Feb 22 2010

200 Years of GDP Trends Support a Near-Term, New Space Age

Over the last 200 years, great human explorations (e.g., Lewis and Clark), massive Macro-Engineering Projects (e.g., Panama Canal), and major wars (e.g., W.W. I) cluster together exclusively during rhythmic, twice-per-century, major economic booms (e.g., the Kennedy Boom of the 1960s).  These spectacular pulses of creativity and expansion appear to be driven by affluence-induced ebullience that catapults many to higher levels of Maslow’s hierarchy, where their expanded worldviews make Apollo-style exploration and engineering projects seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible. 

Since major economic booms are their hallmark, large increases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are a necessary condition for Maslow Windows.  Thus U.S. real GDP (corrected for inflation) trends over the last 200 years should inform us of whether the expected 2015 Maslow Window is still in the cards. 

The 56 year energy cycle is a convenient, well-documented manifestation of the long business cycle (the “long wave”) that apparently drives Maslow Windows.  The economic booms culminate near energy cycle peaks, and great explorations and MEPs typically begin in the decade before the peaks.  Therefore, GDP trends 36 years after a particular energy peak year (e.g., 1969) are also 20 years before the next peak (e.g., 2025) and thus can potentially illuminate GDP circumstances just prior to the coming Window.

Figure 1.  Trends in GDP over the last 200 years support the 2015 Maslow Window.  Click

 Figure 1 shows the energy cycle peak years and the peak years plus 36 for each of the four Maslow Windows of the last 200 years; the U.S. real GDP (all are in B of 2005 USD) for each peak year + 36 years is also given.  It is interesting to compare the ratio of real GDP for peak year plus 36 (e.g., 1969+36= 2005) to that of the real GDP for the peak year (e.g., 1969).  Although the 19th century real GDP ratios are larger than 20th century ones, it is especially significant that the 20th century ratios are very close (2.97 vs. 3.08). 

This reveals that our recent GDP trajectory — from 1969 to 2005, after the Apollo Maslow Window –   is similar to the GDP trajectory from 1913 to 1949, after the Peary/Panama Maslow Window that led to the Apollo Maslow WindowThus Post-Peak real GDP data from the last 200 years suggests that we are on track for a new Maslow Window — probably at least comparable to both 20th century Windows – by 2015 (i.e., 1969 + 56).

 Another way to evaluate more recent GDP trends is given in the right-side column of Figure 1; it shows the ratio of real GDP for the peak year + 36 vs the real GDP for the energy cycle trough year (i.e., peak year + 28).  This is a measure of how well real GDP is rebounding during the 8 years following the energy cycle trough. 

Notice that this peak+36 -to- trough real GDP ratio gently declines from 1.45 after the 1801 Lewis and Clark Maslow Window to 1.28 following the Apollo Maslow Window.  Of particular interest are the ratios for 1949 and 2005: 1.35 and 1.28 respectively.  Because they are so close — within one sigma of each other – they suggest  that our GDP ascent just prior to 1949 (and the 1960s Apollo decade) is very comparable to our current GDP rise just before 2005.  Thus Trough Recovery real GDP data from the last 200 years — including data from the last 5 years — suggests we are on track for a new Maslow Window to open near 2015.

 Figure 2.  Real GDP values for each Maslow Window (energy peak year) have consistently increased over the last 200 years.  Click 

 Because two sets of independent GDP data show that our current ramp up to the 2015 Maslow Window is comparable with spectacular Maslow Windows over the last 200 years,  it is of interest to estimate how much national wealth will be available in 2025 to potentially fund unprecedented space activities between 2015 and 2025. 

One simple way to do this is to extrapolate the line in Figure 2.  This technique gives the 2025 GDP as $ 35.0 T (2005 USD)

Figure 3.  Real GDP trends over the last 200 years show the U.S. GDP may approach $ 35 T (2005 USD) in 2025.  Click

Figure 3 shows the ratios of real GDP at the peak year to real GDP 20 years before the peak (Peak – 20) for the last 4 Maslow Windows (GDP in 1781 is estimated).  (This is convenient because 2005 is 20 years before the expected energy peak in 2025. )  Pre-Peak GDP ratios range from 2.48 for 1857 to 1.88 in 1913, with a ratio of 2.41 for Apollo in 1969. 

The bottom 4 rows in the Figure show the range of expected real GDP values for 2025 based on ratios over the last 200 years and the U.S. real GDP for 2005. They vary from $ 23.7 T to 31.3 T (2005 USD) with $ 29.1 T being characteristic of Apollo Maslow Window Pre-Peak GDPs.  The bottom row indicates the Pre-Peak GDP ratio would have to be 2.77 if we assume the 2025 GDP value from Figure 2 (using Peak GDP extrapolation). 

This suggests the 2015 Maslow Window might be the biggest one of the last 200 years (ratio of 2.77).  Although any of the 2025 GDP estimates in Figure 3 would imply unprecedented space and technology activities that would dwarf Apollo.

This analysis shows that the 2015 Maslow Window is not precluded on the basis of GDP data from 230 years ago up through 2005.  But after 2005 the situation seems more complex due to the financial Panic of 2008 and our current great recession, and because it is not clear when it will end — e.g., some see another “global dip” as a possibility. 

However, all Maslow Windows over the last 200 years (except Apollo) experienced a financial panic/great recession in the decade just preceding them.  And despite that, no Maslow Window of the last 200 years has ever been delayed or diminshed in any observable way,  by any events.

The economics and politics of the anticipated 2015 Maslow Window  — with a focus on times since 2005 — are explored in this post: “How President Obama is Creating the New Space Age.”

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Dec 19 2009

The Economics of Ebullience Points to a Sparkling New Global Space Age

Special thanks to Contributing Editor and psychologist Dr. Ken Meehan for helping me think more clearly about this discussion.  (This post is taken from a working paper soon to be submitted to a journal.)

Here at 21stCenturyWaves.com, “ebullience” is a technical term. 

It’s defined as a very positive, somewhat irrational — almost giddy – emotional state,  that’s usually due to widespread affluence during a 1960s-style major economic boom.  In response to affluence-induced ebullience, many people ascend the Maslow hierarchy where their expanded world views make Great Explorations and MEPs seem not just intriguing, but almost irresistible  –  hence the name “Maslow Window.”  

In the 1960s Apollo program and Peace Corps of John F. Kennedy it was the ebullient feeling that we could do almost anything; in the early 20th century it was Theodore Roosevelt’s Panama fever and (north & south) pole mania;  in the mid-19th century is was manifest destiny of James Polk and the central Africa adventures of Dr. Livingstone, I presume; and about 200 years ago it began auspiciously with Jefferson, Napoleon, and Lewis & Clark

However,  even during these rhythmic,  twice-per-century waves of ebullience, some people remain stalled at lower Maslow levels and thus are empowered negatively; i.e., they sometimes trigger conflicts or even major wars (e.g., WW I) that can terminate Maslow Windows. 

SOCIETAL EBULLIENCE DRIVES MASLOW WINDOWS

It appears that ebullience has been the fundamental driving force behind the stunning exploration and engineering activities during Maslow Windows over the last 200 years, and ebullience appears to be similar to the “animal spirits” of behavioral economist John Maynard Keynes and the “irrational exhuberance” of Alan Greenspan.    Historically, widespread ebullience is usually short-lived because it is fundamentally a psychological phenomenon that often responds to feelings and perceptions — both positive or negative –  more than facts.

Societal ebullience is usually triggered by a major economic boom, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.  For example,  if benevolent extraterrestrials landed at the White House, this would probably trigger at least momentary global ebullience, regardless of our financial state.  Conversely, ebullience is often terminated by bad financial trends (such as the economic boom moving past its peak and declining), but the psychology of ebullience can be eroded by almost anything negative, such as a war or even unfriendly extraterrestrials landing at the White House.

However,  recently we’ve seen again that even the availability of large amounts of funds – e.g.,  the $ 787 B stimulus package – does not guarantee ebullience, as evidenced by negative attitudes and actions of the U.S. public (documented through surveys and opinion polls).  Even a small fraction of the stimulus money would enable the greatest human space program of all time, but it hasn’t happened yet because the public isn’t in the mood. They are simply not ebullient.

THE ECONOMICS OF EBULLIENCE

The issues are:  What specific economic factors trigger ebullience?  And can we create a numerical Ebullience Index composed of economic parameters that will allow us to track and analyze it?

 One possibility is that the public is responding to increases in GDP like those experienced before and during the 1960 Apollo Maslow Window; see plot below.

Figure 1 — The U.S. GDP (in B of 2000 USD) since 1950 shows the 1950s post-WW II boom and the major economic boom of the Apollo Maslow Window between 1961 and 1969.    CLICK   

It’s clear that rapid economic growth occurred until about 1961 when the economy went into even higher gear and produced the greatest economic boom up to that time.  But who really cares about GDP?  Undoubtedly economists and business forecasters do as well as some politicians, but nobody can spend GDP so it’s probably not triggering ebullience in typical American employees.

Better hints are found in Benjamin Friedman’s 2005 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. The Harvard professor suggests that sustained economic growth is important because these are times when typical workers feel like they are really getting ahead; i.e., their wages are increasing relative to inflation.

But common sense informs us that ebullience will not result from a comfortable increase in real wages if we’re worried about losing our jobs.  So healthy growth in real wages coupled with low unemployment rates may be related to the widespread feeling of ebullience in society.

THE EBULLIENCE RATIO AND THE 1960s APOLLO MASLOW WINDOW

As an experiment, let’s define the Ebullience Ratio (ER) as proportional to real wages divided by the rate of unemployment as percent of workforce.  Keep in mind this is an attempt to express widespread feelings of affluence-induced ebullience in terms of common economic parameters.  Annual values for the ER have been computed for the 1950s and 1960s Apollo Maslow Window; see plot below.

Figure 2 — The Ebullience Ratio from 1950 to 1974 peaks at 1969 (Apollo 11 Moon landing) and clearly displays the Apollo Maslow Window from about 1961 to 1969.  

CLICK   

As unemployment drops, the ER increases, and as unemployment approaches full employment, the ER dramatically increases,  reflecting the presence of a major economic boom during the 1960s Maslow Window (from about 1961 to 1969).  Short business cycles are seen in the 1950s ER data that are superimposed on pre-Maslow Window economic growth.  In 1958 the short business cycles subside as unemployment declines signaling the approach of the Maslow Window.  The highest ER is in 1969 and drops rapidly thereafter as the Maslow Window closes.

The consistency of both the economic (GDP) and ebullience (ER) trends — especially between 1961 and 1969 – suggests that the Apollo Maslow Window is well described by these parameters.

THE EBULLIENCE INDEX

As another experiment,  let’s define the Ebullience Index (EI) for an interval of time as the integral of the ER function (i.e., the fractional ER increase per year as a function of time) over the duration of the interval in question (e.g., the Maslow Window).   This synthesizes the annual rate of change of real wages divided by their rates of unemployment — the two things that matter most to a typical worker – into a single index for any Maslow Window.

Using ER values for the interval between 1961 and 1969, the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window has an Ebullience Index of 4.9.  This number is most meaningful in comparison with other Maslow Windows and/or intervals, so we’ll  look now at the economics and ebullience of the Peary/Panama Maslow WIndow.

WHAT  ABOUT THE EARLY 1900s PEARY/PANAMA MASLOW WINDOW?

It’s interesting to compare the 1960s Maslow Window ebullience values with those of the early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window, because Peary/Panama was preceded by the financial Panic of 1893 and the great recession of the 1890s (like our current panic/recession), while neither existed before the Apollo Window (although WW II did).

Figure 3 –  This U.S. GDP (B in 2000 USD) plot from 1890 to 1914 clearly shows the great 1890s recession that transitions into rapid growth, interrupted by two brief recessions, until 1913 when the Peary/Panama Maslow Window ends abruptly.
CLICK
  

Notice that GDP is flat during the 1890s great recession but perks up — signaling the onset of the Peary/Panama Maslow WIndow — after 1901.

Figure 4 — Ebullience Ratios from 1890 onward clearly convey the psychological dimensions of the 1890s great recession which began with the financial Panic of 1893, and the supersonic Maslow Window recovery beginning in 1898. 

CLICK 

If you compare the 1960s ER trends (Fig. 2) with Fig. 4 you see that Maslow Windows preceded by a financial panic are quite different from those without. Athough GDP data (Fig. 3) suggest the economy was already humming again by 1896, the ER data (Fig. 4)  suggest the psychological impact of the 1890s great recession lingered until about 1898 when the Maslow Window opened.  Although ER peaks in 1906, historical events suggest the Window itself continued until 1913; WW I began in 1914.

Just to give you a little chronology here: Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency ran from 1901 to 1909; U.S. construction of the Panama Canal began in 1904 and was completed in 1914;  the international races to the poles culminated between 1909 (Peary first to N pole) and 1911 (Amundsen first to S. pole).

For  the first 8 years of the Peary/Panama Maslow Window — from 1898 to 1906 — the Ebullience Index is 13.9,  almost 3x the value (4.9) for the Apollo Window.  This supports my impression from reading historical accounts of the era (e.g., America 1908 by Jim Rasenberger) that the Peary/Panama Maslow Window was even more ebullient  — if that’s possible!! –  than the 1960s Apollo Moon decade.

The Peary/Panama Window apparently produced so much affluence and ebullience  that extraordinary exploration and engineering activities  – characteristic of populations at elevated Maslow states –  continued until 1913, well after the 1906 ER peak.  On the other hand, this may suggest our Ebullience Index may not include all psychologically relevant factors.

OUR CURRENT LACK OF EBULLIENCE AND THE COMING GLOBAL SPACE AGE

 Over the last 200 years, Maslow Windows tend to culminate every 55 or 60 years near peaks of the energy cycle; and open about 10 years earlier.  This led to my initial forecast (made in 1996) for another spectacular, 1960s-style Maslow Window  opening near 2015 and culminating by 2025.  Although wildcards can alter this nominal timing,  the economics of ebullience suggests our time is coming soon:  indeed, we appear to be only a few more years from the next Maslow Window.

In particular, the financial Panic of 2008 suggests that our current trajectory might be more similar to the Peary/Panama Maslow Window than the 1960s Apollo Window, which had no financial panic/great recession in the decade just preceding it. 

Figure 5 –  The U.S. GDP (B in 2000 USD) from 1985 to 2009 displays the Panic of 2008 and our current great recession in the 2 points on the right adge. 

CLICK 

The recessions of 1990 and 2001 are seen by flattenings of the GDP curve, and the Panic of 2008 (next to the right edge) preceded the current great recession.  Note that the theoretical trough of the 56-year energy cycle is in 1997.

 Figure 6 — Ebullience Ratios from 1985 to 2009 show the Panic of 2008 and our current great recession, as well as a very interesting boom from 1991 to 2001. 

CLICK 

 The dramatic collapse of ER starting in 2007  just preceded the Panic of 2008 and the great recession continuing to the present.  If you compare Figure 6 to Figure 4 you’ll see that our future could evolve something like the Peary/Panama Maslow Window — a rather exciting prospect once we recover from our current challenges.  We’ll return to this in a minute.

Notice the impressive economic boom in the center of  Figure 6, from 1991 to 2001; it’s the longest expansion in U.S. history.  Although it occurred at the long wave trough (1997), the 1990s boom has many basic economic characteristics of a Maslow Window  — duration of 10 years, rapid real GDP increase, and an amazingly large Ebullience Index of 5.3 (compared to Apollo’s 4.9 and Peary’s 13.9)  –  but, although plans for the International Space Station (to be completed in 2011) began in the early 1990s and construction began in 1998, the next major international thrust into space did not occur then.

The Apollo-size Ebullience Index of the great 1990s boom suggests this parameter, as defined above,  is incomplete.  To make a long story short: the answer is provided by the economics of the 1990s and the nature of ebullience.  To have widespread ebullience, large segments of the population must share in the boom’s affluence, but during the 1990s income inequality grew appreciably;  this continued a long trend that interestingly began in 1968 near the end of the Apollo Window.  Without going into the numbers here, merely inserting an income inequality factor (e.g., the Gini index) into the denominator of the Ebullience Ratio will significantly decrease the Ebullience Index of the 1990s boom and increase Apollo’s EI (when income inequality declined).

The bottomline is that the appearance of the Panic of 2008 was historically monumental.  It signaled that our future trajectory will be more like that of the early 20th century Peary/Panama Maslow Window and less like the 1950s.

This is both good news and bad news:

The Bad News is that the current great recession could last up to 5 years, like the 1890s great recession did (1893 to 1898; See Fig. 4).  Ebullience and a shorter recession will be favored by government policies that stimulate economic growth,  increase real wages, and reduce unemployment for most segments of society.

The Good News is that once we survive the recession, the future’s so bright we’ll all need shades!  The Peary/Panama Maslow Window had a measurable ebullience of nearly 3 times the Apollo Moon decade and suggests that  – if unabridged by wildcards –  global space-related investment between 2015 and 2025 should be at the $ 1 T to 3 T (2007 USD) level.  Empowering the 2015 Maslow Window with Peary/Panama-level ebullience points to  many of our fondest, unprecedented dreams like major space-based solar energy systems, international lunar commercialization, and even the first Mars colonists.

 

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Jul 17 2009

The Secret of Why Apollo Was a "Giant Step, Full Stop"

It’s understandable that there’s concern now about why Apollo didn’t continue. Indeed, 40 years ago humans first landed on the Moon. But after five more reps, it — i.e., human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit — was all over. What happened?

According to Miles O’Brien, “We did something truly great, but then walked away from it.” Click ap11.jpg.

Thomas Mallon, in his New York Times (7/12/09) review of two new books on Apollo, displays a frustrated reaction to the lack of post-Apollo action. For example, “Walter Cronkite’s prediction, that after Apollo 11 ‘everything else that has happened in our time is going to be an asterisk,’ wound up playing out backward…Apollo is the footnote, an oddball offshot…”

Miles O’Brien (Space News, 1/22/09) agrees, “Truth is, we have done nothing to equal (much less top) the accomplishments of Apollo. And even worse, we haven’t tried. We did someting truly great, but then walked away from it.”

Mallon suggests maybe too much science was the problem. “With less geology and more ontology, they might have kept the public fired up for further space exploration.” And Commander of the first Apollo mission to circle the Moon (Apollo 8), Frank Borman, concurs, “Whether we found a rock there or not was of no importance.” Neither Mallon nor Borman are scientists so they are forgiven, but isn’t the origin of the Moon and early history of Earth one exciting reason for Apollo? Is it that easy, too much science did it to Apollo?

O’Brien rejects everyone’s favorite excuse for not going to Mars! For those who want to spend the money on Earth fixing our problems here first, he has some advice, “If you don’t want to mention the cost of the wars, if you would rather not get into Wall Street or Detroit bailouts, or if you don’t want to tell them the money we spend on the space program is about the same as our annual expenditure on coffee — why not mention India?…Calcutta can afford it — and Cleveland can’t?” He’s absolutely right…it’s clearly not about our ability to pay.

O’Brien laments that, “I have heard people say the accomplishments of Apollo cannot be replicated — that the historical dominoes lined up perfectly for all the events to fall into place with such precision and success…’It won’t happen again,’ they say wistfully,” (italics mine).

In the early 1990s I began wondering about exploration. Not just space, but all human exploration, particularly the type that fired up the planet’s population. Surprisingly, these “Great Explorations” — like Lewis & Clark and the early 20th century polar expeditions — are not random or flukes. Over the last 200+ years, they are typically separated by 55 to 60 years (see 200 Years; Cordell, 1996). The same is true of spectacular macro-engineering projects (MEPs) like the Panama Canal and the Apollo space infrastructure.

The “dominoes” do seem to be lined up somehow, and if you extrapolate forward from Apollo 11, it’s easy to calculate that the next pulse of Great Explorations/MEPs should culminate near 2025. But why the pattern?

Marveling about Apollo during the 1960s, O’Brien concludes that, “Those were audacious times — hard to imagine it all happening today…” (italics mine). In his pursuit of The Secret, O’Brien is starting to get warm…

About this time I stumbled across one of the more obscure, but fascinating books you’ve never heard of by economist Hugh Stewart (1989), Recollecting the Future: A View of Business, Technology, and Innovation in the next 30 Years, in which he describes the well-documented 56 year energy cycle and how it relates to society. Stewart’s energy cycle is correlated with long business cycles like the Kondratieff Wave discovered in the 1920s; e.g., peaks in the energy cycle are preceded by major economic booms.

By this time, I’d begun to think of 56 years — the typical time between Great Exploration/MEP pulses — as a magic number, and when I realized that 1969 — the year the Apollo program culminated — was an energy peak, I suspected the pulses might be fundamentally driven by long waves in the economy (see Cordell, 2006).

So what do O’Brien’s “audacious times” have to do with The Secret of why Apollo died? The greatest economic boom of its time produced a generally ebullient feeling in society, known as Camelot; if you can’t remember the 1960s, you’ve never experienced this. Momentarily liberated from typical money issues, many individuals responded to their ebullience by ascending Maslow’s hierarchy where their expanded worldviews made Great Explorations seem not only intriguing, but almost irresistible. “Ebullience” and “audacious times” are similar to the “animal spirits” that drive business cycles according to economist John Maynard Keynes of the 1930s.

In actuality, these “Maslow Windows” do not collapse directly because of an economic downturn; they are terminated by the decay of ebullience. This supports O’Brien’s previous point about our being able to afford space almost anytime we want to. In this model, it’s not lack of money that precludes us from going to Mars right now, it’s our lack of ebullience — over the last 200 years, exclusively the hallmark of a Maslow Window.

History of the last 200+ years also shows that financial panics and major recessions (like the current one) are a typical feature of the decade just before the opening of a Maslow Window. An interesting analog for now is the Panic of 1893 and 1890s major recession that were closely followed by one of the most ebullient decades in U.S. history: the Peary/Panama Maslow Window (1903-1913).

Mallon marvels that “the speed with which the Apollo program was realized is unimaginable to anyone young enough only to have seen the manned space program shuttle only through its later elephantine circles.” President Kennedy had to complete the Apollo program “before this decade is out” because the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window started closing by 1966. This will also be a challenge for the unprecedented Great Explorations and MEPs that will materialize between 2015 and 2025 — our next Maslow Window.

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May 09 2009

Do Long-Term Trends in Cinema Point to the New Space Age?

The Wall Street Journal (3/26/09; Allen Barra) is enticed by the fact that the classic 1960s John Wayne western movie “Rio Bravo” is “still popular and hip at 50,” but the Journal is puzzled about why.

In addition to Wayne it had a special cast — Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, and is admired by the “in” people; e.g., British critic Robin Wood would choose Rio Bravo as the one film that would “justify the existence of Hollywood,” and Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”) admitted in 2007 he used Rio Bravo to screen new girlfriends — “she’d better like it.”

What do movie icons John Wayne and Russell Crowe have in common? Click wayne.jpg and crowe.jpg. Are they focal points in the pop culture long wave?

The Journal asks why such a “simple western with an unremarkable plot,” has become the “rarest of films — both popular and hip?” And even more to the point, “Why two generations of fans have loved Rio Bravo without caring at all about its political implications?”

Although less celebrated than Rio Bravo, we could also add the 2007 remake of “3:10 to Yuma” starring Russell Crowe, that is also separated by 50 years from the original movie with Glenn Ford (1916-2006), also a legendary star. And in a recent post (“Klaatu Barada Nikto“), we were struck by the fact that one of the most memorable science fiction movies of the 1950s was also recently remade about one long wave after the original.

We would not be surprised at pop culture elements resonating with the 56 year cycle because of the “omnipresent financial, technological, and cultural influences that long-term fluctuations in the economy have on society during similar portions of the wave; e.g., both the original and sequel of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” appeared 7 – 8 years before their Maslow Window opened.”

Plus, the fact that Strauss & Howe generational cycles are correlated with long waves and that popular culture elements have been in synch with long waves in the past, suggest to us that our working hypothesis deserves more attention.

In 2003, R. Philip Loy commented that the American Western frontier has “enthralled the American imagination” and that movies “quickly became the primary genre through western myths and legends were communicated.” Loy is concerned that Western films through the 1960s reflected “more wishful thinking than history,” but to us this is less important because we’re interested in films as indicators of the mindset and interests of the American public. Our goal is to extract long-term cultural trends from the films rather than to evaluate their historical accuracy.

Some long-term trends in cinema are apparent. For example…

1. “Hollywood westerns of the 1930s and 1940s were positive expressions of … the frontier experience, and they were useful as the nation came to grips with the national challenges of the two decades,” (Loy,2003). This included western outlaws being portrayed as victims of Depression-style oppressive characters. But in response to WW II, “westerns reminded Americans that they were heirs to hardy pioneers and resolute frontier sheriffs.” This is consistent with counter-ebullient, “Aspirin Age” times when the long wave was heading from the 1930s Great Depression to its trough in 1941.

2. “Reflecting the renaissance of national pride during the Kennedy era, early-1960s westerns returned to the images, myths, and legends that had shaped the genre of an earlier era,” (Loy, 2003). Examples include John Wayne’s heroic depiction of “The Alamo” (1960), and perhaps the most “epic expression” of the western frontier, “How the West Was Won” (1962). Frontier themes in westerns were responses to the opening of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window with its unparalleled affluence and ebullience, iconic figures (e.g., President Kennedy), and its new Space Age.

3. While Western films had been omnipresent during the 1950s (e.g., see Grossman, 1981), between the late 1960s and 1985 “western films nearly disappeared.” Loy (2003) attributes this to reinterpretations of American western history by “New West” writers, although after 1985 westerns “saw a mild resurgence.” Currently, this up trend continues and includes even traditional westerns on the cable TV Western Channel. During the 1950s post-WW II boom many people experienced elevated states in Maslow’s heirarchy and resonated strongly with frontier themes in western films. As the long wave peaked and began to decline in the late 1960s — rapidly bringing the Apollo Maslow Window to a close — Americans and others returned to lower Maslow states and interest in westerns disappeared.

4. In addition to frontier themes in westerns, movie portrayals of the military and the police appear to have fluctuated along with long waves. According to Powers et al. (1996), “since the mid-1960s, the U.S. military is more likely to be portrayed negatively than positively…In Hollywood movies since the mid-1960s, the police have become increasingly like the criminals they face.” For example, their quantitative thematic analysis of movies shows that from 1946 to 1965, the military was portrayed as follows: Positively-40%, Mixed-40%, Negatively-20%; while from 1966 to 1975 the military was portrayed: Positively-12%, Mixed-62%, Negatively-25%. But from 1976 to 1990, Powers et al. find “the most critical depictions of the military,” Positively-27%, Mixed-40%, and Negatively-33%. It appears that military and police-oriented movies are responding to the post-Maslow Window collapse of societal ebullience much like movies (see Point 1 above) did previously during the analogous, counter-ebullient “Aspirin Age.”

Because frontier themes in westerns and science fiction movies of the 1950s were harbingers of the 1960s Apollo Maslow Window, it’s reasonable to expect that similar trends in cinema will repeat as we approach the 2015 Maslow Window. The recent resurgence of “Rio Bravo” and remake of “3:10 to Yuma”, and the emergence of mostly-realistic movies like “Red Planet” (2000) and “Mission to Mars” (2000) suggest this trend may already exist.

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Apr 21 2009

Why Wasn't There a Great Depression and a World War Between 1985 and 2001?

Thanks to “GK” from Mountain View, California for some intriguing questions that I want to feature here, because they are important to an understanding of Maslow Windows, long waves, and the long-term prospects for space colonization.

1. Why does each energy peak have to have a major war?

This is a question that initially puzzled me in the mid-1990s when I first saw major hot wars (e.g., W. W. I) line up with each peak in the 56 year energy cycle, over the last 200 years. It’s an empirical fact that they do, however it adds credibility to forecasting if the circumstances make sense.

Because the peaks are the culmination of large economic booms that surge during the Maslow Windows, it’s a time of unprecedented, almost utopian affluence, and they seem an odd time for big wars. A popular opinion among political scientists is that this is the only time nations can “afford” a war; other times they just don’t have the financial means or the will.

The way it works is that the major economic boom that triggers a Maslow Window creates widespread affluence-induced ebullience in society. This ebullience is a powerful form of Keynesian “animal Spirits” and Greenspan’s “irrational exhuberance.” For many people, ebullience catapults them to elevated levels in Maslow’s Heirarchy where they are momentarily fascinated by large technology projects and/or great explorations. However, other people — who are also experiencing exceptional ebullience — do not ascend Maslow’s heirarchy. And they have the financial means and ebullient energy to make trouble by engaging in large wars.

2. What major war started in 1969? The Cold war was already underway, and most of the casualties in VietNam had already happened.

The Cold War was a time from about 1947 to 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. This time of international tensions was punctuated by a number of “hot” international wars and “almost” wars, including the Korean War (1950-53), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) which almost started W. W. III, the Vietnam War (1965-73), and the Soviet War in Afghanistan (1979). The Cold War began to draw to a close with President Reagan’s “Tear down that (Berlin) wall” speech in 1987 followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam began during Eisenhower’s administration; by 1960 there were several hundred military advisors helping the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Because of his concern about Communist expansion in the region, by 1963 President John F. Kennedy increased U.S. military personnel in Vietnam to 16,000. However, U.S. involvement experienced a quantum leap in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson sent 22,000 troops there. And by 1968, U.S. troops in Vietnam numbered 525,000.

Largely due to the unpopularity of the war, President Johnson did not seek a second term and Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968. In 1973 — the year after he opened China to the West — Nixon withdrew U.S. troops from Vietnam. Vietnamese deaths are estimated in the millions and U.S. deaths were 58,000.

One result of the severe human and financial costs of the Vietnam War for the U.S. was the cancellation of the last 3 Apollo missions to the Moon (18, 19, 20), for which Saturn V launch vehicles had already been built. Even during the recent Iraq War, which came to a positive conclusion, the wounds of Vietnam — 3 decades later — still lingered; e.g., Is Iraq Another Vietnam? (Brigham, 2006).

It’s important to keep in mind that the long wave is not always exactly 56 years; it typically varies between 55 and 60. So expecting major wars to occur exactly at the peak in 1969 is unrealistic, although major wars over the last 200 years are quite close. Please see Joshua Goldstein and others for an in-depth discussion of the relation of long waves and wars.

Speaking of the Cold War, one possibility is that a 2nd Cold War will increase global tensions and contribute to a new international Race for Space near 2013 (Sputnik year plus 56). The recent Russian invasion of Georgia and a generally resurgent Russia are seen by many as evidence for a possible 2nd Cold War.

In fact, the most important Wild Card of the 2015 Maslow Window is the date of the major war expected in the 2020s. If it comes in the late 2020s, human civilization may expand to the Moon and possibly even Mars. If it starts closer to 2020 — in addition to the tragic loss of life and property — human expansion into the cosmos may be postponed until near 2071, when the late 21st Century Maslow Window is expected to open.

3. Also, the Great Depression and WW2 appeared to be in the middle of the cycle, not at the ends. If the GD + WW2 period was 1929-45, 56 years after that comes to 1985 – 2001, which was actually a boom.

You’ve brought up an interesting case study. Actually, in 1987 — 58 years after the Crash of 1929 and 18 years after the last energy peak in 1969 — was the greatest stock market crash (Black Monday) since 1929.

In a previous post I mentioned that the amazing lack of a recession or depression after 1987 is attributed to financial reforms implemented during the Great Depression. This also explains the initiation of the long boom in the late 1990s, although there was a significant recession in 2001.

W.W. II is the only example of a major “trough war” in the last 200 years, and is commonly attributed to tensions and unfinished business from W.W. I; see, for example, Friedman (2009). Because W.W. II was an anomaly, there was no reason — based on the last 200 years — to expect a major war between 1997 and 2001.

Almost right on schedule, this long boom — described by Fortune in July, 2007 as the “greatest economic boom ever” — was interrupted by the Panic of 2008, about 7 years before the anticipated opening of the 2015 Maslow Window. Such financial panic/recessions appear to be a common feature of the decades just prior to each Maslow Window (except for the Apollo Maslow Window).

4. Is it possible that the 56-year window is lengthening, because life expectancies are rising? In the past, the 56-year window was due to very few people living long enough to remember the prior crisis 56 years ago. Today, that cycle may be longer.

This is also a fun question although it assumes a cause for the 56 year long wave that is not verified. I assume a Schumpeterian trigger (“creative destruction”) related to bunching of basic innovations that launch technological revolutions that trigger new economic booms every 55 to 60 years. However, there’s little doubt that poor human memories of the preceeding Maslow Window is a contributor to the relative lack of public understanding of the long wave phenomenon.

In the past, some readers of my articles and this website have suggested that the long wave is getting shorter because of the commercially, technologically, and socially accelerating effects of the internet, mass media, and global transportation. For example, imagine Thomas Jefferson’s ability to communicate with Europe versus ours now.

However, GK is apparently suggesting that the previous Maslow Window must remain just outside most human memories, because otherwise we’d strive to avoid its negative aspects (e.g., post-Window economic collapse and major wars); an optimistic assumption!

Data for the United States shows an increase in human longevity of about 3 months per year since 1900; a total of about 30 years change over the 20th century. Although we can’t rule it out, there is little empirical evidence for a significant change in the long wave during that time, or indeed over the last 200 years. This does not support GK’s model.

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Mar 24 2009

Klaatu Barada Nikto

It’s true that “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951) is one of our favorite classic science fiction films, along with such stalwarts as “Forbidden Planet” and “2001 – A Space Odyssey.” Almost everything about TDESS is fondly remembered today, including the phrase, “Klaatu barada nickto,” which is a safe-word uttered in the film by Patricia Neal to Gort the super-human robot — who has the rather anti-social habit of projecting a death ray out of his nose — so he wouldn’t destroy the world after Klaatu had been shot. The list of pop culture references to this uber flick is impressive even today, over a half century later.

How has Klaatu changed over the last 56 year long wave? Click klaatu.jpg.

But you can imagine what went through our minds here at 21stCenturyWaves.com when we heard a sequel was being made, and when it appeared in 2008. No matter how many times we redid the calculation in our spreadsheets — the difference between 2008 and 1951 — it always came out the same: 57. To us that’s a magic number because it’s the period of the long wave in the economy (and the energy cycle) that appears to fundamentally drive great explorations, macro-engineering projects, and even major wars over the last 200 years.

Now it could be a coincidence, and we haven’t done the full study of many films and TV shows, and how they’ve resonated with the 56 year cycle. If you know of a study like this please contact us! But when a great, classic science fiction movie like TDESS and its sequel are separated by nearly 56 years, that’s at least symbolic of the signature of the long economic wave that we expect to find in major pop culture elements. Our model explains this signature as due to the omnipresent financial, technological, and cultural influences that long-term fluctuations in the economy have on society during similar portions of the wave; e.g., both the original and sequel of TDESS appeared 7 -8 years before their respective Maslow Windows opened!

The original Klaatu was shot shortly after his arrival on Earth while presenting a gift that would have enabled communication with other planets. His escape, and most of the rest of the movie, is motivated by Klaatu’s desire to learn more about humans and their mutual suspicions and violence. He eventually explains to Professor Barnhardt that our recent (circa 1951) discovery of atomic power and experiments with rockets constitute a threat to the residents of other planets. If humans do not listen, then planet Earth would have to be “eliminated.”

The 2008 Klaatu also arrives with a message: to warn that humanity is on a course to destroy the Earth. But the difference this time is that Klaatu isn’t here to save humanity, he’s here to save planet Earth from humanity! An alien friend of Klaatu, Mr. Wu — who in the film has studied planet Earth and humans for 70 years — states that “there is no hope for them” (humans) and that the process should begin to complete their mission: “Kill the humans to save the Earth.”

In the mid-1980s Bruce went to the World Science Fiction Convention in the Anaheim Convention Center across the street from Disneyland. The Sci Fi memorabilia dealer tables were endless. An extraordinary panel discussion featured all the principals of TDESS, including Robert Wise (director), Edmund North (screenplay), and Julian Blaustein (producer). Although they did not mention that the equations on Professor Barnhardt’s blackboard were courtesy of famous UCLA astronautics professor Samuel Herrick, they did express their greatest pre-release fear that movie audiences would laugh when they saw that the elbows and knees of Gort flexed like rubber, instead of the incredibly strong material the military could not penetrate.

Well nobody laughed.

And like nearly 6 decades ago, we’re worrying again about the original Klaatu’s final warning — that if we continue on our present course, “This Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned out cinder.”

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Oct 20 2008

Economic Crisis Supports Maslow Window Forecasts

The current economic crisis that caused so much pain and anxiety as it intensified to a credit meltdown about a month ago, supports Maslow Window forecasts in this weblog and elsewhere. Specifically, the long wave timing and character of the crisis is supportive of the Long Wave/Maslow Window (LW/MW) forecast model first published in Cordell (1996), and more recently in Cordell (2006), and expanded in this weblog. The LW/MW model is summarized HERE.

“We are now in the midst of a major financial panic,” according to author John Steele Gordon in the Wall Street Journal (10/10/08). But there have been several over the last 200 years; Gordon counts 9, including this one.

21stCenturyWaves.com has highlighted a class of panics that follow Maslow Windows; they appear 16 to 18 years after their 56 year energy cycle peaks (peaks are in 1801, 1857, 1913, 1969, 2025). This includes the Panic of 1873, the Great Depression beginning in 1929, and the Crash of 1987 (Black Monday). Gordon asserts that the “ordinary recession” of 1929 degenerated into the disaster known as the Great Depression because the Federal Reserve was ineffective; he believes that it’s reorganization in 1934 kept the Crash of 1987 from having any “lasting effect on the economy.”

Gordon’s mention of the 1819 panic completes the pattern:
Each Maslow Window of the last 200 years is followed by a panic 16-18 years after its energy cycle peak. This supports the LW/MW model by demonstrating that major economic events — in this case, post-Maslow Window panics — of the last 200 years are closely associated in time with long-term fluctuations in the economy.

21stCenturyWaves.com has also characterized a class of panics that predate Maslow Windows by about a decade. For example, the Panic of 1837 preceeded the opening of the mid-19th Century Livingstone Maslow Window (of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” fame) by 10 years and was a time of very high unemployment when 40% of the country’s banks failed. Ironically, about a month ago I was in the process of writing a new post on the Panic of 1893 and its similarities to today — and trying to develop the courage to forecast a similar crisis today (!) — when the credit meltdown occurred. The Panic of 1893 caused estimated unemployment over 10% for 5+ years. It lasted 18 months but was followed by another recession that lasted until 1897. The combination of GDP declines of several % coupled with population growth meant that GDP per capita didn’t recover to 1892 levels until 1899.

Although the Panic of 1893 began about 10 years before the opening of the 1903 Adm. Peary Maslow Window, the 1903-1913 decade featured exceptional ebullience, including the daring, world-famous races to both N. and S. poles, and construction of the greatest MEP of the last 200 years (until Apollo): the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal — the greatest macro-engineering project (until Apollo) of the last 200 years — was constructed during the Peary Maslow Window immediately following the Panic of 1893. Click panama.jpg.

One loose end is the Panic of 1949; according to the pattern, the mid-20th Century Apollo Maslow Window began in 1959 and 10 years earlier we should expect a panic. Of course, happily it didn’t occur. Gordon attributes this to the Fed reorganization of 1934 and the post-W.W. II boom. An important lesson is that long-wave timeframes suggest when certain types of events are likely to occur, not when they must occur. Through knowledge of these long-term patterns, we are capable of avoiding disasters.

But what of the future? Gordon links our current crisis to the birth of huge interstate banks in the 1990s, and “Congress’ attempt to force banks to make home loans to people who had limited creditworthiness…” This “created another crisis in the banking system that is now playing out.” Today the New York Times (page 1) profiles Henry Cisneros, who was President Clinton’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, and one of the inadvertant early architects of the current panic.

The Panic of 2008 began about 7 years before the opening of the next scheduled Maslow Window (near 2015). Although 2008 is roughly the expected timeframe for a panic, long-term trends over the last 200 years suggest it arrived a little late, and could have started in 2005 (about one decade before 2015). Or, this may signal the 2015 Maslow Window itself may open a little late.

It’s likely the Panic of 2008 — and the upcoming 2015 Maslow Window — will have more in common with the pre-Maslow Window panics of 1837 and 1893, than it will with the Great Depression of 1929 — a post-Maslow Window panic. Especially if our political leaders can bring themselves to enact a unified, well-capitalized, appropriately regulated banking system.

Consider the technological wonders of the mid-19th Century Maslow Window — Suez Canal, Great Eastern ship, etc. — and those of the early 20th Century Window — Panama Canal, the Titanic, etc. — and their riveting equatorial Africa and polar region Great Explorations, respectively. How scintillatingly unparalleled for their day, despite their pre-Window panics.

More on what the current panic suggests about our future in an upcoming post.

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Oct 08 2008

The New Cuban Space Center and Vladimir Bonaparte

The last 200 years teach us that approximately every 56 years great explorations like Lewis and Clark splash into history along with stunning macro-engineering projects (MEPs) like the Suez Canal. Tragically, they are usually followed shortly by a major war like World War I.

Most of this twice-per-century action occurs in the decade just before a peak in the well-documented 56 year energy cycle. These Maslow Windows are invariably the time of exceptional economic booms that create widespread affluence and elevate society to higher realms of Maslow’s Heirarchy. Thus many people momentarily find great explorations and MEPs not only tolerable, but almost irresistible.

Our time is coming. We’re rapidly approaching the opening of the next Maslow Window near 2015, and can expect the usual unfortunate escalation of international tensions of the type we saw in the 1950s during the Cold War.

Unfortunately the current parallel with the 1950s is striking. The Wall Street Journal (8/12/08) suggests that Russian tanks in Georgia revealed “Vladimir Putin’s Napoleonic ambitions”: to dominate Eurasia again. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asserted that “Georgia can be rebuilt. Russia’s reputation is going to take a while, if ever,” (CBS TV, 8/17/08). Peter Zeihan, a geopolitical analyst with Stratfor, which Barron’s once referred to as “the shadow CIA,” suggests that, “Russia is attempting to reforge its Cold War-era influence…”

One attractive Russian target is Cuba. Since space centers are the rage around the globe these days, Russia’s offered to build them one (Reuters, 9/17/08). Of course this would just involve little things like joint use of “space equipment…and space communications systems.” If this doesn’t remind you of the Cuban missile crisis (1962) during the early Apollo Maslow Window when WW III almost began, you need to Google it. For their part, the Russians openly acknowledge that “they want to renew Cuban ties that were neglected after the Soviet Union’s collapse.”

One of the greatest sources of joy to the American public, as revealed by opinion polls over the decades, is the prospect of true international cooperation in space, especially with the Russians. And now word comes from the recent International Astronautical Congress in Glascow, Scotland that not only the Russians, but the Chinese want to go to Mars… with the U.S.!!

Such a sparkling joint great exploration concept brings to mind the phrase, “Where do I sign?” But students of long-term trends in geopolitics and history must reluctantly advise caution.

Once upon a time, about one energy cycle ago in the 1950s, there was the International Geophysical Year (IGY), an exhuberant time of global scientific devouring of Earth’s atmospheric and space environment. In 1954 the International Council of Scientific Unions announced plans for artificial satellites to be launched during the IGY, and in July, 1955 the U.S. confirmed its intention to launch one for the IGY. Almost immediately, according to Professor Asif Siddiqi, the Soviets began a secret, crash program to beat the Americans and launch the first satellite.

The shocking result — at least to the U.S. — was the Soviet launch of Sputnik in October, 1957; an event that ignited the 1st race to space and culminated in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps on the Moon in 1969.

What will ignite the next race to space? One possible, but chilling response comes from Stratfor’s Zeihan, “It’s a fairly straightforward exercise to predict where Russian activity will reach its deepest. One only needs to revisit Cold War history.”

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Sep 14 2008

Forecasting the Next 20 Years in Space — State of the Wave, Friday 9/12/08

Bruce’s presentation last Thursday to the AIAA Space 2008 Conference in San Diego is now online here.

“Forecasting the Next 20 Years in Space: The New Race to Space,” has 3 purposes: 1) to briefly introduce the macroeconomic and historical data of the last 200 years for Great Explorations, Macro-Engineering Projects, and major wars, and to explain how they provide a framework for 21st Century space and technology forecasts, 2) to explore the basic forecasts themselves for the next 20 years and summarize global events and trends supporting them, and 3) to feature space policy-related implications of the forecasts. The bottomline is that long waves in the economy provide a framework in which major exploring, impressive building, and tragic warrior behavior are especially enabled roughly every 56 years.

The 56 year energy cycle (discovered by Stewart, 1989) provides a remarkable indicator of macroeconomic activity; the energy peaks (e.g., in 1969) correspond directly to peaks in major decade-long economic booms. Indeed, the energy cycle and the better-known Kondratieff waves are directly correlated. And Alexander (2002) has shown that the popular Strauss and Howe (1991) generational cycles are also correlated with (and apparently influenced by) K Waves.

Historical data from the last 200 years clearly show that Great Explorations, massive MEPs, and major wars, cluster near the 56 year energy cycle peaks in 1801, 1857, 1913, and 1969 (and soon 2025). (See the presentation charts and The Articles.)

The close association of Great Explorations, MEPs, and major wars with the 56 year energy/economics cycle suggests the following “Maslow Window” model: Rhythmic, twice-per-century major economic booms create widespread affluence. As societal “Maslow pressures” are reduced, many people ascend the Maslow Heirarchy into an affluence-induced ebullient state and momentarily find exploring and building to be almost irresistible. While others also reach ebullience — but do not ascend the Maslow Heirarchy — and tragically trigger major wars. This unusual confluence of affluence and ebullience creates what we call a “Maslow Window” — a spectacular decade that rapidly declines just after the energy peak. The impressive economic, political, strategic, and scientific parallels between Lewis and Clark and Apollo are, for example, easily explained by this model, as are many other such parallels over the last 200 years.

Projecting the last 200 years into the next 20 suggests that the decade from 2015 to 2025 will be the analog — in the economy, technology, exploration, politics — of the 1960s, complete with a Camelot-style zeitgeist.

Many signs of the times (documented in this weblog) — most good and some bad — support the idea that society is approaching the 2015 Maslow Window, including: the greatest global economic boom ever (July, 2007; momentarily postponed by our current turmoil), energetic international space programs, return of Cold War-like tensions in Europe, birth of the space tourism industry, a global explosion of non-space MEPs (e.g., the $ 5 B Panama Canal expansion), the emergent exploration-loving Millennial generation, and many others.

Policy-related implications of this Maslow Window model abound and include: 1) public ebullience and support for major Maslow programs (e.g., manned Mars) will fade abruptly near the next 56 year energy peak (2025), 2) timing of the expected 2020s major war is a major wildcard, 3) planned human Moon and Mars initiatives should strive for self-sufficiency in space so at least some deep space (i.e., beyond LEO/GEO) operations can continue after Maslow Window closure near 2025, 4) current U.S. Moon base plans and Maslow Window timing appear to preclude American spaceflight to Mars during this Window (next Window opens in 2071), 5) the next rapidly approaching Maslow Window (opening in 2013-15) requires action now, not paralysis by analysis, … and many others.

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Jul 10 2008

How Great Explorations Really Work

Thanks again to E.P. Grondine for ventilating some key ideas that relate to the unique long-term approach of 21stCenturyWaves.com.

Over the last 200 years (see Cordell, 2006), Great Explorations (and Macro-Engineering Projects; MEPs) are not accidents and do not happen at random times. They cluster around peaks in the 56 year energy cycle that coincide with major economic booms. The explorations become “great” not only because they open new geographic sites (e.g., arctic) to human scrutiny, but because large, international audiences of people become riveted by them.

In this model, the assertion of anthropologists that humans are by nature explorers — because of their 200,000 year history of exploration and expansion — is adopted. In the last 200 years, the explorer’s impulse can’t often be indulged by typical individuals because of economic and security (Maslow) pressures. However, during the twice-per-century major economic booms, widespread affluence elevates society to the higher levels of Maslow’s heirarchy. Thus for a brief period (called a “Maslow Window“), society reaches a semi-rational (almost giddy) state of “ebullience,” where Great Explorations are not just favored by most people, but seem almost irresistable.

However, ebullience rapidly decays as the economic boom slows, or as a major war (which typically occurs at these times) threatens peace and security.

Back to E.P. Grondine:
Space launch costs are high, and likely to remain high, … Realistically, (and sadly) a likely date (for manned Mars) would be about 2030-2035. The only chance for manned Mars flight in my lifetime ended with the collapse of the Energia storage shed.”

While Grondine is correct about launch costs and heavy launch vehicle issues, manned Mars expeditions also appear to be a casualty of the rapid decay of ebullience; i.e., Maslow Windows usually linger less than a decade. Attempting to do both a Lunar Base program and a Manned Mars program sequentially in the same Maslow Window (between 2015 and 2025) will be impractical, unless a more-or-less independent human presence on the Moon or Mars can be established. In principle, this would allow the deep space base to continue operations as the Maslow Window closes.

Continuing with Grondine:
“…you don’t seem to have considered that Antarctica is easier to exploit than space.”

Polar regions are classic examples of Great Explorations. Both poles were reached by 1911. Little science was done but the sheer adventure enthralled the world. In his time Admiral Peary was the celebrity equivalent of Neil Armstrong. Up to now, the collective judgment of humanity has been to avoid large-scale colonization or exploitation of the polar areas, to establish international scientific stations there, and then move on.

That’s why during the 1960s Maslow Window, President Kennedy did not propose sending a mission to exploit the polar areas or anywhere else on earth, he chose to go to the Moon. It was the next obvious target that would globally demonstrate America’s technological prowess (Apollo was also an MEP), as well as revitalize education and society by activating raw human exploration passions…that have been hard-wired into us for 200,000 years.

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