U.S. and the World by 2030

“Its soul, its climate, its equality, liberty, laws, people, and manners. My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe, June 17, 1785

What will the world look like and what kind of country will America be in the next 15-20 years at the rate of the fast-paced involuntary and hopeless change that is aimed at pushing us “forward” to disaster?

The “unprecedented change” will drive “60 percent of the world’s population to mega-cities by 2030, and competition for food, water, and energy resources could increase the possibilities of violent conflict.” (Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council)

“The United States must urgently address its domestic economic and political dysfunctions.” The Atlantic Council, a think tank, wrote a 57-page report, “Envisioning 2030: U.S. Leadership in a Post-Western World,” to “help prepare the Obama Administration and its global partners for unprecedented change.” (http://www.acus.org/publication/envisioning-2030-us-strategy-post-western-world)

The report predicts a future of “vast economic and political volatility, environmental catastrophe, and conflicting, inward-looking nationalisms that would be unlike any period that the United States has seen before.” “President Obama will be setting the tone and direction for U.S. policy in a post-Western world.” (Atlantic Council, Executive Summary, p. 5)

As the powers that be are actively and speedily working to affect this outcome, the global order champions “predict” that wealth will shift from west to east. Learning Mandarin may be a good idea – China is recognized in the report as “the most crucial single factor that will shape the international system in 2030.” (Atlantic Council, Executive Summary, p. 7)

Is a post-western world a world without the United States as the economic superpower, benefactor, and military protector of the globe’s ungrateful nations? The 20th century economic guru of the liberal elites, John Maynard Keynes, said in 1937, “…the idea of the future being different from the present is so repugnant to our conventional modes of thought and behavior that we, most of us, offer a great resistance to acting on it in practice.”

The National Intelligence Council discusses in its December 2012 166-page paper, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds,” the mega trends, game-changers, Black Swans, and potential worlds in the next 15-20 years. (http://globaltrends2030.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/global-trends-2030-november2012.pdf)

Food, water, and energy sources will become problematic due to growing populations in emerging markets and policies adopted at home that favor expensive green energy, wind, solar, and biofuels, preventing exploration of existing cheaper domestic resources of fossil fueled energy. As one commodity becomes an issue, it will affect the supply and demand of the others. Water needs will grow by a predicted 40 percent.

Energy supply may be obtained from fracking. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking), developed in the 1940s, could extract oil and gas from shales at much lower cost. However, the environmentalists’ objections over the contamination of water, earth quake generation, and methane emissions, have slowed down the use of hydraulic fracturing, particularly in Europe. China, with the largest shale reserves, does not have enough equipment and water to extract gas through fracking.

The EPA will set back any logical resolution to addressing human needs as it will interfere with its myriad of regulations via the Clean Air Act in the misguided effort to protect some tiny fish to the detriment of humans.

NIC modeling predicts that prices for agricultural commodities will rise, impacting poorer countries the worst as they depend on corn which is also used for biofuel. Crop disease, drought, and bad weather events could compound the problem. (p. 34)

Genetically modified crops could be the way to provide sufficient and affordable food and fuel by using transgenic technologies and precision agriculture via drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant crops, micro-irrigation, and hydroponic greenhouses. Pricing water for farmers in order to discourage waste could be implemented. Currently, farmers pay one-tenth of the price that households and industry pay for water. (NIC, p. 97)

Poverty will be reduced as the result of the U.N.’s efforts to re-distribute wealth across the globe to third world nations, carbon-taxing and punishing developed nations for their success. In U.N.’s view, the wealth created by the west was achieved at the expense of the rest of the world. These retrograde totalitarian regimes bear no responsibility for their endemic corruption and constant religious and tribal wars.

There will be a diffusion of power without hegemony, dominated by control of regional coalitions. China, India, Brazil will be major players. China will become the largest economy. Europe, Japan, Russia, U.S. will continue to decline. Countries like Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Turkey will remain “second-order players.”

Aging countries like Japan and Western Europe, who are committing demographic suicide by having less and less babies, below the replacement value of 2.1, will experience economic decline and loss of national identity. Russia will suffer population decline. An important factor will be the statistics of Russian men who die at relatively younger age because of alcohol abuse, tobacco, and related accidents.

There are 80 countries currently with a median age of 25 or less. Eighty percent of all ethnic and armed conflicts come from countries with youthful populations. By 2030, there will be 50 countries left with youthful populations. Fertility rates in these areas range from 4-6 children per family. Clusters of projected youthful states are:
– Equatorial belt of the Sub-Saharan Africa
– Middle East
– Americas: Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti
– Pacific Rim: East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
– Pakistan, Afghanistan, southeast Turkey (Kurds)
– Israel (Orthodox Jews) (NIC report, p. 23)

Rapid changes and a shift in power could overwhelm governments. A “governance gap” may evolve that could be replaced by regional governance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a rich individual, or a group of powerful elites.

Natural disasters such as staple crop catastrophes, tsunamis, hurricanes, erosion and depletion of soils, and solar geomagnetic storms might cause governments to collapse. (NIC report on Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, p. 52)

NIC’s models show an augmentation of the global middle class, health care advances, new technologies, new communication, and poverty reduction. NIC analysis predicts the most rapid growth of the middle class to occur in Asia – India and China. (NIC report, p. 9)

Pathogens crossing from animals to humans can and have caused political and economic turmoil.
Respiratory pathogens can travel very fast across the globe. Prion disease caused Creutzfeldt-Jakob in humans; a bat corona virus caused SARS in 2002. Black Death killed one third of the European population; measles and smallpox killed 90 percent of the native populations in the Americas; the 1918 flu pandemic killed 50 million worldwide. HIV/AIDS jumped to humans almost fifty years before it was recognized. TB, gonorrhea, Staphylococcus Aureus (staph) could re-emerge with a vengeance. Genetic engineering could release new pathogens in addition to those occurring naturally. (NIC, p. 14)

Nationalism is likely to intensify in regions such as East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East based on territorial disputes, religious beliefs, tribal vendettas, and theocratic ideologies. Although planners expected urbanization to promote secularization, the opposite occurred in many settings; it encouraged religious identity, particularly among Muslims.

NIC’s modeling sees Russia as fighting the battle of “integrating its rapidly growing ethnic Muslim population in the face of a shrinking ethnic Russian population.” The changing ethnic mix is already a source of growing social tensions. (p. 83)

The flow of human capital from the poorest countries, to middle-income, and to rich countries will cause social disruptions, unrest, and problems for urban governments. Increased urban population from internal migration and external immigration will cause food and water shortages. (p. 31)

Patterns of trade reveal the following major economic clusters: Europe (EU), Asia, North America (NAFTA), and Latin America.

Two-thirds of European trade takes place within the EU; NAFTA encompasses 40 percent of U.S. trade. East Asian intra-regional trade is 53 percent. Latin America intra-regional trade is 35 percent (excluding Mexico). Latin America is pursuing EU-type regional governance, the Union of Latin American Nations (UNISUR). (Atlantic Council report, p. 26)

National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) modeling for 2030 includes four potential worlds:
– “Stalled Engines” (globalization stalls and interstate conflict grows)
– “Fusion” (China and U.S. cooperate; it does not look promising so far)
– “Ginni-out-of-the-bottle” (U.S. is no longer the world’s policeman and pocketbook, inequalities explode, no more international welfare, some countries prosper, some countries fail)
– “Nonstate World” (NGOs, multinational businesses, academic institutions, wealthy individuals, megacities such as those envisioned by U.N. Agenda 21 become the leaders; “increasing global public opinion consensus among elites form hybrid coalitions” – a page right out of the U.N. Agenda 21 goals)

The 2030 global modeling points to potential Black Swans such as Euro/EU collapse due to “unruly Greek exit causing eight times more collateral damage than the Lehmann Brothers,” nuclear war, WMD, cyber-attacks to the power grid and the Internet, solar geomagnetic storms, a democratic or collapsed China, a reformed Iran (wishful thinking), and global anarchy, if U.S. power collapses or retreats and no other power is willing, capable, or able financially to provide international order.

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