The Age of Extraction is dying

Will your business survive the transition?

The age of extraction has served our civilization well. We began by taming wild grasses and domesticating animals, to provide us with the things we needed, like food, clothing, and energy. Then we discovered mineral resources like coal and iron, and agriculture and industry blossomed. Extraction and exploitation of natural resources became the primary means of production, and spawned a virtuous circle of technology innovation, scientific discovery, and resource development.

Our ability to harness resources and develop new technologies at an ever-increasing speed has enabled our species to dominate nature and provide a higher standard of living for billions of people – all thanks to extraction. We have an abundance of materials and chemicals, and technology has allowed us to displace natural products like wood and leather with synthetics like plastic and steel.

But that same disruptive, exponential boom in technology is causing the demise of extraction. Not because of a lack of resources – exploration continues to reveal new reserves – but because of a lack of need. We have already developed more efficient – and more socially acceptable – ways of producing animal protein than slaughter, and novel materials, constructed at the atomic scale, like graphene and 2D-polymers, are making aluminium and plastic look positively pre-historic.

There are still rare-earths and unique elements like helium, for which we rely on extraction, but eventually we’ll be able to make superior synthetic molecules to replace them. Whichever way you look at it, the age of extraction is dying, and will ultimately be replaced by something new.

And with the death of extraction will come the disruption of industries, displacement of businesses, and possibly the reinvention of entire economic systems. Will your business survive, and thrive?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.