What will the world look like in twenty years? According to the National Intelligence Council, many things—environmentally, economically, and politically—will be very different. The council recently released a hefty 140-page report that discusses trends and changes expected to happen over the next several years. And while not everything is set in stone, it’s not hard to imagine our future closely matching the one they predict.
The report claims that by 2030, several large factors will have influenced major change around the world. For starters, they say there are four major trends that will likely continue for the next eighteen years:
- U.S. global dominance is on the decline
- Individuals are continuing to gain power against states
- The middle class is growing and challenging the government on several fronts
- Water, food, and energy shortages will continue to grow
“We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures,” says Christopher Kojm, Council Chairman, in the report. He calls the future “malleable” and warns of possible negative outcomes.
“Our effort tis to encourage decision-makers, whether in government or outside, to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding.”
The report predicts that several shifts in power, economy, technology, and resources will dominate our future. The world powers of the U.S. and Europe are expected to decline and be replaced by a more dominant Asia. G-7 nations are quickly falling hopelessly into debt and it’s possible that the U.S.’s ascendency will come to an end in the not so distant future. That’s not to say that the U.S. won’t remain a major power—it just may not be unquestionably the top power anymore.
As the human race, we face some other grim prospects. Population will experience explosive growth, which means cities will grow and the demand for food, water, and energy will increase. Climate change will also affect crops and wildlife, putting our food and water supply in more danger.
But there is hope, too. The U.S. continues to seek energy independence, and the very real threat of global warming is widely recognized as something to avoid. We are slowly recognizing the challenges we will face in the future, and turning to face them. The question is, what kind of future will we see?