Skip to main content

If Things Keep Going the Way They Are... (Infographic)

Trend-watching can be fun and informative, but over long periods of time, extrapolation leads you to absurd conclusions.
Trend-watching can be fun and informative, but over long periods of time, extrapolation leads you to absurd conclusions.
(Image: © Ross Toro, LiveScience Contributor)

Having fun with trends, an educator and author on his Post Carbon Institute blog, also reveals the absurdity at the end of a drawn-out trend line.

For instance, if technology continues on its course, within 20 years transistors will be the size of an atom, and after another generation or so, he says, they will be the size of an electron! This trend line is based on Moore's Law, which would support the claim that about every two years the number of transistors that could be placed on an integrated circuit doubles.

Excepting possibly the expansion of the universe, Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow-in-residence, says all trends ultimately reach their limits and either stall or reverse. He suggests a dose of critical thinking and some statistics know-how are neccessary when looking at trends.

For instance, even taking one trend in isolation may  not make sense, as some trends work against each other and can end up cancelling each other out.

Taking these business-as-usual assumptions, Heinberg says, may be as much a lack of cognition as a motive-driven action; politicians want certain trends, such as the national economy, to continue to expand forever; transportation planners want traffic to continue to proliferate. But in reality, neither is valid. And so on.

So just like the hottest gadget or all-the-rage clothing fashion, many trends won't last for long. You can bank on that.