Houston in 2040: Great minds will offer great solutions
Editors Note: Throughout the month, we're asking Houston leaders to imagine the city's future. Retired Shell president John Hofmeister, author of Why We Hate The Oil Companies, predicts an optimistic outlook for Houston around the middle of this century due to the area's power of genius and the value of diversity.
From the air Houston will appear much the same, although larger, with many current open spaces filled in. Yes, it will still be flat, spread wider, north to south and east to west. College Station, Austin and San Antonio will feel closer, while Dallas remains a distant north Texas region.
What will be different however will be on the ground.
Within the city, across the surrounding counties — distinguishable to both multi-generational residents and more recent newcomers — the pulse of the people will be perceptively more powerful and the visual differences of the neighborhoods, close in or far out, will be more striking. It won’t necessarily be the buildings and homes that stand out so differently from today, although, compared to many communities across the country, they will promote a picture of prosperity.
It will be the people who live and work inside these structures who create the remarkable genius and difference.
In the ensuing decades, the power of human genius will rise and be recognized by millions of Houstonians, featured to hundreds of millions of fellow citizens across the country, described and storied to billions of earth’s inhabitants. This genius already resides in Houston today but it will increase in scope, scale and reach. It becomes an enlarging base of economic, social, cultural and even political power, because of its impact on life and energy and public policy here and abroad.
The brilliant minds and skills that support and save lives in the Texas Medical Center and the surrounding bio-tech industries will increase in number and importance. The discoveries and practices, the interventions and teachings, the knowledge and associated benefits of life-giving, nurturing, and protecting science and technology will be remarkable for their individual and collective impact on people here and around the world.
Houston becomes, even more so, the ‘go to’ medical center of and for the world. It is the source of incredible economic value generation as medical and bio-science and technology are expressed in the human creation of processes, tools and medical solutions.
Likewise the extraordinary people who discover, develop and design the technologies and supporting equipment and industries that provide our global supply of energy from all sources will successively re-invent themselves to bring the benefits of energy to their fellow Americans and the billions of people who need it but don’t have it, or enough of it, today in the rest of the world.
Nowhere else on earth will the individual and collective genius of nanotechnology, geo-science, physics, material science, mathematics, engineering and project management advance and sustain its impact on this nation, other countries and vast numbers of people who need sustained, sustainable energy to fuel their economies and provide for economic security and their lifestyle choices.
Both life sciences and energy fuel the adjacent and supporting industries that round out the economic future of the Houston region. Finance, law, professional services, development, construction, commercial, retail and industrial sectors, services, education, communications, entertainment, the arts, and recreation, as well as government — essentially all our boats — are lifted by the same rising tide of two global fast growing, essential independent, value creating industries. The genius of Houston is the envy of the developed and developing world.
Enabling and populating these industries and the supporting sectors are the best minds and next generations of people who hail from all the world’s populated continents. Houston is the ultimate American international city of choice for every branch of humanity.
The talented people who live here have their historic roots and generational heritage from everywhere in the country and the world. Houston is the great American melting pot. The important quality that infects Houstonians’ harmonious thinking is that this is the way it was meant to be.
All of the colors, cultures and nationalities are drawn to Houston because of the magnetism of our regional value proposition. Houston in 2040 is both an economic and a demographic nucleus of what the world otherwise aspires to become.
The international nature of life science and energy attracts and retains the talent whose purpose in life is to use their curiosity and extend their knowledge boundaries in perpetuity. That’s our genius. Houston becomes a grand symphony of human capacity: a mosaic and a template for those who use their natural abilities and exhibit their differences, not only in their current lives but through their children.
The richness and diversity of culture, religion, art, knowledge, history, physical, emotional, and psychological constructs of the peoples of the world flocking to and building multi-generational families in Houston makes us the international model of demographic integration. This is as it has been in recent years and as it will continue to be in future decades.
Houston pride in place and quality of life serve as integrating mechanisms for all of the social groups that live here. The impact of difference enriches the neighborhoods, households, offices, future families and all of the commercial, social and voluntary organizations of this great region. Prosperity provides the structures where we live and work; diversity drives the richness and the quality of the people who inhabit the structures.
As the earth appears from outer space, an integrated, coherent biosphere, so Houston appears to the rest of the world, a coherent community of prospering people experiencing their differences in a harmony of productive life forces. Across the nation and around the world the genius of Houston, with its powerful forces, and the impact of differences, as a symbol of unifying uniqueness, makes this place the national and international envy of the rest of the world in the middle of this century.