Friday, April 8, 2022


"Move" is about human geography, that is, about where humans live and the author contends that humans have always been on the move.  In the beginning we were nomadic, seeking where food was readily available. Later we moved to where the jobs were.  Now more people are seeking freedom, security and sustainability.

Parag constructs a formula depicting a trend:  demographic imbalances+ political upheaval+ economic dislocation+ technological disruption+ climate change X connectivity= accelerated mobility.  Many details factor in.  One irony is that "advanced" nations are having a declining birth rate (i.e. they are aging) while less developed nations have higher birth rates that trap many in poverty.  While we are aging we will need younger people to take care of our elderly and replace job vacancies. Some powerful voting blocks are resistant to newcomers especially those who are not white or have strange customs.

Donald Trump used anti-immigration policies to get elected.  To limit the number of Indians migrating they imposed restrictions on H1-B visas.  This encouraged Silicon Valley to outsource work to Asia and develop digital mobility.  Many skilled Asians chose other countries to migrate to.  Violence, poor health care and inequality have forced different choices for many prospective immigrants.

The job market will be drastically changing.  Automation bolstered by computer power will lead to further traditional labor reductions.  This will lead to new jobs, but requiring new skills.  Another area of opportunities is agriculture to feed our increasing populations.  Some lands will be opened up in northern countries and many cities will adopt massive hydroponics. As jobs relocate people have to be able to move to where opportunities are open, but workers will have to keep their skills up to date..

Climate change will increasingly be a reason to seek a more livable location.   Two directions are basic:  inland and north.  Some major areas that will be suitable are Canada and Russia with increased fertile land.  Surprised to learn that he thought the Great Lakes Region of North America is relatively safe.  The Arctic with some adjustments will be more livable.  The author thinks the adaptions will involve new cities (or olds ones changed) with environmentally friendly enhancements.  He mentions that air conditioning will be necessary to live in major parts of the world, but can be made climate friendly and of course plants should be more than decorations. Desalination will need to provide drinkable water.

The Covid 19 pandemic has encouraged a new dynamic.  Many are seeking where science is not trumped by politics and where technology is tied to public health.  The pandemic, following the 2008 financial collapse has disrupted retirement plans and many are looking for a lower cost of living with such countries as Mexico and Costa Rica.

In our past home ownership has been a motivating dream for most of us.  The author suggests our dream house should be replaced by a dream of mobility.  Renting will be part of increasing mobility.  To survive one needs to go where the jobs are and develop the skills that society wants.  Portable homes are already becoming more common.  Climate change will make some places unsafe to be.  A few thoughts on what pursuit of the dream:

There is much resistance to immigrants even though they are necessary for our survival.  Assimilation needs to be emphasized to avoid segregation.  Germany is one that has made an effort.  Language courses and job training are two programs.  Education should increase our awareness about human similarities as well as differences. Parag feels the world needs a global immigration policy.  Forces of nature and man made problems will assure that mobility is essential.   We each will have our own traditions, many of which we will be able to pass on.

The more we open up the better.  Citizenship passports for those with money or skills.  migrant rights resisted by many countries (and citizens)  New Zealand allows all permanent residents (i.e. stakeholders) to vote.  My son, Michael when he was unable to get a job in Canada matching his skills he decided to take a chance in New Zealand where he knew no one, with only a friend of a friend to guide him.  Since then he has enhanced his skills and has achieved a satisfying position

Politically we live in a divided world, but in reality we live on one planet.  Borders make it difficult to co-ordinate jurisdiction over lands that transcend man made lines.  A few countries have managed it such as Botswana with Zambia and Mozambique and South Africa.  International agencies have managed to have 15% of the earth's land surface set aside as protected eco zones.  E.O. Wilson has advocated for 50% to be set aside.  For some enlightened views of our past and future check:

 There is much useful discussion in this book.  The future has many challenges that are only being partially addressed.

An earlier book by Parag Khanna that helped me change my pension investments.

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