This article is part of Inc.'s special report on How (and Where) to Make Money in 2013 (and Beyond). Follow the links at the end of the story for more game-changing trends, bold predictions, and hot markets to watch next year.
Paolo Bacigalupi is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning science-fiction author. Inc. sat down with him recently to get his vision for the future.
A lot of your work focuses on the way humans will be challenged by an increasingly hostile natural environment. What are the implications for businesses?
Economies are embedded inside ecosystems. Companies dependent on tourism, for example, are affected by low rainfall--there's less snow for skiers, and forest fires are more intense. Businesses that decide to be reality based and identify where they're vulnerable to climate impact, that start thinking about how to buffer against it, are going to be able to take advantage of shortages. When the water runs out, not everyone is in the same pickle.
Are there places today that give us an indication of what the future might look like?
The key to the future actually might be in the past. Everything we're doing now relies on massively integrated global supply chains that depend on cheap oil and other things. Does a future with higher-priced gas look more like the past? Hunt for places around the world where price matters more to see how price might affect behavior.
Do books have a future?
The marketplace tells us that good, visceral storytelling has a place. But there are lots of questions about the format that stories take. Maybe storytelling belongs in audio--a short story is the length of a commute. That can be a sacred spot where you have the ear of the reader without having to compete with other media like games or TV.