US National Intelligence Council sees major eco risks ahead

The US National Intelligence Council, an agency supporting the US Director of National Intelligence, has published a report entitled Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. The report provides a scan of the potential impact of global trends on the state of humanity in 2030 and concludes that the world is transforming at an unprecedented rate.

Among the 2030 projections are several which reinforce the environmental projections made in recent years by other commentators:

  • Demand for resources will increase owing to an increase in global population from 7.1 billion today to about 8 billion by 2030.
  • Demand for food is set to rise 35 percent; energy 50 percent over the next 15-20 years.
  • Nearly half of world population will live in areas with severe water stress. Fragile states are most at risk, but China and India are vulnerable to volatility of key resources.
  • Dramatic and unforeseen climate changes are already occurring at a faster rate than expected. Most scientists are not confident of being able to predict such events. Rapid changes in precipitation patterns—such as monsoons in India and the rest of Asia—could sharply disrupt that region’s ability to feed its population.
  • Solar geomagnetic storms could knock out satellites, the electric grid, and many sensitive electronic devices. The recurrence intervals of crippling solar geomagnetic storms, which are less than a century, now pose a substantial threat because of the world’s dependence on electricity

The report asks whether technological breakthroughs will occur in time to solve the problems caused by rapid urbanization, strain on natural resources, and climate change.

Much of the report addresses global economic and political issues but there is more than enough to be of interest to readers interested in global environmental and social futures. A summary of the 133 page report is available at with a link for downloading of the full report and a Talking Points summary.

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