Are We Behind On Innovation That Matters?

In his latest essay, Michael Cembalest at J.P. Morgan closes with the following sobering stuff:

Lastly, I know I’m opening a can of worms here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the world has in store 10-20 years from now. Many people have great hopes for renewable energy, carbon sequestration to render 100 years of U.S., Russian, Chinese and Indian coal reserves more usable, advancements in lithium ion battery technology, etc. Technological achievements of the last 50 years suggest they can be done given the right public-private sector partnerships. But on a timeline of progress, the world is behind on each one right now.

In the future, the world could be a more unstable place, given energy concerns, Iran-Iraq, the possible end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s sole reserve currency, and the seismic increase in public debt at a time of severe U.S. partisanship and polarization, the worst since post-Civil War Reconstruction.

Are we behind the curve on innovations that matter most? It feels like that in many ways, I think, to most of us, but is it true? Certainly there is lots going on in information technology – from mobile, to social networks, etc. – but how about in energy, where some of the deepest-rooted and toughest problems lie. It’s an interesting question.