The World in 2009

I should probably be promoting my own 2009 Trends report but I haven’t written it yet. Actually that’s not quite true. I’ve written it four times but things keep changing. In the meantime I thoroughly recommend The World in 2009 published by the Economist and, especially, the accompanying blog at

Here’s an excerpt, which I wish I had written myself:

“As I roamed the building site under the tower, what I noticed most was the smell. It was abiotic with cement and sand, sure, and shimmering, as if the heat had a stink of its own (which it did—it was the smell of buildings and roads baking in the sun, and oil flares, and bulldozer exhaust fumes), but then it occurred to me: it’s not the building site you’re smelling, it’s the absence of living things, the subtraction of what you took for granted before you arrived. Finally I understood: it was the smell of the future, of a tomorrow as it will be lived in many places when my children are grown up.”

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