A Brave New World
With all this talk of the end of modern globalization, of a complete reorientation of our shared economy, our discussion then turned to what Rubin envisioned the world of tomorrow would actually look like.
To start, Rubin made clear that “in terms of what we eat, the diets will come more to resemble that of our parents, then what we’re accustomed to [today].” He then related how when he grew up in the 60s, the food he bought was seasonal. “You didn’t see Kiwis, Strawberries, Raspberries and Tangerines in January and February.”
When it comes to vacations, “we’re not going to be able to fly like we used to before. It’s not that there won’t be airlines, but that the cost of flying will probably go back to what it was in the 1960s.” So instead of “Cheng Mei or Machupechu,” Rubin expects most Torontonians to visit places like Algonquin Park or Maskoka.
Then with respect to suburban living: “we’re not going to be able to commute 70-80 kilometres back and forth to work everyday in our SUVs. We’re going to have to either find a way to drive less or work a lot closer to home.”
Because of this change in lifestyle, Rubin notes that “you’re going to find a lot of those far-flung suburbs are going to return, curiously, back into the farmland that they once were, because they collapse in suburban real estate prices and the soaring increases in imported food, now make it all of a sudden economically viable again to raise livestock (here) instead of shipping it from New Zealand. It will make it all of a sudden more important to grow crops, because people aren’t living 50-60 kilometres from the city.”
And as for our cities, “ … where we saw in the last 50 years … urban sprawl, we’re probably going to see increasing urban density, … but with less cars on the road and certainly different kinds of vehicles that we’re used to seeing today.”
Taking all this in, it’s fair to say that assuming a new energy source as abundant and versatile as oil isn’t discovered, the next several decades will represent a difficult transition stage: one from a cheap carbon to a post-carbon age. But it is in those times of crisis, when we turn most to those we love, to those closet to us. It is also in these times when we are most willing to reach out to our neighbour and build the relationships needed to survive. And with the global economy turning local, that is exactly what will happen.
The world we will grow up in will look much different than what our parents were used to, just as the world our parent’s grew up in was far more different than what their parent’s could have imagined. But paradoxically, as outlined earlier, the days of tomorrow may also share many of the qualities most thought were lost from the days of our parents and grandparents.
And as the world finds this new balance, finds a way to adapt itself to this new era, at least we can feel optimistic in the fact that we will be able to share our struggles and our joys together, as we build ourselves a brave new world.
Jeff Rubin (born August 24, 1954) is a Canadian economist and author. He is a former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets. He graduated from McGill University with a Masters in Economics after completing his Economics B.A. at University of Toronto. He began his career as an economist at the Ontario Government Treasury Department where he was responsible for projecting future interest rates. He moved on to work within the CIBC, becoming its Chief Economist.
In 2000, he correctly predicted that oil prices would be trading at US$50 per barrel by 2005. He then accurately predicted oil would crack the US$100 per barrel mark by the end of 2007.
Rubin’s opinions have been widely reported in the international media. He wrote a widely followed national column in the Globe and Mail, “Ahead of the Curve,” and he has been a fixture on network coverage of the federal budget and other key economic events for almost two decades. He has also made numerous television appearances on ABC, CBC, CBS, CNN and CNBC. His opinions and insights have appeared on the front page of the New York Times, as well as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek and the Economist.
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