In Generational Change, Robert de Neufville talks about how change accumulates and compounds over time in ways that are difficult to track:
When I was born, in 1970, the average global temperature was 1°C cooler than it is today. There were about 3.7 billion people on Earth, less than half as many as there are now. Life expectancy in the US was about 71 years. Smallpox had not been eradicated; I was part of the last generation that was vaccinated against the disease. The per capita GDP of the US—now close to $70,000—was just $26,000 in today’s dollars, so Americans were much poorer then than they are now. ARPANET, the early ancestor of the internet, was switched on just a year before I was born. Intel had not yet begun to sell microprocessors commercially. Seven of the 10 largest companies in the world today hadn’t been founded.
His is a refreshing take on the annual reflection exercises that tend to pop up this time of year.