptation comes in and not making predictions about a place because there’s a lot of adaptation that can be undertaken and we try to model that into our algorithm so if a place increases its adaptation spending which is to say it builds sea walls and it does flood controls and it you know relocates people to higher ground and does all these other things that a city a coastal city can do well then it’s going to retain its livability its characteristics for much further into the future than we think based upon today’s linear projections of what is in store for that place so there’s a lot of dynamism built in so we’re not predicting that miami is going to sink in fact in many ways we are no i don’t want to say doing the opposite it really depends on the time skill if you just take a typical climate risk company they’re going to say oh my god all of south florida is screwed you know run run run uh for the hills um that’s not how we approach it we say well actually if they do x amount of infrastructure spending in coastal areas and they do this kind of new real estate and so on and so forth will actually you know and to keep taxes low of course and they attract young people well then actually miami does remain uh livable longer than we think so we can’t rule out human ingenuity uh it’s we we try to code for that ingenuity and price that ingenuity but we i mean obviously humans can adapt um but right now um you know there’s there’s been long-term denial now obviously it’s going to get to a crunch point and i think you know what we see with uh natural weather events and so forth occurring the wildfires and so forth and the continuous flooding um it’s clear that um we will have to adapt but uh the question of who’s gonna pay for it always comes up in right in this conversation so yeah but this has to sort of materially change economics as well is that one of the reasons you’re a bit more bullish on asia economically in the 21st well yes and no i mean asia by definition as not only as the most people but the most people exposed to climate change right to flood uh to um to uh heat waves to uh rising sea levels droughts and so forth right so you know asia’s five billion people are hardly in the clear and you don’t really have an asian climate policy an asian adaptation strategy one of the weaknesses of the entire cop ipcc process has been that most of the funding uh i was in mitigate which of course is important i’m a strong advocate of climate change mitigation i even support geo engineering but adaptation is the here and now right it’s what are you doing today to help those vulnerable people so in asia you have you know indonesia saying that the capital city literally has to move from jakarta to another island you know that’s an example of a very high cost uh long-time horizon kind of adaptation but it’s not a good thing to be in that situation when i look at the united states you know and you ask the question about who’s going to pay for it i look at louisiana and i say look the population of louisiana is declining a lot of federal funding is going into rehabilitating power lines that cannot withstand the next season’s storms because they’re built for category three and they’re getting tachy category four or five and uh again the people are moving away anyway so we’re literally as tax payers throwing good money after bad and we should not be doing that so with the biden infrastructure plan um and build back better and all of these kinds of things we should actually be focusing on reinforcing climate resilient areas investing more capital there and ensuring that there’s adequate housing and quality infrastructure that’s done in a sustainable fashion for the future populations that are inevitably going to settle in those resilient stable areas of course plenty of people can stay in places that are going to be you know wiped out but they shouldn’t be doing so at taxpayer expense interesting i would imagine that there’s a long-term planners at large corporations are probably very concerned with the topics that you’re focused on i would imagine for instance that energy companies are going to pay attention big manufacturing companies uh the semiconductor companies for instance these are companies that make long-term bets because they’re going to build infrastructure that is not something that you can rip up and move easily at all frankly i would imagine that there’s a tremendous amount of interest who are the people that are reading this book and and what what has the reaction been to move or engaging climate alpha yeah right so with climate alpha it’s very much you know it’s it’s property developers it’s real estate private equity it’s pension funds it’s insurers so they’re basically very very large investors managers as well as real estate family offices everyone who’s concerned about their own uh infrastructure real estate portfolio land holdings property and so forth so it’s kind of what you would expect um in terms of long-term thinking sure but for different reasons i mean energy companies are concerned about the price of oil and gas and what are the regulatory dynamics that are going to enable or prohibit you know their their their drilling activities and production activities and so forth um slightly less so you know about their own contributions to a rapid energy transition whereas infrastructure manufacturing and so forth they are in real estate are very concerned about that this long-term question of the human geographic footprint they want to know where the markets are going to be right where will people be where will the customers be and so by focusing on human geography i’m giving sort of you know tentative answers to what are the locations that are what i call the new civilizational centers when we talk about cities people said oh covet is the death of the city well no it’s not you know just because new york lost people it doesn’t mean that denver didn’t gain people last time i checked denver as a city and there’s a perpetual competition among the cities it’s not entirely zero sum the way sometimes it’s made out to be but the fact is that there will be thriving cities in the you know deep into the 21st century they just may not be the same as the 20th century well let’s build on that give us a forecast if you will because we like to ask our guests to close the show by giving us uh a fanciful forecast or a serious forecast but something that’s a little bit yeah take care of this end of the year of 2050 tell us what the world’s going to be like i think it’ll be much more nomadic i think that people will have resettled but be seasonable seasonally uh or seasonally migrant and migrating uh those who can afford and i think that there are obviously places of a nor more northern latitude around canada europe russia japan that will have larger populations than they do today to use a kind of sci-fi term i use one chapter of the book is called terraforming siberia and when we use the word terraforming we usually mean colonizing outer you know other planets but actually there’s large uninhabited swaths of our planet that we have come to come and reside in so i say we’re going to terraform siberia now siberia as you probably know is actually not a livable place even as it is a quote-unquote relative winner from climate change you have peat bogs you have obviously um uh the uh hue the tiger you also have the um the permafrost thawing and you have methane gas being released poisonous gases you have the wildfires last year fun fact not so fun fact last year’s forest fires in just russia alone equal the total land area of all the other forest fires on all the entire rest of the planet earth combined and of course there isn’t you know but your fire department your local smokey joe whomever is not there in uh you know the far east of russia to put out all those fires there’s a long way to go and that’s why what i talk through in the book is well what is that future infrastructure in places that have agriculture that can be settled for certain seasons of the year certain time periods what’s it going to what kind of people are going to wind up there it’s going to be you know south asian farmers just to give you one other prediction that relates to this terraforming again because south asia is among has among the worst worst climate profiles you can imagine

in participation it’s already if but far exceeding that of china uh make it sort of around the world as people flee many unlivable parts and so i’m looking already at skills transfer agreements that russia has within farmers that romania has with pakistani laborers and i’m looking at how this south asian diaspora is spreading and that is how we in terms of again human migrations and literally our own future genetic footprint is going to be altered by the next wave of genetic mingling among races that will occur as a result of the mass migrations that are being unleashed today because of climate geopolitics and other forces and that’s actually where the book which which in itself really makes this concept of a nationality something that’s very amorphic you know in the future um to to to finish us off um let’s get a bit even more sci-fi if we can um you know take guests out over the next 30 to 50 years and beyond what is it that really excites you about the future what is it that um you know because all of us as futurists we tend to be in a rush to get to the future we tend to be optimistic about the future what is it that you’re most optimistic about and obviously we’ve got a lot of challenges coming up over the next 20 to 30 years but as we come through the other side of that what do you think human society would be like this is you know both an analytical answer and a normative one a project that i’ve been pursuing and advocating for a long time and i think it’s time has come which is to basically denationalize passports to denationalize mobility the very idea of the passport of course is that your identity is tied to your uh you know the country in which you were born that issued you that identity but now that we have so much data about ourselves that we can put online blockchain what are our skills our criminal history our travelers their financial records we can make a case for ourselves to be treated as individuals not as citizen objects and therefore should let me in based on who i am not where i came from and we have all the technology all of the capacity even even some of some some degree the diplomatic will uh to get to that system and i think we’re going to get there actually sooner uh than we think despite the rigidity of the heavily bureaucratized system of migration that we have imposed over the past century because immigration is going to come out competitive right in the future exactly exactly right race for talent award for young talent thank you so very much for joining us on the futurists all the way from singapore so good to see you again and what a great set of uh information you shared with us today multiple perspectives uh from the other side of the planet always a great pleasure thank you for joining us brett you want to round us out absolutely so where can people find out more information about yourself on the books uh has everything about me in the book so climate alpha dot ai is the company and are you working on a new book i am uh you you like it it’s called citizens of everywhere so you’ve called me very kindly a global citizen uh many times in this conversation i i refer to myself as a citizen of everywhere and i explain why and what what that means is a concept and why i think it is something of a kind of principle that young people can can latch on to well when you’re ready to launch the book let’s get you back on i appreciate that i’d love to in the meantime if you like the show you know don’t forget to tweet us out give us a five star review on itunes podcaster google play you know amazon wherever it is you listen to your podcasts and uh you know share the show um tweet it out put it out on social media wherever you know you can give us a little bit of a hand it is definitely appreciated if if there’s certain futurists or guests you’d like to have appear on the futurist please let us know also um but for now um you know my thanks go out to the production team to still be johnson carlo navarro on the social media side to kevin hersham our audio engineer elizabeth severance and and the rest of the team at provoke media help us put this together every week but uh we will be back with another sterling futurist guest next week and until then we’ll see you in the future well that’s it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don’t forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on instagram and twitter at futurist podcast for the folks that you’d like to see on the show or the questions you’d like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we’ll see you in the future

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