Briefs: Chemistry

Technology Disruptions through 2025

TechDistributions

Technology has always been a major driver of change, even disruption, in human affairs. Through 2025, it is poised to do so in significant new ways—impacting areas ranging from energy to consumer lifestyles to World 3 development to warfare—thanks to revolutionary advances now in the wings.

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Microbiomics: 100 Trillion Little Friends?

Biology

Trillions of organisms live in and on each human being, making up 90% of the cells in a human body, and some estimate that the typical person carries two to six pounds of bacteria. Commonly viewed as parasites or invaders in the past, they are increasingly seen as crucial determiners of health and disease, central to many basic functions.

Study of the microbiome—the collection of microbes living on humans—has expanded rapidly over the last 15 years. With rising media coverage, popular awareness of the concept is spreading, and reaching the level of mainstream products, with probiotic foods the most prominent examples. This is likely just the beginning, as the field promises breakthroughs in health, and is likely to shift thinking in that area and beyond.

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The EU Chemical Sector: To 2030

EUChem_Maarten Takens

European chemical companies face a more challenging environment in the future as Asian economies—and emerging- market chemical companies—grow more important to the global chemical sector.

This will force firms in the EU chemical sector to adapt, innovate, and forge new relationships with a variety of players in the chemical industry value chain—or face increasing pressure from Asian and Middle Eastern firms. Even if EU firms do adapt to the change in the operating environment, the chemical sector of 2030 will look quite different than today, with some two-thirds of global sales coming from Asia, compared to about 50% today.

These and other forecasts were developed by the chemical practices at A.T. Kearney and presented in its Chemical Industry Vision 2030 report.

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The Future of International Science: Four Scenarios

InternationalSci

The International Council for Science (ICSU), an organization that includes national scientific bodies from from 140 nations as well as international scientific unions, published International Science in 2031—Exploratory Scenarios, which offers outlines of four distinct scenarios on the possible future of international science.

These scenarios describe four plausible yet very different futures, were the culmination of two years of foresight analysis that invited input from all of ICSU’s members. The focus of the foresight process was to identify the key drivers that will influence international science over the next two decades and to develop strategies to support international science collaboration in a way that advances progress and benefits society.

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