TEN YEARS HENCE
FEBRUARY 1, 2008
On Feb. 1, 2008, Erik Peterson, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, presented "Seven Revolutions," which contained the following excerpts:
- Global population will reach 7.9 billion by 2025, compared to 6.5 billion in 2005. About 80 percent of the growth will occur in countries least capable of supporting it. Much of the developed world will face static or negative population growth, with the mean and median age of its people increasing significantly.
- Migration will be a key challenge in 2025, both within countries and between them. Nearly 60 percent of the total global population – 3.9 billion people – will live in cities. Many of these mega-cities will be located along coastlines and other areas vulnerable to natural disasters.
- Population growth and other trends will mean increasing scarcity of water, which if not addressed, will hinder significantly economic development and spark conflicts. By 2025, 54 countries – 4 billion people or about half the world's population – will face serious constraints on their capacity to meet water demands.
- The world will become increasingly dependent on hydrocarbons. OPEC will account for up to 50 percent of the world supply of oil in 20 years, with a startling impact in terms of geopolitical conflict and environmental consequences as a result. Skyrocketing demand, primarily from Asia, will drive these trends.
- Computers, already achieving computation speeds in the trillions per second, will become even faster and more prevalent in our lives.
- Biotechnology will bring advances in the areas of proteomics – the study of the body's more than 300,000 proteins – as well as genetic and germ-line therapy. With the resulting advancement in new technologies and medicines, children born today could live into the 22 nd century.
- Information technology will allow students and entrepreneurs in the developing world to compete directly with those in the developed world. As the information economy matures, average workers will experience at least a half-dozen major career changes during the course of their professional lives. Constant learning and retraining will be a must, and educational systems will have to prepare people to compete in the global arena.
- The "BRIC" economies – Brazil, Russia, India and China – increasingly will define the world's new economic center of gravity. Their total combined GDP could equal half the aggregate level of the G-6 countries ( United States, Japan, Germany, UK, France and Italy) by 2025. However, massive population growth in the BRIC countries will prevent dramatic increases in per-capita income, exacerbating income inequality.
- Conflict will manifest as asymmetric warfare, where dominant military powers are confronted by a wide range of adversaries. Incidences of "super-violence," such as the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, will continue at an ever-greater scale, with terrorists increasingly focusing on gaining weapons of mass destruction.
- Corporations will take greater responsibility for social concerns. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will become increasingly influential in world affairs, playing many roles that traditionally fall to government.