by John Clarkson

When I am asked why did you set up this college I always answer as follows: we need more Futurists. What is a Futurist they enquire, their minds whirring with the thought of crystal balls or futures traders. Well, they are not fortune tellers or Nostradamus, or for that matter involved in predicting the future! Instead Futurists are professionals who study change, but they do it looking forward into the future. They use the past and the present to consider alternative futures. They don’t know exactly how it will work out, but they do know that there are some broad forces that shape the future. By studying these using scientific approaches and methods they can help businesses make useful decisions. Sometimes experts in different fields question their methods, since they do not seem to be at one with what is happening now. I once had an energy question me over what is meant by ‘Net Energy’. To her it was an idea that seem to lack substance. How could it matter if oil extracted using more energy than it delivered if it was extracted using electricity she said?  Then again many engineers don’t understand quantum mechanics (who does?) but that doesn’t mean the standard model of physics as of now is wrong. The answer is tricky: we have to always create models and the Net Energy model uses all types of energy inputs to get to this conclusion. Electricity after all is only a carrier of energy, not a primary fuel like oil.

My own background is History and later I studied Sustainable Development, with a little political science, sociology and psychology thrown in for good measure. My specialisms are renewable energy and data analysis. I worked for many years in the renewable energy industry. However many futurists come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from liberal arts to engineering and physics. In fact you don’t even need to have these backgrounds, because often qualifications are less important than experience.

There are about 2000 professional Futurists globally, with a small number specialising in ‘energy’.  However, energy is the critical component of civilization. We desperated need Energy Futurists. In fact the world needs them really badly. That’s what this college is all about. We need to kick start a literal learning revolution.

To become a Futurist you need to be able to explore the big picture of human development, recognise patterns and have innate curiosity. Particularly you need to be open to new experiences, see options, note alternatives, challenge assumptions, take a global outlook, look at the longer term, know how to deal with often ambiguous, complex and conflicting data, and understand that many people have agendas, so that the data they provide is often untrue, warped, twisted or spinned to their own advantage. Being critical of the data is all important. Skepticism and a healthy respect for your adversaries is a necessity. When you are wrong, admit it. When you are right, make sure everyone knows so that humanity can gain from your experience.

A few futurists obtain their status via graduate degree programmes and participating in conferences. Others work with insurance companies. However, many operate for business in Project Development or Product Development, where they try to work out what consumers will want in the next 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 years or more, so that manufacturers can develop these new commodities or services.

Futurists use data from a wide variety of fields such as forecasting, chaos theory, science, organisational development, systems analysis, historical studies, cliometrics, comparative studies (both historical and forward looking) organisational development and physics.

The average earnings of a Futurist range between $38,000 and $136,000 or it can be more for those elite groups that have become famous. The famous ones though tend to also be the least scientific in my humble opinion. They tend to exagerrate things to gain notoriety. In the field of Energy Futurism it’s far better to be less well known and yet accurate.

Our first course is not really an Energy Futurist course at all, except in one sense: micro-renewable energy may well become the future in many parts of the world. It was originally taught to students as a presentation by myself, but I hired Tatjana Anders to deliver the material on video.

The next course: the Bigger Picture: the Probable Future of Energy is designed to give you an overview of issues such as the expiration time of oil, the energy crisis, EROIE and Net Energy and look at 3 viable future solutions I call ‘energy economies’.  It offers you the darkside if we fail develop and adapt, and the potential to succeed. 

We’ll then look at extra-terrestrial solutions in our course on Energy from Space. (Still in development as of December 2018!) Finally, future courses will become more detailed, more complex, as we take you on the journey towards specialisation. Here you will learn how scientists, economists, sociologists and political scientists etc all have theories we can use in conjunction with Data Science to tease out what might happen in future.

We hope that one day you, via our college, will become an Energy Futurist.  Good luck!

Your Future is your hands

Only you can make the right choice.

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