Prepare for Increasing Rates of Change
By Kindra Gordon
“I don’t know the future, but today is the slowest speed of change you are ever going to see.” That was the message world-renowned futurist Lowell Catlett shared with the nearly 2,500 Angus producers and beef industry leaders gathered in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 4-6, for the 2017 Angus Convention.
Catlett shared a big-picture view of the fast pace of change occurring worldwide and how it may affect agriculture and rural America. His energetic presentation on Nov. 4 kicked-off the International Genomics Symposium sponsored by Neogen GeneSeek Operations, which led off the convention.
Catlett’s career at New Mexico State University earned him acclaim as a Regents Professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics. He retired in 2015, but continues to address corporate and association audiences both nationally and internationally.
Specific to the future, Catlett proclaimed “Fossil fuel is dying. It’s going to take a while, but we are starting to see the beginning of the end of it.” He cited references to the United Kingdom, and France, countries pursuing initiatives to use no fossil fuel to generate electricity by the year 2025. As well, Germany and General Electric have both made recent announcements that they will eventually cease producing internal combustion engines (which use fossil fuel). Catlett also shared that even in Texas, a state that produces more fossil fuel than anybody, the movement to solar and wind energy production is increasing rapidly.
In the place of fossil fuels, Catlett said renewable solar and wind energy, which are much more economical, combined with improving battery technologies — such as the recently invented solid state lithium ion battery — are coming to the forefront.
As a result of these changes, Catlett anticipates “a new electrical world ahead.” He advised the audience: “Get ready for it, because it’s going to impact our rural communities.”
One impact tied to this change is the advent of BPL (broadband over power lines), which makes possible high-speed Internet access over ordinary residential electrical lines. Thus, high-speed broadband will be more accessible.
“As leaders, hook yourself to the grid,” Catlett encouraged. “Build [broadband] in your communities. It’s a way we keep our way of life.”
Catlett also noted how hydrogen fuel cell technology is changing cars; how robotics are changing manufacturing, foodservice and agriculture; how autonomous vehicles will reshape transportation; and how 3D printing has the potential to change everything — from food to buildings and livestock production.
“Get ready for the likes of which you haven’t seen,” Catlett said of some of the technologic impacts he anticipates. “There are fabulous, fabulous opportunities.”
In closing, Catlett paid tribute to the success of the Angus breed saying, “You own the beef business. You’ve had leadership from early on. … Angus was told you can’t brand beef, and you said, ‘Yes we can.’”
Catlett noted the breed’s current status with leadership and technology and concluded saying, “This world moves fast, and you are going to own the future, as well.”
Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract for or by staff of the Angus Journal as part of Angus Media’s coverage of the 2017 Angus Convention in Fort Worth, Texas, Nov. 4-6. For permission to reprint, please contact editor Shauna Rose Hermel at 816-383-5270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For complete coverage of the event, visit www.angus.org/Media/News/AngusConvention.aspx.