Alternative Worlds?

Most of us wonder what the world will look like in the future. All of us have opinions – and they are more or less well-informed. The U.S. Intelligence Community – the IC – has looked at this intently and shared their results with the public in its capstone publication – Global Trends 2030. The results are startling.

The Global Trends 2030 report builds on the precedent set by earlier editions of Global Trends in identifying four possible future models of the world out to 2030 – but takes this alternative world futures analysis to a new level. It presents these models with a caveat, by noting that “none of these alternative worlds are inevitable and in reality, the future will probably consist of elements from all the scenarios.”

GT2030 has delineated four archetypal futures. The four posited “worlds” that could present themselves as we move toward 2030 are:

Stalled Engines, the most plausible worst-case scenario, is one in which the risk of interstate conflict rises due to a new “great game” in Asia. Although the National Intelligence Council does not foresee a “full-scale conflagration” along the lines of a world war, this scenario is still a bleak one, with the U.S. and Europe turning inward and no longer interested in global leadership; a euro zone that has unraveled; and a global pandemic and recession causing a retrenchment from globalization.

Fusion, is a scenario at the other end of the spectrum, representing the most plausible best case scenario. The U.S. and China successfully manage their relationship and together halt spreading conflict in South Asia. GDP accelerates in both developing and advanced economies, and technological innovation mitigates resource constraints.

Gini out of the Bottle is a world of extremes, in which inequalities within and between countries dominate and major powers remain at odds, raising the potential for conflict. Economic growth is far below the Fusion scenario, but not as grim as in Stalled Engines.

In the last scenario, Nonstate World, new and emerging technologies (such as ICTs – information and communication technologies) spur the increased power of non-state actors, including NGOs, multinational businesses, academic institutions and wealthy individuals. In addition, subnational units such as “megacities” flourish. These networks manage to solve some global problems, but security threats, such as the increased access to lethal technologies, pose an increasing challenge.

Read the entire article here on the Defense Media Network website and consider what our world may look like in the future.