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The Extreme Future: The Trends That Will Shape the World for the Next 5, 10, and 20 Years

By James Canton

Dutton, $25.95, 384 pages

Cars fueled solely by hydrogen can be made today. Futurist James Canton rode in one in spring 2005 after fulfilling a speaking engagement at Albany NanoTech on the campus of the State University of New York at Albany. "It handled beautifully, accelerated smartly," Canton wrote. There was only one problem with that car. It cost $1.2-million. But Canton, chairman and CEO of the San Francisco-based Institute of Global Futures, predicts that the price will soon come down to a level where nearly everyone can afford one. "I forecast that more than $10-billion will be needed and spent on hydrogen research over the next 10 to 15 years worldwide. This will lead to a mass-market set of innovations, similar to the innovations that first launched the modern auto, train, and shipping industries. By 2035, or even sooner, hydrogen will be a viable alternative to oil and gas, meeting as much as 35 percent of our energy needs," Canton says. He says only those individuals, businesses and governments that achieve "future readiness" soon enough to take advantage of tremendous opportunities presented by the scientific and technological breakthroughs will become commercially viable in the short term. Canton also focuses on numerous innovations that could help meet the needs of a growing global population in such areas as health and medicine, manufacturing, communications, transportation, security, entertainment, media and education. The future that Canton writes about is no distant science-fiction world, he says. It is near-term and credible, based on research and development that already is under way. His objective is to alert America to what needs to be done to make it ready and able to meet the twin challenges of innovation and globalization. Its greatest value lies in its showing how to think futuristically in order to promote profitability, sustainability and freedom.

Cecil Johnson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram